Inspired by Alice in Wonderland
Over a decade after her disappearance at age 16, Angela’s remains have been found in the woods. Her best friend Kaiser, now a detective, finally knows the truth: She was murdered by known serial killer Calvin James, who also happens to be their other best friend Georgina’s high school boyfriend. Now that the truth is out, more bodies turn up — and even more twisted truths come to the surface.
Frances Metcalfe, the mousy protagonist of this diverting domestic suspense novel from Harding (The Party), has been shunned by the other Forrester Academy parents since her troubled 11-year-old son, Marcus, peed in a mean girl’s water bottle, so she can’t believe her luck when cool, confident Kate Randolph invites her out for coffee. The stay-at-home moms become fast friends, bonding over their mutual contempt for the snobs in their Seattle, Wash., suburb. But as it turns out, that’s not all they have in common: both women are also hiding terrible secrets.
Late on the night of Nov. 14, 1980, judge Andrew Fitzsimons and his wife, Lydia, rendezvous with troubled 22-year-old prostitute Annie Doyle on a deserted Dublin beach for unspecified reasons. When Annie threatens blackmail, the couple kill her. Lydia orders Andrew to bury the body in their garden and forget it, but then Annie’s family reports her missing and a media circus ensues. Andrew panics, arousing the suspicion of the couple’s 17-year-old son, Laurence, who becomes obsessed with Annie. Also fixated is the victim’s 19-year-old sister, Karen, who remains dedicated to finding Annie even after the police lose interest. This tragic tale unfolds over five years from the perspectives of Lydia, Laurence, and Karen, allowing Nugent to develop character while exploring the crime’s ripple effect.
In 2014, journalist Fiona Sheridan’s interest in finding out the truth about her sister’s murder—which occurred 20 years earlier near Idlewild Hall, an abandoned girls’ boarding school—is revived by the news that the property is being restored by a mysterious out-of-towner. Fiona’s boyfriend and the police in his family, however, don’t want her digging too deep. Flashback to 1950, when four roommates at Idlewild build deep friendships while dealing with the sinister presence of Mary Hand, a veiled ghost whom generations of students claim haunts the garden where her dead baby is buried.
The May Mothers, a parenting group, gather at a Brooklyn bar for an adults-only Fourth of July celebration. The outing’s organizers—Nell Mackey, Colette Yates, and Francie Givens—are intent on showing harried single mom Winnie Ross a good time, so they arrange for Nell’s nanny, Alma, to watch Winnie’s son, Midas, and delete the baby monitor app from Winnie’s phone. Drinking commences and Winnie wanders off, leaving her phone and house key with Nell, who misplaces them. Shortly thereafter, Alma calls Nell to report that Midas is missing. When the NYPD fails to find him, the media turns its attention to Winnie and the other May Mothers, prompting Nell, Colette, and Francie to launch their own increasingly reckless investigation.