Hester Thursby #1
Nominated for the 2018 Agatha Award for Best First Novel!
In a brilliantly twisted debut set among Boston’s elite, Edwin Hill introduces unforgettable sleuth Hester Thursby—and a missing persons case that uncovers a trail of vicious murder . . .
Harvard librarian Hester Thursby knows that even in the digital age, people still need help finding things. Using her research skills, Hester runs a side business tracking down the lost. Usually, she’s hired to find long-ago prom dates or to reunite adopted children and birth parents. Her new case is finding the handsome and charismatic Sam Blaine.
Sam has no desire to be found. As a teenager, he fled his small New Hampshire town with his friend, Gabe, after a haunting incident. For a dozen years, Sam and Gabe have traveled the country, reinventing themselves as they move from one mark to another. Sam has learned how trusting wealthy people can be—especially the lonely ones—as he expertly manipulates his way into their lives and homes. In Wendy Richards, the beautiful, fabulously rich daughter of one of Boston’s most influential families, he’s found the perfect way to infiltrate the milieu in which he knows he belongs—a world of Brooks Brothers suits, Nantucket summers, and effortless glamour.
As Hester’s investigation closes in on their brutal truth, the bond between Sam and Gabe is tested and Hester unknowingly jeopardizes her own safety. While Gabe has pinned all his desperate hopes of a normal life on Hester, Sam wants her out of the way for good. And Gabe has always done what Sam asks . . .
Little Comfort is told from many points of view, and we learn about the story through different characters. Which characters did you identify with most? Were they all reliable, and are they always telling the truth to themselves?
Did you find yourself switching your allegiances to characters as you progressed through the novel? Do you think the author intended you to side with anyone in particular? Why or why not?
What do you make of Hester’s ambivalence toward Kate, and her relationship with Morgan? How would you describe Hester? What are her strengths? What are her shortcomings? How do these qualities affect her choices?
There are a number of physical spaces in the story that help establish character (Hester’s apartment, Little Comfort, Lila’s house, Gabe and Sam’s Somerville apartment). Which was the most vivid in your mind, and how did the descriptions of the spaces move the story forward or enrich it?
Kate’s sister Daphne never actually appears in the story, but her presence looms large throughout the novel. How did Daphne’s relationship with Hester make you feel? How would you deal with some of Hester’s challenges if you were in her place? Would you make different choices?
People use each other to their own advantage throughout this story. Sam uses Gabe; Daphne uses Hester; even Felicia uses Wendy. Describe some of the ways characters use each other, from the typical to the criminal to the pathological.
Hester physicality is central to the story. In what ways does her physical self-work to her advantage in the novel? How else does physicality play out in the story?
Why do Sam and Gabe stay together? What does each of them get out of the relationship, and how does that change throughout the novel? What surprised you about the choices each of them made in the end?
Many of the characters in Little Comfort are searching for a place to belong. What does it mean to belong for a character like Hester or Felicia versus Sam or Gabe? 10. Why does Sam send postcards to Lila? Why does he write movie quotes on them?
What commentary does the novel offer on the treatment of society’s most vulnerable? For example, what does it say about the care of foster children? About attitudes toward war veterans?
One of the themes in the novel is staying versus leaving. Why do some characters choose to leave, while others stay?
Hardcover, trade paperback (Target exclusive), mass-market paperback (August 2019), audio, and e-Book.
Where to buy
Available wherever books are sold. Here are some of my local favorites:
Harvard Book Store in Cambridge
New England Mobile Book Fair in Newton
Westwinds Bookshop in Duxbury
Also available online