Death in her hands

by Moshfegh, Ottessa,

Format: Print Book 2020
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Summary
"[An] intricate and unsettling new novel . . . Death in Her Hands is not a murder mystery, nor is it really a story about self-deception or the perils of escapism. Rather, it's a haunting meditation on the nature and meaning of art."
-Kevin Power, The New Yorker


From one of our most ceaselessly provocative literary talents, a novel of haunting metaphysical suspense about an elderly widow whose life is upturned when she finds an ominous note on a walk in the woods.

While on her daily walk with her dog in a secluded woods, a woman comes across a note, handwritten and carefully pinned to the ground by stones. " Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn't me. Here is her dead body. " But there is no dead body. Our narrator is deeply shaken; she has no idea what to make of this. She is new to this area, alone after the death of her husband, and she knows no one.

Becoming obsessed with solving this mystery, our narrator imagines who Magda was and how she met her fate. With very little to go on, she invents a list of murder suspects and possible motives for the crime. Oddly, her suppositions begin to find correspondences in the real world, and with mounting excitement and dread, the fog of mystery starts to fade into menacing certainty. As her investigation widens, strange dissonances accrue, perhaps associated with the darkness in her own past; we must face the prospect that there is either an innocent explanation for all this or a much more sinister one.

A triumphant blend of horror, suspense, and pitch-black comedy, Death in Her Hands asks us to consider how the stories we tell ourselves both reflect the truth and keep us blind to it. Once again, we are in the hands of a narrator whose unreliability is well earned, and the stakes have never been higher.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "On a spring morning walk in the woods with her dog, 72-year-old Vesta Gul (whose last name should sound like "gull" but is pronounced "ghoul" by most) finds a note: "Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn't me. Here is her dead body." Vesta pockets the note and retreats to her home, a former Girl Scout camp without a working phone. A fractured, startlingly human narrator in Moshfegh's (My Year of Rest and Relaxation, 2018; McGlue, 2019) inimitable style, Vesta quickly reveals a relentless imagination matched only by her desire to uncover the truth. She tries to solve the mystery but before long she's writing it (if there's a difference), conjuring Magda and all the other key players, whom she begins to meet in real life. As she conjures, readers learn all about Vesta herself, particularly life with the academic husband whose ashes she's been meaning to get rid of. Cleverly unraveling, linguistically brilliant, and limning the limits of reality, this will speak to fans of literary psychological suspense."
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Moshfegh's disorienting latest (after My Year of Rest and Relaxation) sends up the detective genre with mixed results. Vesta Gul is an elderly woman who has moved to an isolated cabin on a lake after her husband's death--with only her dog, Charlie, to keep her company. Vesta finds a note in the woods that reads "Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn't me. Here is her dead body." But there's no body to be found. While Vesta does do some detective work (such as using Ask Jeeves to search "How does one solve a mystery?"), mainly her mind imagines Magda's life, to the point where the people Magda knew bleed into Vesta's own life. Moshfegh clearly revels in fooling with mystery conventions, but the narrative becomes so unreliable that it almost seems random, and readers may wish for more to grasp onto, or for some sort of consequence. There's an intriguing idea at the center of this about how the mind can spin stories in order to stay alive, but the novel lacks the devious, provocative fun of Moshfegh's other work, and is messy enough to make readers wonder what exactly to make of it. Agent: Bill Clegg, The Clegg Agency. (Apr.)"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Widows -- Fiction.
Reality -- Fiction.
Thrillers (Fiction)
Detective and mystery fiction.
Psychological fiction.
Publisher New York :2020
Language English
Description 259 pages ; 22 cm
ISBN 9781984879356
1984879359
Other Classic View