The Night Flowers

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Pub Date 02 May 2023 | Archive Date 30 Apr 2023
Tin House | Tin House Books

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People tend to think of us as shadows. Blurred black mist. Often, it’s “out of the corner of my eye.” People sense the cold. I’ve heard of ghost hunters who use a tape measure, laying it on the ground to mark our boundaries. I don’t want to be measured.

In 1983, deep in New Mexico’s Gila National Forest, the bodies of a young woman and two children were found. Who were they? How did they get there?

Thirty years later, two women find themselves drawn to the cold case. Librarian Laura MacDonald begins her own investigation as a way to distract herself from breast cancer treatments and becomes consumed by her search for answers. Jean Martinez is a veteran detective determined to keep working cold cases for the Sierra County police force even as her family begs her to retire.

With only fragments from dusty case files and a witness who doesn’t want to remember, this unlikely duo is determined—no matter the cost—to uncover the truth behind the murders. And with their help, the woman in the woods is finally able to tell her story on her own terms and summon the power to be found.

The Night Flowers—a haunting debut thriller written with pulse-pounding precision and a deep understanding of the psychology of violence and the tenacity of those who combat it—announces the arrival of Sara Herchenroether as an exciting new voice.

About the Author: 

Sara Herchenroether lives outside Columbus, Ohio, with her husband, four young children, one old dog, and two rescue kittens. Sara is a breast cancer survivor.

People tend to think of us as shadows. Blurred black mist. Often, it’s “out of the corner of my eye.” People sense the cold. I’ve heard of ghost hunters who use a tape measure, laying it on the...

A Note From the Publisher

LibraryReads votes due by 4/1.

LibraryReads votes due by 4/1.

Advance Praise

"Haunting and compulsively readable, The Night Flowers is impossible to put down. A novel that is as much ghost story as mystery, Herchenroether has crafted a truly original narrative that unfolds with a shocking array of twists and turns against the backdrop of the Gila National Forest. Every voice in the chorus that makes up this novel sings a siren song of suspense you won't be able to resist. I devoured it." - Katy Hays, author of The Cloisters

"Hypnotic, heart-wrenching, and harrowing, The Night Flowers is an exceptional debut. The twisted path of long-buried wrongs coming to light will keep you on the edge of your seat. Still, it’s the honest exploration of violence, trauma, and scars that never heal that will haunt you. Sara Herchenroether is a true talent." - Hilary Davidson, bestselling author of Her Last Breath

"Sara Herchenroether's astonishing, intricate debut is a deeply nuanced portrayal of those called to name the dead. A cold case detective and soon-to-be grandmother, a genealogist librarian recovering from breast cancer, and the ghost of a murdered woman are the unforgettable heroines of a novel about confronting—and transcending—mortality. Like Tana French meets Ann Patchett, The Night Flowers begs to be raced through the first time and savored the second. Sara Herchenroether is a fierce talent with much to say about women's strength in their most vulnerable moments." - Katie Gutierrez, bestselling author of More Than You'll Ever Know

"The Night Flowers is so many things: a murder mystery, a ghost story, a meditation on violence and the fragility of the body. Compelling, insightful, and evocative." - Jane Pek, author of The Verifiers

"Haunting and compulsively readable, The Night Flowers is impossible to put down. A novel that is as much ghost story as mystery, Herchenroether has crafted a truly original narrative that unfolds...

Available Editions

EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9781953534866
PRICE $26.95 (USD)

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Average rating from 61 members

Featured Reviews

Haunting and beautiful - this is not your average thriller nor is it your average police procedural.

In the Night Flowers we meet Jean Martinez who is on the cusp of retiring from the force. Jean is burnt out and having trouble making time for her daughter's pregnancy, Jean is working cold cases when she is approached by an unlikely assistant - Laura MacDonald is recovering from a terrible breast cancer treatment and has utilized her librarian skills to identify missing persons in a case that Jean is working. It's a complicated situation that keeps them busy throughout the book - all of the time there may be someone on their tail trying to prevent justice.

This duo may be my favorite yet! Herchenroether has made these characters as real as your friends and neighbors and just as likeable. Just when I think I have read enough police procedurals I meet them. PLEASE Sara! Write a sequel !!!!

If you love real live heroes and strong female characters, if you love a police hunt or a cold case, The Night Flowers is for you! #TinHouse

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I know that is only February, but this was the best books that I have read this year. I recieved an ARC from W.W. Norton & Company last week and was floored by The Night Flowers by Sara Herchenroether. I finished this book in 2 days and was still thinking about it days later. The Night Flowers is a must for anyone who loves a great mystery. It all starts when Laura finds a newspaper article about a cold case murder that was now 30 years old, happens to be the same day has her birthday. Laura then goes digging of who this woman and 2 children were. One of the girls is Jane Doe's biological daughter the other one is not. In New Mexico Jean has just been assigned to the cold case department. Her first case that she wants to solve is the Jane Doe's that were found in large drums in a remote part of the desert. Using her skills as a librarian, Laura then tracks down Jane Doe's half sister. After their meeting Laura decides to go to New Mexico to solve the crime. Toghter with Jean, Laura helps to put a name to all 3 victims and who was involved in the murder. This book kept me on the edge of my seat until the end. I hope that this is turned in a series and that Jean and Laura are together as team solving more cold cases.

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Couldn't put it down! Gripping cold case mystery with female detective and librarian turned amateur sleuth. The victim as ghost provides backstory and atmosphere in the dry desert and forested landscapes of New Mexico, Grudgingly at first, Detective Martinez uses the information unearthed by breast cancer survivor and genealogy research librarian Laura. As they near discovery, the two women work together to identify their Jane Doe and find her killer.

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Haunting, magical, mysterious, intense, educational, captivating …

The Night Flowers by Sara Herchenroether is a fabulous debut. The book deals with a bit of everything - ancestry research, DNA science, romance, illness, evil, subterfuge, disappointment, satisfaction, family trauma and most of all ghosts who help reveal their story.

Could not put it down!

Thanks to NetGalley and Tin House for the opportunity to read this excellent ARC.

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Feminist and unexpectedly touching story transcends both the psychological thriller and police procedural genres as well as the dead girl narrator trope. Unique storytelling breathes freshness into these well worn saws. Very “Tin House” in flavor. I will definitely keep this author on my radar.

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When a couple on a hike inadvertently discover several barrels full of human remains (a woman and two children) in the Gila desert, it kicks off a mystery that will stretch on for the next thirty years. Laura, a librarian just finishing up treatment for breast cancer, dives into a trail of research that leads her closer to the truth, eventually taking her to the Gila desert. She teams up with the somewhat reluctant detective Jean, who is reassessing her own life and work now that she is at retirement age. The mystery is told from the POVs of Laura, Jean and the ghost of the dead woman, who is sorting through her own murky memories of what led to her body in a barrel. The ghost POV is a fascinating addition to this murder mystery. Her portion of this story is part dreamlike discovery of the ghost world while parenting two little girls through the afterlife, and part sorting through her own trauma. The ghosts are also able to influence the physical world, and this one finds small ways to nudge the women towards the truth (for example, causing flowers to bloom at night at the site where the bodies were found). This story is also an exploration of womanhood through this young, dead woman and her children, Laura, who may have beat cancer but who can no longer rely on her body to function dependably in the aftermath of chemo, and Jean who is about to be a grandmother but does not want to give up her work solving cold cases. This is a fresh, new literary thriller and I'm excited to read what the author comes up with next!

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