Melanie Thernstrom's The Dead Girl is the debut book every writer dreams of ... only it's not. Thernstrom's best friend was murdered while they were students at Harvard. Based on Thernstrom's senior thesis, The Dead Girl describes the disappearance, search for, and murder of Bibi Lee. Lee's boyfriend initially confessed and recanted, but Thernstrom's retelling of the events is devastating: the initial zeal for the search, the eventual slow-down of interest in the case, and the betrayal felt by friends and family as they realize the murderer was in their midst the entire time. The emotional connection Thernstrom had to the case is palpable, and you feel the agony even when she takes a standoffish approach to her story. Some critics have said it's even better than Capote's In Cold Blood, but the two can't be compared. Thernstrom was retelling the murder of a friend, and that's something that can't be duplicated.