THE NINTH STEP by Grant Jerkins


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An irresistibly nerve-racking account of the consequences that follow from the chance meeting of two drivers, neither of whom ever should have taken the wheel.

Helen Patrice thinks of herself as a functioning alcoholic because she can get through days at her veterinary clinic without any of her employees noticing her drinking. One night, while she’s on her way home from a particularly ugly pickup at one of the bars she takes care not to visit often enough to become a regular, her car collides with that of geometry teacher Edgar Woolrich and his wife, Judy, who’s just announced that she’s going to have a baby. Helen doesn’t know that Edgar, who was hunched over his smart phone while he was driving, was at least as much to blame for the accident as she was. All she knows is that Judy Woolrich is dead, and Helen’s car is easily identifiable as the one that killed her. Months after Helen covers up every trace of her involvement and sobers up with the help of her AA sponsor, Martha, she realizes that she’ll never be at peace until she’s worked through all of the 12 steps, including the one that requires her to make amends to anyone she’s injured. So she goes to visit Edgar. Despite his resistance to her, Helen wears him down, wins his love and marries him. The stage is set for a happy ending—unless a blackmailer emerges who knows the truth about that fatal night, unless Edgar and Helen find a new resolve in themselves to do coldblooded things they’ve never imagined, unless the postman rings twice.

Jerkins (At the End of the Road, 2011, etc.) produces a twisted valentine to noir masters James M. Cain and Cornell Woolrich that still creates its own distinctive nightmare world.

Pub Date: Sept. 4th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-425-25598-8
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2012


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