cover image Blood Sugar

Blood Sugar

Sascha Rothchild. Putnam, $27 (336p) ISBN 978-0-593-33154-5

Rothchild (How to Get Divorced by 30) makes her fiction debut with a mesmerizing thriller. At age five, Ruby Simon holds seven-year-old Duncan Reese underwater in the Atlantic Ocean until he drowns, an act that to her surprise she doesn’t feel guilty about. Flash forward 25 years. In a Miami Beach PD interrogation room, Det. Keith Jackson confronts Simon with photos of four murder victims, including Reese. Simon says she killed Reese because he had bullied her beloved older sister, and she decided that drowning him was her only effective option. Simon recalls the circumstances of two other killings before Jackson gets to the crime Simon has been arrested for, her husband’s murder. Rothchild does a terrific job keeping readers wondering about Simon’s reliability, and pulls off the considerable challenge of engendering sympathy for an unrepentant killer. Vivid prose is another plus—Simon refers to her mother and father as submarine, rather than helicopter, parents because they were “a giant lumbering presence, but too often unseen and too deep to be accessible.” Jeff Lindsay fans will have a hard time not devouring this standout effort in one sitting. Agent: Jess Regel, Helm Literary. (Apr.)