Fuelled by drink and drugs, what's the worst thing a group of dysfunctional teenagers on a camping trip can do? That is the secret which lies at the heart of Sue Walker's debut novel, the page-turning The Reunion.
The teenagers are members of The Unit, an experimental home for intelligent but disturbed adolescents, which is attached to an Edinburgh hospital.
Twenty-six years later, most of the "inmates" are leading highly successful and well-adjusted lives. But then Innes Haldene, a London lawyer, is reminded of the dark past she has so desperately tried to forget when she hears a desperate message left on her answerphone. Later on she discovers that at least two members of The Unit have recently died by their own hand.
Convinced that their deaths are linked, Innes risks everything to try and discover whether The Unit is to blame and, in doing so, discovers the dark secret that has laid buried since 1977.
Walker's novel is, to coin an old phrase, a gripping, page-turning read. The plot moves along quickly and steadily. Despite the story alternating between the present day and 1977, it is never confusing. Little clues peppered throughout keep the reader on edge, wandering what's going to happen next. I found myself racing to the finish because I wanted to discover the underlying secret that underpins the whole story.
My only quibble is that some of the scenes seemed forced, and the dialogue, while propelling the story forward, did not always ring true.
That aside, this is a fast, entertaining read and fans of crime fiction could do worse than wile away a few hours getting lost in this well-constructed story.