cover image Stone Mothers

Stone Mothers

Erin Kelly. Minotaur, $26.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-250-11371-9

History of architecture lecturer Marianne Thackeray has been looking over her shoulder for three decades, but the past she hoped she’d outrun finally threatens to catch up with her—with potentially life-shattering consequences—in this uneven psychological thriller from Kelly (He Said/She Said). Back as an ambitious teen itching to escape remote Nusstead, England, a town dying after the closure of its major employer, Nazareth Mental Hospital, by Helen Greenlaw, the despised chair of the East Anglian Regional Health Authority, Marianne let then-boyfriend Jesse Brame bully her into blackmailing the bureaucrat using abandoned hospital records she’d discovered. But while she and Helen, now an MP, have prospered over the years, Jesse teeters on the brink of financial ruin—and threatens to out Marianne to her husband and mentally unstable 20-year-old daughter unless she helps him. Unfortunately, Kelly’s main characters never transcend serviceable. The most moving aspect of the novel is the glimpses it offers, largely through flashbacks from Helen, of the horrors inflicted on heartbreakingly vulnerable patients in the name of mental health. Still, fans of plot-propelled thrillers will be satisfied. [em]Agent: Zoe Pagnamenta, Zoe Pagnamenta Agency. (Apr.) [/em]