cover image Recognition


O. H. Bennett. Agate/Bolden, $15trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-932841-79-4

This engaging literary thriller from Bennett (Creatures Here Below) chronicles a single mother's struggles to come to grips with the mysterious disappearance of her husband. Fourth-grade math teacher Dana Reynolds, from a Virginia suburb of Washington D.C., returns home from work one night and spots a panhandler who closely resembles her missing husband, Warren. Nine years before, in 2002, the interracial couple had a serious car accident by running off the road into a river. Dana survived, but the authorities never recovered Warren's body. At the time of the accident, Dana was pregnant with her son, Franklin, the result of her brief affair with the PE teacher Steve. After the accident, Dana still clashes with her angry mother-in-law, Maureen, who is stricken with cancer, and Warren's bossy older sister, Ness. The in-laws refuse to believe Warren is dead, blocking Dana from collecting his much-needed $120,000 life insurance policy. While caring for her "bookworm" son Franklin, Dana enlists the aid of a homeless woman Jessie, and they search the local shelters and soup kitchens for the panhandler Dana believes is Warren. Further conflict comes in the form of a stalker named Doug Peel. Bennett ratchets up the tension, and delivers satisfying revelations at the climax, revealing a humane and intriguing story of personal redemption. (July)