cover image Problem Child: A Jane Doe Thriller

Problem Child: A Jane Doe Thriller

Victoria Helen Stone. Lake Union, $14.95 trade paper (266p) ISBN 978-1-5420-1439

Stone’s outstanding sequel to 2018’s Jane Doe finds Minneapolis attorney Jane, a sociopathic antihero, taking pleasure in destroying the career of a legal colleague who stole credit for her work; she’s also settled in a steady relationship with her sweet boyfriend, Luke. When Luke suggests they move in together, Jane is so upset she decides to leave town. The news that her 16-year-old niece, Kayla Stringer, “a spooky, cold-blooded bitch” like Jane herself, has disappeared provides her with the pretext to go to Oklahoma, where she first visits her brother, Kayla’s father, who’s indifferent to his daughter’s fate. In her search for the missing teen, she behaves in various socially unacceptable ways. Stone flips the murderous, dead-inside sociopath stereotype on its head with a successful narrator, who, though she doesn’t care for others, is practical and self-aware, showing decadent, almost inappropriate delight, for example, in delicious food. Readers will find vicarious joy in Jane’s petty vengeances and unabashed meanness to anyone who tries to take advantage of her. Stone turns some very dark material into an upbeat tale. (Mar.)