With “Death In Her Hands,” Ottessa Moshfegh Crafts A Gripping Mystery

by BUST Magazine

Death In Her Hands: A Novel
By Ottessa Moshfegh
(Penguin Press)     

In her latest novel, Ottessa Moshfegh crafts a murder mystery that asks readers to decide what they believe. Protagonist Vesta Gull moves to a cabin after the death of her husband. One day, while walking with her dog in the woods, she finds a note stating that a woman named Magda has been killed. Vesta is unsure if the note is real or not, but as the possible identities of Magda and her killer develop in her mind, Vesta begins noticing clues that confirm her suspicions. But can readers trust what Vesta believes she’s seeing?

Written with Moshfegh’s signature embrace of the darker corners of the human mind, this novel rests on the shoulders of a highly unreliable and at times unlikable narrator. Vesta’s isolation, vivid imagination, and loose grasp of reality all play off one another, while her barely disguised contempt for the few people she does interact with serves as a tense undercurrent. Ultimately, however, there is little closure or sense of resolution here. Fans of Moshfegh will enjoy the ride, but readers who want to see beyond Vesta’s limited gaze will walk away with more questions than answers.

By Bridey Heing

Death In Her Hands was released June 23, 2020. This article originally appeared in the Spring 2020 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!

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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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