These books, all by first-time authors, aim to lure readers with stories of suspense, betrayal, and humanity’s dark side.
In what PW’s review called an “auspicious debut [that] will get under the reader’s skin and stay there,” Beyda inverts the Hollywood trope of “being discovered.” The nameless narrator is plucked from obscurity and hired by the mysterious Max to impersonate a reclusive celebrity who has suffered a breakdown. As the narrator’s transformation progresses, her already unsettling relationship with Max shifts in menacing ways.
The Coyotes of Carthage
Dre Ross, an African-American political consultant, runs afoul of his boss, who sends him to rural South Carolina to run a dark money campaign destined to gut the community. “Wright uses his experience conducting voting rights work for the Obama Justice Department and running the Wisconsin Innocence Project to explore race, class, and politics in a small town,” says Zachary Wagman, executive editor at Ecco.
Darling Rose Gold
In this fictional take on cases of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, Patty Watts is convicted of slowly poisoning her daughter, Rose Gold, for the first 18 years of her life. When she’s released after five years with nowhere to go, Rose Gold takes her in. The women each have ulterior motives for the arrangement, which are revealed in chapters told from alternating perspectives and that move between past and present.
The Eighth Girl
Psychotherapist Chung centers her novel on a young woman with multiple personalities, any of which might take over at any time. Despite her challenges, Alexa has a new relationship, a job that’s helping her make ends meet, and the support of a trusted few, including her best friend, Ella. When Ella gets a job at an exclusive gentleman’s club and becomes entangled with the wrong people, Alexa is dragged into the darkness of her many personalities as well as London’s criminal underground.
Cassie Larkin, while on her way home one rainy night, spots an altercation between a man and woman. She calls 911 and, going against the dispatcher’s advice to keep her distance, steps out of her car to help. The man threatens Cassie and, while she’s helping the woman, steals her car. The next night, Halloween, her husband, Sam, abandons their six-year-old daughter while trick-or- treating and disappears. “Chavez is in full command of plot and pacing,” PW’s review said, “as the connection between Cassie’s roadside confrontation and Sam’s disappearance becomes clear.”