cover image The Outlier

The Outlier

Elisabeth Eaves. Random House Canada, $18 trade paper (344p) ISBN 978-1-0390-0804-5

Eaves’s brisk and surprising debut centers on high-functioning psychopath Cate Winter, a Seattle biotech CEO who’s preparing to sell her firm in a multimillion-dollar deal. Determined to keep her public image unblemished until the sale goes through, Cate visits the research institute where she grew up as part of a study on psychopathy to ensure her records stay buried. During the visit, Cate learns from her former mentor that only she and one other boy from the study grew up to become high achievers. Though the institute won’t give Cate her counterpart’s identity, she grows obsessed with finding him, and eventually tracks him to Baja California, where he’s living under the name Hunter Araya and developing a renewable energy source that could have major implications for climate change. Meanwhile, Luciana Gutierrez, a marine biologist in Baja, is concerned over the rising numbers of dead and mutilated fish in local waters, and works with reporter Tenoch Gomez to get to the bottom of it. When Tenoch turns up dead, Cate starts to wonder if Hunter is responsible—and if so, what that means about her own capacity for violence. Eaves skillfully infuses complex ecological and moral issues into a plot that never forgets to thrill. Readers will be eager to see what Eaves does next. Agent: Emma Parry, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (Aug.)