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Alissa Grosso
Up the Creek
A young boy's nightmares help to uncover his parents' connections to a young girl's unsolved murder while a newly hired police detective struggles to solve the old cold case.
Grosso (In the Bag) crafts an appealing supernatural mystery, centered around a family whose dreams have real-world consequences. Since childhood, Caitlin Walker has been able to predict the future while sleeping. With the help of a miracle drug, she lives a dreamless life, free of psychic disturbances—until her son, Adam, begins having eerily familiar nightmares. Meanwhile, Caitlin’s husband, Lance, has sleeping problems of his own, waking up in mysterious places. When Adam goes missing from Caitlin’s car, detective Sage Dorian is assigned to the case and realizes the Walker family may be the key to the unsolved murder of a young girl 19 years earlier.

There is never a dull moment in this novel, with a sprawling cast of characters and no fewer than four unsolved crimes. Certain elements, such as the relationships between Caitlin and Lance or Caitlin and Adam, feel underdeveloped, and the basic plot requires some suspension of disbelief (the characters are all remarkably unfazed by Caitlin’s psychic abilities)—but the inclusion of the otherworldly builds upon the novel’s unsettling atmosphere. To preserve ambiguity, some of the plot relies on characters remembering (and forgetting) important information from their pasts, and readers may wish for more detailed explanations for the varying and circuitous events of the story.

Grosso’s well-paced thriller deftly switches perspectives throughout, incorporating chapters that reveal the backstories for Caitlin, Lance, and Sage. The plot is engrossing, with enough twists and turns to be enjoyable despite some predictability and implausible elements. Grosso has created an immersive world of supernaturally flavored intrigue with this first series installment.

Takeaway: This psychic-centered whodunit is perfect for mystery lovers with a taste for the occult.

Great for fans of: Tana French’s In the Woods, Kay Hooper’s Touching Evil.

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