“Never Have I Ever,” by Joshilyn Jackson. (New York: William Morrow/HarperCollins), $26.99, hardcover, 338 pages, (Also an audio book.)
For her latest novel, New York Times best-selling author Joshilyn Jackson follows a familiar quote from the old Monty Python TV shows: “And now for something entirely different.” Venturing for the first time into the genre of psychological thriller, Jackson shows that her talents are elastic enough to make the stretch, penning a story filled with suspense, twists and turns and a few jaw-dropping surprises that keep the pages turning.
The book is scheduled for release July 30. On the following day, Jackson, the author of eight novels including “Gods in Alabama,” will be the speaker and sign books at the Friends of the Decatur Library annual luncheon at the Burningtree Country Club.
The novel is the story of Amy Whey, who enjoys a serene and happy life in Pensacola, Florida, married to a college professor with an infant son, a step-daughter she adores as her own and a fun job as a scuba diving instructor. But Amy is hiding a troubled past, an incident during her teenage years so terrible that her family had to leave their hometown and move across country. Because she was a juvenile, her record was sealed and none of those close to her, not even her husband, knows the troubled part of her past.
Things begin to change when Amy is hosting her best friend Char’s book club in her home and a beautiful and charismatic newcomer to the neighborhood, Angelica Roux, is among the guests. Roux deftly takes control of the meeting, suggesting a game similar to the parlor game Never Have I Ever, in which players reveal secrets about their lives. Only Roux’s motive goes beyond a little fun between book-club members. Her appearance is no accident and she is fishing for information. Worse, she somehow knows the story of Amy’s past and threatens to blow Amy’s life apart unless she gets her demands.
But — (minor spoiler alert) — Roux also is not who she appears to be. As Roux’s deadline for compliance nears, Amy decides to turn the tables and fight Roux at her own game. What follows is a high-stakes contest of psychological cat and mouse filled with intrigue and clandestine activities that stretch from Pensacola to Mobile, including a nail-biting undersea episode. Jackson heightens the excitement by dropping carefully spaced bombshells into the story along the way to its stunning climax.
In addition to her best-sellers, Jackson’s honors include three No. 1 Book Sense Picks from the American Booksellers Association and Novel of the Year from the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. “Never Have I Ever’ likely will be another hit.
Tickets for the Decatur luncheon and book signing are $35 and available through the Decatur Public Library, 256-353-2993, ext. 100.