THE PACT
by Jennifer Sturman

December 2004
ISBN: 0-373-25079-7
Reviewer Graphic Button Red Dress Ink
Trade Paperback
Rating:



Rachel Benjamin and her friends come to attend their mutual college friend Emma’s wedding at her parents' luxurious estate. While none of the wedding party like the bridegroom, Richard, they’re still shocked when Richard is found murdered on the morning of the wedding. While the local police begin a slow and methodical investigation, Rachel, the insatiably curious investment banker, begins to put together the various puzzling bits of information, none of which seemed to fit together in a logical way.


Her mind a hotbed of confusion, Rachel finds there are many potential candidates for murderer - from the secretive and sad bride to her loyal college friends who’d once made a pact to ‘waste’ any unsuitable suitor, a distraught father, to cute Peter, the best man on whom Rachel is rapidly developing a crush. Who among them is the culprit? Like in a cleverly twisted Agatha Christie novel, will the narrator herself turn out to be the guilty party? Or is there a very simple, very innocent explanation for all this?


Jennifer Sturman’s intensely suspenseful and highly engrossing debut book is like a modern and infinitely appealing version of an Agatha Christie novel. While the plot basically revolves around solving the murder of the groom who’s killed on the eve of the wedding, the book also takes a sensitive look at the complex lives of the various characters involved who face a range of problems ranging from clashes with parents to affairs, unrequited love, the dating jungle, work pressures and much more, all highly relevant in today’s times and society.


While the story itself isn’t unique, the same cannot be said of its narrator, the overworked, admittedly avaricious investment banker Rachel Benjamin. The trails and tribulations and neuroses of this inimitable MBA turned amateur sleuth will keep the readers gleefully chortling, even as they cannot help but admire the way her cool, logical banker brain starts putting facts together neatly and swiftly sifting them about to gradually form a comprehensive picture. But the crucial question is - is it the right picture? The intermeshed love affairs and nuances of human emotions and friendships tangled up with secrets both past and present make this a story that has its fair share of tension as well as romance. Kudos to Jennifer Sturman for writing what could possibly one of the first few chick-lit suspense books!


Reviewed in December 2004 by Rashmi.

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