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with maliceWhat: With Malice by Eileen Cook

Who: Hot Key Books

When: August 2016

How: A copy of this novel was provided by Allen and Unwin for review.

RRP: $16.99 (AUD)

Wish you weren’t here…

When Jill wakes up in a hospital bed with her leg in a cast, the last six weeks of her life are a complete blank. All she has been told is that she was involved in a fatal accident while on a school trip in Italy and had to be jetted home to receive intensive care. Care that involves a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident…. wasn’t just an accident.

With no memory of what happened or what she did, can Jill prove her innocence? And can she really be sure that she isn’t the one to blame?

3cats2As anyone who reads this blog likely knows: I adore mystery/thrillers. I love the guessing and the addictiveness, and the “whodunit” of it all. It’s just something that I really like consuming (now all I can do is picture myself eating books).

With Malice, though not a standout in the genre, was an enjoyable book. There were moments when I was guessing who had killed/what had happened to Jill’s best friend, Simone … but most of the time I knew exactly what had gone down. This is not a great thing when you’re reading a mystery/thriller because the desire to read on is to find out what happened. So that aspect was definitely missing for me, unfortunately.

A lot of mystery/thrillers – where the death/abduction/etc has already occurred – have flashbacks to the time before the bad thing has happened. It was quite surprising that there was none of this in With Malice. There were no flashbacks to what Jill and Simone’s friendship was like, so it had to be taken at face value that they were best friends. I wanted to know more about their relationship. We heard small tales from Jill, but I wanted to see how close they were, what their relationship was like in good times and bad. I wanted to feel something for Jill when she found out her best friend was dead, but instead it was a little emotionless.

There are portions of With Malice told in a variety of formats – television segments, police interviews, and blog posts. I thought that these served a pretty good purpose, as they were the only pieces of information that the reader is provided in terms of what Jill and Simone were like in Italy. They also bring in a lot of questions because some people are saying one thing and some people are saying others.

Jill is in hospital and physical therapy for the entirety of With Malice. I was quite surprised by this, as it didn’t really provide for many storylines outside of Jill being questioned and whatnot regarding Simone’s death. A lot of the novel was Jill thinking about “getting better” and going home. I suppose there was no real urgency to this part of the storyline because she wasn’t in jail, she wasn’t in court, and she wasn’t on the run. Jill was safely hidden away, and only had to worry about what people on the internet and TV were saying about her.

To be honest, I didn’t particularly feel much for Jill at any point in time. I don’t have to like a character to like or enjoy a book – there are plenty of books I have really enjoyed with unlikeable characters – but there was just something about Jill that annoyed me. She seemed extremely selfish at times, and also jumped to conclusions about things, and made stupid mistakes that I could hardly believe anyone would make. So, unfortunately, I was never invested in whether she would be charged with Simone’s murder or not.

I think if you’re looking for a story with a somewhat similar feel to Dangerous Girls, or if you are wanting a mystery/thriller a bit different to other books in the genre, then With Malice is most likely going to satisfy you.

© 2016, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.

trigger warning: ableism, attempted suicide, murder, physical assault, amnesia and leg injury from car crash, suicidal ideation, queerphobia, and domestic violence in this novel

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Posted on: August 5, 2016 • By: Chiara

16 Responses to Review: With Malice by Eileen Cook

  1. yup, this one didn’t really impress me either sadly. :( I thought Jill wasn’t….very….much?? Like she just didn’t seem to have much personality. And I thought the ending was REALLY out of character for her. Hm. And I agree that it was hard to believe in their friendship when we really didn’t see it. *sigh* It was definitely “nope nope” read for me. Nothing really lives up to Dangerous Girls for me, gah!

    • Chiara says:

      I totally get what you mean. There was not much going on for Jill’s character, and the ending was just … a bit anticlimactic for me. Gosh, I think Dangerous Girls has spoiled us all for mystery/thrillers!

  2. I’ve heard mixed things. I suppose if you KNOW the end early on, it’s not as fun, but if you DON’T KNOW, then it’s more exciting. That’s usually the big aspect of whether you can get into a mystery/thriller. I do want to read this at some point though!

  3. I felt the same way about this book. It was decent enough but not overly memorable in my opinion. Great review!

  4. Simona says:

    I was listening to the audiobook and I remember wanting to turn it off because it didn’t really catch my interest at the beginning. But as the story continued it started to get interesting. I agree with you and I too didn’t really care for Jill though I must say that I wasn’t expecting the ending. So the story wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t amazing. I gave it three stars out of five as well because it was meh. :)

    • Chiara says:

      I’m glad that the book got better for you, Simona! There was just something about Jill that didn’t endear her to me, and that prevented me from really caring about her. It’s great that you didn’t guess the ending – it always makes a mystery/thriller more exciting when that happens. I think the book is a solid three star read, too!

  5. I keep seeing this book everywhere but I feel like it’s going to be a pass for me if you can figure it out pretty quickly. I like my thrillers to be unpredictable. And if the characters are blah, than there are other ones I could read.

    I’ll have to check out Dangerous Girls though–it sounds awesome!

    • Chiara says:

      The best kinds of thrillers are the ones that leave you constantly guessing! If you are looking for one like that, then I definitely recommend Dangerous Girls! It is hands down the best thriller I’ve read!

  6. Annette says:

    I’m sorry this one lacked a strong emotional punch – the storyline sounded so promising! I’m glad I read your review. 🙂

  7. My thoughts exactly. This just felt very…meh, especially when compared to Dangerous Girls (nothing can even come close to DG *sighs*). It felt rather underwhelming and predictable. :( Sorry you felt the same way. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! <3

    • Chiara says:

      I think it is quite hard for any book to live up to DG! It was just executed so well. I did have a fun time reading this one, though, so that was good! Thanks, lovely <3

  8. Romi says:

    So I decided to dnf this one. *sighs sadly* But I think it was the right decision for me- it would probably have been great if I’d read it in a year or so, because my other reads wouldn’t have been so fresh in my mind, although I think I’d still have had the same issues connecting with characters like you did. Jill, although she was a character you saw multiple sides to, never felt quite real to me, and I think that’s something that takes a lot out of the reading experience for me. I can’t exactly root for a character, or possess the urge to care for them, when I don’t feel like they’re really alive, even in my imagination.

    I actually didn’t notice that there weren’t any flashbacks, even in the part I read! It’s actually pretty interesting to look at that aspect and see how the words of others made up so much of our view of Simmone and Jill and who they were. You would trust what their parents would say, probably, and what their friends would say, and it can get so interesting when all that starts to conflict. That’s something I think I could have appreciated, if I had gotten into this, but at the same time I’m not sure that it was presented in a way that was quite compelling enough? I’m not really sure about this one. I’m glad you still were able to enjoy it, even if it wasn’t the best read ever. xx

  9. meeeeeeeeee says:

    I really enjoyed this book

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