cover image The Palisades

The Palisades

Gail Lynn Hanson. Slippery Fish, $16.95 trade paper (352p) ISBN 979-8-9882874-0-7

Hanson debuts with an impressive and suspenseful tale of the thorny relationship between two unusual women. In 2006, 66-year-old Ruth works as a caregiver for elderly, affluent women in L.A.’s exclusive Pacific Palisades neighborhood. Twenty years ago, Ruth was fired from her job cleaning a nursing home after too many of the residents she got close to died unexpectedly. Ever since, she’s found work as an unlicensed caregiver. Ruth’s latest client is Esther Fiske, a frail, wealthy woman who appears to Ruth to be “filled with blood, leaching fluid and oil.” When Ruth meets Esther’s sister-in-law, Dorothy Anderson, a celebrity-obsessed widow with money to burn and a taste for crime fiction, the two hit it off, and Dorothy hires Ruth as her personal assistant. From there, Hanson keeps readers guessing at each woman’s intentions, gradually ratcheting up the tension until the stakes become truly dangerous. Ruth and Dorothy are remarkably well-drawn characters, nasty and endearing in equal measure, and Hanson provides them with a satisfyingly unpredictable plot. This is a discomfiting good time. (Self-published)