cover image The Only Child

The Only Child

Andrew Pyper. Simon & Schuster, $25 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4767-5521-2

Edgar-winner Pyper (The Damned) misfires in this supernatural thriller, which becomes less compelling and less scary the more explicit the threat to the lead gets. Doctor Lily Dominick, who works at New York’s Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center, was traumatized at age six when her mother was torn to pieces by a creature, probably a bear, that broke into their home in Alaska. Lily knows that her memories are flawed, since she’s unable to explain why her mother’s corpse was not consumed or why the animal left no tracks. That mystery is reawakened with a vengeance when Lily is assigned a new patient who says he has no name—and who has been charged with assault after ripping off a man’s ears with his bare hands. The patient unsettles Lily by asserting that he committed the crime so that he could meet her and that he knows the truth about her mother. As his explanation for his provocative statements unfolds, readers will strain to suspend disbelief. The characters are less well formed than in Pyper’s better works. Agent: Stephanie Cabot, Gernert Company. (June)