cover image The Escape

The Escape

Ruth Kelly. Macmillan UK, $18.99 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-1-0350-2536-7

Journalist Kelly (The Villa) offers a limp thriller about a young woman’s attempts to find her missing sister. The action kicks off with influencer Adele Davenport, who’s recently decamped to France, shooting an entry for her semi-popular renovation vlog. She concludes the recording by admitting to her viewers that she’s afraid “something really bad is about to happen to her.” Two weeks later, Adele’s older sister, Erin, arrives in France with the news that their mother’s cancer is in its final stages. When Erin shows up to the property Adele and her boyfriend, Jack, were renovating, however, they are nowhere to be found. Kelly then flashes back to when Adele posted a plea to her followers: she wanted help purchasing a 17th-century Burgundy chateau she found online, worth over one million euros, so she could renovate it, document the renovation, and boost her falling engagement numbers. Her GoFundMe campaign to raise the money yielded mostly hostility until a lawyer reached out to say that her “wealthy philanthropist” client would gift the property to Adele and Jack under some strict conditions, including an NDA and a no-guest policy. They accept the offer, and Kelly alternates the details of their increasingly fraught renovation—which faces challenges from neighbors in addition to standard-issue home renovation problems—with Erin’s efforts to determine what happened to her sister. Kelly fails to give her characters much dimension, and wrings only minimal suspense out of her intriguing premise. This disappoints. Agent: Jordan Less, Blair Partnership. (Jan.)