"The French Girl" (Berkley), by Lexie Elliott

Friendship, love, murder, drugs: What could go wrong? It should have been a carefree week in a French farmhouse for Katie, her boyfriend and four university friends, but when Severine, the strikingly beautiful girl next door, appeared, her presence exposed cracks in the group's bond. Then she vanished. Now, a decade later, Katie is brooding over a decade-old breakup and struggling to start her own company when she receives a phone call. Severine's body has been found in a well behind the farmhouse, and suddenly Katie and her friends are of keen interest to the police.

Lexie Elliott's "The French Girl" commands attention. The author provides the perfect dose of character development before unveiling eerie details from her cast's past, ensuring that we're properly unnerved when their lives begin to unravel. Katie's charming demeanor combined with her endearing self-awareness produce a main character that readers will find themselves begging, "Please don't be the murderer." Her multifaceted relationships with her friends prove realistic and engaging, and the British pubs, flats and offices where their lives intertwine serve as relevant backdrops.

While the crux of the story rests in events that occurred 10 years ago, Elliott opts to forgo the alternating past-and-present chapter layout and instead digs deep into her characters' current lives, allowing history to reveal itself naturally through dialogue and memories. So stark is this difference from current thrillers that the book reads like a fresh genre.

Prose comes dappled with twists of phrases, expertly sinking readers deep into scenes, and Katie's teetering career combined with shaky love life carries its own plot-worthy weight. You'll be well-served to carve out a lofty chunk of time for this tangled mystery, as "The French Girl" demands a one-sit read.