Don’t I Know You?

In 1976 in New York City, Gina Engel was murdered in her front hall. The police believed the victim had known her attacker. But they had few suspects, and as time went on, the case remained unsolved. Yet the suspicions of those who knew Gina both intimately and from a distance continue to to plague them.

Gina’s son, Steven, discovered the body and caught only a fleeting glimpse of the killer as he fled. If only, he wonders again and again. As Lily Chin prepares for her upcoming wedding, her life is irrevocably changed when a mysterious woman appears to inform her of her fiancé’s secret life—a life that may have included Gina Engel. And more than a decade later Louise Carpanetti, the woman who received a call from the dying Gina, finally acknowledges that her own emotionally disturbed son may have committed the gruesome murder. As long as the murderer’s identity remains a mystery, all three must forever call into question the nature of the people closest to them.

Don’t I know You? is an intricate and devastating psychological drama told in three separate but interconnected narratives. Together those narratives unfold into a mystery that absorbs and thills, and lay out an examination of the human heart that is quetly dazzling in its emotional intelligence and elegant understatement. Shepard’s vision of how a murder’s effect reverberates outward inspires us to understand the limitations of intimate knowledge and the extraordinary capacities of the people we think we know best, even as it shows us how we repair those bonds and prepare ourselves to go on.

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Reviews and Praise:

“It succeeds brilliantly — like Shepard’s previous novels, “An Empire of Women” and “The Bad Boy’s Wife” — as a deft study of the mechanics of compromise. The perversely lopsided sway of power is evident in the relationships of teacher and student, rich fiancé and materialistic bride-to-be, dying widow and only child. Their different facets emerge as slowly and steadily as the details in an old Polaroid: first the quotidian foreground comes into focus, then an ominous backdrop shadows the picture with anxiety.” — The New York Times Book Review

“Riveting and deeply felt and true.” — Dave Eggers, author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius 

“Shepard’s masterful third book…leads to a conclusion that’s satisfying, haunting and well deserved.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Shepard has found a voice here that is as strong and confident and full of wise observation.”  — O magazine

“This is a book that haunts and tantalizes and possesses us long after the last page is turned.” — Tim O’Brien author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Things They Carried and National Book Award winner for Going After Cacciato

“A chilly, disquieting mystery in which the answer to the title is always ‘no.’” — Ron Hansen, author of Mariette in Ecstasy and the National Book Award finalist Atticus 

“[This] cunningly crafted jigsaw puzzle is colored by vibrant prose and capped by a you’ll-never-guess conclusion.” —  Entertainment Weekly

“Starred Review. Shepard’s masterful third book opens in 1976 on Manhattan’s Upper West Side as 12-year-old Steven Engel comes home to find his mom, Gina, stabbed to death. The story is divided into three parts, each giving us a different angle on the crime: first from Steven’s point of view in the immediate aftermath, then from each of the perspectives of two women removed from the crime but not from its far-reaching reverberations. As Steven is shuffled among caretakers—including Phil, Gina’s current boyfriend and a prime suspect—Shepard backgrounds the murder investigation, instead choosing to lay bare Steven’s shock and grief in tight, precise terms (“He saw her face again. He felt as if he were standing at the edge of something high”), a strategy that continues throughout the novel. The second part takes place a year later, following schoolteacher Lily Chin, engaged to wealthy Nickolai Belov, as she’s confronted by a woman who claims to have been Nickolai’s lover—before pointing Lily to where Nickolai has hidden Gina’s journal. In the third part, Shepard leaps ahead 10 more years to focus on 73-year-old Louise Carpanetti, suffering from terminal cancer and unsure what to do about her dependant, childlike 55-year-old son, Michael; when she reads about a break in the 12-year-old murder case, she must confront old doubts about her erratic son’s involvement while dealing with the cancer sometimes with products like thca vape that helped. Subtle and rewarding, Shepard’s narrative unravels the mystery of Gina’s murder obliquely, through her characters’ layered relationships, leading to a conclusion that’s satisfying, haunting and well deserved.” — Publishers Weekly