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An anonymous girl
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  New York Times Review

PSYCHOLOGICAL SUSPENSE IS a genre that needs to be handled with kid gloves. Too much reality - or too much foolishness - and the pact made with the reader to believe in the unbelievable is broken. Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen seem to have mastered the formula in AN ANONYMOUS GIRL (St. Martin's, $27.99), a creepy-crawly tale about putting your trust in a stranger; specifically, in a strange psychologist. Jessica Farris, a young theatrical makeup artist living on peanuts, sneaks into a high-paying "morality and ethics research project" being conducted by Lydia Shields, a psychology professor at New York University. Anticipating a formal printed questionnaire, Jessica is disconcerted to be bombarded with highly personal questions. "Subject 52, you need to dig deeper," she's prompted by the dauntingly elegant Dr. Shields, who knows Jessica is an impostor, but finds her interesting. And dig she does, revealing herself so completely that Dr. Shields focuses exclusively on her. Although this will no doubt set off alarms for discerning readers, Jessica seems oblivious to the unlikelihood of such a setup. And indeed, it turns out that Dr. Shields is really looking for an attractive (and rather dumb) young woman to test her husband's fidelity. Given the rather far-fetched premise of this tale of mutual sexual obsession, the authors do a neat job of ratcheting up the suspense when Jessica begins going out on assignments to pick up married men in bars. And it comes uncomfortably close to being a justifiable betrayal when Dr. Shields's husband has an affair with Jessica, confirming his wife's previously unfounded hypothesis that he's "an unrepentant adulterer." At least he has the discretion to warn his lover about his wife. "She's dangerous," he says. "Watch yourself." But it's the danger that makes infidelity such fun, and the authors know exactly how to play on their characters' love of danger to bring them to the brink of disaster - and dare them to jump off. you could choke on the bonedry atmosphere of SCRUBLANDS (Atria, $26.99), Chris Hammer's gritty debut novel about a sex scandal that has left a small Australian desert town reeling. A year has passed since a church shooting torched the parched landscape of Riversend, where everyone talks about the punishing weather but few have the stamina to take it without boiling over into rage or despair. The chary locals are less forthcoming about the lingering horror of the mass shooting in which a young priest took the lives of five members of his elderly congregation. A journalist named Martin Scarsden has been assigned by his editor at The Sydney Morning Herald to write a feature about how the town is coping with the trauma, only to be told by Mandalay Blonde, the owner of a bookstore, that the real story is why the priest carried out the killings in the first place. And while he's at it, why not find out if the accepted motive of pedophilia holds up. Taking up the challenge, Scarsden delves into the history of this cursed town and its haunted inhabitants, emerging with a sensitively rendered back story about people who have willfully blinded themselves by staring into the sun too long. the only thing sadder than a majestic hotel fallen on hard times is one with a dead body in Room 413. Detective Aidán Waits of the Manchester police force finds the corpse, its jaws locked in a hideous death grin, in Joseph Knox's edgy noir mystery THE SMILING MAN (Crown, $26), and for his sins catches the case. Those transgressions include a meth habit that pretty much puts Waits in debt to his hard-nosed superior officer, Superintendent Parrs, who holds him on a short leash. "It's convenient to keep a compromised officer around the place," Parrs gloats. "Someone I've got so much dirt on that I can use him for special jobs." Here, "special" means "illegal," and Waits uses his burglary skills to plant drugs on a suspect. Despite these unorthodox ploys, he's a smart guy who understands that "sometimes you confound expectations, sometimes you grow into the thing that people think you are." thirty years ago, six teenagers went camping in Brinken Wood. Five of them came out alive, and one of them was never seen again until now, in the opening pages of SHE LIES IN WAIT (Random House, $27). This enjoyably chilling suspense tale by Gytha Lodge conveys both the thrills and the dangers of being a teenager on the brink of adult independence. Aurora Jackson never had the chance to taste those thrills before the dangers caught up with her, leaving her bones behind to be found by a rebellious little girl poking around in the woods. Lodge tells the story in interlocking time frames that shift from the present to a summer day in 1983 when 14-year-old Aurora was allowed to hang out with her older sister Topaz's "strange, anarchic, brilliant and beautiful friends." The obvious questions of how she died and at whose hand are properly dealt with. But the fascination of this story is in the character studies of the surviving children, all grown up now and participants in a dark mystery that they all wish had never seen the light of day. Marilyn STASIO has covered crime fiction for the Book Review since 1988. Her column appears twice a month.

  Publishers Weekly Review

Struggling Manhattan makeup artist Jessica Farris impulsively decides to chase some quick cash by lying her way into an NYU psychiatrist's study-of ethics and morality, no less-in this slickly twisty psychological thriller from bestsellers Hendricks and Pekkanen (The Wife Between Us). Still shaky after a disturbing #MeToo encounter with a top theatrical producer that dashed her dream of doing stage makeup, the 28-year-old laps up the supportive attention from impossibly chic and self-confident Dr. Lydia Shields, whose second-person narrative alternates with Jessica's first person. So when the therapist starts to enlist her in increasingly dicey real-life role-playing assignments, including trying to pick up specific targets, such as a stranger in a hotel bar, Jess pushes aside her doubts and goes along-until she hears some information too alarming to ignore about the fate of Dr. Shields's previous protAcgAc. The page-turner's second half whizzes along at a furious pace, exploiting the dual perspectives for maximum tension. Though some of the gasp-worthy final twists require substantial character flip-flops, it's a relatively minor sacrifice for major league suspense. Agent: Victoria Sanders, Victoria Sanders and Assoc. (Jan.) c Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
<p> The next audiobook of psychological suspense and obsession from the authors of the blockbuster bestseller The Wife Between Us. </p><p> Seeking women ages 18-32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed. </p><p>When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she'll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave. </p><p> Question #1: Could you tell a lie without feeling guilt? </p><p>But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she's thinking...and what she's hiding. </p><p> Question #2: Have you ever deeply hurt someone you care about? </p><p>As Jess's paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what in her life is real, and what is one of Dr. Shields' manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.</p><p> Question #3: Should a punishment always fit the crime? </p><p>From the authors of the blockbuster bestseller The Wife Between Us comes an electrifying new audiobook about doubt, passion, and just how much you can trust someone.</p><p> Praise for The Wife Between Us </p><p>"A fiendishly smart cat-and-mouse thriller" -- New York Times Book Review </p><p>" A] seamless thriller that will keep readers on their toes to the very end...Readers will enjoy the dizzying back-and-forth as they attempt to figure out just who to root for and as the suspense ratchets up to one hell of a conclusion." -- Booklist </p>
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