From the very beginning we’re taught not to lie. Truth is virtuous, they tell us, while dishonesty equals sin. But no matter how often we are directed toward this golden rule, the urge to lie never goes away. A hurtful fact becomes a fib. Accuracy evolves into evasion. And when faced with punishment, even the saintly can have second thoughts. The truth is lying is a useful tool.
Lies are the central engine of P.J. Vernon’s Bath Haus (Doubleday), and the riveting story they deliver is the best thriller of the year.
Oliver Park has never had it easy. Born in a dead-end town to troubled parents, his life was headed nowhere fast thanks to a manipulative boyfriend and an addiction to prescription pills. Then Oliver met Nathan, a handsome older man and surgeon at Walter Reed. Now five years sober, Oliver and Nathan have built the perfect life in their palatial Georgetown home. But what seems like a domestic ideal is crumbling from the inside.
You see, under the surface, things aren’t so great for the happy couple. Nathan is controlling and drinks too much. Oliver is sexually unsatisfied and struggles to live up to Nathan’s monogamous expectations. When Nathan leaves town for a conference, Oliver drums up the courage to go to Haus for a secret night of consequence-free sex. But what starts as anonymous fun soon turns deadly when Oliver meets a homicidal patron with a penchant for strangulation. Although he escapes with his life, the visibly battered Oliver must cover up his indiscretions from his exacting partner while avoiding the stranger hell-bent on finishing what he started.
Bath Haus is the definition of a gripping read. P.J. Vernon’s clever plotting weaves its way into the reader’s psyche so tightly that even seasoned Thriller readers will be left guessing until the final pages. But it’s not just the plot that sets Bath Haus apart from the pack. Vernon’s delicious prose reads like a Michelin-starred meal. Every sentence is a delectable bite of deftly chosen phrases. Readers will have a hard time balancing their desire to savor every sentence with their need to race to Bath Haus’s shocking conclusion.
Bath Haus is out June 15, 2021 from Doubleday.