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“Fractured”

by Catherine McKenzie

(Lake Union Publishing)

The end of summer doesn’t need to mean the end of beach reads. And a beach read doesn’t need to mean lightweight or purple prose.

Take Canadian novelist-attorney Catherine McKenzie. With her skilled writing, adroit storytelling ability, and realistic and empathetic characters, a simple thriller rises above the mundane.

Her latest release, “Fractured,” tells the story of a newly popular contemporary fiction author, Julie Prentice, who is as well-known for her wildly popular first novel as she is for her stalker, a former university classmate. The fictional novel, “The Murder Game,” may or may not be based on a real-life murder in Julie’s past. When she and her family move to Cincinnati to dodge the stalker and attempt a fresh start, Julie’s history looms large.

“Fractured” bounces back and forth in time and between the viewpoints of Julie and her neighbor John, with whom she shares a flirtation, but the movements are so adept, they never become confusing. Instead, readers are hurled through complex and overlapping plots — murder, lying, nosy neighbors, courtroom drama — at a satisfyingly addictive pace.

The only less-than-satisfying aspect of the novel is the ending, which felt a bit too pat, almost like a “Movie of the Week” cop-out. But taking the journey with McKenzie for an afternoon or two is certainly worthwhile.

— Kim Curtis

Best-Sellers

Week ending Sept. 25.

Hardcover Fiction

1. “Home” by Harlan Coben (Dutton)

2. “Commonwealth” by Ann Patchett (Harper)

3. “Pirate” by Clive Cussler and Robin Burcell (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

4. “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)

5. “Razor Girl” by Carl Hiaasen (Knopf)

6. “Apprentice in Death” by J.D. Robb (Berkley)

7. “The Woman in Cabin 10” by Ruth Ware (Gallery/Scout Press)

8. “Rushing Waters” by Danielle Steel (Delacorte)

9. “The Kept Woman” by Karin Slaughter (William Morrow)

10. “The Book of Mysteries” by Janathan Cahn (Frontline)

Hardcover Nonfiction

1. “Killing the Rising Sun” by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard (Henry Holt and Co.)

2. “The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo” by Amy Schumer (Gallery Books)

3. “Love Warrior” (Oprah’s Book Club) by Glennon Doyle Martin (Flatiron)

4. “Atlas Obscura” by Foer/Thuras/Morton (Workman)

5. “Designing Your Life” by Burnett/Evans (Knopf)

6. “Scorched Earth” by Michael Savage (Center Street)

7. “Hillbilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance (Harper)

8. “The Seasoned Life” by Ayesha Curry (Little, Brown)

9. “Hero of the Empire” by Candice Millard (Doubleday)

10. “In Such Good Company” by Carol Burnett (Crown Archetype)

— Publishers Weekly

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