Mar 012023

Kirkus: Authors’ dreams curdle into nightmares when murder strikes a mystery convention.

Kristin Bailey, one of five nominees for Murderpalooza’s Thriller of the Year, has been stabbed to death in her room at the Waldorf. Amid the digital firestorm that breaks out, two items stand out. One is a Twitter thread indicating that @MPaloozaNxt2Dieis following Vicky Overton, a fellow nominee; Mike Brooks, the once-successful friend who shared a hush-hush relationship with Kristin; Suzanne Shih, the admiring stalker she’d gotten a restraining order against; and Davis Walton, a self-absorbed rising star. The other is a series of text messages to Vicky, Mike, Suzanne, and Davis making target-specific insinuations and threats, all ending with the refrain “Maybe you’re next.” Since all four of them have plenty of secrets to hide, their suspicions of each other are equaled by their apprehension that they’re about to be unmasked. Alternating among their four points of view, Hendricks revels in their paranoia while archly revealing the differences in their narrative styles, from Vicky’s relentless self-editing to Suzanne’s guileless pushiness to Davis’ preening narcissism to Mike’s terror because his current comeback novel features a murder at a mystery convention committed by his own fictional avatar. Authors, agents, publishers, wannabes: None of them comes off nearly as well as Vicky’s boyfriend, publicist Jim Russell, who’s miles ahead of Pearson—no first name—the investigator hired by the Waldorf to figure out just which of these experts in homicide upped their game to the next level. Despite the obvious premise, it’s a furious, riotous, meta-romp right up to the last deflating twist.