Title: They Never Learn
Author: Layne Fargo
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Release Date: October 13, 2020
Source: Personal collection
Recommended for fans of: female serial killers & dark academia
Content Warnings: sexual assault/rape, sexual harassment, suicide, murder, drug abuse, domestic violence, infidelity
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.
This dual POV thriller with dark academia vibes follows Scarlett, a professor whose extracurricular activities include murdering abusive men, and Carly, a freshman student just trying to survive in a new environment. Initially, I thought Carly’s storyline was boring, slowing down the pace of the first half of the book, because it wasn’t clear how the two POVs intersected.
Once those pieces came together, I was hooked. This book is fast-paced, dangerous, and violent. Despite the dark subject matter, it is a celebration of strong women sticking together and refusing to let men walk all over them anymore. There are some great twists and a satisfying ending, reminding me that thrillers can still be surprising and entertaining even when so many in the genre feel mediocre and repetitive.