A thoughtful and intense drama about how insidiously family ties can be exploited.

WATCHING YOU WITHOUT ME

A woman returns to her childhood home to settle her late mother’s affairs. A household aide is suspiciously eager to assist.

Karen, the narrator of Coady’s sixth novel, has returned from Toronto to her childhood home in Nova Scotia after her mother’s death. In addition to arranging to sell the house, Karen needs to find a place for her developmentally disabled sister, Kelli, and she feels lucky to have a plan already in place: A decent facility has a room ready, and a home aide, Trevor, has been showing up regularly to take Kelli on walks. Kelli and Trevor seem to have a great rapport, but practically from the start Trevor’s demeanor seems manipulative and vaguely threatening: He's overly familiar around the house, making nonregular visits using his key while steering Karen away from sensible decisions regarding Kelli’s care. And Kelli herself soon suffers spells of illness that are hard to explain. That Karen is being gaslit is never in doubt; the novel’s drama comes from Coady’s sensitivity to how Karen, a savvy woman, could be manipulated by a man who isn’t especially bright but knows her emotional weak spots. Coady has a talent for inventing creeps: Her novel The Antagonist (2013) features a half-crazed man who feels his life has been exploited by a novelist. Trevor is similarly unstable, and Coady takes a giddy pleasure in stretching out scenes that expose his capacity for menace while cloaking his intentions. And Kelli, inspired by Coady’s real-life uncle, is a rich character in her own right: Coady is careful not to make her a mere plot device, inhabiting her hard-to-express thoughts and emotions with an acuity that heightens the drama. Karen and Kelli’s unique sisterhood deepens the more Trevor tries to drive a wedge between the two.

A thoughtful and intense drama about how insidiously family ties can be exploited.

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-65843-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

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THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8272-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

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THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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