cover image The Good Ones

The Good Ones

Polly Stewart. Harper, $30 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-323415-4

In this promising if flawed slice of psychological suspense from Stewart (Wild Girls, as Mary Stuart Atwell), Nicola Bennett remains obsessed with the never-solved disappearance of her high school friend Lauren Ballard 16 years ago—and haunted by the suspicion that she may have made the young woman a target. So when Nicola’s mother’s death brings her back to her Appalachian hometown, the unemployed English professor sets out to solve the mystery herself. Not much has changed in Tyndall County since her teen years, when the protective wings of queen bee Lauren were the only thing keeping Nicola from becoming a total outcast. Except, that is, for the sparks suddenly flying between Nicola and Lauren’s hunky widower, who would have been scrutinized harder by investigators had he not belonged to one of the county’s most prominent families. As Nicola retraces Lauren’s steps in search of clues, it dawns on her that her obsession with Lauren’s case may have more to do with her own self-image than justice for her friend. Stewart doesn’t quite stick the landing after a climactic twist, but her messy, endearing lead and swift pacing make for a mostly thrilling ride. This should please fans of Megan Miranda and Megan Abbott. Agent: Denise Shannon, Denise Shannon Literary. (June)