How to Kill Your Best Friend

by Lexie Elliott
Berkley, August 2021, $27

When Georgie’s closest college friend, Lissa, dies mysteriously at the age of 35, Georgie travels to the remote island resort that Lissa and her husband own to attend the funeral. While talking with their college swim team friends after the memorial, she shares her belief that there is no way that Lissa, an incredibly strong swimmer, died while taking a nighttime swim at Kanu Cove.

The problem, as readers soon discover, is that there’s no telling what Lissa might have done. Flashbacks to the team’s college days paint Lissa as mercurial and manipulative—and capable of terrifying actions of which only Georgie is truly aware.

What makes the trip even more surreal is that Georgie is receiving emails from Lissa, written four days before her death. Delayed by a corporate IT problem, the just-released messages signal that Lissa is in trouble, and is reaching out to Georgie for help. Unfortunately, Georgie skipped the team’s last get-together, and now she feels guilty for not being there when she was needed most.

The story alternates between Georgie’s description of events and chapters featuring Bronwyn, the “third wheel” to Georgie and Lissa’s friendship. Now a suburban mom, Bronwyn is far more than what she seems on the surface, and seeing events through her eyes gives the reader an even better view of the dynamic between the friends and the thin and sometimes fatal line between love and hate. Chapter headings detailing ways to kill your best friend—poisoning, shooting, hit-and-runs, and more—hone the point even further.

While the story sometimes seems to be treading water with too many descriptions of the friends’ swimming excursions, the author drops in enough interesting story lines—including the sighting of a sea monster and the death of a resort worker—to keep the action moving forward. Though the ending seemed a little predictable, this is one book tailor-made for a summer beach read.

Vanessa Orr
Teri Duerr
August 2021