Nevada Barr, bestselling author of the Anna Pigeon series, pens a superlative standalone chiller with What Rose Forgot. Right from the outset, it appears that Rose has forgotten quite a lot. First, she awakens in a forest, clueless about how she got there. The next time she wakes up, she is in a home for elderly dementia patients, still somewhat clueless although with the nagging suspicion that she does not belong there. So she secretly stops taking her meds. This is not immediately life-changing in and of itself, but it does serve to solidify Rose’s belief that she does not belong in a dementia ward. After making good on her escape, Rose joins forces with her late husband’s 13-year-old granddaughter, who possesses remarkable skills that help cover her step-grandma’s tracks. The longer Rose stays off the medications, the more she becomes convinced that someone (or ones) are out to get her. But is Rose just paranoid? What if she’s not? What Rose Forgot capitalizes on the resourcefulness of a pair of quite clever women and an equally clever pair of teens, all dedicated to stymieing some particularly unpleasant members of the opposing team. When a mystery features a 68-year-old protagonist, one could be forgiven for assuming that said mystery will fall into the cozy subgenre. What Rose Forgot is anything but.
Sonora Jha’s characters represent vastly disparate political ideas, but she handles each of them with great precision and care. With this novel, she offers us a creative window into the sociopolitical dynamics that continue to reinforce cultural divisions in this country.