The Spite Game (Anna Snoekstra, HQ Fiction)
Anna Snoekstra’s thriller The Spite Game opens with protagonist Ava confessing to the cops everything she knows about the disappearance of her former high school friend Mel, beginning with when they first met in high school. Weaving in crushes, bullying, betrayal, exams and university, Ava’s story is darkened by her obsession with dealing out justice, which spirals out of control to eventually ruin her former friends’ lives. Readers are immersed in a range of Ava’s emotions—apathy, denial, guilt, obsession, love, shame and fury—and they will keep reading to the end when they realise Ava isn’t the only one playing a game of cat-and-mouse. The Spite Game is a psychological thriller about wanting justice but feeling disempowered, and it’s about taking things into your own hands when others fail to do what they should. Snoesktra writes her protagonist convincingly: Ava hides the most shameful parts of the story until she has no choice but to divulge them. As in many of Snoekstra’s other works, The Spite Game explores the untold darker sides of people’s personal lives. In Only Daughter, it was desperation; in Little Secrets, it was ambition; and in The Spite Game, it is an all-consuming desire for justice. A story of high school grudges and revenge wrapped up as a crime thriller, Snoekstra’s latest will appeal to fans of The Trap and Gone Girl.
Marisa Wikramanayake is an author, editor and journalist