cover image Darling Rose Gold

Darling Rose Gold

Stephanie Wrobel. Berkley, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-0-593-10006-6

The release of 58-year-old Patty Watts from an Illinois prison kick-starts Wrobel’s diabolically plotted debut. It wasn’t until Patty’s daughter, Rose Gold, turned 16 and gained internet access that she realized her mother had been poisoning her since infancy; Rose Gold’s undiagnosable illness was actually ipecac-induced vomiting resulting in crippling malnutrition. Rose Gold’s testimony not only helped convict Patty, but pitted all of the dying town of Deadwick against her, so it’s a shock when Patty finishes her sentence and moves in with Rose Gold—now a 23-year-old single mother to two-month-old Adam. Patty is determined to win back the neighbors and regain control of her daughter’s life; unbeknownst to Patty, however, Rose Gold has plans of her own. Rose Gold’s past-tense narration, which chronicles her rocky path to independence, alternates with present-tense chapters from Patty’s point of view documenting her postincarceration transformation from predator to prey. Propulsive pacing, a claustrophobic setting, and vividly sketched characters who are equal parts victim and villain conspire to create an anxious, unsettling narrative. Psychological suspense fans will be well satisfied. Agent: Madeleine Milburn, Madeleine Milburn Literary (U.K.). (Mar.)