cover image When the Stars Go Dark

When the Stars Go Dark

Paula McLain. Ballantine, $28 (384p) ISBN 978-0-593-23789-2

At the start of this stunning crime novel from McLain (The Paris Wife), Anna Hart, a San Francisco detective who’s on indefinite leave following a tragic incident that has brought her marriage to the brink and destroyed her faith in herself, is driving to Mendocino, Calif., where she spent part of her childhood with the foster parents who offered her a first taste of stability. Soon after she arrives in town, she spots a missing person poster: 15-year-old Cameron Curtis, adopted daughter of a recently retired actor, has vanished. Cameron’s fate reminds Anna of the still-unsolved murder of a childhood friend that occurred when she was in high school. “Someone has to save this girl,” she resolves. “And it has to be me.” Then other similar crimes start coming to light, and Anna becomes eerily aware of the disturbing connection between the victims and their predators. McLain matches poetic prose with deep characterizations as she shines a light on the kindness in her characters’ souls. Fans of literary suspense won’t be able to put this one down. Agent: Julie Barer, Book Group. (Apr.)