Ottessa Moshfegh spins out an intricate, layered character study in Death in Her Hand. Vesta is far from a reliable narrator, so her inner monologue about finding a clue to what she believes may be a murder is fraught with conflict, obsfucation, both vague and crystal clear interpretations of data, and the kind of scattered thinking that might indicate dementia. Determined to figure out the murder, Vesta doggedly pursues the cold trail, but comes up with more questions than answers. Moshfegh is a peerless genius at crafting unlikable characters, and this one is exquisitely done. Nerve-racking and tense, with a deep dive into her protagonist's psyche, Moshfegh writes a novel that serves as an epiphany for what is possible in fiction. Excellent! Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2020 by: The Washington Post, Vogue, Marie Claire, Entertainment Weekly, The Millions, New York Magazine, Paste Magazine, LitHub, E! News Online, and many more
From one of our most ceaselessly provocative literary talents, a novel of haunting metaphysical suspense about an elderly widow whose life is upturned when she finds an ominous note on a walk in the woods.
While on her daily walk with her dog in a secluded woods, a woman comes across a note, handwritten and carefully pinned to the ground by stones. " Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn't me. Here is her dead body." But there is no dead body. Our narrator is deeply shaken; she has no idea what to make of this. She is new to this area, alone after the death of her husband, and she knows no one.
Becoming obsessed with solving this mystery, our narrator imagines who Magda was and how she met her fate. With very little to go on, she invents a list of murder suspects and possible motives for the crime. Oddly, her suppositions begin to find correspondences in the real world, and with mounting excitement and dread, the fog of mystery starts to fade into menacing certainty. As her investigation widens, strange dissonances accrue, perhaps associated with the darkness in her own past; we must face the prospect that there is either an innocent explanation for all this or a much more sinister one.
A triumphant blend of horror, suspense, and pitch-black comedy, Death in Her Hands asks us to consider how the stories we tell ourselves both reflect the truth and keep us blind to it. Once again, we are in the hands of a narrator whose unreliability is well earned, and the stakes have never been higher.
"An eerie and affecting satire of the detective novel." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"When it comes to evoking the jagged edge of contemporary anxiety there might not be a more insightful writer working today than Moshfegh. That is, if the boundless dark potential of the human psyche is your thing. If it's not, this atmospheric, darkly comic tale of a pathologically lonely widow and the thrills lurking in her sylvan retreat might not be for you. But, sophisticated reader that you are, you're not afraid of the dark. Right?" The Millions
"Cleverly unraveling, linguistically brilliant, and limning the limits of reality, [Death in Her Hands] will speak to fans of literary psychological suspense." Booklist
"This unnerving latest from Moshfegh offers a truly creepy murder mystery while commenting on our relationship to the genre itself." Library Journal
"Death in Her Hands, a novel about a woman who finds a haunting note in the woods, is unlike anything else you'll read all year. It's Moshfegh at her darkest and sharpest." HelloGiggles, Most Anticipated Books of 2020
About the Author
Ottessa Moshfegh is the author of My Year of Rest and Relaxation, a New York Times bestseller; Homesick for Another World, a New York Times Book Review notable book of the year; Eileen, which was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Man Booker Prize, and won the PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction; and McGlue, which won the Fence Modern Prize in Prose and the Believer Book Award. Her stories have earned her a Pushcart Prize, an O. Henry Award, the Plimpton Prize, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.