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The Scamp

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  322 ratings  ·  74 reviews
Mysterious, chilling, and told a breakneck pace, The Scamp will thrill readers of Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone and Roxane Gay’s An Untamed State.

Rayelle Reed can’t escape in her small town, where everyone knows everything and not enough: All the guys she slept with, but not the ones she loved. The baby she had out of wedlock with the pastor’s son, and how the baby died,
Paperback, 400 pages
Published August 10th 2015 by Tin House Books
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Average rating 3.68  · 
Rating details
 ·  322 ratings  ·  74 reviews

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May 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: physical-books
Great book! I won this on Goodreads First Reads for free.....and am I glad I did! It's a page turner....I was a little confused at first,but I stuck with it & figured it out after a few chapters. This would be a great beach read....or pool,deck,couch,bed,it's just great! Loved it! ...more
Jun 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shit guys, this book. I don't understand why it's not a bestseller on par with Gone Girl except maybe because it doesn't have some variation of "girl" in the title and also does have a lot of queer/lesbian relationships? Whatever, it's excellent and creepy and disturbing and suspenseful. ...more
Jul 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Jennifer Pashley is able to weave a fantastic thriller, even while telling us from the beginning 'whodunnit.' The reader follows a dual narration, walking in the footsteps of both the pursuer and the pursued. From Rayelle's perspective, we explore the concepts of motherhood, family, and her evolving understandings of the self while traveling with an investigative journalist on a search for missing girls. On the other side of the story, we stand stock still in Khaki's world, afraid to move a musc ...more
Chandra Claypool (WhereTheReaderGrows)
I was intrigued but got bored quickly. I wasn't a fan of the style of writing and was easily confused. Moving on. ...more
Aug 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, fiction
There are two competing portrayals of small towns in media. There are Norman Rockwell small towns where neighbors help each other in times of need and the worst thing that happens is that someone's dog dies after heroically protecting a child. Then there are the small towns that would fit comfortably in an HBO series where behind every door is lurking something sinister or deviant, where abuse--of women, children, power--is the norm. This is the version of small town life that Pashley deftly pai ...more
This was a very edgy and bleak book about two very damaged women told in alternating chapters- one by 23 year old Rayelle, whose baby died the previous year, and the other by her cousin, Khaki, who left home 6 years earlier and now finds and helps women in trouble.

When a writer comes to town investigating a string of disappearances, including one of a girl who was never seen again about the same time Khaki left, Rayelle leaves with him and they travel to the many different towns that the girls w
Aug 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
The narrator of this audiobook did one thing that never stopped bugging me--the voice she used for the main male character was awful. It sounded so fake and jarring that it left a lasting negative impression. Other than that one voice the narration was fine.

The book's content was interesting--all kinds of incest, family secrets, serial murder, and tragedies galore. I like the way Jennifer Pashley writes--some of her phrasing is exquisite--she details ugliness in a truly beautiful way. I am anxio
Jul 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: rumpus-book-club
In this provocative first novel about a female serial killer who "rescues" abused girls, you can't help but feel a little sorry for the serial killer. The dueling narratives are perfectly crafted to feel like the two characters are equally hot mess trainwrecks on a collision course towards each other. This book is not for everyone - some would say it is dirty and scandalous and nasty. I would say it's raw and gritty and unapologetic. Either way, it's not one I could put down or stop thinking abo ...more
Dec 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Scamp is riveting look at two cousins and the quest to find a serial killer. Excellent, intriguing female characters form this dark, gritty, and compelling storyline. Pashley writes elegant, beautiful sentences that reveal a fast-paced, satisfying mystery and crime story of murder, love, family, and the myriad of ways people can hurt one another. You'll find yourself speeding through this novel. It will keep you up late, have you crying in public while reading, and end with you recommending ...more
Nicole Dupras
Aug 24, 2015 rated it did not like it
When I read the description of this book, I thought I would love it as I love murder thrillers (Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train, etc.), but I could not get into this book. Reading this book made me question my reading comprehension skills - I felt like I couldn't follow along with the story and couldn't relate to the characters at all. From the other reviews, it seems like many people enjoyed it, but I couldn't get into it. It was a struggle to finish and had a really lackluster ending. ...more
Jan 03, 2016 rated it liked it
I thought this was going to be a mid-twenties booze and sex pseudo memoir. Soon I realized there was a dead baby at the heart of it.
I have opinions about the use of dead babies in plots.
But, it turned out to be much more complicated than that. The author toggles between two narrators, rather successfully. Many beautiful descriptions of lost girls.
An unexpected sort of murder mystery.
Very enjoyable and transporting even if I didn't like the last scene.
Jun 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone whom enjoys a good book.
I had won this book in a Goodreads sweepstakes. Although it's slow when you first start reading it, once you get towards the middle of the book it picks up pretty fast. I enjoyed reading the two characters stories & how they connected. I'd recommend reading this book. ...more
Jen Johnston
Jul 26, 2015 rated it it was ok
Unsatisfying ending :(
Aug 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
May 16, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Very poorly written. It was difficult to get in a grove with the writing style. Didn't even finish it. ...more
Ryan Bradford
May 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A savage, unflinching book. One of my new faves.
Karl Muller
Aug 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Disclaimer: I kind of barely knew Jennifer back in college (out of respect for her, I won't say how long ago!) - she was a friend of a friend. And we have not interacted at all since then.

Whooo, how to talk about this without giving anything away?

Once I got started, I read this book for Rayelle, one of the main characters. I enjoyed her POV chapters and the reveal of her personality and story. I was never able to connect with Khaki, the other main character - maybe because I couldn't find any co
Elda Pianezzi
Nov 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Good writing style, beautiful images, clever thoughts, realistic descriptions of a certain social class. But: the story is unbalanced. We have two main characters: the first one, Rayelle, that is interesting, perfectly round and fun to read and the second one, Khakhi, rather flat too bloody and too mean to be able to really entertain a reader. I found that there were too many victims and too many killings. In the end Khakhi does become a little more interesting, but there are some central chapte ...more
Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wow. There's some really screwed up shit that happens in this book, but I couldn't put it down. Rayelle comes from a majorly screwed up family and she's pretty screwed up heself, but she looks like mother Theresa compared to her cousin Khaki, who also tells this story from her view. I found Khaki's part of the story more intriguing than the main storyline and wish she had more time on the page to explain herself. Another problem with this book for me was how abrupt the ending was. I would have l ...more
Kendra DeMartino
Sep 27, 2018 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
I picked this book up at a Strand kiosk. I had never seen it or heard of it. But once picked it up? I was hooked. Told from cousins (or maybe something else, as we learn later on) Khaki and Rayelle's povs... It's disturbing, edgy, and thrilling all at once.
You sympathize with both characters. Even though Khaki is a killer.
I'm looking forward to anything else this author writes.
Apr 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
Good set up, middle dragged on and on, ending was very rushed and unsatisfying. Also, not nearly as mysterious as the breathless blurbs would have you believe. A very mediocre contribution to an already overcrowded sub-genre.
Leslie Wardrop
Loved this book until the end. Why would the author build up such a great story and characters to end it that way? It was like she just got tired of writing. Great page turner that left me completely dissatisfied.
Kate Costello-Sullivan
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
A dark, gritty suspense novel that brilliantly captures setting and character.
Jul 05, 2018 rated it liked it
First two thirds of The Scamp were riveting, but the last section really came off the rails.
Apr 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
I never leave a review but here I go. I enjoyed this book except the ending. It doesn't feel like the story is completed. Book Number Two is needed to wrapped up the story line. ...more
Heather Levy
Sep 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is the kind of book I love: gritty, lyrical, dark as an oil slick, yet grounded in such tender vulnerability that’ll get under your skin for a long time. I can’t stop thinking about it.
Sherri Ashburner
Aug 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Right off, let me tell you–The Scamp is not for everyone. It is not a happy book. Hint here–take a look at the book cover. Does that tell you anything? It should. It is not filled with satin sheet sex or chilled champagne. It is not a suburban family drama. It is, instead, literary grit. Which is exactly why I loved it.

The writing was taut, and strong, so vivid I felt like I was right beside Rayelle or her cousin Khaki(although, seeing as Khaki is a female serial killer, probably not a safe plac
Julia Molloy
Mar 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Two cousins, Rayelle and Khaki, grow apart after a close childhood. As Khaki leaves town, Rayelle falls pregnant and the child dies when still an infant. Finding it difficult to move on, Rayelle leaves home and goes on an investigation road trip wth Couper Gale, an attractive middle-aged writer. However, as Rayelle gets further and further away from home, hers and Khaki’s past come ever closer together.

Jennifer Pashley’s The Scamp is exceptional in its brutal atmosphere and tone of voice. Rayell
Corielle Hayley
Jan 14, 2016 rated it liked it

It seems like every mystery/suspense book written by a woman, starring a woman, in the last few years has been compared to Gone Girl (on the cover blurb, at least). This book was not -- the Goodreads blurb mentions that fans of Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone will like it, which I disagree with. Instead, this book strongly reminded me of Gillian Flynn, but not of Gone Girl. More like Sharp Objects or Dark Places -- an unlikable female protagonist who spends most of the book drinking, making bad
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