What She Left
In this brilliantly modern novel of love, obsession, and revenge, a professor pieces together the life and mysterious death of a former student—and unearths a shocking revelation about her final days. “A deliciously modern take on the psychological thriller” (Daily Telegraph).
On a snowy February morning, the body of twenty-five-year-old journalist Alice Salmon washes up on a riverbank south of London. The sudden, shocking death of this beloved local girl becomes a media sensation, and those who knew her struggle to understand what happened to lively, smart, and savvy Alice Salmon. Was it suicide? A tragic accident? Or…murder?
Professor Jeremy Cooke, known around campus as Old Cookie, is an anthropologist nearing the end of his unremarkable academic career. Alice is his former student, and the object of his unhealthy obsession. After her death, he embarks on a final project—a book documenting Alice’s life through the digital and paper trails that survive her: her diaries, letters, Facebook posts, Tweets, and text messages. He collects news articles by and about her; he transcribes old voicemails; he interviews her friends, family, and boyfriends.
Bit by bit, the real Alice—a complicated and vulnerable young woman—springs fully formed from the pages of Cookie’s book…along with a labyrinth of misunderstandings, lies, and secrets that cast suspicion on everyone in her circle—including Jeremy himself.
Emails, texts, tweets, letters, and the like all related to the death of Alice Salmon, a 25-year-old up-and-coming British writer make up this confusing thriller from the pseudonymous Richmond, a London journalist. Alice's body is found in a river in her former university's town of Southampton. Did she accidentally drown after a wild night of drinking? Commit suicide? Or was she murdered? Her former anthropology professor, Jeremy Cooke, decides to publish a book that recreates her life through all the musings of Alice and her friends and family that the Internet can supply. These dispatches are slow going: both because they're full of unnatural conversations between Cooke and Alice's acquaintances, and because the online contemplations appear in random order. Readers must continually go back to check the dates of postings by Alice, boyfriend Luke Addison, best friend Megan Parker, and Alice's mum to figure out who did what when. In the end, the truth of Alice's demise arrives out of nowhere.