The Whispers

Heidi Perks. Gallery, $27 (320p) ISBN 978-1-9821-5325-0

The discovery of an unidentified body on a beach in Clearwater, England, kicks off this enjoyable psychological thriller from Perks (Three Perfect Liars). Grace Goodwin left Clearwater at 17 when her family moved to Australia. Now, 19 years later, she has returned with her young daughter, while her husband continues his job in Singapore. Feeling lonely, she longs to reconnect with Anna Robinson, her best friend from childhood. However, Anna has found a small group of best friends, and, try as she might, Grace just doesn’t fit in. After a girls’ night out at the pub, Anna goes missing, and Grace seems to be the only one who believes that harm may have come to her. With each passing day, Grace’s anguish rises. The suspense builds as Perks sets up expectations only to tease them apart, leaving the reader with a series of enticing questions, such as who is lying and why, and how far anyone might go to protect oneself. Only some repetition in the middle section suggests the author is a tad off her game. This disturbing view of toxic friendships will resonate with many. Agent: Nelle Andrew, Peters, Fraser, & Dunlop (U.K.). (Mar.)