cover image Death at the Party

Death at the Party

Amy Stuart. Simon & Schuster Canada, $17.95 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-6680-0910-9

Virginia Woolf meets Agatha Christie in this taut psychological thriller from Stuart (Still Here). Around midnight in a basement bathroom, Nadine Walsh, who’s hosting a birthday party upstairs for her 60-year-old mother, a bestselling thriller writer, checks the pulse of an unidentified dying man. After he dies, Nadine, who lives in “Winngrove, an affluent-but-liberal village within a city,” returns to the party without being spotted leaving the basement. Flashbacks starting early that morning follow Nadine as she prepares for more than a hundred guests that evening. Her lawyer husband doesn’t help much, nor do their two self-absorbed teenage children. She feels judged by her 24-year-old niece, who has lived with the Walshes since Nadine fell down the stairs and broke her hip six months before. She also contends with her unresolved feelings for her rags to riches mother and the lingering trauma of a family tragedy that occurred exactly 30 years earlier. Stuart’s complex lead immediately grabs the reader’s sympathy, even if she is a killer. Fans of Mrs. Dalloway, which provides the book’s epigraph, will want to check this one out. Agent: Samantha Haywood, Transatlantic Agency (Canada). (Mar.)