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  • Judith D Collins

A Flaw in the Design


By: Nathan Oats

ISBN: 9780593446706

Publisher: Random House

Publication Date: 03/072023

Format: Other

My Rating: TBR (ARC)


TOP BOOKS OF 2023 LIST


A professor’s life is turned upside down when he takes in his charming, wildly dangerous nephew, whose wealthy parents have just died under mysterious circumstances, in this propulsive, edge-of-your-seat debut psychological thriller.


Gil is living a quiet life as a creative writing professor in a bucolic Vermont town, when he receives some shocking news: His sister and her husband have been killed in a car accident, and their only son is coming to live with him and his family.

Gil and his wife are apprehensive about taking in seventeen-year-old Matthew. Yes, he has just lost both his parents, but they haven’t seen him in seven years—and the last time the families were together, Matthew lured their young daughter into a terrifying, life-threatening situation. Since that incident, Gil has been estranged from his sister and her flashy, wealthy banker husband.


Now Matthew is their charge, living under their roof.

The boy seems charming, smart, and urbane, if strangely unaffected by his parents’ deaths. Gil hopes they can put the past behind them, though he’s surprised when Matthew signs up for his creative writing class. Then Matthew begins turning in chilling stories about the imagined deaths of Gil’s family and his own parents. Bewildered and panicked, Gil ultimately decides he must take matters into his own hands—before life imitates art.

Told in limber, mesmerizing prose, A Flaw in the Design is a twisting novel of suspense that brilliantly explores the tensions surrounding class, family, and the drive to control one’s own story.


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Praise


“A Flaw in the Design is a literary thriller of the highest order. Oates manages, with wisdom and insight, to explore the vulnerability of parenthood, the economic injustice of New York City, middle-age compromise, and the fallibility of storytelling, all while telling a heart-pounding tale that commanded my attention from the first sentence to the last.”

—Julia May Jonas, author of Vladimir


“This suspenseful debut novel keeps the reader on tenterhooks in a fearful family drama. Oh, this demands a sequel!”

—Christine Schutt, author of Pure Hollywood


“With increasing tension and growing paranoia, A Flaw in the Design explores the threat of ‘the other’ while moving toward an inexorable truth: Anyone obsessed with ‘the other’ is actually the most dangerous person of all. A gripping, twisty psychological thriller about the destructiveness of toxic masculinity hell-bent on protecting its own. I couldn’t put it down.”

—Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, New York Times bestselling author of Bittersweet and Fierce Little Thing


“Brilliantly constructed and psychologically astute, this novel had me turning pages late into the night and left me reeling in the aftermath of its stunning conclusion. Bravo!”

—Antoine Wilson, author of Mouth to Mouth


“Get ready for a wild ride. Brutal and compelling, A Flaw in the Design is the story of a family driven toward destruction, as a father takes custody of the nephew he fears will wreck his life. This novel swerves and shocks before smashing into you, a T-bone collision you can hold in your hands.”

—Julia Phillips, author of Disappearing Earth


“Menace and mendacity vie with the mundane in this skillfully told tale about ambition and grief and envy. A wealthy, smarmy nephew; an aging midlist writer charged with his care; two daughters; the long Vermont winter—what could go wrong? A Flaw in the Design is an impressive debut. Cue the sequel.”

—Alice McDermott, author of The Ninth Hour


“What happens when a (possibly murderous) sociopath takes a writing workshop? This is the premise of Nathan Oates’s delicious, inexorable, fast-paced tale of obsession—a thriller that will keep you reading till the end.”

—Karan Mahajan, author of The Association of Small Bombs





About the Author



Nathan Oates’s debut collection of short stories, The Empty House, won the Spokane Prize. His stories have appeared in The Missouri Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Copper Nickel, West Branch, The Best American Mystery Stories, and elsewhere. He has been awarded fellowships from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University, the University of Missouri, the New York State Summer Writers Institute, and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. He is an associate professor at Seton Hall University, where he teaches creative writing. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his family. WEBSITE


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