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Anne Moose
When You Read This I'll Be Gone
Anne Moose, author
Spurred by her husband’s infidelity, writer/college lecturer Valerie Hawthorne has a romantic encounter with a compelling stranger in a rustic river-side hotel. They agree it will be a one-time thing, but it becomes an extended nightmare when she discovers the meeting was not accidental. Her stranger has both an ax to grind and an extravagant plan to make her pay for a crime she never even knew she committed. As Valerie’s story unfolds, so does another—one more chilling than she could ever have imagined.
Strong, surprising twists and an urgent voice power this standout thriller from Moose (author of House of Fragile Dreams). University lecturer and novelist Valerie Hawthorne has come to Montana for a writer's conference immediately after discovering proof of her husband's infidelity. There she meets a charming and handsome stranger, Tom, in Bozeman for the fly fishing. He asks questions about her work, actually listens, stirs in her “thoughts that were not the thoughts of a nice married lady,” and then quickly begins to disregard her boundaries—but always with a reason or excuse. After they share what should be a no-strings night together, Tom begins to toy with her, humiliating her digitally and ultimately tracking her into her real life.

Moose’s novel grips from the start, with early scenes of Valerie and Tom’s flirtation blending enticement, sharp dialogue, and red flags that it makes sense that Valerie overlooks. It’s the sort of intimate thriller that’s hard to put down, with high personal stakes and a pace swift enough to make it irresistible for readers to keep the pages turning. The plot continually surprises, as Tom targets Valerie and her family for reasons that involve her work as a writer, kicking off a wrenching odyssey that will find Valerie kidnapped and in ever more remote locations—and ever-increasing danger—all as Tom promises that he will make her famous.

A letter from Valerie to her children at the book’s start smartly frames the story that follows as its novelist protagonist’s explanation to her children of what happened, a choice that ramps up the sense of pressing disclosure—When You Read This I’ll Be Gone has the exciting feeling of a ripped-from-the-headlines tale rather than one of pure fiction. Within this thriller tale of abduction lies a second, heart-rending tale of a good woman manipulated to an underworld, aided and abetted by a society determined to turn a blind eye to the criminal behavior of young, promising men.

Takeaway: Knockout thriller of a woman novelist and the man who targets her.

Comparable Titles: Lisa Jewell’s None of This Is True, Stephen King’s Misery.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: NA
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A-