NEVER SAW ME COMING
Author: Vera Kurian
Publication Date: September 7, 2021
Publisher: Park Row Books
“I’ve never met someone like me, but when I do, eventually, I think it will be like two wolves meeting in the night, sniffing and recognizing a fellow hunter.”
Meet Chloe Sevre. Freshman honor student. Average-seeming, legging-wearing, hot girl next door…and diagnosed psychopath with an IQ of 135. Her hobbies include yogalates, frat parties, and plotting to kill Will Bachman, a childhood friend who grievously wronged her.
Now Chloe and six other students at John Adams College are part of an unusual clinical study that includes smartwatches to track their moods and movements, in exchange for free tuition. The study, led by a renowned psychiatrist, has inadvertently brought together some of the most dangerous minds who feel no guilt or fear. When one of the participants is found murdered, it becomes obvious they’re all in danger. Chloe goes from hunter to prey, and joins forces with two other psychopaths in the program to discover why they’re being targeted – if they could only trust each other.
Wildly entertaining with compelling characters and a vividly conjured campus setting, NEVER SAW ME COMING will keep you up all night, pinned to the page, wondering why you’re rooting for a would-be killer.
Chloe isn’t your average college freshman. She’s a psychopath. No, literally. She’s attending college as part of a program with six other diagnosed psychopath students, designed to monitor their moods and feelings, and just maybe to help them learn some semblance of empathy for other people. The scholarship is nice and all, but Chloe has plans of her own – she’s there to kill Will Bachman for a wrong done to her years ago.
The students aren’t supposed to know each other. They’re never supposed to meet. But when one of them ends up dead, and then another, Chloe and two other students in the program work together to sort out who’s doing the killing. Can they figure it out before the killer takes them out, too?
This was a fascinating concept for a book! Chloe is an engaging main character – sharp and funny, and always calculating how to turn any situation to her advantage. She’s a psychopath, a “bad guy,” but she isn’t. Sure, she wants to kill Will, but he did her wrong. In her mind, that justifies his death. If Chloe were a real person and I knew her, I suspect I’d find her mostly likeable, if coming off a bit of a mean girl sometimes.
Someone killing program students is an entirely different matter, though. That isn’t acceptable, largely because Chloe values her own skin, and if she’s dead, she can’t take Will out.
Charles and Andre, the two program students working with Chloe to figure out who’s behind the killings, are interesting as well. Three young people with the same diagnosis, yet very different in their backgrounds and personalities, their relationships, and how they present themselves. Their interactions are fascinating. Can they trust each other? Is one of them the killer? Who’s lying? Who’s not exactly lying, but maybe gaming the others a little?
And the ending. I’m not giving it away, but I didn’t see it coming until it whapped me upside the head. I love books where I don’t figure it out ages before the big reveal!
This was a unique take on the thriller, and a bang-up debut from Vera Kurian. Five nail-biting stars from me. Thanks to Netgalley and Park Row Books for an advance reader copy.
Vera Kurian is a psychologist and writer and a longtime resident of Washington DC. She has a doctorate in social psychology, specializing in intergroup relations, political ideology, and quantitative methods. She has studied fiction at Breadloaf, Sewanee, VONA, and attended juried workshops at LitCamp, Colgate, Juniper, and the Marlboro Summer Writing Intensive. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and was a semifinalist for the Mark Twain Royal Nonesuch Humor Writing Contest.