cover image The Last Word

The Last Word

Taylor Adams. Morrow, $28.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-322289-2

This outstanding psychological thriller from Adams (Hairpin Bridge) finds schoolteacher Emma Carpenter house-sitting at Strand Beach, Wash., where she avoids thinking about her problems by walking her dog along the beach and by binge-reading the never-ending supply of 99 cent self-published books she downloads from the internet. Then she reads Murder Mountain, a serial killer novel by H.G. Kane. The download site asks readers to rate the book. Emma—after making sure zero isn’t an option—gives the book one star. Two hours later, she gets a reply from the author asking her to take down her review. Kane’s messages become menacing after she refuses. Emma’s creeping horror at being targeted by a madman increases when he arrives at her door, quoting lines from their internet exchanges. As the tension rises, spectacular plot twists open up new possibilities while effectively demolishing existing expectations. Along with the nail-biting suspense, the book provides some genuine fun by treating readers to overwrought excerpts from a unpublished manuscript about the crimes that take place at Strand Beach. Adams remains a writer to watch. Agent: David Hale Smith, InkWell Management. (Apr.)