Pauline and Gemma go to the same school. Pauline is neglected, tough and, consequently, a bully. Gemma apparently has a stable family, but reluctantly goes to live with her mother and her mother's boyfriend, whose main attraction seems to be his wealth. Although not friends, the girls are united in their crush on Lallie, a child star who is filming locally. She also has secrets. There are few attractive characters in Coe's début novel, set authentically in the 1970s, but this adds to the tension as it moves towards the chilling final episode in which fear, panic and aggression produce the concluding murderous act.
An impressive evocation of the perpetuation of abuse, its ending will stay with you for some time.