cover image The Newcomer

The Newcomer

Mary Kay Andrews. St. Martin’s, $28.99 (448p) ISBN 978-1-250-25696-6

Murder, theft, and shady real estate dealings feature in the convoluted plot of Andrews’s so-so latest (after Hello Summer). Letty Carnahan, 33, flees Manhattan with her four-year-old niece Maya after Letty’s charming but troublemaking younger sister, Tanya, dies. Letty believes Tanya was killed by Tanya’s abusive and unscrupulous husband, Evan Wingfield, who’s under investigation by the FBI for running illegal Airbnb properties, because Tanya had recently confided her fear of Evan to Letty. Guided by a magazine clipping in Tanya’s “go-bag,” which also contained $19,000 in cash, Letty stops at the Murmuring Surf motel in Treasure Island, Fla., where owner Ava Decurtis offers her a job in exchange for a place to stay. Letty endears herself to the older guests and catches the eye of Ava’s handsome cop son, Joe, while untangling Tanya’s involvement with a pair of local criminals who swindled the motel’s guests out of their jewelry. In one of many contrivances, one of the criminals might also be Maya’s biological father. Meanwhile, an FBI agent sets up a sting to prove Evan wants Letty dead. Andrews is great at making the motel community come alive, but a host of one-note villains weakens the narrative, as does the overly complicated story and unconvincing romance with Joe. This one is a miss. (May)