cover image Himself


Jess Kidd. Atria, $26 (384p) ISBN 978-1-5011-4517-9

In her exceptional debut novel, Kidd explores the dark corners of the human mind in small-town 1970s Ireland, creating a haunting story that moves between the supernatural and the mundane. A murder mystery on the surface, the story digs past the traditional whodunit structure to paint a rich portrait of village life. Mahony, a charming young man who can communicate with the dead, returns to Mulderrig, Ireland, his birthplace, in search of the truth about his mother’s mysterious disappearance. As he dredges up the town’s best-kept secrets, the line between past and present blurs, ghosts of the departed shadowing the footsteps of those still living. Mahony’s quest is, at its core, a journey of self-discovery, yet his presence, much like his mother’s, creates a ripple that churns into a tempest, ultimately threatening the stability of the town as a whole. The lavishly populated cast of characters boasts unique quirks, hidden motivations, and a dangerous instinct for self-preservation. In Mulderrig, Mahony learns, all is not as it seems; the departed prove to be the least of his worries. While the plot hurtles along at a rapid pace, leading inexorably to the heart-pounding final conflict, Kidd injects ample doses of macabre humor and lyrical description in this memorable story from a strange, bold new voice. (Mar.)