Killer Cliques

Georgetown LibraryStaff Picks

Killer Cliques

Friendships that go too far in Literary Fiction and Mystery

Tight-knit and exclusive, the groups of young people depicted in the following Literary Fiction and Mystery novels all become entangled to some extent with violence -- often of the fatal variety.
Formed for different reasons, these groups are similarly variable in their involvements in these acts of violence -- as well as in their members’ reactions, both immediate and ongoing.      
Thrilling in themselves, the following titles also together and individually play upon the tension between the allure of close groups, with their suggestion of protection and loyalty, and the emotional vulnerability necessary to achieve such closeness, escalating that tension with life and death stakes. 

The Secret History by Donna Tartt
A new arrival to fictional Hampden College in Vermont, Richard Papen becomes drawn to a tight group of five fellow students united by their devotion to their Classics professor and the subject itself -- a devotion that will turn fatal and, in doing so, test all involved. 

Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates
Six first year students at the fictional Pitt College of Oxford University develop a game of personalized dares and consequences to test their mettle as individuals, yet it soon becomes more than they anticipated -- threatening their friendship, endangering their lives, and refusing to let go.

The Likeness by Tana French
In the second Dublin Murder Squad mystery novel, Detective Cassie Maddox investigates the murder of a young woman with a striking physical resemblance to her by hiding the woman’s death and impersonating her in the house she shared with four fellow Trinity College graduate students, whose closeness at first captivates Cassie -- but eventually draws her suspicion.

Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl
Frequently uprooted due to her father’s academic career, Blue Van Meer arrives for her senior year of high school at the fictional St. Gallway School in North Carolina and soon becomes part of a clique of fellow students known as the Bluebloods and led by the school’s film studies teacher -- only to turn detective when death crosses their path.

The Year of the Gadfly by Jennifer Miller
Iris Dupont arrives at fictional New England prep school Mariana Academy in the wake of tragedy, eager to lose herself in her interest in journalism, but in the course of pursuing a story about student secret society Prisom’s Party for the school paper, she discovers a pattern of cruelty that spans generations. 
-- Julia S.