Jenny Hollander’s debut—Everyone Who Can Forgive Me is Dead—is generating a fair amount of buzz, for good reason. This is an impeccably plotted example of psychological suspense destined to convert casual readers into lifelong fans.

“Scarlet Christmas” is the moniker given by the media when talking about the tragedy that occurred on the Carroll University School of Journalism campus nine years ago. An incident of this nature that left multiple students dead was most unusual for such an elite graduate program, which makes it an easy target for rumor, innuendo, and a fair share of unfounded speculation.

As with anything on the internet, much of what was and continues to be reported is not accurate. Charlie Colbert was there that day, she should know. Now the editor-in-chief of a major magazine, Charlie wishes she could put the incident behind her. But the sensationalism surrounding such a horrific event means just as things start to cool off, some media outlet resurrects it with anniversary coverage, interviews of the survivors, updates on the victim’s families, and that ever-present desire to understand why.

Charlie has never spoken on the record and continues to refuse every inquiry. She spoke to the police that night and even that she regrets. Charlie doesn’t even open up at her on-going therapy appointments despite being told by Dr. Noor that talking about it would help the healing.

Charlie knows she must keep it all inside. Otherwise, everyone would know the truth. And now, another former Carroll student is making a movie about the “Scarlet Christmas,” vowing to set the record straight. Charlie—who is about to marry into one of the wealthiest and most influential families in the country—will do everything in her power to make sure that never happens.

This is the complex knot Jenny Hollander places before her readers. The narrative unfolds from Charlie’s perspective, with the occasional excerpt from media outlet news items and chapters from a true crime book written by a classmate. This author knows just when to allow glimpses into the action on campus that year leading up to the tragedy to keep readers on the hook, turning pages and needing to know exactly what occurred.

Fans of psychological suspense will recognize many of the tropes of that sub-genre in Everyone Who Can Forgive Me is Dead, but they will quickly realize that Jenny Hollander is not playing by anyone else’s rule book. Whereas so many of these novels stretch credibility in order to elevate suspense, Hollander only needs to follow her fascinating characters to their inevitable conclusion to keep readers invested.

This is a work of fiction, but the psychology on display is so ingrained in the plot that one can easily accept each decision that is made. As the walls begin to close in on Charlie, the resulting choices feel not only organic, but also inherently necessary. It bonds the reader to this character in a way that wouldn’t be possible without the authentic voice deployed by this debut author.

It’s hard to imagine this won’t stand the test of time as one of the best debut novels of 2024. Fans—including myself—are already anxiously awaiting the next work from Jenny Hollander. Pick up Everyone Who Can Forgive Me is Dead today and call in sick tomorrow—it’s about to be a long and unforgettable night.

BUY LINKS: Everyone Who Can Forgive Me is Dead by Jenny Hollander

Disclaimer: A print galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No promotion was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.