MYSTERY

The Night of the Storm

Dutton Jan. 2024. 336p. ISBN 9780593473375. $29. M
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DEBUT Six months after her divorce, Jia Shah is struggling as a single mother of 12-year-old Ishaan. She feels inadequate, even more so with Hurricane Harvey bearing down on Houston. She’s unprepared, so she and Ishaan head to higher ground, her sister Seema’s house. Seema and her husband, Vipul, live in a neighborhood where Seema assures her they’ll be safe, along with other members of their extended Indian American family, including Vipul’s mother, brother, and sister-in-law. But Jia feels uneasy in the deserted neighborhood. As the storm grows in intensity, they’re all stuck in the house, along with a neighbor who claims he needs help. When one person dies, and then another is killed, Jia realizes it’s up to her to protect herself and her son. Even among family, she doesn’t know whom to trust, since someone in the house is a killer.
VERDICT While explicating Jia’s struggles with her Indian culture and as an immigrant, this locked-room mystery’s strength is its setting and the atmospheric tension created by the hurricane.
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