cover image Safe in My Arms

Safe in My Arms

Sara Shepard. Dutton, $17 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-5247-4678-0

In this propulsively plotted if ultimately muddled page-turner from bestseller Shepard (Reputation), three wildly different women, all newcomers to upscale Raisin Beach, Calif., become unlikely sisters in sleuthing after their children’s swanky preschool, Silver Swans Nursery Academy, becomes a decidedly unsafe space. First come the anonymous threats in their kids’ backpacks received by each of them: Andrea Vaughan, an East Coast transplant, who’s hiding a big secret from her wealthy WASP family; video game designer Lauren Smith, who’s struggling with postpartum issues her husband insists she keep quiet; and financially strapped Ronnie Stuckey, who hopes her clueless kindergarten teacher boyfriend never learns how she makes her living . Then an attack at Silver Swans puts the school’s director in the ICU—and the trio in the crosshairs. Though amusing and fast-paced, the novel founders with attempts to fold in more serious topics such as domestic violence, child abduction, and postpartum rage, as well as a final cascade of unconvincing coincidences to tie up plot lines. Fans of Big Little Lies may have fun. Agent: Andy McNicol, William Morris Endeavor. (July)