cover image The House in the Pines

The House in the Pines

Ana Reyes. Dutton, $27 (336p) ISBN 978-0-593-18671-8

The summer before Maya, the heroine of Reyes’s intriguing if flawed debut, entered college, 17-year-old Aubrey West, her best friend from high school in Pittsfield, Mass., dropped dead while talking to Maya’s then boyfriend, Frank Bellamy. While Aubrey’s death was ruled accidental, Maya was sure that Frank killed Aubrey, but she had no way of proving it. Now, eight years later, Maya is living in Boston with a new boyfriend and is trying to kick her addiction to the medication she’s been secretly taking to cope with the trauma of Aubrey’s death. One sleepless night, while watching a trending YouTube video, Maya sees a young woman fatally collapse while sitting across the table from Frank in a diner. Convinced that Frank has somehow murdered another victim, Maya returns home to Pittsfield to search for answers, which may just lie in the cabin in the woods where Frank used to entertain Maya and Aubrey. Well-developed characters and a nice balance between the main narrative and the backstories draw the reader in, but the action builds to an implausible and disappointing ending. Reyes shows enough talent to suggest she can do better next time. Agent: Jenni Ferrari-Adler, Union Literary. (Jan.)