The Wonder Test

Atlantic Monthly. Jul. 2021. 446p. ISBN 9780802158505. $26. THRILLER
Reeling from the deaths of her husband and father, New York–based FBI agent Lina Connerly takes a hiatus and moves back to Greenfield, the Northern California town where she grew up, bringing her 15-year-old son Rory. Lina must settle her father’s estate and sort through her feelings of grief over the loss of her husband and guilt over her last assignment, which went fatally wrong. Greenfield has changed since Lina lived there. Real estate values have skyrocketed, and the town is obsessed with maintaining its high school’s top rating in a national exam called the Wonder Test, for which students endure a barrage of test prep. A local cop asks Lina for help on the cold case of a student who disappeared and then returned shell-shocked and incoherent. Then Rory’s new girlfriend goes missing, and Lina uses her FBI skills and connections to investigate.
VERDICT Richmond’s (The Marriage Pact) latest is a two-in-one winner: a gripping thriller set in a Stepford-esque California suburb, and a story of surviving loss and building family bonds. With a realistic protagonist, well-described setting, and an uber-creepy villain, it will please readers who like their stories with action and heart in equal measure.
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