I very nearly gave up on this novel due to its slow start. In my opinion, the first 100 pages or so could easily have been condensed into 20. I realise that the author was trying to set the scene which was in some way useful to a reader outside of the UK as the novel is set amidst the American university culture of sororities and fraternities; but the point did seem somewhat laboured in places. Nevertheless, I did stick with this book and I am so glad that I did as the story developed into a compelling read. I don't think I have ever experienced such a complete attitude change towards a book - I went from loathing it and not wanting to continue to being riveted by the story and unable to put it down.
As the synopsis says, Nicole Werner died in a car crash; her boyfriend Craig was driving at the time but remembers nothing of the accident afterwards. However, soon Nicole's ghost seems to be haunting the hallowed university halls and even Perry, a longtime acquaintance of Nicole's, and Craig's room-mate, despite his sceptical outlook, comes to believe that he too has seen the supposedly-dead Nicole.
The time frame jumps constantly in the novel, slipping from the period after Nicole's death to a time prior to this, and at first this is confusing as there is no announcement or hint that the time is about to change. At first I found this annoying but it wasn't long before it seemed almost natural and I had no difficulty in following the plot. I am not sure precisely how the author achieved this or when exactly it happened and perhaps this is testimony to her prowess.
There are many different threads going on in this novel but gradually as the story progresses, they are drawn together and all the characters are in some way relevant to each other and to the story. I loved the depth of character given to each person.
The story is full of red herrings - just when I thought I understood exactly what was going on, something would happen to make me realise that actually I was completely in the dark. As one reads there are so many possible reasons for Nicole's post-death appearances - supernatural (this could be yet another in a string of vampire novels), psychological (maybe the main characters were all delusional) or thriller (maybe Nicole wasn't dead after all and it was all an elaborate hoax). I am not going to tell you which it is or even if it is one of these (obviously) but I have to give the author credit for keeping me guessing throughout.
Some other reviewers have mentioned a disappointing ending and here, sadly, I have to agree. I feel the author could have made more of the ending and I was left feeling a little deflated. Having said that, I have no idea how she could have wrapped up all the loose ends in a more thorough manner!
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and will be looking out for more by the same author.