cover image Broken Summer

Broken Summer

J.M. Lee, trans. from the Korean by An Seon Jae. Amazon Crossing, $24.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-6625-0528-7

Korean painter Hanjo Lee, the protagonist of this mesmerizing novel from Lee (The Investigation), must wrestle with his haunted, long-buried past. One summer day 26 years earlier, Jisoo Jang, the daughter of a wealthy, influential neighbor of Hanjo’s family, was discovered dead in a nearby river. Jisoo’s death created shock waves that eventually ruined the lives of her family members and Hanjo’s as well. Hanjo has since married Haeri Jang, Jisoo’s younger sister. On Hanjo’s 43rd birthday, Haeri vanishes, leaving behind a scathing, soon-to-be-published novel about an artist of dubious morals whose career closely resembles Hanjo’s own. Haeri’s disappearance prompts Hanjo to try to find out exactly what happened that summer day. Lee excels at psychological realism, and Hanjo’s quest to learn the truth feels naturally driven by deep, painful emotions. The pace never feels forced, and Lee does a masterly job of selecting the telling detail. Haeri’s body, for instance, is covered by self-inflicted scars. This exquisite portrait of minds torn apart by mourning will appeal not just to mystery readers. Agent: Barbara Zitwer, Barbara Zitwer Agency. (Sept.)