cover image How Can I Help You

How Can I Help You

Laura Sims. Putnam, $27 (256p) ISBN 978-0-593-54370-2

This brilliant slice of psychological suspense from Sims (Looker) is set mostly in the mundane confines of a Midwestern library. The Carlyle Public Library’s newest circulation clerk, Margo Finch, is a diligent employee who goes out of her way to keep the building clean. But Margo is actually a fugitive named Jane Rivers, a former nurse whose hospital stints coincided with a string of suspicious deaths—it’s Jane’s compulsion to help patients die, based on her own assessment that their time has come. Eventually, she comes to accept her dull work routine as a trade-off for her freedom, but her murderous urges are revived when a library patron is found dying in a restroom. That opportunity coincides with the arrival of a new research assistant, failed novelist Patricia Delmarco, who brings to the job secrets of her own, and gradually becomes obsessed with uncovering Jane’s past. Sims skillfully alternates between the perspectives of each woman, slowly bringing her simmering plot to a boil, and delivers a stunning climax. Patricia Highsmith fans will savor this unforgettable thriller. Agent: Chris Clemans, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (July)