cover image Under the Bridge

Under the Bridge

Rebecca Godfrey, . . Simon & Schuster, $24 (346pp) ISBN 978-0-7432-1091-1

With a gripping journalistic style, novelist Godfrey (The Torn Skirt ) recounts the story behind a horrific murder in a small British Columbia town. One November night in 1997, 14-year-old Reena Virk was savagely beaten and drowned under a waterway bridge. From a small East Indian community, Reena was alienated from her family and spent her time desperately trying to find a place with a tough crowd of teenagers, several of whom had been in trouble with the law. But one of the girls held a grudge against her, and Reena apparently was lured to her violent end by a promise of friendship. Seven girls and one boy initially were charged with assault. Two were convicted of murder: Warren Glowatski, now serving a life sentence, and Kelly Ellard, who was found guilty in 2005 after three trials. Godfrey is careful not to make judgments, but her informed writing reveals a remorseful Warren, an unrepentant Kelly (who denies her guilt) and other psychologically damaged members of the group, sharply etched, whose casual brutality, enabled by drug use, led to a brutal and senseless death. Godfrey's account contains some recreated dialogue but overall is meticulously researched and harrowing to read. B&W photos. Agent, Emma Parry. (Oct.)