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The Mesmerist

By: Caroline Woods
Narrated by: Carlotta Brentan
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A tightly plotted thriller ripped from the headlines of history, as three very different women must work together to stop a killer and save the truest home they've ever known.

Before hypnotism, there was Mesmerism. And in 1894 Minneapolis, in the wake of a national financial crisis, spiritualism of every stripe is all the rage, and women are dying under mysterious circumstances. But until a new guest lands at the Bethany Home for Unwed Mothers, refusing to speak or explain her arrival, the sordid stories of unexplained deaths seem unconnected. Faith’s reticence is quickly interpreted as malevolence, setting the house abuzz with whispers of dark magic.

Abby, a staunch Quaker, lifelong supporter of progressive causes, and the Bethany Home’s treasurer, thinks the rumors of mystical powers swirling around Faith are nonsense, but she recognizes the danger of a good story. Unwilling to allow the Home’s important mission to be clouded by scandal, Abby tasks Faith’s roommate, May, with tracing Faith’s path to the Bethany Home.

May is desperate to end her year at Bethany Home engaged and on track to her happily-ever-after—even if her prince charming is Hal, a man she’s not sure she can trust. She uncovers a Minneapolis she never expected as she begins digging into Faith’s shadowy background, and her investigation brings her closer to polite society and Hal than she could have dreamed. The more May learns, the more she’s forced to question the motives of everyone around her, including Abby and Faith, and as more women turn up dead, May must reevaluate the future she wants, and which lies she’s willing to tell, for whom.

Rich with tension, suspicion, and sharply observed characters, Caroline Woods reimagines a classic American genre through the eyes of three bold, unforgettable women.

©2024 Caroline Woods (P)2024 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

"The magic of The Mesmerist is not only found in the spiritualism that haunts every page, but also the three tenacious women at its core, dedicated to unmasking America’s first serial killer. With expert skill, Woods turns the screw, ratcheting up the real danger and the contemporary panic around women’s independence. A darkly textured, delicious read."—Katy Hays, New York Times bestselling author of The Cloisters

"A mystery, a page turner, and a glimpse of true crime in 19th century Minneapolis, The Mesmerist is both entertaining and enlightening. It’s a compelling story of murder, deception, unwed mothers, and the steadfast women dedicated to helping them. Beautifully rendered characters and excellent storytelling."—Allegra Goodman, New York Times bestselling author of Sam

"The Mesmerist nimbly explores the power of women’s solidarity in fin-de-siècle Minneapolis, weaving dark magic and peril into a propulsive and chilling read. Clever, atmospheric and haunting."—Michelle Min Sterling, New York Times bestselling author of Camp Zero

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