Five went in. Four came out.
No one knows what happened that morning at River Point. Five boys went hunting. Four came back. The boys won’t say who fired the shot that killed their friend; the evidence shows it could have been any one of them.
Kate Marino’s senior year internship at the district attorney’s office isn’t exactly glamorous—more like an excuse to leave school early that looks good on college applications. Then the DA hands her boss, Mr. Stone, the biggest case her small town of Belle Terre has ever seen. The River Point Boys are all anyone can talk about. Despite their damning toxicology reports the morning of the accident, the DA wants the boys’ case swept under the rug. He owes his political office to their powerful families.
Kate won’t let that happen. Digging up secrets without revealing her own is a dangerous line to walk; Kate has her own reasons for seeking justice for Grant. As she investigates with Stone, the aging prosecutor relying on Kate to see and hear what he cannot, she realizes that nothing about the case—or the boys—is what it seems. Grant wasn’t who she thought he was, and neither is Stone’s prime suspect. As Kate gets dangerously close to the truth, it becomes clear that the early morning accident might not have been an accident at all—and if Kate doesn’t uncover the true killer, more than one life could be on the line…including her own
Rating: ★ ★★ ★★
Fun story about this – I only showed interest in this book because of the cover and that it was centered on a death caused by a hunting accident. But boy was I hooked!
Here is the intro blurb that got me hooked (It’s a little long):
A ten-point buck and a dead body make the same sound when they hit the forest floor. It’s hard to believe a person could be mistaken for an animal, but it happens more than you know.
We know these woods. We’ve spent as much time here as anywhere else. Every hill and valley, every place the deer forage for food and rest in the heat of the day, is mapped out in our heads. We know exactly where the shot comes from when we hear it. Stealth no longer necessary, we tear in form every direction, each wanting to see the kill first.
But that excitement evaporates at the sight of Grant’s body twisted in odd angles over a downed tree. The impact of the bullet knocked him completely out of his boots, which as still upright several feet away.
We gravitate to one another, standing in a tight pack several yards away from him, momentarily scared to get any closer. One by one, our guns slip through our fingers, thudding softly on the blanket of leaves covering the ground.
And one by one we move closer to Grant.
Stunned, we stand in a circle around him, our bodies covered in camouflage, each of us blending into the next.
No one goes near him. No one bends down to check his pulse. There is a small hole in the center of his chest and blood pours out of him and soaks into the ground and there is no question – Grant Perkins is dead.
Two of us drop to our knees, crying; another seems unable to move at all.
But one of us studies the guns piled on the ground.
“That’s not a buckshot wound. He got shot with a rifle.”
All eyes go to the Remington – the only rifle in the group.
Concern for Grant is over quickly; the sorrow turns to panic and every finger quickly points to someone else and shouts of “I didn’t do it!” ring through the air. We all handles that rifle and we know it could point back to any one of us.
The amount of booze and pot and pills still flowing through our systems will guarantee that this is seen as a crime, not just an accident.
We push each other.
We cuss each other.
We threaten each other.
We are imploding.
I watch my friends, who are more like brothers, and know this won’t end well for any of us.
A buzzing sound on the ground beside Grant quiets everyone. His phone, set on vibrate, rattles in he dead leaves. No one moves to touch it, to answer it, to make it stop. We all just stare at Grant.
Single file, the ants begin to claim his boy. Birds swoop into the nearby trees, waiting for a clear shot at him. We will look guilty if we wait too long to call for help. We will look guilty no matter what. We need to do something – call someone – but we’re paralyzed.
I study each person in the circle, faces tear-streaked and numb from either the shock or the alcohol or the drugs. Or maybe all three. I weigh strengths and weaknesses.
Only one us pulled the trigger, but we all played our own part in his death. They will find marks on Grant that don’t fit with an accidental shooting. They will find marks on us that shouldn’t be there either. The last twenty-four hours will have them talking about more than what happened during this early-morning hunt.
“So no one is is owning up to using the Remington,” one of us says, more a statement than a question.
Do any of us remember which one of us was holding that gun a few minutes ago?
Silence as loud as a freight train fills the space, and we stare at Grant to avoid looking at each other. Or looking guilty.
“If one of us goes down for this, it’ll be as bad as all of us going down for this,” I say. “We can’t let that happen.”
All eyes are on me. One look is blank, like my words are registering, while others are nodding, ready to agree to anything that will keep them out of trouble.
There is only one way out of this, and it has to be together. We all have to agree.
“This was just an accident. A horrible accident,” one of us mumbles. “Whoever used the Remington should just admit it. There’s no reason to drag us all through this.”
“Even if it was an accident, whoever did this could still go to prison,” another of us says.
Our actions this morning would be viewed no differently than if Grant had died while we’d been driving under the influence.
“Look, I know we’re all scared shitless right now, but wee’ll be fine. There’s no reason for anyone to ruin his whole life over this,” I say.
There’s one person who hasn’t spoken at all, and I realize just how fragile this plan it. We all have to agree or the whole thing will fall apart. He looks down at Grant and ten back at the rest of us and finally says, “We’re in this together. We stick together.”
I lean forward and the other three do the same. Hovering over poor, dead Grant, I say, “Okay, this is our story…”
Wow. Like how could I not be intrigued to find out who did it?!
I really enjoyed the setting – it felt very Duck Dynasty to me because of the back woods and hunting (but I love Duck Dynasty so go figure). I loved the court aspect – I lvoe watching shows like Law & Order: SVU. Finally, I loved the writing style. The book begins from the POV of one of the River Point Boys explaining what “happened” that morning. (See above blurb). As you read on, these POV blurbs from the same boy were at the end of each chapter. The book also weaved interview transcripts, court documents, and other evidence into the story as well. The characters felt realistic. The friendships are complex and their loyalties run deep. I love the small-town feel – my boyfriend is from a small town that neighbors the one we live it, and even with it being so close, I love that small town feeling – even if there isn’t a Target 😉
While, the story centers on the River Point boys and the accident, they aren’t really “present”. The story is told from Kate’s point of view. Kate is the assistant to the DA on the case, so we learn all the juicy details. PLUS, the DA she works for has a degenerative eye disease, so Kate gets to do sleuthing on her own -which ultimately leads her to solving the nearly impossible case and keeps an innocent boy out of jail.
From the blurbs from the boy POV, I assumed it was each boy telling their part, but in the end we learn it is the boy who was found guilty, explaining the accident, the events during the investigation (aka threatening “the girl” aka Kate), and the final POV excerpt details the boy’s thoughts that day when he killed Grant.
It isn’t a YA novel without some sort of love interest – hello cliche love interest of Kate and one of the River Point Boys. It was a little bit of an insta-love, but still gives me the warm and fuzzies, which was a great way to get a break from the book’s suspense.
As for the killer, I definitely didn’t guess correctly until the final evidence was given. I was back and forth for most of the story.
If you’re looking for a suspenseful read, pick this book up! Next up will be The Loose Ends List by Carrie Firestone. Happy reading lovelies!