cover image Pretty Baby

Pretty Baby

Mary Kubica, read by Cassandra Campbell, Tom Taylorson, and Jorjeana Marie. Blackstone Audio, , unabridged, 9 CDs, 10 hrs., $34.95 ISBN 978-1-5046-0986-9

Kubica’s psychological thriller (the follow-up to 2014’s The Good Girl) focuses on Heidi Woods, a Chicago-based social worker who espies a homeless teenage waif, Willow Geer, on a train platform, clutching a crying baby. What initially seems to be a professional interest rapidly carries over to obsession for Heidi. Much to the dismay of her husband, Chris, and her moody 12-year-old daughter, Zoe, Heidi takes the possibly psychotic Willow and tot into their home. Kubica spins her disturbing tale using three present-tense points of view, performed here by a trio of readers. Heidi is the first to speak. Her voice, thanks to reader Campbell, is somewhat academic when describing the city’s social problems, but quickly shifts to concern for the mother and child. Taylorson’s Chris starts out weary from the travel-heavy rut he’s in and annoyed by Heidi’s new insistence on meatless menus, as well as her ceaselessly downbeat tales of society’s ills. Though Heidi’s and Chris’s chapters include frequent flashbacks to the past, they follow a linked chronology. Reader Marie voices Willow’s sections, which take place after her stay in the Woods’ household. Sounding vaguely druggy, or maybe just without affect, she recalls events from her past. But she drops a few comments suggesting that some terrible fate has befallen Heidi. But as the novel’s powerful and emotionally devastating ending makes clear, she doesn’t understand what it is. A Mira hardcover. (July)