Rebecca Makkai’s latest novel, I Have Some Questions For You, is a literary mystery set against the backdrop of a New Hampshire boarding school. Our protagonist, Bodie Kane, is a successful podcaster who is invited back to her alma mater to help some current students create podcasts of their own. One student, however, is determined to make a podcast about the 1995 murder of Thalia Keith, a case that has had a second life on the internet and which numerous online sleuths are determined was a botched case, leading to the wrong person being imprisoned.
The thing is, Bodie knew Thalia, and the murder took place in the very school that the students are now working on their podcasts. As her student delves deeper into the case, it causes Bodie to relive it all over again. She begins questioning if the wrong person was actually convicted and, if so, who did kill Thalia?
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Despite I Have Some Questions For You being over 400 pages long, I dare any reader to not find themselves utterly engrossed in Makkai’s superbly paced mystery. Watching the case slowly unravel is one of the most satisfying reading experiences I’ve had in a long time. And I think what makes this novel work so well is the fact that Rebecca Makkai treats her readers like adults. There is no rush to explain things or a worry that perhaps the reader will get bored, there are no sudden twists or hooks to grab our attention, it is a robust literary mystery and something (and I don’t make this comparison lightly) that could’ve been penned by Donna Tartt. With novels this sturdy, this wholly enjoyable and brilliantly plotted, you have to wonder why anyone bothers with the Richard Osmans of the world.
Barry Pierce is a journalist and cultural commentator
I Have Some Questions For You by Rebecca Makkai is out on February 23 (Little, Brown, £16.99).You can buy it from The Big Issue shop on Bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.