cover image Godspeed


Nickolas Butler. Putnam, $27 (352p) ISBN 978-0-593-19041-8

This ambitious thriller from Butler (Shotgun Lovesongs) highlights the conflict between wealthy transplants and blue-collar locals in the increasingly gentrified rural West. Cole, Bart, and Teddy, the founders of True Triangle Construction, take on the job of finishing an isolated mansion outside Jackson Hole, Wyo., for California lawyer Gretchen Connors, but the project is fraught. The original contractor has quit, and Gretchen demands completion in four months, offering $450,000 in bonuses rather than an explanation for the nearly impossible deadline. The driven Cole, eager to succeed, pushes his two partners. For Teddy, the money means a house for his family, and for Bart, the least steady of the three, it’s a path to escape. After Bart is injured, he slips into addiction as he tries to work while hurt. Extensive backstory undercuts the mounting tension as the plot builds to an inevitable accident that spirals quickly into horrific violence. At the end, the legacy of troubled pasts catches up with everyone. Butler explores big themes—including pride in work, inequality, human failings, and greed—at the expense of action. Those expecting a fast-moving thriller will be disappointed, but patient readers will be rewarded. Agent: Rob McQuilkin, Massie & McQuilkin. (July)