Every seven years, a boy disappears from Camp Waukeelo.
Who will be next?
It doesn’t take long for a little boy to disappear. Joey Proctor can’t swim, but that doesn’t stop camp counselor Alex Mason from leaving him out on a raft in the middle of the lake in a fit of rage. Alex only meant to scar the kid, teach him a lesson. He didn’t mean to forget about him. But now Joey is gone…and his body is never found.
More than twenty years later, Alex is a success. The proof is there for anyone to see, in the millions of dollars he makes, his lavish house, his beautiful wife and daughters. And no one know what happened that summer at camp. At least, no one should know. But it looks like Joey Proctor may be back to take his revenge…
Available January 2019
“An overbearing alpha male gets his comeuppance in this smart, creepy thriller from Smith (Airtight). One summer day, when Alex Mason was an arrogant swimming counselor at Camp Waukeelo in the Berkshires, he left timid eight-year-old Joey Proctor behind on a raft in the middle of a lake. Joey inexplicably vanished, but Alex lied well enough to avoid blame. Twenty-one years later, he’s a famous New York real estate developer with a lovely family and a glamorous lifestyle. Then increasingly serious intrusions from his guilty past suggest that someone—or something—remembers Joey’s panic and wants Alex to share it. As it turns out, the immature, violent side of Alex’s nature doesn’t need much prodding to reveal itself. Smith nicely balances the borderline-supernatural events with Alex’s mundane struggles as his blustering defenses crumble. Sharp, clear prose is a plus. This is a remarkably adept performance.”
—Starred review, Publishers Weekly
“Alex Mason has it all: a lavish lifestyle, a beautiful family, a thriving career. He’s built his life around the certainty that no one would discover what really happened twenty years ago at an idyllic summer camp. He’s wrong. The Drowning is an edge-of-your-seat read.”
—Kaira Rouda, bestselling author of Best Day Ever and What Comes Around
"Old pals Nick and Rob are headin' back to college. But not to resume their studies: they're pushing 50 now, with careers and families, and they're both unemployed, laid off from well-paying jobs. Then one of them remembers an episode from their younger, more adventurous days, when they were known, occasionally, to partake of some not-entirely-legal substances. It turns out they know where to find two mason jars of a definitely illegal substance buried on their old college campus. The plan: dig the stuff up, sell it, make a quick profit. The plan's execution: well, let's just say it doesn't go entirely-or even mostly-as they thought it would. Like Donald Westlake's The Ax (1997), which features an out-of-work family man driven by desperation to find an extreme solution to his problem, Smith's novel depends on the reader's willingness to accept that an ordinary person will do some very uncharacteristic things to keep his life from imploding. A solidly constructed and nicely written comic thriller." — Booklist
"Though Breathless, the fifth novel from the Massachusetts-based Smith, is a bona fide mystery, its thoughtful prose reads like one of Anita Brookner's introspective explorations. These are sentences you reread to savor even as you race eagerly after Jill to plumb that place she describes as 'between silence and word...the beguiling landscape of memory.'" —People Magazine
“In Breathless...J.P. Smith does a stunning job of putting himself—and the reader—in the mind of a woman facing shattering revelations surrounding the violent death of her husband.” —Boston Herald
“The Discovery of Light, J.P. Smith’s fourth novel, may be his most ambitious work so far. Smith characteristically provides a compelling, suspenseful plot featuring attempted murder, deception, suicide and adultery. But he adds another dimension in his new book: a counterplot about the nature of art and the creative spirit that is a homage to painter Jan Vermeer.... But writing a compelling, intricately woven novel of suspense and human relations does not suffice for Smith – he takes this a step further. ‘None of us deserves the banality of real life,’ he concludes on the last page. ‘For us there is only the richness of art.’ ” —The Boston Globe
“Smith is masterful, maintaining a surface as smooth and inscrutable as Vermeer’s, toying with puzzles of perception, imagination, and truth. An arresting, erudite, and wonderfully eerie performance.”
The Discovery of Light was a 1992 Barnes & Noble Discover title. It can be purchased at Amazon.com.
The Blue Hour
“I enjoyed J.P. Smith’s severe new psychological thriller, The Blue Hour, not least for its dense description of the Paris quotidian. Grim modern violence lies very close to the fringes, but the crux of this roman noir is as ancient as Orpheus and as simple—how does a man live through the loss of the one woman he truly loves?” —John Fowles (author of The French Lieutenant's Woman, The Magus, and The Collector)
“A tough, smart, unsettling novel about a young man’s tortured reactions to his wife's mysterious disappearance...a skillfully sustained nightmare worthy of a Polanski film.”
“Smith creates a clever suspense yarn with a comic edge. But the fun is spread thin enough to see clearly what lies beneath: the bitter reckonings and hard realities of an émigré’s struggle to succeed.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“Both chilling and funny, the story of an unlucky man in an existential horror show who blunders through with the charm of the Little Tramp. In all, ambitious, intelligent, and quite compelling.” — Kirkus Reviews
“This is a first novel, but J.P. Smith writes like an old pro; his style is urbane, his prose smooth and polished.” —New York Times Book Review
“...a melancholy but often comic first novel. It’s also an accomplished work of character, which is gradually and indirectly revealed.... J.P. Smith slowly and subtly builds suspense by concentrating on the hero’s life, concerns and shadowy parents.”