Red Leaves - A Novel
Teatime and Books Review
We meet a group of college friends on a cold November afternoon playing basketball not far from Dartmouth College campus. Kristina Kim, Constance (Conni), Albert and Jim. Kristina and Jim are currently a couple and Constance and Albert are a couple. Kristina is fretting about the time and soon has to dash away to an important meeting. Her boyfriend Jim, at first seems concerned. She's unsettled about the meeting but can't tell her friends. At her meeting she meets her husband and they sign the divorce papers. Her husband is concerned for her not having enough money, but she insists she's fine. Off he goes to his New York high-end job and off she goes to Dartmouth. Kristina is one of Dartmouth's most prestigious and talented basketball players. She's also studying religion and philosophy. She also works at a shelter for pregnant teens. While walking back to campus she spots a pair of black boots in a shop and decides to buy them. Sitting outside of the colleges newspaper, she begins putting on her boots. Walking down below is Detective Spencer O'Malley; he's shocked by what he sees. Kristina has her bare foot sitting on the cold concrete. He approaches her and is concerned about her being too cold and she tells him she's fine and that when she was a child she put her feet in freezing cold water at the beach they swam at. He invites her for a cup of coffee at a local cafe. They chat about her college life and his life as a cop; which she's very intrigued by and she's also captivated by his strikingly beautiful blue eyes.
Later, O'Malley goes back to his boring apartment and Kristina to her college dorm. Later in the night, she's curled up with Albert in her dorm bed, making out. Conni comes to Kristina's door and wants to talk with her; she's frantic because she can't find Albert. Kristina tells her she's very tired and she didn't want to answer the door. Normally, Kristina keeps her door unlocked because of her dog Aristotle; whom all the friends take turns walking and tending to. Conni suspects Kristina and Albert being together but she at this time doesn't press the issue. Kristina does not want to be with Albert anymore and she's also not feeling it with Jim anymore either. Deep down, she's wanting to put her life on track and just get through her studies.
A few days later, Kristina is at her job at Red Leaves; a home for pregnant teens. Where one of the teens wants desperately to keep her twins and Kristina talks with her and promises the girl that she'll be there when the twins are born. Kristina leaves and goes a different route home and on her way and oncoming car slams into her and she's thrown off the side of the road. She's badly hurt, her shoulder is damaged severely (later, we learn it had been fractured) and she's got a big gash in the side of her face. However, fearing nobody will come for her, she manages to climb up the hill and makes her way back to campus. Her friends are all concerned for her but she just blows it off and downs some southern comfort.
A few days later, Detective O'Malley and his partner showed up at Kristina's dorm room because she'd left the scene of the accident and they found her car and ID. During the brief meeting, Spencer invited Kristina out to dinner after her Thanksgiving break. On Tuesday a couple days before Thanksgiving, the group of friends were celebrating Kristina's b-day and playing a game of cards. Their friend Frankie joined them, he lived on frat row and because it snowed that day and was continuing to snow, he challenged Kristina to walk along the outer edge of the bridge just down from the dorms. She often did this when it snowed, she hated it but also liked the challenge. During the card game, things got heated because of Conni's suspicions about Kristina and Albert and recently Kristina and Jim had broken up and he was still all bent out about that. The kids later depart and Kristina goes back to her room. She's still in a lot of agony from her accident, but she does venture out into the cold winter's night to walk the bridge. After walking the bridge, she hears her name being called.
Several days after Thanksgiving break, Spencer is at the station and tries yet again to get in touch with Kristina, whom he's not been able to get a hold of. Later, he's called out to a scene. It's in the woods below Dartmouth College, not far from Kristina's dorms. In the deep snow, he sees a pair of black boots sticking up and his stomach turns and he's hoping against hope it's not true...
Will the body in the snow turn out to be Kristina? If so, who killed her and why?
This was my first book of Ms. Simons and I must say this book kept me on the edge of my seat. I absolutely loved it! Such a twisting, turning, riveting ride, you will not be able to put this book down! I love a good mystery and one taken place on a college campus was especially enjoyable! I will not give any spoilers, but I will say, you will be thoroughly surprised by who the killer is and how it all turns out! What an amazing tale! A Dynamite high 5 stars for Red Leaves!