cover image The Briar Club

The Briar Club

Kate Quinn. Morrow, $28.99 (432p) ISBN 978-0-06-324474-0

Bestseller Quinn follows The Diamond Eye with a stellar historical mystery centered on a group of women living together in a Washington, D.C., boardinghouse. The action opens on Thanksgiving 1956 at Briarwood House, where a corpse lies bleeding in one of the attic apartments, the police have just arrived, and the tenants have gathered in the living room to await questioning. The narrative then rewinds four and a half years, to when widowed 30-something Grace March arrives at Briarwood. She meets Fliss, a harried new mother; Bea, a former pro baseball player; Claire, a file clerk for Sen. Margaret Chase Smith; Nora, an employee of the National Archives; and Arlene, a secretary for the House Un-American Activities Committee who’s fully embraced the hysterical rhetoric of her boss, Sen. Joseph McCarthy. As the women bond, clash, and pursue various romantic entanglements, they remain committed to holding weekly dinner parties in Grace’s room. As Quinn gradually steers the narrative back toward the violent opening scene, she elegantly explores issues of race, class, and gender, and brings the paranoid atmosphere of McCarthy-era Washington to vivid life. For Quinn’s fans, this is a must. Agent: Kevan Lyon, Marsal Lyon Literary. (July)