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  • Published: 20 July 2021
  • ISBN: 9781529112344
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • RRP: $22.99

Death in Her Hands

From one of our most provocative literary talents, a novel of haunting metaphysical suspense

'This is a story about what might happen when a woman takes charge... A glorious visceral mystery' The Times

While on her daily walk with her dog in the woods near her home, Vesta comes across a chilling handwritten note. Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn't me. Here is her dead body.
Shaky even on her best days, Vesta is also alone, and new to the area, having moved here after the death of her husband. Her brooding about the note grows quickly into a full-blown obsession: who was Magda and how did she meet her fate?

From the Booker-shortlisted author of Eileen comes this razor-sharp, chilling and darkly hilarious novel about the stories we tell ourselves and how we strive to obscure the truth.

'Routinely hailed as one of the most exciting young American authors working today' Guardian
'A new kind of murder mystery' New Yorker
'Dark, devious' Observer
'A fine line between shocking realism and the absurd' New Statesman
'A brilliant off-kilter detective story' Evening Standard
'A beautiful novel' Sunday Times

  • Published: 20 July 2021
  • ISBN: 9781529112344
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • RRP: $22.99

About the author

Ottessa Moshfegh

Ottessa Moshfegh has written four previous books: McGlue (2014); Eileen, which was awarded the 2016 PEN/Hemingway Award and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize; Homesick for Another World (2017); and My Year of Rest and Relaxation (2018), which was shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize.

Also by Ottessa Moshfegh

See all

Praise for Death in Her Hands

Death in her Hands is a return to the dark humour that marks Moshfegh's work to date, making it sure to hit the sweet spot with established fans.

Hunger TV, *Books of 2020*

An eerie, affecting book.


Ottessa Moshfegh's Death in Her Hands is a new kind of murder mystery... The work of a writer who is, like Henry James or Vladimir Nabokov, touched by both genius and cruelty... Like a surgeon, or a serial killer, Moshfegh flenses her characters, and her readers, until all that's left is a void. It's the amused contemplation of that void that gives rise to the dark exhilaration of her work -- its wayward beauty, its comedy, and its horror.

Kevin Power, New Yorker

A darkly funny tale.

Sarah Hughes, i, *Summer Reads 2020*

Moshfegh returns to the violent timbre of her debut Eileen.

Daily Telegraph

[Death in Her Hands] cracks open like a matryoshka doll, revealing multiple tales within... Its dark, devious portrait of the troubled psychology of a lonely, stymied woman makes a mark all of its own.

Lucy Scholes, Financial Times

Ottessa Moshfegh's postmodern whodunit...burnishes Moshfegh's claim as one of the most distinctive American writers around.

Johanna Thomas-Corr, Observer

Routinely hailed as one of the most exciting young American authors working today... Her work takes dirty realism and makes it filthier. But it is is also beautiful...the depravity of her material matched by the purity and precision of her prose.

Lisa Allardice, Guardian

Moshfegh is one of the most original and astute young novelists working today.

Orlando Bird, Daily Telegraph

Much more than a whodunnit... This is a story about what might happen when a woman takes charge... A glorious visceral mystery... Moshfegh is as wise and wild as Ali Smith or Rebecca Solnit, and as gifted a scribe of nature as Annie Dillard or Thoreau.

Melissa Katsoulis, The Times

Clever, dark, funny... A gripping story.

Susannah Butter, Evening Standard

[A] brilliant off-kilter detective story... An eerie, affecting read.

Eithne Farry, Sunday Express

In sending up the detective genre, Moshfegh is true to her mischievous persona.

Mia Levitin, Spectator

There is an unspoken fascination in those we find abhorrent and Moshfegh writes these women with wit and intrigue, treading a fine line between shocking realism and the absurd.

Ellen Peirson-Hagger, New Statesman

A masterclass in suspense.


Blending sharp tongue-in-cheek parody, genuine suspense and a disorientingly unreliable narrator, Death in Her Hands is wildly accomplished, if at times unwieldy. There's always been an existential dread to Moshfegh's writing and here it triumphs as the muddy shadows of an old woman's mind.


A story of brooding anxiety that expands on Moshfegh's writerly obsessions.

Tom Lathan, Spectator

Death in Her Hands isn't a conventional mystery, and it isn't going to give you the satisfaction of a conventional ending. But it does satisfy, and in ways I hadn't expected. I hope that, for Moshfegh, this is the new abnormal.

J. Robert Lennon, London Review of Books

A beautiful novel.

Eithne Shortall, Sunday Times

Slow-burning, mind-bending light fantasy

Emily Bootle, author of THIS IS NOT WHO I AM, Guardian