Jill and her best friend Simone went on the trip of a lifetime together to Italy—too bad she can’t remember it. Jill wakes up in the hospital after a terrible car crash with no memory of the trip she just took. Worse, she learns that Simone was in the car and didn’t make it. Could Jill have crashed the car on purpose to kill her best friend, as the police and the public suspect?
Intrigued? If so, here are 5 reasons why With Malice should be in your bag on your final trips to the beach this summer.
1. Ripped from the Headlines
If you’re like me and following high-profile true crime is a guilty pleasure (ever watched Investigation Discovery for a whole day? I have!), then this is the book for you. The story of an American student who is studying abroad in Italy when suspicion falls on her for the murder of her roommate will sound familiar and this book gives interesting insights into the possible motivations behind such a crime and the feelings and frustrations of a young woman who feels that she has been falsely accused and slandered in the media.
2. Unreliable Narrator
Unreliable narrator books are all the rage for a reason; trying to unravel a mystery is that much more challenging and satisfying if the narrator who is giving you your information may not be trustworthy. In With Malice, Jill has amnesia and can’t remember her trip to Italy. Would she murder her best friend? She doesn’t think so, but she can’t say for sure. When she does believe she is having a memory, it could be real or, as her doctor warns her, it could be a “false memory” planted in her head by the power of suggestion. The reader never knows whether to believe her and whether she is truly a good person and friend as she thinks she is, or not.
3. Innovative Storytelling
With Malice takes the true crime story line to another level by allowing us to experience the case not only from Jill’s point of view, but also through the media, police interviews and evidence, and more. Narrative sections from Jill’s POV are broken up by everything from snippets from an Italy guidebook to posts from the “Justice for Simone” blog (including comment sections), and transcripts of police interviews. These elements make the storytelling fresh and raise interesting questions about how criminal cases are tried in the court of public opinion.
4. Summer Romance
What could be hotter than a summer romance with a handsome Italian guy who shares your love of art and history? Jill knows from media coverage that she (allegedly) had a fling with her program’s flirtatious Italian guide, Nico, but she can’t remember it. Is Nico a good guy or not? Could he be involved? This is summer love with a big helping of suspicion and possible ulterior motives.
Beginning with the delicious image on the cover, this book gives a little taste of what a trip to Italy would be like. Though Jill doesn’t remember the trip, we get glimpses of Italy from guidebooks sections and interviews with other students and Italian witnesses. From stopping at a quaint café for a glass of wine and some risotto to visiting museums to walking the sun-kissed streets, everything about Italy sounds heavenly, and you can experience it in your imagination while reading this book.