cover image A Mother Would Know

A Mother Would Know

Amber Garza. Mira, $17.95 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-0-7783-8648-3

Widow Valerie Jacobs, the narrator of this propulsive thriller from Garza (Where I Left Her), regrets her sometimes careless parenting back when she was part of a popular band and her son, Hudson, and her daughter, Kendra, were young. That Valerie’s memory begins to fail in her 50s recalls her mother’s early-onset Alzheimer’s. Perfectionistic Kendra is too overwhelmed by nursing school and a baby to offer hands-on care, so Valerie asks Hudson to come and live in her old Sacramento, Calif., home. She hopes to rebuild the closeness they once shared, but Hudson, an aimless drifter in his mid-20s, is more interested in partying with friends. As old tensions between Hudson and Kendra reemerge, a sexy young woman who lives nearby is strangled shortly after she and Hudson are introduced. An incident from Hudson’s adolescence unites the neighborhood against him despite the lack of evidence, and Valerie struggles to balance a mother’s unconditional belief in her son with fears that he was indeed involved in the crime. Combining high drama with issues—aging, sibling rivalry, the shadow of past mistakes—to which most readers can relate, Garza keeps the fast-paced plot twists going into the book’s final pages. Fans of smart, female-centered thrillers will love this. Agent: Ellen Coughtrey, Gernert Co. (Dec.)