Those Who Knew

Shortly after Maria P., a student activist, is killed by an oncoming bus, Lena, a college instructor, discovers the woman's black sweater in her tote. She hands it off, but minutes later "it was back, bunched up again inside her bag."

This obstinate garment isn't the only thing Lena has in common with Maria P.; both held the affections of Victor, a force of the unnamed nation's progressive politics. He is also a man whose ambitions have repeatedly and substantially taxed the women around him. With the sweater as her mantle, Lena sets herself on a collision course with a history she might have preferred to remain buried.

For Those Who Knew, poet, translator and novelist Idra Novey (Ways to Disappear) exercises her considerable talents in crafting lush, riveting threads, which she braids into a spectacular crime novel. As Lena grapples with her past and attempts to uncover what really happened to Maria P., competing narratives crowd together over the ensuing years, each offering a fresh take on the events in question. Victor's brother, Freddy, a playwright, mines his family life for material and brings these veiled truths to life on the stage. And as the knots in these threads tighten, it becomes apparent that what seems like an isolated incident is usually anything but.

There may be an impulse to pin this story to a modern moment, a prominent movement of reckoning for men of intimidating and violent machinations. Those Who Knew, however, serves to remind readers that those who have known know now, as they did then and before then. --Dave Wheeler, associate editor, Shelf Awareness

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