cover image Middle of the Night

Middle of the Night

Riley Sager. Dutton, $30 (384p) ISBN 978-0-593472-37-8

Bestseller Sager (The Only One Left) expertly doles out chills and pathos in his mesmerizing latest. In 1994, when Ethan Marsh was 10 years old, his best friend, Billy Barringer, was kidnapped from the tent where both boys were sleeping in Ethan’s New Jersey backyard and never seen again. Thirty years later, Ethan’s marriage has ended, his parents have decamped to Florida, and he’s returned to live on the well-to-do cul-de-sac where he grew up. Still plagued by nightmares about Billy’s disappearance, Ethan comes to believe that someone may be lurking in the shadows of Hemlock Circle: neighbors’ motion-sensor lights flick on for no apparent reason; he senses a presence “linger[ing] in the way certain smells do” when he’s out for night walks. His paranoia increases when someone tosses a baseball into his yard, the private signal Billy used to give him when he wanted to play. Could Billy have returned? Or is his kidnapper back for seconds? Sager takes his time ratcheting up the tension, peppering in crucial flashbacks that flesh out Ethan and Billy’s friendship and painting a three-dimensional portrait of Ethan’s fractured mind in the present. This standout work of psychological suspense confirms that Sager has few equals when it comes to merging creepiness and compassion. Agent: Michelle Brower, Trellis Literary. (June)