Saint X

Celadon. Feb. 2020. 352p. ISBN 9781250219596. $26.99. SUSPENSE
DEBUT Claire Thomas’s sister Alison dies during a Caribbean family vacation. To seven-year-old Claire, college freshman Alison is everything she’s not—beautiful, poised, popular. An omniscient narrator draws us into the story with a surveillance camera–like impassivity. When adult Claire slides into the NYC cab of Clive Richardson, one of the men suspected of killing Alison, she can’t ignore the compulsion to discover the truth behind her sister’s death. Schaitkin carefully inserts pieces of various characters’ lives, gradually completing the jigsaw puzzle of the story for readers. As Claire surrenders to her obsession with Clive, she risks losing everything in pursuit of the answer. While point-of-view shifts may be confusing for readers struggling to orient themselves in the story, the richness of the characters makes the attempt worthwhile. Questions of race and privilege deepen the impact of the characters’ struggle, emphasizing the societal norms each individual and every nation must address for equity to become more than a mission statement or campaign slogan.
VERDICT Readers who enjoy a mystery with emotional depth will find this a compelling and impressive debut. [See Prepub Alert, 10/22/19.]

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