Rumor Mill

Whispers and gossip drive the plot in Baker and Kara's summer reads.

redstar Baker, Chandler. Whisper Network. Flatiron: Macmillan. Jul. 2019. 352p. ISBN 9781250319470. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250319494. F
DEBUT The CEO of Truviv, a hot athletic apparel company, has suddenly died, and the firm’s general counsel, Ames Garrett, looks to be the heir apparent. Sloane, Grace, Rosalita, and Ardie have worked for Ames for years, and each of the women has a different relationship with him. His reputation for sexual misconduct has long been whispered about among his reports, but no one has come forward to challenge him. However, with his likely takeover of the corporation, something must be done, so Sloane and her colleagues put their lawyerly heads together and file suit. What happens is horrific, very timely, and totally believable.
VERDICT Attorney Baker’s debut is a thriller, a murder mystery, and an anthem for any woman who has ever hit a glass ceiling, been the brunt of sexual innuendo, or felt harassed in the workplace. Smart, articulate, and witty, it will resonate with a huge audience. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 1/7/19.]—Susan Clifford Braun, Bainbridge Island, WA

Kara, Lesley. The Rumor. Ballantine. Jun. 2019. 336p. ISBN 9781984819345. pap. $17; ebk. ISBN 9781984819352. F
DEBUT Single mom Joanna and young son Alfie recently relocated to the quiet seaside town where her mother lives. When Joanna hears a doozy of a rumor—that a notorious criminal, who killed as a child but did her time, is living among them with a new identity—she blithely shares it with the schoolyard mommy brigade that she so desperately wants to fit in with. But she immediately regrets sharing the rumor as paranoia causes the women, including herself, to become consumed with identifying the killer. Joanna quickly learns how a rumor can snowball and negatively affect people’s lives, including her own. Kara’s debut, Americanized following its initial release in the UK, is a brisk first-person narrative with short chapters and plenty of characters that will keep readers guessing (and reguessing).
VERDICT Joanna’s histrionic nature and Alfie’s opportunistic freelance investigative journalist father are annoying, and the pervasive stilted dialog distracting, but those issues don’t stop the requisite shocking twist and reveal from making this a satisfying read worth recommending.—Samantha Gust, Niagara Univ. Lib., NY

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