Untamed Shore

Agora: Polis. Feb. 2020. 288p. ISBN 9781947993921. $25.99. THRILLER
Moreno-Garcia’s first crime fiction novel (after fantasy title Gods of Jade and Shadow) is set in the small town of Desengaño, Baja California. At 18, resident Viridiana is trapped between an unwanted proposal her mother is urging her to accept and the desire to escape to a bigger, better life beyond. After working as a personal assistant and translator to three wealthy Americans, one of them unexpectedly dies and questions of murder abound. Viridiana suspects the survivors aren’t who they claim to be, but helping them could be her way out of Desengaño. Although set in 1979, the town’s isolation and classic movie references make this story timeless, and the local shark-fishing industry is an apt metaphor for the complex layers of hunters and hunted.
VERDICT This thriller sets a quiet tone before building slowly and evenly, showing how a meek teenager trapped by circumstance grows into a strong woman who takes control of her future, though in the end it might change who she is. For fans of Celeste Ng, Alafair Burke, and Kent Anderson.
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