They Never Learn by Layne Fargo
First Publication Date: 13th October 2020
I received an advance copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Scarlett Clark is an exceptional English professor. But she’s even better at getting away with murder.
Every year, she searches for the worst man at Gorman University and plots his well-deserved demise. Thanks to her meticulous planning, she’s avoided drawing attention to herself—but as she’s preparing for her biggest kill yet, the school starts probing into the growing body count on campus. Determined to keep her enemies close, Scarlett insinuates herself into the investigation and charms the woman in charge, Dr. Mina Pierce. Everything’s going according to her master plan…until she loses control with her latest victim, putting her secret life at risk of exposure.
Meanwhile, Gorman student Carly Schiller is just trying to survive her freshman year. Finally free of her emotionally abusive father, all Carly wants is to focus on her studies and fade into the background. Her new roommate has other ideas. Allison Hadley is cool and confident—everything Carly wishes she could be—and the two girls quickly form an intense friendship. So when Allison is sexually assaulted at a party, Carly becomes obsessed with making the attacker pay…and turning her fantasies about revenge into a reality.
I was not very sure about They Never Learn in the beginning because this is an incredibly indulgent book, going hard into the femme fatale trope and turning Scarlett nearly into a caricature. But as I read on, both she and the general exaggerated tone of the book charmed me. This is a fast, delicious read where Scarlett is constantly thinking of her last or her next kill, hyper-focused on the murders and generally cold and calculating. It feels almost like a James Bond villain given her own narrative. It was just really fun to read!
At first I was not very interested on the Carly plotline, but it does get more interesting as it goes on and is quite essential to the story. Scarlett on the other hand I was constantly swinging between hoping she would get caught and hoping she wouldn’t. I will not disclose what happens in the end, but it was an absolutely fantastic ending and very satisfying. Both characters are bisexual, which for me is always a plus!
They Never Learn showcases many ways women suffer violence every day because of their sex: predatory Professors, abusive husbands, boys who pretend to be friends in hopes of getting laid, doctors who dismiss claims of abuse, victim blaming and so on. I spent half the book raging over the injustices and the other half delighting in Scarlett’s bloodthirst. I highly recommend it if you enjoy the premise and don’t mind the indulgent tone of the book.