Wednesday, October 14, 2020

They Never Learn

They Never Learn by Layne Fargo
10/13/20; 352 pages
Gallery/Scout Press

They Never Learn by Layne Fargo is a highly recommended revenge thriller.

Scarlett Clark is an English professor at Gorman University. Her other "job" is eliminating men who assault and rape women. The university system tends to ignore or excuse sexual assaults on campus and the professors who prey on young women. Scarlett doesn't. Every year she selects a man at Gorman who deserves to die for their actions and she meticulously plans out their murder. She has made every kill look like an accident or suicide and no one has been the wiser that she has targeted them for murder. Her last kill, a star football player, has drawn unwanted attention to that murder as well as past deaths on campus. Now  the psychology department chair Dr. Mina Pierce is looking for patterns in all the deaths.

Alternate chapters follow reserved freshman student Carly Schiller and her confident, outgoing roommate Allison Hadley. When Allison is sexually assaulted at a party, Carly becomes obsessed with exposing the guilty man and seeking revenge after the medical clinic and the university don't take the claim seriously.

It is important to note that this isn't a novel about justice; it is a novel about revenge and a serial killer. And Scarlett may be seeking vigilante justice in her mind, but she is actually a sociopath and feels no guilt or compunction over her actions. She has no soul searching doubts about murdering her chosen victims. Now, if you can go with that, it is an entertaining, fast-paced novel with some twists (that you may see coming) and it will hold your attention to the end. It is a feminist novel taking on the campus rape culture by embracing a theme of revenge. The novel is set up as good versus bad, with all the males predatory and the females innocent. (While that can be the case sometimes, personally I believe that justice often can and does occur with the legal system.) Characters aren't all as well developed as I would like, but they are interesting. 

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Simon & Schuster.

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