cover image The Things We Do to Our Friends

The Things We Do to Our Friends

Heather Darwent. Bantam, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-0-593-49716-6

Little is as it initially appears in Darwent’s deviously plotted debut. The young woman now known as Clare, who was disowned by her parents at 16 following an “episode” that isn’t fully disclosed until later, arrives at university in Edinburgh to study art history and laser-focused on reinventing herself—an enterprise that gets off to a better start than she could have hoped when an encounter at the bar where she’s working leads to her clicking with classmate Tabitha, the lanky blonde, elegantly louche queen bee of a circle of privileged chums since boarding school. Though Clare initially approaches every invitation to her aspirational bestie’s elegant Georgian flat as something of an audition, Tabitha proves to have just as much riding on cultivating her—for a key role in the potentially life-altering but treacherous “project” she and her pals have been secretly planning and which could shatter Clare’s fresh start. Despite an uneven pace, the suspense rises, and if the characters don’t always ring true, they, like a nest of vipers, are tough to take one’s eyes off of. Darwent is off to an auspicious start. Agent: Emily Glenister, DHH Literary. (Jan.)