cover image A Beginner’s Guide to Murder

A Beginner’s Guide to Murder

Rosalind Stopps. HQ, $12.99 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-0-00-830265-8

Early in this excellent character-driven tale of friendship and hardship from British author Stopps (The Stranger She Knew), Nina, a teenage girl “dressed in a skimpy little skirt, flip-flops and a T-shirt,” rushes into the London café where three acquaintances in their 70s, Meg, Grace, and Daphne, are sharing a table after a Pilates class. Nina asks them to help her before glancing nervously at the door and then heading for the restroom. The women recognize that the man following Nina, and claiming he’s her father, is dangerous. When he finally leaves, they take the girl out the back door to the safety of Meg’s nearby house, and they agree to become “co-conspirators, gearing up for trouble.” Alternating chapters from the points of view of Meg, Grace, Daphne, and Nina reveal their backstories and the reasons that each of the older women sees her commitment to helping Nina as a “second chance to save a life.” The story of their plot to murder the man in the café and the people they meet on their descent into crime are by turns amusing, sorrowful, and thrilling. Stopps is definitely a writer to watch. (July)