The lies they tell by Gillian French
HarperCollins Publishers, 2018. ISBN 978146075580
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended. Themes: Summer vacation, Murder. Tenney's Harbor, Maine during the summer break sees the rich kids coming to stay in their parents' million dollar mansions, playing tennis, racing their yachts, eating at the Country Club, where eighteen year old Pearl works, earning money to keep herself and her father going, waiting until she can go to the local college next year. Her caretaker father lost many of his part time jobs when one of the houses in the Millionaire Row burnt down, revealing the owners, the Garrisons, and two of their children, Cassidy and Joe, shot and killed. The crime was never solved, with some of the blame thrown at Pearl's father who now spends more time than he should at the tavern.
But this summer, Pearl wants her father exonerated, and seeing Tristan Garrison and his entourage arrive, becomes involved in their lives as they while away the summer, Pearl watching Tristan and the others for any clues which might lead her to find out who murdered the family and set the fire. She finds Cassidy's memory stick hidden in a compartment on the Garrison yacht and watching it, becomes aware that the household was not what it seemed. Cassidy was a prodigious pianist but the footage on the USB shows another aspect of her life, while passing talk by the group exposes Cassidy's fractious relationship with her father. Pearl digs even further, despite her friends giving her the cold shoulder for associating with the rich kids, and some of Tristan's group treating her will ill disguised contempt. Her friend, Reece ignores her until she tells him why she is associating with them, and he becomes an ally in her detective work.
This is a gripping read as Pearl gathers evidence. She watches the group and defends her father against the slander she hears, aware that her hold on her job is becoming tenuous, with only half her mind on he work.
The chasm between the rich and poor is exemplified by the rich kids' casual takeover of the quiet village where they moor their yachts and their cavalier attitude to the locals, particularly the town girls befriended for the summer. Their arrogant disregard of how dependent the locals are on them patronage gives a strong layer of moral outrage as events develop.
Each of the characters is wrought with hidden depths, exposing a view of themselves to the world which belies what is underneath. Pearl needs to keep her wits about her to defuse the interest being shown by Tristan, and her interest in his friend, Bridges is a hurdle to seeing things clearly. Just as she begins to unravel the complex interrelationships of the group Pearl puts herself into harm's way as she works out, almost too late who killed the family.
Gillian French is the author of YA novels, Grit and The Door to January, and lives in Maine.