One of the New York Times Book Review's Top Ten Best Crime Novels of 2020
One of USA Today's Best Books 2020
"[A] hypnotic debut. . . .[An] uncommonly clever whodunit."--New York Times Book Review
Perfect for lovers of Agatha Christie and The Secret History, The Truants is a seductive, unsettling, and beautifully written debut novel of literary suspense--a thrilling exploration of deceit, first love, and the depths to which obsession can drive us.
People disappear when they most want to be seen.
Jess Walker has come to a concrete campus under the flat gray skies of East Anglia for one reason: to be taught by the mesmerizing and rebellious Dr. Lorna Clay, whose seminars soon transform Jess's thinking on life, love, and Agatha Christie. Swept up in Lorna's thrall, Jess falls in with a tightly knit group of rule-breakers--Alec, a courageous South African journalist with a nihilistic streak; Georgie, a seductive, pill-popping aristocrat; and Nick, a handsome geologist with layers of his own.
But the dynamic between the friends begins to darken, until a tragedy shatters their friendships and love affairs, and reveals a terrible secret. Soon Jess must face the question she fears most: what is the true cost of an extraordinary life?
An Entertainment Weekly Best Book of January
A USA Today Must-Read Book of Winter
An Observer Book of the Year (UK)
A Marie Claire Top 5 Christmas Read (UK)
A Times Best New Crime Novel (UK)
A Guardian Top 10 Golden Age Detective Novel
An Irish Times Best Debut of 2019
An Apple Books Pick for January
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
It’s hard to believe that this masterful mystery is a debut. Kate Weinberg’s protagonist, Jess, is a lonely, bored teen from a small English village who finds solace in a book of literary criticism and decides to enroll at the University of East Anglia to study with the book’s mysterious author. On campus, friendships are formed, romance blooms—and, inevitably, terrible things happen. At first The Truants feels like a coming-of-age novel, but as the characters’ secrets and passions are exposed, it morphs into a shocking and dark story full of thrills. Weinberg is a powerful storyteller. She’s written a sharp, modern mystery that we’re sure Agatha Christie would admire.
Jessica Walker, the 19-year-old narrator of British author Weinberg's promising but uneven debut, enrolls at a university in East Anglia to study under prize-winning writer Lorna Clay, best known for The Truants, a book that argues debauchery is fundamental to artistic brilliance. Lorna's current focus is the "rescue" of Agatha Christie and other female authors who have been "dismissed from the canon as irrelevant." The semester starts strong, with Jess impressing Lorna and finding friends who also subscribe to the charismatic professor's hedonistic philosophies. Jess, fellow English major Georgie, South African journalist and visiting fellow Alec, and second-year geology student Nick are initially inseparable, but then triangles form and jealousies flare. When betrayal finally tears the group apart, Jess turns to Lorna for advice and support; as it happens, though, Lorna has secrets and an agenda of her own. Weinberg writes incisively and evocatively about infatuation, heartbreak, and grief, but what begins as a tense, taut, character-driven slow burn succumbs to coincidence and melodrama. Weinberg aims high, but misses her mark.