cover image Survive the Night

Survive the Night

Riley Sager. Dutton, $27 (336p) ISBN 978-0-5931-8316-8

Thriller Award finalist Sager (Home Before Dark) elevates a standard suspense trope—a young woman trapped in a car with a stranger she fears is a serial killer—in this stellar nail-biter set in 1991. Charlie Jordan blames herself for the death of Maddy, her best friend and roommate at New Jersey’s Olyphant University. A day after Charlie let Maddy walk back from a bar to their dorm on her own after an argument, Maddy’s corpse was found. She was stabbed multiple times and one of her teeth was removed, the hallmark of a two-time murderer dubbed the Campus Killer. Wracked with guilt and self-loathing, Charlie resolves to leave in the middle of the semester, and finds a ride home to Ohio with Josh Baxter, a janitor employed by Olyphant driving to the state to tend to his ill father. Charlie soon suspects Josh has been lying to her about who he is. Her tendency to create movies in her mind makes her perceptions unreliable, even to herself. Sager excels at playing with reader expectations and in concocting plausible, gut-wrenching twists. Fans of Ira Levin’s A Kiss Before Dying will be pleased. Agent: Michelle Brower, Aevitas Creative Management. (June)