I originally picked up Kate White's latest suspense novel, The Sixes, knowing I was going to have the chance to meet her. But, somewhere in the first couple pages, she hooked me. I found her protagonist, an author named Phoebe Hall, interesting. Before I knew it, I was riveted, caught up in the story of Lyle College, a small Pennsylvania college with more than it's share of terrible problems. I was just as intrigued as Phoebe Hall was.
Phoebe originally took a short-term job teaching at Lyle College because she needed a place of refuge. Her life had crashed around her. Seven months earlier, her partner, Alec, left her for someone else, just after she returned from her latest book tour. Then, Phoebe, who made a living writing celebrity books, was falsely accused of plagiarism. The author who made her name exposing others' flaws found herself in the middle of a media frenzy. So, when her friend from boarding school, Glenda Johns, president of Lyle College, asked her to teach for a couple terms, she jumped at the chance to teach nonfiction writing courses. Maybe she could reinvent herself at a new location. Phoebe Hall should have looked before she leaped.
Lyle College was no refuge. When a student went missing, Glenda was afraid the disappearance might have something to do with a secret group of girls on campus, known only as The Sixes. With Phoebe's background in research, Glenda asks her to quietly dig around; see what she could learn about the group. It isn't long before Phoebe's questions led her back to her own past, when she herself was the target of a group of bullying mean girls. When the missing girl turns up dead, Phoebe suspects the girl might have been a member of the Sixes. When a second body turns up, it's not clear whether this group of girls is responsible. Could intimidation and bullying have led to murder, or are the rumors of a serial killer true? All signs seem to point back to the same students, girls who seem determined to scare Phoebe away from her investigation. How far could she push without arousing the ire of a killer? And, how evil could a group of college girls become?
Kate White's The Sixes is intense, and riveting. With cases all over the media about groups of girls who gang together for intimidation, the novel is timely. However, White skillfully twists the story so it's fresh, and surprising. Phoebe Hall works as a protagonist. She's an excellent researcher, a perfect amateur sleuth who uses her research and interviewing skills to great advantage. She's also a woman with her own past who can be scared and intimidated. Phoebe is not invincible, but she fights to survive. If you've been scared by the label that calls it a thriller, don't worry. White's book is creepy at times, but not graphic. It's in the vein of a Gothic novel, rather than a graphic thriller. White creates an atmosphere of shadows and fear that works perfectly. The Sixes is a suspense novel worth every fingernail biting moment.
I have been a library manager/administrator for over 30 years, in Ohio, Florida, Arizona, and, now, Indiana. Winner of the 2011 Arizona Library Association Outstanding Library Service Award. I am a contributing Book Reviewer for Library Journal, Mystery Readers Journal, ReadertoReader.com and VibrantNation.com. Winner of the 2009 and 2010 Spinetingler Awards for Best Reviewer. First Fan Guest of Honor for Desert Sleuths Chapter of Sisters in Crime, Write Now! Conference.
It's an honor to be asked to review books, and I'm grateful to all the publishers, publicists, and authors who send me books. Thank you. Reviews will appear on my blog if I've had a chance to read, and finish, the book. If I do not finish a book, I won't review it, and I will not respond to emails asking when, or if, I'll be reviewing a book.
My reviews are only my opinion, and do not reflect the views of the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library.
I will not review self-published books, and, at the present time, do not accept books in e-book format.
My Oct. 19, 2009 blog provides full disclosure that I only receive review copies of books, with no other compensation. All review copies are marked as such. If there any any questions, please feel free to contact me.