Psychopath with a Heart?

When former socialite Janie Jenkins is released from prison on a technicality after serving ten years of a life sentence, she resolves to find out once and for all whether she is guilty of her mother’s murder. Elizabeth Little’s debut novel, Dear Daughter suffers from under-developed secondary characters, but maybe that’s just because her narrator doesn’t suffer from petty human emotion.  What makes Janie engaging is her acerbic wit and her hard-as-nails fearlessness.  It may stretch credulity a bit that she would so easily find the South Dakota backwater from which her mother emerged, beautiful, re-imagined and ready to wed the unwitting super-wealthy, but this is fiction, and Janie is a character who you absolutely want to follow, despite your better self.  As Janie works against time while the press tries to ascertain her whereabouts, she heads down several wrong paths and the reader begins to see some vulnerability (dare we say, heart) in her.  Case in point, her attempt at making friends is both comic and sweet.  The climax is as much of a stunner as Janie herself when she sheds her geek-girl disguise.  Recommended for fans of Gillian Flynn’s,  Gone Girl and Herman Koch’s,  The Dinner.

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