The Lion’s Den by Katherine St. John, New York : Grand Central Publishing, 2020.
This is, quite possibly, the most deceptive cover, ever. Who wouldn’t want to be the woman on the cover, lying on the deck of a boat in the sunshine? But perhaps the broken wine bottle and spilled wine glass better sum up the heart of this book, which is a story of betrayal, illegal dealings and catty behavior every former female denizen of middle and high school will recognize.
Belle is invited, along with five other women, to spend a lovely vacation with her (former?) best friend Summer on Summer’s boyfriend’s yacht in the Mediterranean Sea. Belle and Summer’s relationship has hit a rocky point, but still Belle decides to go on this once-in-a-lifetime trip. John, Summer’s boyfriend, is older than their parents, but Summer is happy, and that is what matters, right?
The trip starts off badly when Belle gets motion sickness on the private plane, and doesn’t get better from there. John is controlling, to the point of dictating what and when the guests eat and drink, and Summer ranges from saccharine and fawning over her friends to cold, distant, condescending and rude when they don’t do exactly what they are asked to do.
The book slowly peels away the layers of Belle and Summer’s friendship, how things went wrong, and what Belle is really doing on this trip when she knows Summer is not her friend anymore. There is a twist that you might see well before it is revealed (I did), but the initial twist is just the tip of the iceberg.
If you like your summer reads to give you a chill down your spine, this book will give you plenty as you wonder along with Belle if she will make it through the trip, or will disappear in an accident in the blue Mediterranean waters.
Mary Beth Adams is the Outreach Coordinator for Alamance County Public Libraries. She can be reached at email@example.com.