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PW Review of The Only Child

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PUBLISHERS WEEKLY  10/10/19

The Only Child

Mi-ae Seo, trans. from the Korean by Yewon Jung. Ecco, $26.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-290504-8

Korean author Seo makes her U.S. debut with a creepy psychological thriller. Forensic psychologist Seonkyeong, nicknamed Clarice for the Silence of the Lambs character by the Seoul college students in her criminal psych course, scores a potentially career-making coup when condemned serial killer Yi Byeongdo, who has previously rebuffed all interview requests, announces he wants to talk to her. But she finds herself hard-pressed to focus on the looming challenge when her personal life implodes: 11-year-old Hayeong, her physician husband’s daughter from a previous marriage, suddenly lands on their doorstep after the grandparents raising her die in a suspicious fire. And it quickly becomes evident to Seonkyeong, if not her workaholic spouse, that the girl appears to have issues—including some alarming similarities in her behavior to Yi Byeongdo. Seo stealthily spins an ever-tightening narrative web setting up a doubly shocking climax. It’s a measure of Seo’s skill that she manages to find flashes of humanity in a ruthless murderer. Fans of Nexflix’s Mindhunter should feel right at home. Agent: Barbara Zitwer, Barbara J. Zitwer Agency. (Feb.)

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