cover image The Wonder Test

The Wonder Test

Michelle Richmond. Atlantic Monthly, $26 (448) ISBN 978-0-8021-5850-5

Lina Connerly, the narrator of this sharply written, subtly satirical thriller from bestseller Richmond (The Marriage Pact), errs in her work as an FBI foreign counterintelligence agent after her husband dies, prompting a self-imposed leave. New York City is too full of memories, so Lina and her 15-year-old son, Rory, decamp to her recently deceased father’s home in the wealthy Silicon Valley suburb of Greenfield, Calif. Rory enrolls in Greenfield’s posh public high school, whose curriculum revolves around an avant-garde exam called the Wonder Test. Meanwhile, a local cop solicits Lina’s help in ascertaining why teenager Gray Stafford disappeared for two weeks last year, only to turn up naked, bald, and mute on a remote beach. When Rory’s girlfriend goes missing under similar circumstances, Lina and Rory team up to find her before she suffers Gray’s fate. Vividly sketched characters, escalating stakes, and evocative prose distinguish Richmond’s latest, which explores themes of grief and greed. Minor mysteries and assorted absurdities complement the thorny central puzzle, adding texture and tension. Susan Isaacs fans will be well pleased. [em]Agent: Valerie Borchardt, Georges Borchardt. (July) [/em]