cover image The Search Party

The Search Party

Hannah Richell. Atria, $17.99 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-6680-3606-8

The appealing latest from Richell (The River Home) injects new life into a familiar narrative scaffolding. In a prologue, a girl jumps off the edge of a cliff after an unidentified man urges her to do so. The action then shifts to an interview between the Cornish police and Dominic Davies, a Simon Cowell–like judge on the fictional reality TV show Star Search, about an unspecified tragedy. Davies says that he and his family were invited to visit his university friend, Max Kingsley, at a new glamping resort he’d set up with his wife, Annie, in rural England. After Davies concedes that he thinks everyone at that gathering did things they regret, Richell rewinds the narrative back two days to flesh out what led to the police interrogation, alternating perspectives and highlighting what each character eventually shares with Cornish authorities. She cleverly doles out key details in increments: Annie asks for news from the local hospital during her interrogation; several characters refer to the findings of a search party before Richell reveals what they are. While the book’s Rashomon structure is hardly original, Richell utilizes it well, providing her large cast with distinct voices and insights. It’s a diverting puzzle. (Jan.)