cover image The Only Child

The Only Child

Kayte Nunn. Scarlet, $26.95 (312p) ISBN 978-1-61316-342-9

This gripping mystery from Nunn (The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant) alternates between Brigid, a plucky 16-year-old who’s banished by her family when her pregnancy becomes evident in 1949, and Frankie Gray, a brave but angst-ridden former police officer in 2013, who’s trying to reconnect with her 15-year-old daughter, Izzy. Frankie has come to Orcades Island in Puget Sound, Wash., to help her mother renovate Fairmile, a long-abandoned mansion that once housed a Catholic home for unwed mothers. When Frankie hears of a suspicious death at the assisted living facility where her grandmother’s a resident, she immediately heads there. Frankie slips past the police and catches a glimpse of the crime scene, noting the twine that binds the elderly victim, a former nun, to her bed. Back at Fairmile, workmen uncover the long-buried body of an infant. Frankie investigates, but the stakes rise when Izzy disappears. The chapters about Brigid dramatically reveal the casual cruelty she suffered during her pregnancy and her will to survive. The skillful plot matches the two distinctive leads. This reminder of the harrowing realities faced by women pre–Roe v. Wade couldn’t be more timely. Agent: Jill Marsal, Marsal Lyon. (Sept.)