cover image Path of Needles

Path of Needles

Alison Littlewood. Quercus/Jo Fletcher, $26.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-62365-855-7

Trails of corpses, not bread crumbs, lead to terror in this captivating, psychologically complex hybrid of magical realism and police procedural from Littlewood (A Cold Season). When the body of 15-year-old Chrissie Farrell is found in the woods outside Ryhill, England, a crown placed on the dead girl’s head and other odd details remind Police Constable Cate Corbin of the Snow White fairy tale. Cate enlists the dubious aid of folklore lecturer Alice Hyland to discover the killer’s motives. Subsequent murders mirror other folkloric motifs, and Cate and Alice struggle to decipher the moral and behavioral factors linking victims to their mythic archetypes. Can Cate stop an inventive murderer in a world suddenly turned irrational by the possible existence of supernatural forces? Is the bluebird mysteriously communicating with Alice a herald of inspiration or a harbinger of death? Crisp pacing and assured prose lend authenticity to a self-referential thriller that questions our values and the stories that define us. Agent: Oli Munson, A.M. Heath (U.K.). (Nov.)