A summary of the plot based on the back of the book: Sharon stands accused of murder. While on a camping trip, she and her best friend Ann hiked to the top of a cliff. Their friends heard Ann scream “Don’t” and heard her screams as she fell over the side of the cliff, but her body was never found. No one, not even Sharon, thinks Ann was suicidal, so that leaves Sharon as the only suspect.
Okay, so that was the PROLOGUE.
- Sharon McKay – the piano playing ingenue
- Ann Rice – seriously. Her name is Ann Rice.
- Chad – longtime friend-zoned friend of Sharon and Ann
- Paul – Ann’s boyfriend and Chad’s half-brother
- Fred – Sharon’s date and that’s pretty much all you need to know
- Johnny Richmond – Sharon’s hotshot lawyer who apparently expects sex for payment
The real summary (warning: spoilers): Almost immediately we are taken back to Ann plotting how to frame Sharon for her murder – with a nod to Gimme a Kiss as a book Ann read which gave her this idea. Why does Ann want to make Sharon suffer? It’s all because of her brother Jerry’s suicide a year ago. Jerry had liked Sharon, and all he left behind was a note that says, “I loved her.” Ann believes Sharon was the reason.
Ann gives boyfriend Paul her villain monologue about how she is going to attach a rope/bungee cord to a hidden harness when Sharon walks away, then jump off the cliff after screaming “Don’t!” The only thing Paul needs to do is remove the pin Ann is going to place in the cliff face. It’s a risky plan, and things go wrong almost immediately. She hits the side of the cliff and barely survives the fall.
The novel moves back and forth between Ann’s predicament and the trial, where Sharon’s lawyer deftly gets Paul to admit his part in the plan. But Ann hasn’t contacted him yet… so where is she? Here’s where I’m going to have to block the spoilers…
Ann, after falling into the river and barely making it out alive, passes out, and wakes up in a cave with Chad, the fifth wheel on this camping trip and Paul’s half-brother. Now it’s Chad’s turn for a villain monologue. Chad had apparently always loved Ann, and wanted Ann all to himself. Chad was the one responsible for Jerry’s apparent suicide, because Jerry told Chad he didn’t have a chance with Ann. So Chad decided to feed Ann the idea to fake her own death which would initially be an issue for Sharon, but would eventually leave Paul as the main suspect. Then Chad would have Ann all to himself! Mwa-ha-ha!
A fight ensues, but the reader is left unsure of the outcome until after Sharon is acquitted of Ann’s murder. Sharon asks Chad, who she still thinks of as a nice, harmless guy, to take her back to the cliff so she can somehow find clues about what really happened to Ann. Chad leads her into the underground cave where he had taken Ann. This is where Sharon finds Ann’s body, drowned in an underground pool with her throat slit (one of the details I distinctly recalled was how Ann’s eyes had been eaten by the fish). She also finds a ruby ring she had given Ann, on the ground beside the pool. Sharon had bought the ring for Ann’s birthday after Chad had told her Ann’s birthday was a ruby. Actually ruby was Chad’s birthstone, so Ann had always called it “Chad’s ring.” Sharon realizes that Chad was the one behind all this. As she and Chad make their way out of the underground and back up to the cliff, we hear another of Chad’s villain monologues, where he reveals that not only did he kill Jerry and Ann, he also killed Ann and Jerry’s mother several years ago. Sharon takes this opportunity to pull an Ann and jump off the cliff with a rope attached, and when Chad comes down after her, she manages to cut the rope so that he falls to his death below.
If I had been interrogated…
“What was your relationship to Ann Rice?”
I first met Anne Rice back in high school, when I read and loved Interview with the Vampire. I struggled through reading The Vampire Lestat, however, and parted ways with Anne until about 2004, when I decided to reread Interview and the rest of the Vampire Chronicles, including the Mayfair Witches and the New Vampires, and for good measure I read a few of Anne’s standalone titles. Since then I haven’t read many of her books, but I’ve got a couple on my to-read shelf… Once she hit her Jesus phase I sort of gave up, and I’m not sure about this new werewolf book.
“Tell us how Ann Rice came to be so rich?”
That would be due to the series of bestselling vampire novels she wrote…