nominated for a 2019 Edgar Award for Best Debut Novel by an American Author
Published by Ecco/HarperCollins (USA and Canada) | Corbaccio (Italy) | HarperCollins France | Titan Books (UK)| | Epsilon Yayinevi (Turkey) | Czarna Owca (Poland) | HarperCollins Iberica (Spain) | Penguin Verlag (Germany) | Suma de Letras (Portugal) | Dobrovsky (Czech Republic) | Marco Polo (Taiwan/Simplified Chinese)
Not a word is out of place in The Captives. What a rare gift. If you’re a reader looking for a multidimensional thriller with exceptional characterization, watertight prose, and a wealth of uncomfortable, fascinating ideas about family and identity, Debra Jo Immergut has, at long last, written one for you. —Katherine Coldiron, Los Angeles Review of Books
A swift, clever two-hander. . . . A novel of ideas [that] reserves its truest scrutiny not for Miranda and Frank, but for the two forms of authority that preside over them, mass incarceration and psychotherapy….[THE CAPTIVES] dissolves and reconstitutes its characters’ notions of what a prisoner owes a prison or a doctor owes a patient.—Charles Finch, New York Times Book Review
Debra Jo Immergut’s subtle precision — without stooping to cliches or the obvious — shows how Frank and Miranda are captives of their past, present and future. Immergut’s debut novel is a fascinating psychological look at two damaged people as well as being a solid thriller with unusual, and believable, twists. — Oline H. Cogdill, Associated Press, Washington Post
“This narrative behaves more like a noir than anything else, but it’s one with the heavy elements of thrillers and the type of outstanding writing that is usually found in literary fiction….Ingenious and riveting, this is a book that should not be missed by anyone interested in the way love affects us, the way the past haunts us, and the way we trick ourselves into believing in impossible futures.” — Gabino Iglesias, Criminal Element
Immergut’s absorbing first novel employs unostentatious but occasionally glimmering prose to ask what makes a person truly dangerous, and her gasp-worthy reveals are up to the standard of the best thriller writers. —Nell Beram, Shelf Awareness
Just being honest: I do judge a book by its cover, and this one sent a chill down my spine. The story inside did not disappoint…Tortured, fascinating, and hard to look away from. Immergut used to teach writing in prisons, and her expertise on both subjects shows. —Elizabeth Egan, Glamour.com
The story moves along briskly and skillfully straddles the line between literature and thriller. The best elements of both are woven throughout the book.—Michael Causey, Washington Independent Review of Books
With its see-saw of quixotic emotions, Immergut’s stunning debut is a taut psychological drama that explores [her characters’] nuanced contemplation of an unimaginable future and an unspeakable past.” — Booklist
In this ingenious psychological thriller… Immergut burrows into the heads of her two main characters to dramatize their distinctive pathologies. She expertly crafts the other characters … who all play an important part in the story’s surprising denouement. Immergut’s book begins as an incisive psychological portrait of two mismatched individuals and morphs into a nail-biting thriller.” — Publisher’s Weekly
“The characters are vividly brought to life, the tension almost unbearable—in a good way—and the theme of being imprisoned by obsession brilliantly realized. I was captivated by The Captives.” — James Rampton of The Independent
“The book speeds toward an unexpected finale which questions the idea of right and wrong…the forward surge of the narrative never slows, pulling the reader along for the ride.” — Kirkus Reviews
Immergut’s psychological thriller had me captivated from the first page. Its two lost souls come together like the meeting of nitrogen and glycerine...A mesmerizing debut. — Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander and The Revolution of Marina M.
Love, particularly early love, never lets us go completely…The Captives unfurls with both speed and authenticity hurling the reader deep into the mysteries of the human heart. — Darcey Steinke, author of Sister Golden Hair and Suicide Blonde
The Captives is a powerful novel, complex, dark, and enthralling. The story is riveting, all the way to the thrillingly twisted ending. Immergut’s brand of literary noir masterfully interweaves points of view, voices, and temporal shifts, with dialogue as sharp and clean as cut glass. Bravo! — Kate Christensen, National Book Award winning-author of The Great Man and Blue Plate Special
The weight of deception on an otherwise honorable being, and the strain of fearful events and discoveries is Debra Jo Immergut’s subject… The Captives is a compelling story of two disparate individuals, only one of whom believes that consolation is more important than truth. — Susanna Moore, author of In the Cut and The Life of Objects
Pair an Ian McEwan with Rebecca du Maurier and you know some of the pleasures of Immergut. The book will lure you to read quickly, sure, yet deeper metaphysical questions will linger. A smart, humanistic romantic, Immergut turns genre – a thriller set in a woman’s prison – inside out. The Captives’ characters are pure hunger. — Edie Meidav, Lannan Prize winning author of Kingdom of the Young and Lola, California
The Captives is psychologically astute and wise with equal doses of power and pain. Immergut mines the depths of the human psyche to reveal how weakness can turn into obsession and how a single misstep can send a life careening off course. — Ivy Pochoda, author of Visitation Street and Wonder Valley
This novel had me completely in its grip — I was pulled in as much by the believable, finely etched characters as by the unpredictable plot. A smart, artful, engrossing read that thrums with a kind of twisted elegance that hearkens back to old school classic noir films and draws you into its “thrall of dangerous love.” — Sharon Guskin, author of The Forgetting Time
And in Italian: MangiaLibre
As an inmate psychologist at a state prison, Frank Lundquist has had his fair share of surprises. But nothing could possibly prepare him for the day in which his high school object of desire, Miranda Greene, walks into his office for an appointment. Still reeling from the scandal that cost him his Manhattan private practice and landed him in his unglamorous job at Milford Basin Correctional Facility in the first place, Frank knows he has an ethical duty to reassign Miranda’s case. But Miranda is just as beguiling as ever, and he’s insatiably curious: how did a beautiful high school sprinter and the promising daughter of a congressman end up incarcerated for a shocking crime? Even more compelling: though Frank remembers every word Miranda ever spoke to him, she gives no indication of having any idea who he is.
Inside the prison walls, Miranda is desperate and despairing, haunted by memories of a childhood tragedy, grappling with a family legacy of dodgy moral and political choices, and still trying to unwind the disastrous love that led to her downfall. And yet she is also grittily determined to retain some control over her fate. Frank quickly becomes a potent hope for her absolution—and maybe even her escape.
Propulsive and psychologically astute, The Captives is an intimate and gripping meditation on freedom and risk, male and female power, and the urges toward both corruption and redemption that dwell in us all.