cover image Her


Harriet Lane. Little, Brown, $26 (272p) ISBN 978-0-316-36987-9

Lane follows her debut, Alys, Always, with a gracefully written psychological thriller about friendship wielded as a weapon. Affluent artist Nina Bremner glimpses a lovely but disheveled pregnant woman shopping with a toddler one day and experiences a shock of recognition. She once knew Emma Nash—and her hatred for the other woman simmers, though it’s not clear why. When Nina lifts Emma’s wallet and pretends to have found it on the street, Emma does not recognize her. Alternating chapters in the women’s viewpoints reveal the friendship Nina proffers like a fairy tale’s gleaming, poisoned apple. Nina’s acts of sabotage—rifling through Emma’s possessions, surreptitiously beckoning her son away when he strays from Emma’s side in the park, taking and discarding the toy bunny he clings to—go undetected until Nina offers Emma’s family a vacation stay at Nina’s father’s opulent home. There she waits patiently to tear Emma’s world apart. Woven through the details of the women’s very different lives are suspenseful questions: how Emma has injured Nina, whether she will discover her frenemy’s duplicity in time, and whether evil is created or inborn. Cannily, Lane leaves some of the answers ambiguous; like Nina herself, the novel is subtle, deliberate, chillingly effective, and hauntingly sad. (Jan.)