Genre: Suspense Square: Robert Q. broke Darlene's heart, now he and his friends are suffering the consequences. Who will be next?
The obsession of 'townie' Darlene for heartless Big Man on Campus Robert Q. Parker, III is matched only by Hailey's obsession with Robert Q.'s group of snobby friends. I loved the continuity references to 'Silent Scream'. Mostly it only involved Jess, Ian, and Milo showing up and making the appropriate noises to move the plot forward, but its more than Stine gives us over in Shadyside! This is the third book in the series, but apparently #2 was not written by Hoh, one of only a handful in the 29-book series that wasn't written by herself.
This is a well-plotted thriller with no trace of the supernatural and without the heavy-handed red herrings of 'Silent Scream'. The book is told through Hailey's perspective, weird because she is not a part of the titular 'Deadly Attraction' or a particularly close friend of either - she was just kind to Darlene a few times - so to keep the reader informed of the plot Hailey must obsess over the motivations and the actions of Robert Q. and his jerky rich-kid friends.
Salem University is revealed to be a pretty big place so this hyper-concentration on a select group of 'in' students is odd. I went to a small college of less than 3,000 students and it was still too big to have one group of pretty, popular folk dominate the social hierarchy the way Robert Q., Gerrie Northrup, Richard Wentworth and Puffy Wycroft (pleeeeaaase tell me she's the star of a future novel!) seem to.
The attraction is between young diner waitress Darlene Riggs and a callous womanizer named Robert Q. who is somehow the darling of campus, possibly because of his red Miata. When he ditches Darlene to go back to his society girlfriend Gerrie. Darlene is furious, but blames Richard's friends more than Richard himself.
What follows are a series of attacks and Hailey herself becomes a target, presumably because she helped Darlene with her hair and make-up and talks to her on the phone. The suspects include Darlene's jealous townie boyfriend, Darlene's brother Mike who attends Salem but nobody knows, and Darlene herself of course. Some of the attacks seemed a little too elaborate - putting a professor's papers in a girl's locker (a locker in college?) and reporting her as a cheater - but there were some clever misdirection and a great identity twist.
There wasn't that much to elevate this above other teen thrillers, but the continuity gives me hope for the series. Diane Hoh has a more subtle touch then her male peers. I may have to hunt these out instead of more 'Fear Street'.
Next: 'The Wish'
Previous: 'The Roommate'