cover image Billie Starr’s Book of Sorries

Billie Starr’s Book of Sorries

Deborah E. Kennedy. Flatiron, $27.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-13843-9

Edgar finalist Kennedy follows her debut, Tornado Weather, with an enthralling suspense thriller. Unmarried 28-year-old Jenny Newberg, who lives in Benson, Ind., a small town where “you might meet yourself on the street, coming and going,” is always apologizing for everything. Meanwhile, her precocious eight-year-old daughter, Billie Starr, and a school friend record her “sorries” in a book. They plan to publish it, not for the money but “for the good of the world.” Despite all Jenny’s apologies, “nothing ever gets better.” Until it seems it might, when two men in black suits offer Jenny the chance to get out of debt—if she wears a wire while seducing the Candidate, a married man who’s running for high political office. Jenny’s rendezvous with the Candidate at a hotel is supposed to change her and Billie’s lives. It does. But not exactly the way Jenny hoped. The Candidate endears himself to Jenny, fixing her furnace and being attentive to Billie. Yet something seems off kilter. When Billie goes missing after a Christmas field trip to Chicago, Jenny goes into high gear to find her, and, in the process, herself. The tension rises as the real intent behind the seduction scheme unfolds. Exquisite prose matches deep characterization. Kennedy deserves to win an Edgar with this captivating sophomore effort. Agent: Yishai Seidman, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner. (Oct.)