Winner of the 2021 Edgar Award for Best First Novel
In this “beautifully written, thoughtful page-turner” (Chloe Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Immortalists) from “the next big voice in crime fiction” (Susan Scarf Merrell, author of Shirley), two young women become unlikely friends during one fateful summer in Atlantic City as mysterious disappearances hit dangerously close to home.
Summer has come to Atlantic City but the boardwalk is empty of tourists, the casino lights have dimmed, and two Jane Does are laid out in the marshland behind the Sunset Motel, just west of town. Only one person even knows they’re there.
Meanwhile, Clara, a young boardwalk psychic, struggles to attract clients for the tarot readings that pay her rent. When she begins to experience very real and disturbing visions, she suspects they could be related to the recent cases of women gone missing in town. When Clara meets Lily, an ex-Soho art gallery girl who is working at a desolate casino spa and reeling from a personal tragedy, she thinks Lily may be able to help her. But Lily has her own demons to face. If they can put the pieces together in time, they may save another lost girl—so long as their efforts don’t attract perilous attention first.
“You won’t be able to stop turning the pages of this heartbreaking” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) and compelling psychological thriller that explores the intersection of womanhood, power, and violence.
At the start of Mullen's exceptional debut, the Atlantic City, N.J., boardwalk psychic known as Clara Voyant receives an unexpected client, a man who's trying to find his missing teenage niece. The man's visit causes Clara to have visions filled with warnings and bad omens long afterward. In addition, she suddenly feels and hears things that aren't there. Meanwhile, Clara forges an unlikely friendship with Lily Louten, a former SoHo art gallery worker now employed at a casino spa, who's dealing with demons of her own, in particular painful memories of her father's death. After a tough reading for a prostitute nicknamed Peaches, Clara's visions intensify. Fearing the worst after Peaches disappears, Clara enlists Lily's help to find her, and they plunge into the dark heart of a tourist town in the middle of economic turmoil. Readers won't be able to stop turning the pages of this heartbreaking story as it touches on prostitution, drug abuse, and the fates of women who go unseen. Mullen is definitely an author to watch.
Wow, that was good.