So, after a series of conversations with some of my friends about how much we loved Christopher Pike books when we were in junior high, I happened to spot a cache of them on a bookshelf in my parent's house when I was home for Christmas and found a spot in my suitcase to smuggle them back to Austin. Because revisiting guilty pleasures of one's childhood is never ever disappointing, right?
Color me a little bit disappointed by Pike's Fall into Darkness (1990), with which, to be honest, I think I was a little disappointed when I read it nearly twenty years ago (yikes).
The book starts with Sharon McKay, a high school senior and accomplished pianist, standing trial for the murder of her best friend, the rich and beautiful Ann Rice (yes. Ann Rice. And Pike uses her full name almost every time he mentions her.) Sharon and Ann had been camping up on a ridge with Ann's fiance, Paul, his brother (and Ann's gardener), Chad, and Sharon's newish boyfriend Fred. After the girls went off together for a walk, the boys heard Ann shout "Don't!" and when they got to the edge of the cliff they found Sharon crying that Ann had gone over the side.
But no one could find her body...
The story is told by flipping between flashbacks from the perspective of different friends and the present-day trial and its aftermath. Sharon, who swears she is innocent, is helped through the trial by her seriously creepy court-appointed attorney, John Richmond, who keeps putting his hand on her leg and making very inappropriate sexual banter. So you know that is going to go well.
Of course, nothing is as it seems and the whole thing turns into a vicious circle of double-crossing, lies, misunderstandings, and manipulations. And some seriously fucked up high school students with apparently no parental supervision or interaction with the ordinary world. But they are so damn attractive!
Here's Paul -- the slightly older fiance of the rich and beautiful (and dead?) Ann Rice:
Black suited his dark gypsy features. It suited the smoldering look in his deep brown eyes. It was his eyes that had first attracted her to him. He was a couple of years older than she was and had already spent a year in the navy. It seemed when she looked into his eyes that she could see a gray storm approaching over a turbulent sea. But only if she looked deep. On the outside, he was calm.
And here is the lovely Ann:
Her eyes were cool liquid green, her lips pouty and red. People occasionally thought her long fall of dark hair was a wig, it was so fine and perfect.
So, the descriptions may be more compelling than the plot for much of this young adult suspense novel, but Pike does throw in a few twists that I had forgotten, and even though I rolled my eyes through the first half of the novel, I did get caught up in it towards the end.
[And I used that teeny tiny version of the cover because I didn't want to use the TV movie cover that is all over Google images, and I was too lazy to scan my cover in. That TV movie looks bad, and you can read all about it at my new favorite Christoper Pike-related blog, which also features a complete plot synopsis of this novel, should you care to spoil the suspense.]