cover image The Girls in the Garden

The Girls in the Garden

Lisa Jewell. Atria, $25 (320p) ISBN 978-1-4767-9221-7

Clare and her two daughters, 12-year-old Pip and 13-year-old Grace, move into a “cute little flat” near a Narnia-like park in London. When the girls make friends with the neighbors and the park clique, it looks like they are on the right path. But on the night of Grace’s birthday, she goes missing. When she is found, she is partially undressed, unconscious, and bloody. No friends, neighbors, or even husbands are above suspicion as the taut mystery unravels to reveal the neighborhood’s dark secrets. Jewell (The Third Wife) jumps straight into the story with the discovery of Grace, then flashes to the past, setting up an eerie foreshadowing of the events to occur. Rich characterization and intricate plot development are combined with mid-chapter cliffhangers that cut from one character’s point of view to the next, resulting in a riveting pace. Vivid descriptions of the bucolic park contrast with the evil lurking around the themes of teenage sexuality, perversion, peer pressure, and the desire for a complete family. Jewell adeptly creates a pervasive atmosphere of unease in this well-spun narrative. (June)