Book Review: In My Dreams I Hold a Knife by Ashley Winstead

Title: In My Dreams I Hold a Knife
Author: Ashley Winstead
Release Date: August 3, 2021
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis

Six friends.
One college reunion.
One unsolved murder.


A college reunion turns dark and deadly in this chilling and propulsive suspense novel about six friends, one unsolved murder, and the dark secrets they’ve been hiding from each other—and themselves—for a decade.

Ten years after graduation, Jessica Miller has planned her triumphant return to southern, elite Duquette University, down to the envious whispers that are sure to follow in her wake. Everyone is going to see the girl she wants them to see—confident, beautiful, indifferent—not the girl she was when she left campus, back when Heather’s murder fractured everything, including the tight bond linking the six friends she’d been closest to since freshman year. Ten years ago, everything fell apart, including the dreams she worked for her whole life—and her relationship with the one person she wasn’t supposed to love.

But not everyone is ready to move on. Not everyone left Duquette ten years ago, and not everyone can let Heather’s murder go unsolved. Someone is determined to trap the real killer, to make the guilty pay. When the six friends are reunited, they will be forced to confront what happened that night—and the years’ worth of secrets each of them would do anything to keep hidden.


Review

I found this book thanks to Books and the City podcast who related it to the Private series. That was one of my favorite series when I was younger so of course I had to pick this one up. It did not disappoint and was definitely the suspenseful academic mystery I was hoping for.

Six friends return to their university for their ten year reunion. Known as the East House Seven, the best of friends and inseparable until one of them was brutally murdered. With no one ever charged, the case went cold and they all moved on with their lives, until now. The reunion is about to lead to answers with secrets long buried finally coming out.

The story is told between alternating timelines and POVs. We get to follow Jessica during the reunion and flashback to the groups university days, trying to piece the ten year mystery together. Winstead expertly wove a tale about lies, deception and just what it takes to be, or at least appear to be, perfect.

Duquette University was the perfect setting giving this dark academia vibe. College is hard and I remember those feelings of being stressed to the max, wanting to achieve those high grades while also finding friends and fitting in. Mix that in with the have and the have-nots and it can become a volatile mix. We really see this within the East House Seven where yes they’re all friends, but even within the group there is a hierarchy. I really wish we could have explored each of them and their friendships more versus just jumping back to important scenes.

Jessica was who we followed the most and I was so invested in her story. She was this morally grey character who needed some serious therapy. She was obsessed with being perfect and successful but was always falling short. You’re left wondering just how far she was willing to go to come out on top. I honestly wasn’t sure if murder was where she drew the line or not. Her story was heartbreaking at times and others I thought she was a complete psychopath. I still wanted her to succeed though and maybe find that love and acceptance she’d been searching her whole life for.

Winstead killed it with her debut novel and crafted the perfect college murder mystery that kept me guessing until the very end. It was such a great read and I couldn’t put it down. I also throughly enjoyed the title and the cover, how they played off each other and the event of Heather’s murder.

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