cover image Palace of the Drowned

Palace of the Drowned

Christine Mangan. Flatiron, $27.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-78842-9

Mangan follows her well-received debut, 2018's Tangerine, with an elegantly elegiac thriller. On the heels of a headline-grabbing drunken meltdown at a London publishing gala, British novelist Frankie Croy accepts best friend Jack's offer to lay low in Jack's family's vacant palazzo in Venice. But unmoored in the exotic surroundings as she waits for Jack to join her, the emotionally vulnerable loner, who has never managed to match her star-making first novel two decades earlier, worries whether at 42 she's suffering a mid-life crisis or some deeper sort of breakdown—which makes encountering a vivacious young admirer who claims to have met her previously, Gilly Larson, a not entirely unwelcome distraction. However, the more Frankie sees of this persistent new acquaintance, who eventually admits to being an aspiring writer herself, the greater her conviction that Gilly has been lying to her. Unraveling answers will lead the increasingly unsettled Frankie into deep waters and some treacherous situations. Though not all the Highsmithian deceptions come off as equally convincing, Mangan, unlike Frankie, more than lives up to the promise of her debut. (June)