While on her daily walk with her dog in a secluded woods, a woman comes across a note, handwritten and carefully pinned to the ground by stones. "Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn't me. Here is her dead body." But there is no dead body. Our narrator is deeply shaken; she has no idea what to make of this. She is new to this area, alone after the death of her husband, and she knows no one.
Becoming obsessed with solving this mystery, our narrator imagines who Magda was and how she met her fate. With very little to go on, she invents a list of murder suspects and possible motives for the crime. Oddly, her suppositions begin to find correspondences in the real world, and with mounting excitement and dread, the fog of mystery starts to fade into menacing certainty. As her investigation widens, strange dissonances accrue, perhaps associated with the darkness in her own past; we must face the prospect that there is either an innocent explanation for all this or a much more sinister one.
A triumphant blend of horror, suspense, and pitch-black comedy, Death in Her Hands asks us to consider how the stories we tell ourselves both reflect the truth and keep us blind to it. Once again, we are in the hands of a narrator whose unreliability is well earned, and the stakes have never been higher.
"When it comes to evoking the jagged edge of contemporary anxiety there might not be a more insightful writer working today than Moshfegh. That is, if the boundless dark potential of the human psyche is your thing. If it's not, this atmospheric, darkly comic tale of a pathologically lonely widow and the thrills lurking in her sylvan retreat might not be for you. But, sophisticated reader that you are, you're not afraid of the dark. Right?" --The Millions
"It all starts with a note that reads, 'Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn't me. Here is her dead body.' An elderly widow finds it in the woods and her horror and curiosity soon turns into an obsession. But just as her investigation begins to take shape, we begin to doubt our narrator's grip on reality. This is part crime thriller, part dark comedy, and totally delightful." --Good Housekeeping
"Literature's reigning queen of the profane, Ottessa Moshfegh is divisive: Readers tend to love her or hate her. If her latest novel is subtler than her most recent works, it's just as chilling -- it could be a jumping-off point for new readers. A self-contained horror story that takes place inside the mind of an alluringly unreliable narrator, the novel follows a 72-year-old widow who has moved with her dog to a large plot of land where they are seemingly at one with nature. When she finds a handwritten note that implies a murder has taken place on her property, she works to solve it as best she can. The narrator's dark fantasies and less-than-pure thoughts work especially well if you think of Death in Her Hands as a sequel to Moshfegh's deliciously gross and grotesque debut novel, Eileen." --Vulture
"One of the most outstanding young literary talents working today . . . As with Eileen, [Death in Her Hands] is a book that plays with elements of crime fiction, but don't expect a paint-by-numbers thriller that ties off neatly by the end. Dark and character-driven." --Five Books
"This unnerving latest from Moshfegh offers a truly creepy murder mystery while commenting on our relationship to the genre itself." --Library Journal
"Perhaps the most jarring genre of fiction is the kind that takes you deep into the gradual unraveling of a person's mind. Moshfegh does a masterful job with Death In Her Hands, which follows a protagonist who believes she's solving a murder. The book moves seamlessly from suspenseful to horrifying, retaining the reader's attention all the while." --Marie Claire
"Cleverly unraveling, linguistically brilliant, and limning the limits of reality, [DEATH IN HER HANDS] will speak to fans of literary psychological suspense." --Booklist
"An eerie and affecting satire of the detective novel." --Kirkus, starred review
"A much subtler, more mature book--one in which suffering is developed rather than declared." --Bookforum
"No one's work inspires better discussion than Ottessa Moshfegh's. It seems that for every person who loves her work, there's someone who completely disagrees--which is, in my opinion, one of the best things about reading. Her latest is a sinister tale of an elderly widow who finds a distressing note pinned to a tree near her new neighborhood." --Bookpage
"Ottessa Moshfegh is always a must-read, and her latest combines 'horror, suspense and pitch-black comedy' to deliver a fascinating tale guided by an unreliable narrator." --Paste, 25 Most Anticipated Novels of 2020
"This is not a drill: Ottessa Moshfegh has a new book coming out in 2020. Death in Her Hands, a novel about a woman who finds a haunting note in the woods, is unlike anything else you'll read all year. It's Moshfegh at her darkest and sharpest." --HelloGiggles, Most Anticipated Books of 2020