cover image Excavations


Hannah Michell. One World, $27 (320p) ISBN 978-0-593-59605-0

A former journalist journeys into the urban underbelly of 1992 South Korea to track down her missing spouse in this knockout standalone thriller from Michell (The Defections). Sae, who long ago quit her job to care for her two young sons, is anxiously waiting for her husband, Jae, to return from work when she learns that Aspiration Tower, the building Jae had been working on as an engineer, has collapsed. Sae rushes to the scene, where the ruins of the tower resemble “a city blown apart by a bomb.” Unsuccessful in locating her husband or his missing business partner, Bae, among the dead or wounded, Sae calls on her atrophied skills as an investigative reporter to find out what happened. Her distress intensifies when she visits the offices of her husband’s firm, L&S Engineering, only to find it had moved out months earlier. Flashbacks to the couple’s first meetings, as university students, in 1986, effectively enhance the emotional stakes of the investigation. This superior variation on a familiar thriller trope isn’t easily forgotten. Agent: Sharon Bowers, Folio Literary. (July)