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Jami Worthington
The Playgroup

Adult; Mystery/Thriller; (Market)

In California’s Silicon Valley, even a children’s playgroup can be a place for power-brokering, innovation, and cut-throat competition. In Oak Valley, a wealthy suburb of Silicon Valley, Alex Drake runs “the” playgroup in town. Even in a place where its seems like everyone has a multi-million dollar bank account or has a company that is about to go public, Alex appears to have it all: a delightful daughter, a handsome, adoring husband, model-like beauty, and the kind of obscene wealth that keeps her in the latest fashion, driving the newest car (electric, obviously!), and hosting playgroups where the wine flows and so does the gossip. When Alex invites new to the neighborhood Cleo Baird to join her tight-knit playgroup, Cleo can’t believe her luck and knows she has just the “in” she’s been hoping for. But it isn’t just luck. As the women grow closer and Alex shares more secrets, she doesn’t realize Cleo is keeping secrets of her own. It’s no coincidence that Cleo and her daughter moved to Oak Valley. Cleo came to town with a specific goal in mind: to destroy Alex’s enviable and seemingly perfect life. Fans of Tarryn Fisher, Jeneva Rose, and Frieda McFadden will love this book about friendships, betrayal, and how nothing, and no one, are ever exactly as they seem. "With a final twist you’ll never see coming, The Playgroup is a bitingly clever portrayal of women whose seemingly unbreakable friendships are tested by the lies and manipulations of a seductive newcomer.” - #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Barbara Freethy "Infused with Jami Worthington’s sly wit, The Playgroup offers a dark and twisty take on 'mommy lit.’” - National Bestselling Author Veronica Wolff “With her keen observation and snarky humor, Jami Worthington masterfully reveals the dirty secrets festering beneath the seemingly “perfect” lives of Silicon Valley moms in this dark page-turner.” - New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Monica McCarty
Rich, jealous, spoiled, so-called “best friends” in California’s Silicon Valley prove to be exactly what readers might suspect in this engaging domestic thriller—husbands who constantly feel their masculinity slipping away and women who stab each other in the back, full of insecurities and striving for position. Newcomer to the neighborhood, Cleo Baird, has her eyes set on one particular person when she shows up with her three-year-old daughter, Izzy, to the Oak Valley playgroups—Alex Drake. Alex has it all—a hot husband, a bubbly personality, a close-knit community of best friends…basically, she’d be considered queen bee if they were all back in high school, which, in this hierarchical enclave, is exactly how it feels to the characters themselves.

While Cleo zeroes in on becoming Alex’s best friend, readers quickly see that something more complex is going on, and that nothing about Cleo’s meeting her is coincidental. Worthington’s polished debut compels as Alex seems to be falling into a trap, letting Cleo into her circle with open arms, and giving her intimate details of her life and marriage, while Cleo shares next to nothing about herself and her own background. One of Alex’s friends, Jenna, sees through the façade, but Worthington convincingly comes off as jealous and Alex quickly dismisses her—until it’s too late. Meanwhile, Worthington reveals the imperfections and occasional horrors beneath the veneer of wealth and privilege.

Full of twists and turns, suspense and psychological insight, The Playgroup reveals, in brisk and conversational language that will keep readers of domestic thrillers engaged, a community rich with luxury and fashion but also relentless dish, politicking, and betrayals, a darker Mean Girls full of status-obsessed adults who act like children but scheme like pros. The final twist is satisfying and surprising, and Worthington finds sharp, tragic comedy in her incisive treatment of women who strive to perform the appearance of perfection—trying to distract from the fact that a house is old and unfashionable “overpriced charcuterie and triple creme brie.”

Takeaway: Twisty story of lies and betrayal among moms in luxurious Silicon Valley.

Comparable Titles: Tarryn Fisher’s The Couple Next Door, Jeneva Rose’s One of Us is Dead.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A