In Too Deep

Bea Davenport. Legend (IPG, dist.), $13.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-9093952-9-9

British author Davenport’s moody, disquieting debut focuses on an unlikely friendship between two women: quiet young mother Maura Wood, whose husband, Nick, is alternately charming and vicious, and pretty Kim Carter, an upward-bound reporter. Kim’s journalistic tenacity and cheerfully immoral attitude toward dating married men make her enemies in the small northern English town of Dowerby, which becomes a character in its own right. The town’s biggest event is its much-anticipated annual fair, whose main attraction is a relic from witch-hunting days: the dunking stool. When Kim dies on the stool while immersed in a water tank, Maura blames herself. She flees to London to lose herself in a new identity, even though it means abandoning Rosie, her young daughter. When another reporter smokes Maura out five years later, the truth starts to leak out in big, ugly chunks. Davenport deftly weaves the mystery surrounding Kim’s death and Maura’s evolution from victim of her fears to fully functional adult into a seamless whole. (June)