For the past few days I've been reading Megan Abbott's Dare Me. Yes, with the above cover. A close-up of lips being bitten is a pretty much universal graphic for women's magazine/website lists of sex tips, so reading it in public might have made me look a little pervy. It wouldn't help for observers to know that most of the primary characters are 16-17 year old girls. It's an interesting book, but I can't say I found it titillating at all. Then again, teenage girls with massive eating disorders aren't my cup of tea, which is probably a good thing all around.
It's been described as "cheer noir", which seems pretty accurate. The narrator is a cheerleader. Her best friend is the captain of the pep squad. They get a new coach and the best friend clashes with her. This escalates to blackmail and someone winds up dead, not necessarily in that order. I've read some Patricia Highsmith, and Abbott seems to be a writer in a similar vein.
The character of Beth Cassidy is rather fascinating. In plain narrative terms she escalates from troublemaker to villain. Really, though, she's a great antihero, someone with inspiring scale. Towards the end her dialogue even picks up Shakespearean echoes.