cover image Finding Tessa

Finding Tessa

Jaime Lynn Hendricks. Scarlet, $25.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-61316-220-0

In Hendricks’s tricky debut, bank manager Jace Montgomery returns to his suburban New Jersey home after a night out with perspective clients to find his wife, Tessa Smyth, missing. A window is broken, there’s blood on the floor, and Tessa’s purse and phone are on the counter, so Jace calls 911. Jace claims Tessa has a troubled history and that one of her exes is likely to blame, but he can’t provide details, as the couple only met five months ago and he didn’t want to press her. Dubious, the cops instead look into Jace, whom they suspect of foul play—particularly when rumors surface regarding a fling with a coworker and an illegal firearm. Alternating sections chronicle resourceful Tessa’s efforts to escape her abusive marriage by enlisting an unlikely ally to frame her husband for murder. Though Hendricks initially sacrifices her plot’s focus and her characters’ emotional complexity in favor of ambiguity and an edgy tone, her tale eventually kicks into gear, taking readers on an anxiety-fueled ride rife with unexpected left turns. Psychological suspense fans will look forward to her next. (May)