Three Riveting, Slow-Burn New Thrillers

This month’s thrillers pose intriguing questions. Can one seemingly unimportant decision change everything? What would happen if people could siphon time from the lives of others? And, most chilling: What awful things will parents do to protect their children?

In Kit Frick’s THE SPLIT (Emily Bestler Books, 278 pp., $27), Jane Connor gets a call one night from her needy younger sister, Esme. She’s left her husband and wants Jane to drive from suburban Connecticut to New York City to pick her up, even though a storm is raging. Still burdened by guilt after nearly killing Esme in a drunken car crash years earlier, Jane hesitates. Should she stay or should she go?

This is where the story divides in two, with a “Sliding Doors”-style sleight of hand. Half the chapters, marked “Gone,” play out a scenario in which Jane waits until morning to travel to the city — only to find that Esme has vanished. In the other half, marked “Home,” Jane retrieves Esme that night and brings her to Connecticut — which leads to unexpected complications.

“I suppose all lives have such pivotal moments, paths diverging, cracking in two,” Jane muses, “though the finality of the split registers only when we take stock of the universe we now inhabit, surrender to the swift death of the other.” (She’s speaking about her mother’s move from the family house to a nursing home, but you get the point.)

In each scenario, Frick slowly ratchets up the suspense, introducing supporting characters whose relevance takes time to unfold: the girls’ mother, who’s suffering from dementia; their estranged father; and two boyfriends and a husband who may or may not be up to something creepy.

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