cover image The Perfect Place to Die

The Perfect Place to Die

Bryce Moore. Sourcebooks Fire, $10.99 paper (384p) ISBN 978-1-72822-911-9

In this entertaining thriller set in the past, presumed-white Zuretta, 17 and Mormon, leaves Utah farm life and her physically abusive father behind to search for her younger sister Ruby, who ran away to Chicago ahead of the World’s Fair. After Ruby’s letters stop arriving and Etta begins having vivid nightmares of Ruby in distress, she hops a train for Chicago, determined to enlist the famous Pinkerton detectives in the search. But quickly robbed of her belongings and dismissed by the Pinkertons, Etta must embark on her own search. The narrative hits a lively pace once Etta starts a job as a maid at H.H. Holmes’s mazelike hotel, The Castle, where Ruby last worked and where women seem to frequently disappear. Moore (The Memory Thief) deftly captures the bustle of 1890s Chicago, as well as the near-claustrophobic feel of The Castle and its mysteries, using chapter openings pulled from a real-life document to convey the horrors that happened there. Though true crime aficionados will foresee the last-minute plot twist, and initially obedient Etta’s development into a savvy detective feels surprisingly rapid, watching her close in on her suspect is satisfying. Ages 14–up. Agent: Eddie Schneider, JABberwocky Literary. (Aug.)