cover image The Wonder State

The Wonder State

Sara Flannery Murphy. MCD, $28 (384p) ISBN 978-0-374-60177-5

The latest standalone thriller from Murphy (Girl One) gets its hooks into readers from the opening chapter and doesn’t let go. In 2015, 30-something Brandi Addams is preparing to leave her hometown of Eternal Springs, Ark., for a fresh start. On the way out of town, she stops at an abandoned house, where she finds a mysterious antique key she’s been seeking, and then promptly disappears. Two weeks later, with Brandi’s whereabouts still unknown, the townspeople hold a candlelight vigil in hopes of bringing her home, an event that coincides with the arrival in Eternal Springs of several of Brandi’s old friends, who have each received identical, two-word letters from Brandi, stating simply, “You promised.” Their reunion turns into an amateur investigation as they seek the truth about Brandi’s fate, which may be related to an incident that occurred in 1999, when the group was in high school together. Through alternating timelines, the group’s dark past comes into focus and sheds light on their present, rarely in ways most readers would expect. Murphy delays answers effectively, and makes the reveal about why the friends felt bound to respond to Brandi’s message worth the wait. With echoes of I Know What You Did Last Summer, this gives a familiar trope new life. Agent: Alice Whitwham, Cheney Agency. (July)