DEBUT Recently released from three years in a psychiatric prison, Sean Suh now spends his time wandering a local amusement park, trying his best to lay low and suppress his dark impulses. One day he meets Annabelle, a beautiful, kind woman, and sparks fly. On their first date, she is abducted, and although Sean witnessed the incident, the police begin questioning him about his unusual behavior. Sean believes that the officers' fixation on him is preventing them from finding the true perpetrator, and he becomes obsessed with locating Annabelle himself. His investigation begins to look increasingly suspicious to the police, and it's only a matter of time until they learn of his criminal past. Meanwhile, Sean's experiencing bouts of lost time, and the stress is making it difficult to control his urges. VERDICT A promising debut from Heard, this dark, gritty thriller keeps the pages turning, making this a solid pick for readers who enjoy a trip through an unstable mind, such as in Caroline Kepnes's You.—Anitra Gates, Erie Cty. P.L., PA
The troubled life of diagnosed schizophrenic Sean Suh, the 23-year-old narrator of Heard’s suspenseful if contrived debut, turns nightmarish when Annabelle Callaghan, the bewitching medical student who has unaccountably chosen to hang out with him at the Austin, Tex., amusement park where he spends his days sketching, is apparently abducted right in front of him. To the dismay of Sean’s neurosurgeon mother, who has relocated them from San Francisco for a fresh start following his release a year earlier from court-ordered psychiatric confinement, Sean feels such an intense connection to the missing woman that, despite the fog of his medications, he scrambles to solve the puzzle of her disappearance. But the deeper he digs, reawakening both a purposefulness and violent impulses long blunted by psychotropic drugs, the murkier the mystery becomes—as does the character of Annabelle herself. Heard hooks readers with her intriguing premise and complex protagonist, but stumbles during the final third of the book with a dizzying series of unbelievable plot twists. Still, fans of psychological thrillers will be curious to see what she comes up with next. Agent: Lauren Spieller, Triada US Literary. (Dec.)
"A fabulously twisted book to read any time you're in the mood for something clever and creepy." – Karen McManus, New York Times bestselling author of One of Us Is Lying
"The crushingly lonely Sean, who narrates, is a most unusual and very conflicted antihero. Heard challenges readers to empathize with him despite his horrific past, and the blazing narrative gleefully subverts a few horror/thriller tropes.... There's an undercurrent of low menace that builds to a nearly unbearable crescendo in the last act. In less capable hands, the delightfully dark twist and final denouement might not work, but Heard pulls it off. A diabolically plotted creep show from a writer to watch." -Kirkus
"This dark, gritty thriller keeps the pages turning, making this a solid pick for readers who enjoy a trip through an unstable mind, such as in Caroline Kepnes's You." -Library Journal
"Dynamic, compelling, and totally twisted, Hunting Annabelle blew me away. I'm still reeling. What a mind Wendy Heard has. What a debut!" –New York Times Bestselling Author J.T. Ellison
"Hunting Annabelle delivers the goods! This dark thriller takes you inside the tortured mind of a young man who has killed before - and fears he will kill again. When a woman crosses his path and then goes missing, anything seems possible. But what really happened to Annabelle? Pages fly right up to a final, heart-stopping turn. Wendy Heard proves herself a writer to watch!" –Wendy Walker, bestselling author of All is Not Forgotten and Emma in the Night
"With a protagonist you'll almost hate to love, and more twists than a foot-long corkscrew, Hunting Annabelle is a compulsive, deliciously addictive psychological thriller that pulls you in from the first page, and doesn't let go until you've reached the shocking end. A must read!" – Hannah Mary McKinnon, author of The Neighbors
"Is Hunting Annabelle an unconventional romance, a creepy psychodrama, or a detective story about a good kid stuck in a bad situation? I devoured this thrilling debut in one sitting to find out, and it took me on a wild, twisty ride until the very last page." –Amy Gentry, author of Good as Gone
"Wendy Heard's Hunting Annabelle is the best kind of psychological thriller-dark and twisted with a generous side of creepy. I had no idea where this story was going, only that I was rooting for Sean, the tortured hero whose search for Annabelle means releasing his own inner demons. Gritty, intense, and 100% surprising, Hunting Annabelle is one hell of a wild ride." –Kimberley Belle, bestselling author of Three Days Missing and The Marriage Lie
"Wendy Heard's Hunting Annabelle is a twisted roller coaster of a ride with an utterly unique, fascinating narrator. You won't want to miss this genre-bending thriller." –Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author of The Weight of Silence and Not a Sound
"Gritty, intense, and full of multi-dimensional characters that will keep you guessing until the end, Hunting Annabelle is a must-read psychological thriller. Readers of Gillian Flynn and Caroline Kepnes will adore Wendy Heard!" –Meghan O'Flynn, author of the Ash Park series
A mentally disturbed young man tries to track down a woman who was kidnapped right before his eyes in Heard's debut thriller.
Twenty-three-year-old Sean Suh has been institutionalized for most of his adult life and officially diagnosed as schizophrenic. Now he's been released and lives in Austin with his mother, a world-famous neurosurgeon. The very bad thing that got him committed is a thing of the past, or so he'd like to think. Realistically, putting his hands near a female neck or a knife block is probably not a good idea, but when he meets flame-haired pre-med student Annabelle at Four Corners, an amusement park where he spends most of his days sketching people, Sean is smitten. His hopes of lasting romance are soon shattered when he sees Annabelle thrown into a white truck and driven away, screaming his name. Sean is immediately a suspect, and his past doesn't help, so he decides to find Annabelle on his own. His search takes him from the nightclubs of Austin to the dusty small town of Lone Herman, where the cops are not very friendly, especially to a goth Korean-American kid poking his nose where it doesn't belong. As Sean digs deeper into Annabelle's fraught past, he finds himself falling down a deep, dark rabbit hole. The crushingly lonely Sean, who narrates, is a most unusual and very conflicted antihero. Heard challenges readers to empathize with him despite his horrific past, and the blazing narrative gleefully subverts a few horror/thriller tropes. The 1986 setting, which places the book's action at the tail end of a prolific stretch of serial killers, lends a grungy feel, and readers might even be forgiven for expecting the chainsaw-wielding Leatherface to appear during a few of the rural Texas sequences. Heard doesn't rely on a lot of gore, though there's an undercurrent of low menace that builds to a nearly unbearable crescendo in the last act. In less capable hands, the delightfully dark twist and final denouement might not work, but Heard pulls it off.
A diabolically plotted creep show from a writer to watch.