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What's Done in Darkness

⭑ One of 2021’s Best Beach Reads—OPRAH DAILY

⭑ An Amazon Editors' Choice for Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

⭑ An ELLE MAGAZINE Best Books of Summer pick

⭑ Harlan Coben's pick for Best Summer Thriller on the Today Show

⭑ A Self Magazine Best Book of the Year

⭑ Winner of the 2023 Missouri Literary Award

Blood ties and buried secrets draw a young woman back into the nightmare of her past to save a missing girl, unaware of what awaits her in the darkness.

Seventeen-year-old Sarabeth has become increasingly rebellious since her parents found God and moved their family to a remote Arkansas farmstead where she's forced to wear long dresses, follow strict rules, and grow her hair down to her waist. She's all but given up on escaping the farm when a masked man appears one stifling summer morning and snatches her out of the cornfield.

A week after her abduction, she's found alongside a highway in a bloodstained dressalivebut her family treats her like she's tainted, and there's little hope of finding her captor, who kept Sarabeth blindfolded in the dark the entire time, never uttering a word. One good thing arises from the horrific ordeal: a chance to leave the Ozarks and start a new life.

Five years later, Sarabeth is struggling to keep her past buried when investigator Nick Farrow calls. Convinced that her case is connected to the strikingly similar disappearance of another young girl, Farrow wants Sarabeth's help, and he'll do whatever it takes to get it, even if that means dragging her back to the last place she wants to go--the hills and hollers of home, to face her estranged family and all her darkest fears.

Praise for What's Done in Darkness








"Laura McHugh is already on everyone's short list of crime writers to watch for, someone who just goes from strength to strength. WHAT'S DONE IN DARKNESS is timely, but more importantly, it's a deeply empathetic look at a community and place that are all too easy to stereotype. Compulsively, propulsively readable, it never loses sight of what's really at stake for its characters -- or its readers." —Laura Lippman, New York Times bestselling author of Lady in the Lake 

"What’s Done in Darkness is a beautifully paced story of a young woman’s courage to confront, both psychologically and by novel’s end literally, an evil that might again entrap her.  Laura McHugh expertly delivers a harrowing tale of a world where little is what it first appears to be." —Ron Rash, New York Times bestselling author of Serena

"Laura McHugh is magic. She makes you feel like you are holding hands with her characters—breathing the same night air, shivering beside them, seeing the world through their vulnerable and empathetic eyes. In her latest spine-chilling thriller, McHugh weaves a dark and delicious spell as Sarah travels from the terror of a mystery in her childhood to the redemptive side of the mountain. Seamless, expressive writing, a voice like a crystal clear lake, an intimate sense of place, and storytelling that keeps the pages spinning make this a thriller that should be at the top of everyone’s summer reading list." —Julia Heaberlin, internationally bestselling author of We Are All the Same in the Dark

"It's hard to find a truly original thriller these days, one that's populated with unique characters and a plot that feels fresh. But with WHAT'S DONE IN DARKNESS, Laura McHugh has managed a new spin on the genre. From the suffocating isolation of a religious cult to the twisted loyalties of family, this page-turner takes readers on a journey into the dark heart of the Ozarks. A riveting, poignant, and propulsive read." —Amy Engel, bestselling author of The Familiar Dark 

"Once again, Laura McHugh has written a gorgeously evocative and perfectly plotted rural thriller you'll devour in one gulp or die trying. Thoughtful, compelling, and steeped in the secrets of its backwoods setting, What's Done in Darkness is a cry for justice for the girls and women lost on the shadowy, ultra-religious fringes of the homeschooling movement. With every dark, unsettling twist, it becomes more and more apparent: The Ozarks belong to Laura McHugh." —Amy Gentry, bestselling author of Good as Gone and Bad Habits

“Would you return to a place you barely escaped from if it meant you might help save someone else? That’s the brilliant premise for Laura McHugh’s latest unputdownable thriller WHAT’S DONE IN DARKNESS. It’s no secret I love Laura’s writing, have devoured each of her novels since I got my hands on THE WEIGHT OF BLOOD, and with WHAT’S DONE IN DARKNESS it was no different. This is one heck of a spine-tingler, and Laura’s combination of seamless prose, beautifully drawn characters, atmospheric settings, and plot twists to keep you guessing—not to mention reading—is sure to be another stellar hit. If this one isn’t on your Thriller Reads Radar, it should be!” —Hannah Mary McKinnon, bestselling author of Sister Dear and You Will Remember Me

"Exquisitely written, What's Done in Darkness is a stunning suspense about family obligation and personal freedom. Laura McHugh has created an exceptional mystery that weaves the past and present, through the eyes of a woman learning to choose what she wants out of life. The vivid imagery and powerful prose are riveting, and I was glued to every gorgeous line. It's a haunting, enthralling must-read." Samantha M. Bailey, USA Today and #1 national bestselling author of Woman on the Edge

"Sarabeth Shepherd, the narrator of this moving psychological suspense novel from Thriller Award winner McHugh (The Wolf Wants In), is still struggling after being abducted five years earlier at 17 from her family’s farm in Wisteria, Ark., when she gets an out-of-the-blue plea for help from Nick Farrow, of the Missouri Highway Patrol’s missing persons unit. Even before Nick suggests that finding a 16-year-old girl might uncover information that finally cracks her own abduction, Sarabeth, who now goes by Sarah and works at an animal shelter, knows she would do anything to rescue another girl from an ordeal like hers, blindfolded and chained in a basement for a week before managing to escape. But despite Nick’s unexpectedly simpatico support, returning to her own neck of the Ozarks, where her estranged family still lives as part of a patriarchal religious sect, proves even more traumatic for Sarah than anticipated—and dangerous. As incredible as the plot’s harrowing twists may seem, any number of true crime accounts testify otherwise. Fortunately, there’s a light amid all this darkness—courageous, determined Sarah. Readers will hope to encounter her again." 

Publishers Weekly

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