cover image The Hunter

The Hunter

Jennifer Herrera. Putnam, $27 (352p) ISBN 978-0-593-54021-3

“I would not have pulled the trigger,” declares Det. Leigh O’Donnell of the NYPD in the opening sentence of Herrera’s stellar debut. Leigh was suspended from the force after she aimed her Glock at her police partner, enabling a criminal to escape. Even Leigh isn’t sure why she reacted that way. Since her actions imperil her career, she decides to accept a lifeline from her cop brother, Ronan, who has stayed in their hometown of Copper Falls, Ohio, and has persuaded his boss to offer Leigh a job. Leigh finds the community roiled by the bizarre deaths of three unemployed 25-year-old men, who were found drowned together in the town’s waterfalls. The deaths echo a tragedy from seven years earlier; three high school seniors died by suicide there the night before their graduation. Given that the current victims died at the very age the high schoolers would have been had they not jumped to their deaths, Leigh suspects a connection. The tantalizing question of why Leigh pointed her gun at her partner helps drive the complex plot, which is matched by thoroughly realized characters whose actions are anything but predictable. Herrera is a writer to watch. Agent: Heather Jackson, Heather Jackson Literary. (Jan.)