cover image Jackal


Erin E. Adams. Bantam, $27 (336p) ISBN 978-0-593-49930-6

Liz Rocher, the Black narrator of Adams’s stellar debut, an unforgettable gut punch of a horror thriller, returns reluctantly home to Johnstown, Pa., a largely white rust belt town, for the wedding of her white best friend, Mel Parker. When Mel’s mixed-race daughter, Caroline, disappears in the woods, Liz’s attempts to find Caroline lead her to the discovery of years of police cover-ups of the deaths of Black girls in the woods, their hearts neatly removed, and the revival of her own memories of hiding in the woods the night a fellow Black teen was murdered. Adams’s careful plotting impresses with the subtle organic feel of embedded clues primed to emerge as relevant much later. The girls’ thoughts are included at various points, and the reader is thrown off balance when the narrative shift to the point of view of the supernatural killer at the moment of violence. At the same time, Adams skillfully presents changing theories about the possible humans involved as Liz struggles with who to trust and navigates dreamscapes that seem increasingly real. This novel is a masterful and emotionally wrenching gem of Black storytelling. Agent: Kerry D’agostino, Curtis Brown. (Oct.)