MysteryPeople Review: THE WESTERN STAR by Craig Johnson

Craig Johnson comes to BookPeople to speak and sign his latest on Tuesday, September 12th, at 7 PM. We’ve followed the Longmire series from its incarnation, and we’re happy to announce Johnson’s latest is as good as any in the series! 

  • Post by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

WARNING: WHILE NOT GIVING ANY SERIOUS PLOT POINTS AWAY, THIS REVIEW MAY HINT AT SOME OF THE NUANCE AND STRUCTURE THE READER MAY LIKE TO DISCOVER THEMSELVES

9780525426950Craig Johnson understands his hero, the way not every series writer does. We’ve witnessed his put-upon Wyoming sheriff Walt Longmire battle depression after his wife’s death, cautiously develop a relationship with his deputy, Victoria Moretti, become a grandfather, and deal with others of life’s challenges, while rounding up the bad guys, all without a false note. This skill is fully apparent in The Western Star where a present day mystery connects to one in Walt’s past, and sets up his future.

The Western Star begins in Cheyenne with Walt and Vic getting re-certified for marksmanship (Obviously, no challenge for Vic). Lucien, the previous Absaroka County sheriff, comes along for the ride, since they are staying with Walt’s daughter and her new baby. Walt and Lucien also have another agenda. A convict has filed for compassionate release, due to a terminal illness. Wanting the man to die in prison, Walt is out to find out about the maneuverings that are making his release possible.

It all goes back to one of his first murder investigations as a deputy. Lucien took him along for a Wyoming Sheriff’s Association meeting that took place on a vintage locomotive traveling across the state, The Western Star. All that can be said without revealing any of the twists or surprises is a murder occurs, leading to a bigger picture when tied to the present.

The Western Star is the novel version of a finely crafted rocking chair – comfortable, sturdy and straight forward, in a way that proves deceptive. It contains a nod or two to Agatha Christie’s Murder On The Orient Express and gives that classic a run for its money. Johnson uses seventies references sparingly, yet in an entertaining fashion, so there’s no show-boating in his research. There are plenty of facts that need to be played close to the vest and Craig deals them out at the perfect plot point in a way that is never contrived.

Much of this can be credited to Craig Johnson’s understanding of Walt. Not only does he know Walt, he realizes that after a dozen novels, two novellas, and a short story every Christmas, we have gotten to know him well. He uses it as suspense in the present, given our understanding that our lawman is more interested in justice than punishment, keeping us locked in as we race to discover why he wants to make sure the person dies in prison. With the story on the train, he captures Walt’s hesitancy in emotional manners, less tempered by age, and demonstrates how he started out with the investigative chops we know today, but with a lack of focus he will attain later on.`

It is this understanding of Walt and those around him that make the book work and allow the series to move in a new direction. He picks perfect and believable points to have play against character (try picturing cantankerous Lucien with a baby before reading) and understands the still waters that run dark and deep within them. With The Western Star, Walt’s present and past dovetail beautifully into a satisfying conclusion that sets our hero up for a journey that will define him for books to come.

You can find copies of The Western Star on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. Craig Johnson comes to BookPeople to speak and sign his latest on Tuesday, September 12th, at 7 PM.

Advertisements

MysteryPeople Pick of the Month: BLUEBIRD, BLUEBIRD by Attica Locke

  • Post by Director of Suspense Molly Odintz

9780316363297Ever since Attica Locke started writing for the hit TV show Empire, I’ve eagerly anticipated her return to crime fiction (while enjoying watching the show, of course.) Her Jay Porter novels, Black Water Rising and Pleasantville, together paint a vivid portrait of African-American life in Houston while continuing the Texas crime writing tradition of featuring lawyers moonlighting as sleuths.

At last, a new Attica Locke book is out! Between the driving plot, the complex characters, and the righteous anger, Locke’s latest, Bluebird, Bluebird, has exceeded my highest expectations. Her latest is also her first to take place in rural East Texas, and her first to be released by Mulholland Books.

When Darren, an African-American Texas Ranger, goes to help out a friend fend off a crazed white supremacist, he faces censure from his department for taking an interest in fighting hate crimes. He’s already disappointed his superiors by attempting to introduce race into the organization’s massive investigation of the Aryan Brotherhood, their tunnel-vision focus on gun-smuggling and drug-dealing a hindrance to any honest reckoning with the powerful prison gang.

After contemplating quitting the force and returning to law school, Darren thinks he’s ready to make his wife happy and retire from his dangerous occupation. When he finds out about two suspicious murders in the small town of Lark, just off of Highway 59, he knows he should move on, but he can’t leave the case alone. A black lawyer and a white waitress have been murdered in a small Texas town within a week of each other, and Darren doesn’t place much trust in local law enforcement’s interest in solving the crimes.

With the reluctant acquiescence of his bosses, under pressure from reporters to appear to be solving the crime, Darren takes on the investigation of both murders. Next thing he knows, he’s treading through muddy bayous and knee-deep in white supremacists and corrupt sheriffs as he tries to solve the two murders before the Aryan Brotherhood succeeds in their mission to assassinate him.

The discovery of the white waitress’ body behind a cafe that doubles as a community space and a safe haven for black travelers puts the entire black population of the town at risk as Aryan Brotherhood thugs try to frame the cafe patrons for the murder. Darren works to protect the cafe and its denizens, while trying to force the town’s authorities to step back from scapegoating and actually solve the crime. Meanwhile, Darren gets closer to proving that an icehouse run by white supremacist meth dealers is most likely the scene of the crime, despite the owners working hard to hinder the investigation.

Bluebird, Bluebird seems to pay tribute to the classic novel and film In the Heat of the Night. Bluebird, Bluebird‘s Northern-educated black professionals (including the murdered lawyer, his grieving photographer wife, and the intellectual Texas Ranger protagonist) all face heightened prejudice from the townspeople inspired by their skin color and their professional status, yet each manages to use that status to fulfill their goals and further the investigation. Darren, like Mr. Tibbs, is a dignified action hero who uses his wits, wiles, and professional skills to shake up a town sick of its own corruption.

As I finished the novel, my mind drew additional parallels to one of the year’s greatest genre films. Like the film Get Out, Bluebird Bluebird uses genre to tackle the horror felt by those who’ve seemingly attained success and safety, but know the difference between life and death is merely the difference between the civilized censorship of the city and the primal hatred of the pines.Believable, timely, and full of outrage – the perfect East Texas crime novel!

Bluebird, Bluebird comes out September 12th – Pre-order now! 

MysteryPeople Review: A CONSPIRACY IN BELGRAVIA by Sherry Thomas

Sherry Thomas comes to BookPeople to speak and sign her latest on Tuesday, September 5th at 7 PM – the day of the release! You can find copies of A Conspiracy in Belgravia on our shelves starting Tuesday morning, or pre-order now

  • Post by Director of Suspense Molly Odintz

9780425281413I’ve seen some fine contributions to the Sherlockian oevre over the past few years of working at the bookstore. In the fiction realm, Joe Ide introduced his modern-day Sherlock, Isaiah Quintabe, in last year’s South-Central-set IQsoon to be followed by this October’s RighteousG.S. Denning showed up on the scene with his Warlock Holmes series, a truly bizarre Cthulu-Sherlock mashup; Laurie R. King followed up on her always excellent Mary Russell series by editing the anthologies In the Company of Sherlock Holmes and Echoes of Sherlock Holmes; Kareem Abdul-Jabar took us on a Caribbean adventure with his novel Mycroft Holmesfollowing Sherlock’s older brother on his first international escapades; Otto Penzler edited The Big Book of Sherlock Holmesa mammoth undertaking from Vintage Crime/Black Lizard; and so on.

We’ve also seen plenty of additions to the field of Sherlock studies. DK Publishing released The Sherlock Holmes Book, a visual and infographic guide to the world of Baker Street and beyond; Mattias Bostrom expanded his already-excellent work of literary criticism From Holmes to Sherlock: The Story of the Men and Women Who Created an Icon for its US publication this summer; and Stefan Bechtel and Lawrence Roy Stains released their new biography Through a Glass Darkly: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and The Quest to Solve the Greatest Mystery of Alla heartbreaking tale of Doyle’s attempts to get in touch with his son, a casualty of WWI, via seance, this past June. And that’s without mentioning coloring books, children’s books, guides to Sherlockian TV shows, new classic editions of Doyle’s works, or any releases from prior to three years ago.

“In sheer authenticity and charm, however, nothing matches Sherry Thomas’ Lady Sherlock series.”

In sheer authenticity and charm, however, nothing matches Sherry Thomas’ Lady Sherlock series. With last year’s A Study in Scarlet Women, she introduced us to a series that straddles the line between gentle parody and respectful tribute to late-19th-century writing and social mores, as the observant and rebellious Charlotte Holmes leaves her stifling upper-class family, moves in with the merry widow Mrs. Watson, and starts her own investigation practice.

Charlotte sidesteps social stigmas by pretending to help her ailing brother, Sherlock, with the physical investigation necessary to solve cases, while attributing her success to his bedridden calculations. Charlotte gathers an able coterie to assist her – Livia Holmes, her dreamy sister, chronicles her cases, while she finds assistance in everyday investigation from Mrs. Watson’s mischievous niece, Penelope Redmayne. Meanwhile, the three women tackle the pressures of the London social scene, either turning down proposals, or pining away with the other wallflowers.

Thomas’ second in the series, A Conspiracy in Belgraviais a comedy of manners worthy of Jane Austen and an elegant puzzler that would please Agatha Christie. Sherry Thomas came to fame for her skill in crafting historical romances – a talent that shines bright in the witty repartee and playful skirting of propriety that grace the pages of her second mystery.

Charlotte begins the novel with a visit from Lady Ingram, the estranged wife of her benefactor, friend and sometimes-love-interest Lord Ingram. Lady Ingram seeks information regarding her long-lost lover from before her marriage, who has failed to notify her of his continuing health and happiness, as he has done previously each year of her increasingly unhappy marriage. Charlotte is torn between her duties to her friend and her client, exacerbated by the discovery that Lady Ingram’s former lover is Charlotte’s illegitimate half-brother (and that’s just the first gasp-worthy moment!).

Charlotte faces further complications when she receives yet another proposal from an old suitor, despite her rejection by Society – one who promises to pass along the most puzzling cases he comes across in the Queen’s employ, as long as Charlotte gives up her practice as Sherlock Holmes. Will Charlotte find her half brother? Will Lady Ingram and Lord Ingram reconcile? Will Livia Holmes ever be happy? And what number of chins, exactly, constitutes the Maximum Tolerable Chins so often discussed in the novel over oh-so-British confections?

While readers may get a more complete vision of Charlotte’s world by reading the series in order, I assure that A Conspiracy in Belgravia is delightful with or without background knowledge. Sherry Thomas will be here at the store to speak and sign her latest this upcoming Tuesday, at 7 PM, so there’s plenty of time time to enjoy a long afternoon tea before coming to the signing. We recommend something with currants.

Sherry Thomas comes to BookPeople to speak and sign her latest on Tuesday, September 5th at 7 PM – the day of the release! You can find copies of A Conspiracy in Belgravia on our shelves starting Tuesday morning, or pre-order now

International Crime Fiction Pick: PENANCE by Kanae Minato

  • Post by Director of Suspense Molly Odintz

9780316349154Kanae Minato’s second crime novel, Penance, already a popular mystery-turned-TV-series in Japan, was published early this year in US markets; from the first page Penance plunges the reader into a profoundly disturbing tale of murder, consequences, and retribution. After schoolgirls Sae, Akiko, Maki, and Yuko witness the murder of classmate Emily, they fail to accurately describe the murderer. Years later, with Emily’s killer still on the loose, the victim’s mother curses them with a need to seek penance for their failure if the murderer is not caught within 15 years, or the statue of limitations for murder in Japan.

As the deadline approaches, each woman reaches out to the victim’s mother with their own complex and suspenseful tales of atoning for their classmate’s demise. Each adds additional details of the murder, in a Rashoman-like series of overlapping and contradictory accounts, to what slowly builds to a gothic twist. Like the status-conscious novels of the 19th century and the wicked works of the 1950s, Kanae Minato’s Penance takes a look at the toxic consequences of obsession with status and guilt for those sins which belong to others, or which are not at all sins.

The women’s stories are presented in a variety of forms, showcasing the author’s versatility in the form and in her character development – a letter is followed by the transcript from a controversial PTA meeting; one woman’s story is presented as her confused recollections given to a therapist, while the fourth woman tells her version of the tale to hospital staff as she gives birth.

Sae’s identity is submerged by her husband into that of a doll, her acceptance of womanhood halted forever by her fear of the dangers maturity brings. The reclusive Akiko views herself as a bear, big and strong, cutting herself off from the appreciation of delicate objects after she ruins a ruffled blouse the day of the murder, and finally achieves her chance to protect the cute and delicate from harm years later when her brother’s adopted child is in danger.

Maki forces herself to enter an occupation she despises as self-punishment for her failure to save her classmate, only to find an opportunity to defend her students against a violent intruder on school grounds later on, while Yuko is inspired by the murder to begin shoplifting, her covetous gaze a theme throughout her encounters with the murdered girl. She covets everything from Emily’s family to small objects in shops; she envies the attention given to her sickly sister, and desires her sister’s policeman husband.

An AV Club review of the TV series based on the novel described the set-up as “pitched partway between folktale and cold-case procedural,” a fitting description for the original novel. Children are metaphorically devoured by their elders, while some characters experience symbolic metamorphosis into animals, objects, or each other. Fairytale monsters (in the form of a variety of damaged men) endanger others, and the women in the story must summon all their strength to protect themselves and others.

Yet Penance is also a modern tale of obsession, status anxiety, alienation, and covetous behavior. Coveting that which others possess drives not only the fourth woman’s desires, but in effect, the entire novel. Characters’ concern for their own reputations, and their jealousy of others’ status and possessions, directly result in most of the novel’s emotional and physical violence.

Hidden pregnancies, loveless marriages, fear of desirability, and fear of loss of status – each character either fears to covet or to be coveted. Some try to impose their own desires on others in the way they want, not in the ways their objects of desire wish to be valued; others run into trouble by accepting the desires of others without questioning them until they find themselves sublimating their entire identities to the desires of others.

Every character is defined by what they want but cannot have, or by what they deserve but will not allow themselves to possess – Emily is named for her grandfather’s lost love, Yuko wants the attention paid to her sister; Akiko denies herself the right to be girly; Maki forces herself to work at a job she hates; Emily’s mother (in flashbacks) will not allow herself to date the boys she likes, instead romancing a boy desired by her best friend; and Sae clings to the innocence of childhood, convinced that it was Emily’s physical maturity in comparison to her peers, not childlike vulnerablity, that allowed her to be a target of the strange man who caused her death.

Immediately after finishing up Penance, I ordered in a copy of Minato’s best-selling first novel, Confessions, a psychological thriller known as the Gone Girl of Japan (despite its publication years earlier). You can read Steph Cha’s compelling review of Confessions for the LA Times here for a better idea of the disturbing depths Minato gleefully explores. According to various reviewers, Kanae is known in Japan as the “queen of iyamisu”, or “eww mysteries,” a new subgenre of mystery celebrating the grotesque and visceral.

Both Confessions and Penance explore the vengeance of mothers and the cruelty of children. Both celebrate female psychosis in a way normally reserved for horror films, and in a way reminiscent of Natsuo Kirino’s chilling tales Out and Grotesque. Those looking for the disturbing, the complex, and the utterly compelling, look no further.

Penance is Japanese crime fiction at its most disturbingly meta – identities shift and change, characters slough off large portions of their self in order to atone for another’s acts, and the fresh mountain air of the small village where the attack took place serves as metaphor for the problems inevitably caused by human nature, no matter how quaint, rural and pristine the setting may be.

You can find copies of Penance on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. 

Shotgun Blast from the Past: Two from Simenon

  • Post by Director of Suspense Molly Odintz

 

Simenon is my favorite writer to capture post-war European malaise (when he wasn’t banging away at his numerous and utterly charming Inspector Maigret novels), and the contrast between his pre-war and post-war work shows the same loss of innocence and sense of amorality verging into guilt that defined much of European literature in the 1950s and 60s.

I recently picked up Simenon’s The Blue Room (La Chambre Bleue) after it had been abandoned by a browsing customer. I felt compelled by this sleazy tale of cheating and betrayal from the very first sentence, as one lover asks another, “Did I hurt you?” The answer may be “no” to start with, but as we dive further into this sordid tale of cheating husbands and wives, it’s hard to believe the answer will remain “no” for much longer.

After a lovers’ chat in a hotel room ends abruptly with the unexpected return of the woman’s husband, the narrative veers back and forth between an ongoing affair between two married people and police interrogations of the cheating husband (as unreliable a narrator as can be). The affair began after a chance meeting by the side of the road, as a man stops to help a woman change a tire, only to realize that when the two were together at school, she had a crush on him the whole time.

At first put off by her statuesque beauty, describing her as seemingly made of stone, the man takes the woman up on her offer to finally kiss him and discovers an unbridled sensuality that both appeals to him and frightens him. Not a first-time cheater, but a first time participant in a long-term affair, the man feels no guilt, only fear. He worries that this time, his dutiful, meek wife will discover his extramarital affairs and put an end to what seems to him to be a perfect life. As we read further into the novel, the police ask him disquieting questions about the nature of his marriage and the details of his affairs, as he reveals all while protesting involvement in an as-yet-unspecified crime.

The Blue Room is as explicit and as menacing as many of the NYRB releases from Simenon, despite its publication as part of Penguin Classics’ reissues (which have tended to concentrate on the Maigret series). It has the feel of a Patrica Highsmith novel; The Blue Room exudes dark sensuality while it pillories the hypocrisy of the 1950s successful, obsessed with the appearance of success while continuing to embrace their darkest desires in secret.

Collectively, his non-Maigret novels are known as “romans durs,” or hard novels, most of which Simenon wrote during the war while holed up with his wife and mistress, and immediately after the war, while still living quite happily with both women. One wonders if he was able to have a reasonably functional relationship with not one, but two women (and any number of others) because he poured out his more sadistic images of sexuality into the pages of these novels. Anyone who watches enough horror films will agree that lust, obsession, and violence, inextricably entwined, make for very good entertainment. I encourage the readers of this blog to embrace the voyeurism inherent in the crime genre and check out The Blue Room, and Simenon’s other sultry, sordid tales.

Chief among Simenon’s romans durs, for me anyway, is my favorite of his wartime novels, Dirty Snow. This novel also happens to be one of the only works I’ve finished in French. Simenon’s deceptively simple sentence structure and oh-so-disturbing themes make his works perfect for practicing one’s language skills, although I am grateful to Penguin and NYRB for their superb translations of his work. In Dirty Snow, or La Neige Etait Sale, the snow isn’t the only thing turned to grey miserable slush – each character was morally ambiguous even before the war began, and in their lives under the occupation, they descend to new levels of compromising behavior.

Dirty Snow follows Frank Friedmeier, son of a brothel owner catering to Nazi officers, after he kills a German soldier late at night and wanders aimlessly through the streets of Brussels, unsure of the meaning of his act but ready to say the literary equivalent of “f*** you” to anyone who tries to stop him. He is the ultimate antihero, and like his mother’s assistant (a former prostitute suffering from long-term injuries caused by a sadistic German) the reader can’t help but find him attractive, even while full of disgust for both the character and his actions. His only saving grace is his behavior after his sudden and unexpected arrest by the occupying forces. He refuses to cooperate, and his belligerent behavior, ruthless and dastardly when it comes to his mother’s workers, turns into something resembling nobility when directed at occupying Nazis.

Most antiheroes are tempered by their love for at least one other person in their lives. Holden Caulfield had his brother, Dallas Winston had Johnny, Dexter Morgan had his adoptive family, and so one. Frank Friedmeier is more along the lines of a Thomas Ripley, or a Pinkie Brown (of Grahame Greene’s Brighton Rock) if suddenly in the midst of their schemes and sprees they had been placed in a scenario wherein continuing the same behavior suddenly made their actions honorable.

Frank taps into a vicious part of ourselves that values honesty over morality. He sees his world as it is, not some version of what it could be, and his ability to survive for a time in occupied Brussels makes for interesting fodder in discussing sociopathic behavior in wartime. One has the sense that for Frank, life is filth and always has been, and the Nazi takeover of his nation only confirms what he already suspects the world to be.

Dirty Snow is light-years ahead of the same conclusion’s arrival at the cinemas in the French film Lacombe, Lucien. The film recounts the story of an amoral teen from the countryside who, after he is deemed too young to join the French Resistance, joins the Gestapo instead. Lacombe, Lucien explores the uncomfortable nature of impulsive choices made outside any moral parameters. The screenplay, recently reissued by Other Press, was written by Patrick Modiano, a crime writer and Nobel Prize winner whose father survived the war through collaboration.

No one likes a hypocrite, yet anyone with a strong concept of morality is almost invariably a hypocrite – if we stuck to all of our own rules, we’d live miserable lives full of second-guessing and free of compassion and compromise. Every once in a while, though, I find it refreshing to read the story of a badly behaved character who stays consistent to his lack of morality for the whole ride. The characters in Simenon’s Romans Durs  never change – they merely enter into increasingly bad situations, where inevitable consequences put an end to their bad behavior once and for all.

You can find copies of many of Simenon’s works on our shelves or via bookpeople.com. 

MysteryPeople Review: ODD NUMBERS by Anne Holt

MysteryPeople Contributor Scott Butki splits his time between education, advocacy, and reviews and interviews. You can find a full list of his interviews and reviews at http://thinkingandtalkingandacting.blogspot.com/2015/11/an-index-of-my-interviews-with-authors.html. Below, you’ll find his review of Anne Holt’s latest Norwegian noir, Odd Numbers,  a disturbing and timely read. 

  • Review by MysteryPeople Contributor Scott Butki

9781451634730With Odd Numbers Anne Holt has written a fascinating, intricate novel about life in Norway in awful, exhausting circumstances. The book is the ninth and penultimate in her series featuring cold case specialist Hanne Wilhelmsen.

The novel’s action begins with a bomb going off in an upscale part of Oslo, targeting the Islamic Cooperation Council’s headquarters and killing 23 people. Law enforcement suspects an extremist organization is responsible for that and future attacks. That said, they are finding it hard to prove that assertion.

Holt does an excellent job explaining what characters in Norway think about Muslims living in Norway – some are racists, some encourage diversity, and many draw less clear lines.

Interestingly, Holt explains in a postscript that “comments placed, directly or indirectly, in the mouths of extremists on both sides in the novel are slightly paraphrased quotes from real statements.”

This part of the novel was difficult for me to read considering all of the seemingly senseless attacks against civilians around the world in recent months and years. In a word, it’s still too raw.

It probably didn’t help that I finished this book and typed up this review the weekend Nazis and white supremacists rallied in Charlottesville, Va., reminding us that the kinds of hate Holt described are front and center here still.

There’s a subplot that I prefer regarding solving a cold case decades old, with more interesting characters and plot twists.

I am new to Holt’s writings and would probably have liked and understood some parts of the book better had I read the earlier novels. That said she proves with this book why Jo Nesbo has called her the “godmother of modern Norwegian crime fiction.”

You can find copies of Odd Numbers on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

 

MysteryPeople Review: FINAL GIRLS by Riley Sagar

We can’t stop raving about Final Girls here at the store! Below, you’ll find an review of Sagar’s new novel, from our new MysteryPeople contributor Matthew Turbeville, who may have read more mysteries than we have. (If that’s possible…)

  • Review by MysteryPeople Contributor Matthew Turbeville

 

final-girls-bookRiley Sager’s Final Girls was a hit before it was even released, and deservedly so.  With critical praise from authors like Stephen King, the book was destined for success: “The first great thriller of 2017 is here: Final Girls, by Riley Sager. If you liked Gone Girl, you’ll like this.” There’s no falsehood to this statement—including the remark about Gone Girl.  Final Girls shares remarkable similarities to Gone Girl, as well as many other crime blockbusters of recent years.  Yet the most enticing part of Final Girls may be its initial concept: the story of the girl who got away.

The book revolves around Quincy, a young woman whose life seems perfect.  She has a baking blog, a perfect boyfriend, and a quiet life—until several events conspire to bring her past to life: Quincy, a woman with her vices (an addiction to Xanax and soda), is troubled for a reason.  She was the sole survivor of a mass murder nearly ten years prior, and is still coping with the aftermath.

“With rapid twists and turns, incredibly complex characters who will stop at nothing to get—and protect—what they want, Sager’s debut is a nonstop, propulsive and compelling thriller that will sink its hooks into you and drag you along until the very last page.”

Sager, a huge fan of slasher films, takes the idea of the final girl—the girl who is pure enough to survive a slasher film—and applies it to the crime genre.  How can one be pure enough, in a realistic world, to survive a killing spree? Maybe the girl in question isn’t actually pure enough, and that’s where the twist in Final Girls lies. How far will one go to survive—at whatever cost—and also what drives someone to kill—whether murdering a stranger in cold blood, or killing the people closest to you?

Final Girls is perhaps one of the most interesting thrillers to come out of this new era of crime fiction: it is a book that explores womanhood, and what it means to have the pressures of perfection weighing down on a “final girl,” and whether the final girl actually exists.  With rapid twists and turns, incredibly complex characters who will stop at nothing to get—and protect—what they want, Sager’s debut is a nonstop, propulsive and compelling thriller that will sink its hooks into you and drag you along until the very last page.  And as any survivor knows—of crime fiction or in a slasher film—the last page is only the beginning.  

Fans of Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins, and Lisa Unger will delight in Final Girls. With similarities to Jeff Abbott’s blockbuster novel Blame (loss of memory, the idea of choosing whether or not to remember traumatic events), the demented and scorned characters of Gone Girl, and the incredible darkness of a Stephen King novel, there’s surely something for everyone to enjoy.

You can find copies of The Final Girls on our shelves and via bookpeople.com