Envy: An Empty Coffin Novel | South China Morning Post
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Envy: An Empty Coffin Novel

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 September, 2011, 12:00am

Envy: An Empty Coffin Novel
by Gregg Olsen
Splinter

Inspired by a real-life case of cyberbullying, Envy centres around the potential dangers of online anonymity and how jealousy, revenge and unfortunate coincidence can wreak havoc in people's lives.

The novel begins with teenager Katelyn dead in a bathtub, a victim of electrocution by mini espresso machine. Her parents, and the small town of Port Gamble, Washington state, USA, are sent into a spin. Was it suicide, murder or an accident?

Twins Hayley and Taylor, close friends of Katelyn, begin to investigate and through insightful detective work, plus an eerie supernatural ability to see the past and future, they delve into the events that led to the death of a lonely and depressed girl.

Olsen keeps the pace moving quickly and evenly. The twins' plucky friend Beth Lee, with her Dr Martens boots and spiky hair, eases the tension with her quirky views.

Olsen's take on Port Gamble, a historic mill town that seems picture-perfect, reveals a place with a chilling undercurrent of disorder and distress. A tragic traffic accident years ago, from which only the twins and Katelyn survived, is just one of several black stains in the town's memory, and one that adds to the mystery of Katelyn's untimely death.

Instead of a happily-ever-after ending, the novel ends with a shocking move by one of the book's most captivating characters - the mother of Hayley's boyfriend, a woman with a dark past. By the end, readers are left with more questions than answers, scenarios to be addressed, presumably, in future instalments of the series.

It's a thoroughly enjoyable, if at times slightly far-fetched, read by a writer not averse to looking into the darkness of the human heart, dysfunctional families and the difficult decisions people sometimes are forced to make in extreme circumstances.

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