I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick
What happened to Zoe won’t stay buried…
When Anna Cicconi arrives to the small Hamptons village of Herron Mills for a summer nanny gig, she has high hopes for a fresh start. What she finds instead is a community on edge after the disappearance of Zoe Spanos, a local girl who has been missing since New Year’s Eve. Anna bears an eerie resemblance to Zoe, and her mere presence in town stirs up still-raw feelings about the unsolved case. As Anna delves deeper into the mystery, stepping further and further into Zoe’s life, she becomes increasingly convinced that she and Zoe are connected–and that she knows what happened to her.
Two months later, Zoe’s body is found in a nearby lake, and Anna is charged with manslaughter. But Anna’s confession is riddled with holes, and Martina Green, teen host of the Missing Zoe podcast, isn’t satisfied. Did Anna really kill Zoe? And if not, can Martina’s podcast uncover the truth?
It’s more than just a summer job: it’s a fresh start.
Anna Cicconi’s senior year got away from her, and nannying for a rich family in the Hamptons is a chance to start over. No partying, no drinks or drugs, no old friends to pull her into old habits.
Except it’s like everyone already knows her, because no one can look away from her resemblance to Zoe Spanos, the girl who vanished without a trace six months ago. What was supposed to be a clean slate is suddenly muddied by Zoe’s unsolved disappearance, and the longer Anna stays in the Hamptons, the more certain she is that she knows something about Zoe’s fate.
And when she confesses to murdering Zoe, everything changes, forcing new truths to light. But did Anna kill Zoe, or is something else at work in the Hamptons?
I honestly love this trend of mystery meets podcasts.
I struggle a lot to listen to actual podcasts because processing audio is the nightmare scenario. Truthfully, I can’t even handle audiobooks, even if I like the story, which sucks! There’s something amazingly handy about listening to a story while doing something else at the same time.
Which means that books including podcast transcripts are like candy for me. They’re the closest I can get to the real deal, and I love the added element they provide. Sadie by Courtney Summers is a great example, as is I Hope You’re Listening by Tom Ryan.
And, of course, I Killed Zoe Spanos.
The podcast only features sporadically throughout this book, not as heavily as I would have expected, but I love the added point of view. Anna, despite her confession, is far from a reliable narrator, and her uncertainty regarding Zoe’s murder is almost tangible.
But Martina Green’s podcast? She digs and digs, even when she finds out that the truth hurts, and her digging helps clarify the pieces that float around in the wake of Anna’s apparent guilt. Her point of view gives I Killed Zoe Spanos that extra edge to make it a truly solid book.
And speaking of Anna, I actually liked her quite a lot.
She’s not really a part of the Hamptons, and the lifestyle of the wealthy folks living there is an entirely new world. She’s almost in over her head, too, trying to shape a new Anna out of the wreckage of the old one. Maybe, she thinks taking responsibility for a small child will force her to stay responsible. Maybe it will help her steer clear of the habits that brought her into such a low spiral through the end of her senior year.
But it’s so hard to be certain, especially when she knows things she shouldn’t, remembers things she couldn‘t, and all she wants to do is reinvent herself as someone who won’t spend her nights blackout drunk and her days in a haze. She’s scared and uncertain and making such an effort to change the direction of her life, and I really liked that about her.
Plus, she still makes bad decisions, like most teenagers do. Unusual circumstances of her employment and Zoe’s disappearance aside, she’s not too difficult to imagine as a real teen. Not everyone’s perfect. Not everyone makes the right choices the first, second, fifth time around.
But she’s trying, and I do love a character who tries and fails and still tries again.
I Killed Zoe Spanos is Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca retold with a glossy coat of Hamptons shine.
It might not be for everyone, especially readers who don’t especially care what goes on in the world of the wealthy, even with a possible murder afoot. That said, it does a great job digging into uncertainty and fear about the future, as well as the scars that trauma leaves behind, especially in a community.
Anna Cicconi says she killed Zoe Spanos, but there’s more to it than that. There always has been.
CW: underage drinking, loss of a loved one, drug use, racism