A successful film professor and podcaster, Bodie Kane is content to forget her past—the family tragedy that marred her adolescence, her four largely miserable years at a New Hampshire boarding school, and the murder of her former roommate, Thalia Keith, in the spring of their senior year. The circumstances surrounding Thalia's death and the conviction of the school's athletic trainer, Omar Evans, are hotly debated online, and when the Granby School invites her back to teach a course, Bodie is inexorably drawn to the case and its increasingly apparent flaws. In their rush to convict Omar, did the school and the police overlook other suspects? Is the real killer still out there?
A very different but equally great accomplishment [as The Great Believers] ... It is at once a campus novel, a piercing reflection on the appeal and ethics of the true crime genre, and a story of Me Too reckoning. It is also the most irresistible literary page-turner I have read in years ... Makkai’s most distinctive literary feature is her blend of intelligence, whimsy, and wisdom, an endearing yet bracing mix that characterizes her Twitter feed as it does her fiction ... Makkai’s writing is textured and precise. She gets all the ‘90s details...deliciously right. Her encyclopedic knowledge of true crime informs the novel at every turn ... None of this feels heavy-handed or merely modish. Rather, Makkai tackles thorny questions about the media, the law, gender, race, and class via these emblematic examples ... That Makkai’s ethical, metaphysical, and epistemological deliberations find form in an exquisitely suspenseful and enormously entertaining story makes her work a beguiling reflection of the conundrum it so beautifully anatomizes.
... embraces the intricate plotting and emotional heft that made her previous novel, The Great Believers, a Pulitzer finalist ... Bodie, a student of structures, aims to implicate as many people as possible, and so does Makkai. As the title suggests, the novel is addressed to 'you'—a decision that both mirrors the confiding, intimate quality of podcasts and places the reader under surveillance ... Makkai sharply conveys the insidiousness of misogyny. But, in blurring the line between dead-girl stories and shitty-man stories, she raises a tricky question: Should the tropes of #MeToo receive the same scrutiny as those of true crime? ... The creepy teacher has become an almost mandatory presence in female coming-of-age fiction...What distinguishes Makkai’s turn is her detective framing: she understands that every high school, with its indelible characters and astronomical-seeming stakes, is a crime scene. A childhood is a closed case; remembering reopens it ... She deftly explores how remembrance can melt into reverie ... highlight[s] the numbing, almost hallucinatory pervasiveness of violence against women, and illustrate how greedily such stories are consumed ... The result is not a book that leers at a discrete and unfathomable act of violence but one that investigates, as Britt puts it, 'two stolen lives...' ... It’s the perfect crime.
In just a couple of pages, Makkai sets up the tricky, meta undertaking of her fourth novel: working within a genre that she approaches with skepticism ... I Have Some Questions for You, too, tackles big social convulsions that raise questions about memory, and about how we assign blame. But this time, training a wary eye on our true-crime obsession and on #MeToo revelations, Makkai conveys less confidence that we have useful means of excavating and telling the stories that haunt us ... Makkai isn’t here to adjudicate, but to complicate. She juxtaposes examples and leaves it to us to draw connections and comparisons like detectives layering red string on an evidence board ... As we race through the novel, we’re pulled into playing much the same role as Bodie does: trying to piece together the various stories, eagerly awaiting a verdict. We’re all but sure who did it by the end, but Makkai denies us the satisfaction of a confession or of justice cleanly served.