Alison Gaylin ratchets up the anxiety level in her new psychological suspense novel, If I Die Tonight.

The plot focuses on the Reed family: Jackie, single mom to teens Wade and Connor. All of the teen angst of any family is here, with the added layer that the boys’ father has a new family and has had no relationship with his boys for a decade. Artistic Wade has become withdrawn and an outcast at school, which rubs off on Connor and his own friends.

There are other families in the small Hudson River town, too, those who have money, and some like police officer Pearl, who wants to forget her own tragic secret and just get on with her life.

Then former pop icon Aimee En rushes into the police station, claiming she’s been highjacked by someone who then ran over a local teen trying to help her. But discrepancies are found in her story, and Pearl becomes suspicious of the woman.

Popular senior Liam Miller’s life hangs in the balance as Wade asks his younger brother to throw out a bag without looking inside it. Liam’s case becomes fodder for social media, and suddenly Wade, who was out of the house the night Liam was hit, is tried by his friends and convicted in social media as a killer. This will escalate to have a devastating effect on the entire family.

But is the moody teen really a murderer? What’s behind his personality change?

Shifting points of view gives readers a window into each character’s thoughts and emotions, as Jackie, determined to believe in Wade, tries to protect them both.

All of the characters could be people you know, which is what makes this so believeable. Kirkus says: “This anxiety-fueled stand-alone . . . takes the gulf that naturally develops between teenagers and their families and stocks it with sharks.”

The twists keep coming as the ending nears. You won’t be able to put this rivetiing read down.

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