cover image Bright Young Women

Bright Young Women

Jessica Knoll. S&S/Rucci, $27.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-5011-5322-8

In this stunning serial killer thriller, bestseller Knoll (Luckiest Girl Alive) uses echoes of Ted Bundy’s real-life crimes to underline potent themes of misogyny and survivor’s guilt. In January 1978, Florida State University student Pamela Schumacher becomes the sole witness when a killer invades her sorority house, murdering two of her friends and disfiguring two others. The killings bring Pamela into contact with Tina Cannon, who’s convinced the same man murdered her friend Ruth Wachowsky four years earlier in Seattle. Together, Pamela and Tina spend decades digging up evidence that might link the crimes and find justice for their slain friends. Knoll seamlessly moves from the night of the murders and their immediate aftermath to 2021, when the man eventually dubbed the All-American Sex Killer faces his final trial. Without delving into prurient clichés, she excavates the emotional toll the murders take on Pamela and Tina, credibly tracing the ways such traumas can shape entire lives. By focusing on the women affected by her Ted Bundy stand-in instead of the nuances of his criminal psychology, Knoll movingly reframes an American obsession without stripping it of its intrigue. The results are masterful. Agent: Alyssa Reuben, Paradigm. (Oct.)