Don't I Know You?: A Novel

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9780060782375: Don't I Know You?: A Novel

Multiple lacerations and stab wounds. No evidence of forced entry. The possibility of sexual assault. Crimes such as these are almost always committed by someone the victim knows well.

In 1976 in New York City, Gina Engel was murdered in her front hall. The police believed the victim had known her attacker. But they had few suspects, and as time went on, the case remained unsolved. Yet the suspicions of those who knew Gina both intimately and from a distance continue to plague them.

Gina's son, Steven, discovered the body and caught only a fleeting glimpse of the killer as he fled. If only, he wonders again and again. As Lily Chin prepares for her upcoming wedding, her life is irrevocably changed when a mysterious woman appears to inform her of her fiancé's secret life -- a life that may have included Gina Engel. And more than a decade later Louise Carpanetti, the woman who received a call from the dying Gina, finally acknowledges that her own emotionally disturbed son may have committed the gruesome murder. As long as the murderer's identity remains a mystery, all three must forever call into question the nature of the people closest to them.

Don't I Know You? is an intricate and devastating psychological drama told in three separate but interconnected narratives. Together those narra-tives unfold into a mystery that absorbs and thrills, and lay out an examination of the human heart that is quietly dazzling in its emotional intelligence and elegant understatement. Shepard's vision of how a murder's effect reverberates outward inspires us to understand the limitations of intimate knowledge and the extraordinary capacities of the people we think we know best, even as it shows us how we repair those bonds and prepare ourselves to go on.

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About the Author:

Karen Shepard is the author of the novels An Empire of Women and The Bad Boy's Wife. Her work has appeared in Atlantic Monthly, Self, Bomb, and other publications. She teaches writing and literature at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, where she lives with her husband, writer Jim Shepard, and their three children.

From Publishers Weekly:

Starred Review. Shepard's masterful third book opens in 1976 on Manhattan's Upper West Side as 12-year-old Steven Engel comes home to find his mom, Gina, stabbed to death. The story is divided into three parts, each giving us a different angle on the crime: first from Steven's point of view in the immediate aftermath, then from each of the perspectives of two women removed from the crime but not from its far-reaching reverberations. As Steven is shuffled among caretakers—including Phil, Gina's current boyfriend and a prime suspect—Shepard backgrounds the murder investigation, instead choosing to lay bare Steven's shock and grief in tight, precise terms ("He saw her face again. He felt as if he were standing at the edge of something high"), a strategy that continues throughout the novel. The second part takes place a year later, following schoolteacher Lily Chin, engaged to wealthy Nickolai Belov, as she's confronted by a woman who claims to have been Nickolai's lover—before pointing Lily to where Nickolai has hidden Gina's journal. In the third part, Shepard leaps ahead 10 more years to focus on 73-year-old Louise Carpanetti, suffering from terminal cancer and unsure what to do about her dependant, childlike 55-year-old son, Michael; when she reads about a break in the 12-year-old murder case, she must confront old doubts about her erratic son's involvement. Subtle and rewarding, Shepard's narrative unravels the mystery of Gina's murder obliquely, through her characters' layered relationships, leading to a conclusion that's satisfying, haunting and well deserved. (May)
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