Announcing the Reader’s Digest Book Club Pick for July 2021
A high-velocity thriller, The Creep is loaded with grisly twists, outlandish scenarios and sharp insights on 21st century fears.
By Michael LaPointe, $23, Penguin Random House
Who Wrote It: When Canadian writer Michael LaPointe was a kid, he’d keep himself busy by writing pulpy mini-novels based on TV shows and movies. Years later, as a freelance journalist reporting for a magazine about a vicious feud over an infamous pearl, he found himself travelling to remote cities to interview people suspected of hiring contract killers. Electrified and terrified by those experiences, he picked up his childhood pastime, infusing The Creep—his debut thriller—with all the heart-pounding doom and anxiety he’d experienced as a crime reporter.
What It’s About: In the paranoid months after 9/11, Whitney Chase, a hard-drinking magazine journalist, is on staff at the Harper’s-esque magazine The Bystander. But she has a secret: in her previous jobs, she fabricated stories, embellished details and invented characters. She’s always tempted to fall back on bad habits. But now Whitney has stumbled upon the story of a lifetime. Rubicon, a flashy biotech arm of a sprawling conglomerate, has devised a formula to produce synthetic blood for transfusions, potentially saving thousands of lives. It seems too good to be true—and it is. Soon, Whitney is unravelling a nefarious global conspiracy and learning the gruesome truth about this liquid concoction. All the while, a vengeful magazine fact-checker lurks on the periphery, threatening to uncover Whitney’s own history of professional misconduct.
Why You’ll Love It: Like all high-velocity thrillers, this one is loaded with grisly twists and outlandish scenarios. But it also taps into the fears that linger in all of our newsfeeds: the unchecked power of corporations, the reliability of our news media, the murky ethics of biotech innovations. Whitney, meanwhile, is a great addition to the pantheon of charmingly unlikable characters, those enigmas who skate the line between lovable and deplorable. She’s droll and canny, with a hard-shelled knack for self-preservation, yet she’s always locked in a desperate battle against her own worst instincts. The novel builds as much tension around her seemingly inevitable relapse as it does around the macabre blood experiments at Rubicon. It’s eerie, sharp and a little zany—the perfect escapist read for a rainy cottage weekend.
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