The competitive selection process for a prized college scholarship turns deadly in the latest thriller from USA Today bestselling author David Bell.
On a beautiful spring day, six college students with nothing in common besides a desperate inability to pay for school gather to compete for the prestigious Hyde Fellowship.
James—The rule follower
Emily—The social justice warrior
The six of them must surrender their devices when they enter Hyde House, an aging Victorian structure that sits in a secluded part of campus.
Once inside, the doors lock behind them. The students are not allowed to leave until they spend eight hours with a college administrator who will do almost anything to keep the school afloat, and Nicholas Hyde, the privileged and notoriously irresponsible heir to the Hyde family fortune. If the students leave before time is up, they’ll be immediately disqualified.
But when one of the six finalists drops dead, the other students fear they’re being picked off one by one. With a violent protest raging outside, and no way to escape, the survivors viciously turn on each other.
The Finalists is a chilling and profound look at the lengths both students and colleges will go to survive in a resource-starved academic world.
In this lackluster mash-up of Clue and Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None from Bell (Kill All Your Darlings), six students compete for a lucrative scholarship at Kentucky's small, family-funded Hyde College. They must relinquish all electronic devices before being sequestered for one day in a remote, decaying building on campus. From nine to four, overseen by obsequious Troy Gaines, the college's "vice president for institutional development," and irascible Nicholas Hyde, a descendant of the college's 19th-century founder, the six candidates expect to take a written exam followed by interviews judged on "comportment, presentation, and communication." Early on, one of the front-runners appears to have been poisoned by the welcoming tea and biscuits. When another in the group convulses and dies, the survivors point fingers and plan their escape, though they're thwarted by shatter-resistant windows that have been nailed shut. Meanwhile, unruly environmental protestors outside the building threaten the safety of the frightened, dwindling band. Bland, unsympathetic characters match the ludicrous plot, which thickens when combustible materials in the basement foreshadow an obvious over-the-top incendiary conclusion. Bell has done better. Agent: Laney Katz Becker, Massie & McQuilkin.