Bound by Antonya Nelson
Photo: Ben Goldstein/Studio D


240 pages; Bloomsbury
Antonya Nelson wields words with breathtaking precision in Bound, a novel set in Wichita during the reappearance of real-life killer BTK (bind, torture, kill). As Catherine indulges a lurid nostalgia for the psychopath who first terrorized her hometown 25 years earlier, another part of her past intrudes: A long-out-of-touch friend dies, and Catherine must take in her teenage daughter. But this is no heartwarming makeshift-family-bonding story; Nelson has something truer in mind. Turning tiny moments into revelations, she brilliantly exposes the fears and delusions that drive people to rationalize destructive choices. (Oliver, Catherine's husband, claims his passions for ever-younger women "fell upon him like an accident.") But evading responsibility is never that simple. Not for Oliver, Catherine, or BTK, not for anyone in this wise exploration of the war between our worst impulses and our better selves.
— Karen Holt