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What Happened to Cass McBride?    by Gail Giles order for
What Happened to Cass McBride?
by Gail Giles
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I picked up What Happened to Cass McBride?, planning to glance through it briefly and come back to it later. Not possible! Gail Giles delivers a gripping, harrowing read, that draws readers down into the depths with her young protagonist.

College student Kyle Kirby feels enormous guilt and anger over the death of his needy younger brother, David, a dorky high schooler who wore good clothes but 'leached the cool factor out of them.' Kyle takes revenge on popular, self-centered Cass McBride, who rejected his brother's advances and left a damning note for her friend that David found, and that may have triggered his suicide.

Cass is abducted and buried alive, but with a twist. Kyle has set up a communication system, wanting Cass to know why this is happening to her. For Cass, it's an opportunity - though a very slim one - to apply the sales techniques that her father taught her. Can she convince Kyle to release her? Cass's only weapons are her mind and her voice.

Though Cass's situation is revealed almost immediately, the events that led up to it - and her ultimate fate - are revealed slowly and steadily, creating a tension that's hard to bear. We first meet Kyle cuffed in an interview room, being questioned by police. He assumes 'She's dead, isn't she?' We follow the crucial first forty-eight hours of the abduction along with the investigating officers, with interludes to eavesdrop on a fraught dialog between Kyle and Cass.

And we learn about the strong parental influences that brought all three players (David, Kyle and Cass) to disaster. Cass's dad Ted is a manipulator, who's taught her mental control, but not much compassion - she admits 'I can't feel good about me until I put somebody else down.' David and Kyle's mother is a verbally abusive monster, whose words ate her younger son alive all his short life.

Don't miss What Happened to Cass McBride? It's a shocker that will keep you frenziedly reading to the last page ... and keep you thinking long after that.

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