A tense, psychological thriller for the internet age about the destructive combination of self-important goals and self-serving plans.
Cole Weston—former friend, former boyfriend—has become dangerous, erratic. Something needs to be done. Getting rid of Cole is practically a public service. So high school seniors Holly Morse, Grayson Hobbs, Logan Bailey, and Meeka Miller devise a plan. Kill Cole. Bury him in the woods behind Meeka’s house. Bury him deep, deep in the ground along with four old cell phones, wiped except for their video confession as insurance that no one will ever betray the group. Everything is perfect, until the meme appears. It’s a screenshot from their confession… a confession that’s supposed to be entombed with Cole forever in the cold Vermont dirt.
Starmer (Spontaneous) crafts a neo-noir-flavored revenge thriller that stabs at the heart of 21st-century isolation. Murdered by ex-girlfriend Meeka and her three teenage compatriots, Cole lies buried in a 100-acre Vermont backyard. After Cole began threatening violence against his former flame and her friends, Meeka, together with Holly, Logan, and Grayson, did what they felt was necessary to keep themselves safe. Though the three filmed their confession ("He had access to guns. He was great at hiding things") on long-unused phones now entombed alongside Cole, things unravel quickly when a meme makes the rounds at school one featuring a photograph that could only have come from one of the devices. Is one of the group trying to torture the others, or is Cole not as dead as assumed? Starmer swipes at what white privilege, toxic masculinity, and lonely anger can produce in the internet's dark corners; though a few ends remain loose and the social commentary isn't always incisive, a tense, revolving first-person narrative propels the reader through an absorbing scheme-gone-wrong mystery. Ages 14 up.