Jessica Knoll | Bright Young Women

The Book: 

Bright Young Women by Jessica Knoll

September 19, 2023 by S&S/ Marysue Rucci Books
Date read: May 23, 2023

The Characters: 


Buy it on | Amazon

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The Plot (from Goodreads):

An extraordinary novel inspired by the real-life sorority targeted by America’s first celebrity serial killer in his final murderous spree.

January 1978. A serial killer has terrorized women across the Pacific Northwest, but his existence couldn’t be further from the minds of the vibrant young women at the top sorority on Florida State University’s campus in Tallahassee. Tonight is a night of promise, excitement, and desire, but Pamela Schumacher, president of the sorority, makes the unpopular decision to stay home—a decision that unwittingly saves her life. Startled awake at 3 a.m. by a strange sound, she makes the fateful decision to investigate. What she finds behind the door is a scene of implausible violence—two of her sisters dead; two others, maimed. Over the next few days, Pamela is thrust into a terrifying mystery inspired by the crime that’s captivated public interest for more than four decades.

On the other side of the country, Tina Cannon has found peace in Seattle after years of hardship. A chance encounter brings twenty-five-year-old Ruth Wachowsky into her life, a young woman with painful secrets of her own, and the two form an instant connection. When Ruth goes missing from Lake Sammamish State Park in broad daylight, surrounded by thousands of beachgoers on a beautiful summer day, Tina devotes herself to finding out what happened to her. When she hears about the tragedy in Tallahassee, she knows it’s the man the papers refer to as the All-American Sex Killer. Determined to make him answer for what he did to Ruth, she travels to Florida on a collision course with Pamela—and one last impending tragedy.

Bright Young Women is the story about two women from opposite sides of the country who become sisters in their fervent pursuit of the truth. It proposes a new narrative inspired by evidence that’s been glossed over for decades in favor of more salable headlines—that the so-called brilliant and charismatic serial killer from Seattle was far more average than the countless books, movies, and primetime specials have led us to believe, and that it was the women whose lives he cut short who were the exceptional ones.

Bright Young WomenBright Young Women by Jessica Knoll
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thank you to @SimonandSchuster @BookClubFavorites for this gifted copy and to for the audiobook.

True crime lovers, read this book! Bright Young Women is a fictional story based on the real-life murders of Ted Bundy, and it is fascinating. It’s told through the eyes of Pamela, a witness to her sorority sisters’ murders, and Ruth, another earlier victim. The characters are extremely well thought out, with a lot of depth and intelligence. I loved Pamela’s POV as she remained determined to put the real killer behind bars. Bright Young Women is more character-driven than a typical thriller, but it is very well done.

Every time I looked at this cover the song from The Little Mermaid popped into my head, but the title is actually a play on words based on a quote from a judge that called Bundy a Bright Young Man. I loved that this book takes the fame back from The Defendent and honors the women who put the case together.

This campus thriller is a great read to pick up this fall.

View all my reviews

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