The Stowaway

James S. Murray and Darren Wearmouth. St. Martin’s, $27.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-26365-0

In this frenetic suspense novel from Murray and Wearmouth (the Awakened series), Maria Fontana, the head of Columbia University’s psychology department, serves as a juror in the Manhattan trial of Wyatt Butler, an antique watch restorer accused of murdering eight children across several states. The jury splits 11 to one, with Maria the lone dissenting vote. When she openly admits she couldn’t convict Butler based on the evidence, she creates a media uproar. Urged to take a sabbatical by her boss, Maria embarks on a transatlantic cruise to Britain with her 11-year-old twins and her boyfriend. After a severed head turns up in a cabin, Maria suspects Butler is aboard the ship and desperately tries to have her fears taken seriously before the body count rises. The authors maintain tension throughout and provide several clever twists, though some sloppy details, such as having Butler’s trial open to the public but not the press, undercut suspension of disbelief. Fans of Brandon Webb and John David Mann’s Steel Fear will want to check this one out. Agent: Brandi Bowles, United Talent Agency. (Sept.)