Thirty-two-year-old Frank Lundquist, who's in the midst of a divorce, is working as a psychologist at Milford Basin Correctional Facility, a women's prison in New York State. Imagine his surprise when his crush from Lincoln High walks into his office. Miranda Greene, who has until recently been employed at a marketing firm, is now an inmate serving 52 years with no parole for second-degree murder following a botched armed robbery.
It's not only Miranda who has fallen from grace: a year ago, a lapse in Frank's professional judgment had tragic consequences, precipitating the end of his private practice. He's well aware that not telling Miranda that he knows her--knows about her extracurricular activities when they were classmates, about the rise and fall of her father's political career--qualifies as another lapse. Frank's lapses don't end there.
The Captives's curious dynamics and collected plot points, which include the decades-ago death of Miranda's older sister, amount to a powder keg, but Debra Jo Immergut (Private Property) holds off on throwing the lit match. The book takes its time, letting Frank and Miranda tell their stories in alternating chapters that gradually disclose how it is that Frank ended up at Milford Basin, and how "once again, [Miranda] was contemplating placing her fate in the hands of an extremely flawed man." Immergut's absorbing first novel employs unostentatious but occasionally glimmering prose to ask what makes a person truly dangerous, and her gasp-worthy reveals are up to the standard of the best thriller writers. --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer