cover image Strange Sally Diamond

Strange Sally Diamond

Liz Nugent. Scout, $27.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-5011-8971-5

Nugent (Lying in Wait) outdoes herself in this chilling exploration of her title character’s pitch-black past. Ruthlessly bullied as a child in Ireland, Sally has lived a quiet life with her parents, rarely venturing outside. When her widower father dies just before her 44th birthday, Sally incinerates his body with the garbage, thinking she’s honoring his wishes to “put him out with the trash.” Instead, the act draws outrage from neighbors, authorities, and the media, suddenly thrusting the reclusive Sally into an unwelcome spotlight. She’s always known that she was adopted, but slowly—with the aid of letters her “father” left behind, plus a series of messages from a mysterious stranger who may hail from Sally’s blurry past—she comes to know the precise horrors of her backstory. Can she overcome them and learn to navigate a world she barely understands? Nugent fashions an unforgettable protagonist in Sally, and never loses sight of her characters’ fundamental humanity, even as she piles on twists and steers the narrative into exceptional darkness. Inventive, addictive, and bold, this deserves a wide audience. Agent: Marianne Gunn O’Connor, Marianne Gunn O’Connor Literary. (July)