MYSTERY

Bath Haus

Doubleday. Jun. 2021. 320p. ISBN 9780385546737. $26.95. SUSPENSE
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Vernon’s second novel (following When You Find Me) is gripping from its opening scene, and it tightens with each new plot twist. Oliver Park, a medical receptionist recovering from addiction, is the partner of Nathan, a distinguished trauma surgeon in Washington, DC. Oliver risks his and Nathan’s idyllic relationship for a night of anonymous sex at Haus, a gay bathhouse, where he is nearly killed by a blond man with a Scandinavian accent. Rather than confess to his infidelity, he tells Nathan he was mugged while jogging. Before long, Oliver is managing a series of compounding crises: his attacker is still tormenting him, his lies to Nathan continue to escalate, he’s filed two conflicting police reports, and the detective in charge of the case has no record of Haus. Switching between the perspectives of careening Oliver and skeptical Nathan, Vernon writes a frenetic present-tense narration that conveys the desperation of Oliver’s situation: Without the loving attention and material comforts Nathan provides, Oliver might fall back into drugs and transience.
VERDICT A sleek, sexy queer thriller for fans of B. A. Paris’s Behind Closed Doors.
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