cover image Dog Park

Dog Park

Sofi Oksanen, trans. from the Finnish by Owen F. Witesman. Knopf, $27.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-525-65947-1

This bleak psychological thriller from Finnish writer Oksanen (Norma) opens in 2016 at a Helsinki dog park, where Olenka is surveilling a couple and their two kids. One of the children is biologically hers—the result of a sale to the Ukrainian egg donation agency that later became her employer—and now that her life is in ruins, Olenka likes to contemplate what could have been. When former acquaintance Daria Sokolova sits down beside her, Olenka assumes she’s there to blackmail her, as Olenka fled Ukraine in 2010 after being implicated in a high-powered client’s murder. But Daria—a former egg donor, herself—is the mother of the dog park couple’s other child, and it’s not long before Olenka realizes that Daria has other plans. Scenes detailing Olenka’s efforts to outmaneuver Daria alternate with flashbacks to the lies and manipulations that brought them to the park, ramping up tension. The Soviet Union’s collapse looms large over Oksanen’s intricate plot, which rivets despite leaden pacing. Fans of slow-burning suspense will find much to enjoy. Agent: Tor Jonasson, Salomonsson Agency (Sweden). (Sept.)