cover image Threats


Amelia Gray. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, $14 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-0-374-53307-6

David, a former dentist, receives a package containing the ashes of an unknown individual; later in the book, he encounters his wife, Franny, covered in blood, and he passes out. Thinking Franny has been murdered, afraid to leave his house and unable to piece together what is happening in his ruined life, David begins to lose his mind, a deterioration helped along by mysterious scraps of paper found throughout his house and the neighborhood bearing bizarre messages (“MY TRUTH WILL CAUSE ATOMIC SNOW UPON YOUR SWEET-SMELLING LAMBS AND CHILDREN”). In time, friends and strangers arrive, at random, with what David presumes to be nefarious intentions, and the unannounced comings and goings of ominous Det. Reginald Chico further unsettle David. David’s life becomes increasingly weird as he wanders his now unfamiliar home, struggling to tease out the details of his past life and whether his wife is dead with what little is left of his fractured mind. The book is a series of short, disjointed, and unchronological chapters. The story can seem labyrinthine at times, but the narrative arc acts as a clever reflection of David’s own developing mental illness. Gradually, as with any good detective novel, the pieces come together. What would have seemed gimmicky in the hands of a less skilled writer becomes a cunning whodunit with Gray (Museum of the Weird) at the reins. This is an innovative debut novel featuring a most unreliable (and compelling) narrator. Agent: Claudia Ballard, WME Entertainment. (Mar.)