The Good Ones: A Novel
“Polly Stewart's The Good Ones is a fantastic achievement. A classic Southern Gothic tale told through the prism of modern-day sensibilities. Not to be missed.”—S. A. Cosby, New York Times bestselling author of Razorblade Tears
“A riveting, unflinching exploration of adolescent female friendships, small-town pressures to conform, and the true crime lover’s tendency to conflate empathy and voyeurism, The Good Ones drew me in from the first lines and still hasn’t released me, days after finishing.”—Katie Gutierrez, nationally bestselling author of More Than You’ll Ever Know
An engrossing work of literary suspense that illuminates the push and pull of female friendship and the costs of being good when the rules for women begin to chafe.
The last time Nicola Bennett saw Lauren Ballard she was scraping a key along the side of a new cherry-red Chevy Silverado. That was the night before her friend mysteriously vanished from her home, leaving a bloodstained washcloth and signs of a struggle—as well as her grieving husband and young daughter—behind.
Now, nearly twenty years later, Nicola, newly unemployed and still haunted by the disappearance of her childhood friend, is returning to her Appalachian hometown. For Nicola, Tyndall County has remained frozen in time. Everywhere she turns she’s reminded of Lauren. Yet shockingly, her former friends and neighbors have all moved on. Drawn to stories of missing girls, Nicola obsessively searches the internet, hoping to discover a clue to Lauren’s ultimate fate.
Driven by a desperate need to know what happened to her friend, Nicola takes a job in her hometown, determined to uncover any bit of information, any small clue, that can help. Deep down she knows the answers are tucked in the hollows and valleys of this small Blue Ridge county. As secrets come to light and the truth begins to unravel, will Nicola finally find release and break free of the past—or lose herself completely to unanswered questions from her adolescence?
Praise for The Good Ones: A Novel
“This book dives straight into the heart of Appalachia, unearthing teenage tensions and full-grown fears that connect in ways I never saw coming. Fans of Megan Abbott will rejoice in this intricately textured addition to the rural noir canon.” — Eli Cranor, author of Don't Know Tough and Ozark Dogs
"Fans of Emma Cline’s The Girls and Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects will devour Stewart’s unnerving examination of the tangled bonds between teenage girls and the suffocating constraints of womanhood. A hometown mystery with a plot twist that will blow your flip-flops off." — Oprah Daily
“Polly Stewart buoys The Good Ones . . . with finely drawn characters who harbor a pleasing passel of secrets.” — New York Times Book Review
“I just finished debut author Polly Stewart’s The Good Ones, a wild Southern noir with a brilliant and bold voice and one hell of a twist. — Garden & Gun Magazine
“The Good Ones by Polly Stewart is a riveting debut crime novel that’s loaded with elements that readers will love - powerful characters, a fraught homecoming, and twists galore.” — Alex Segura, bestselling author of Secret Identity
“A startling, riveting tale about female friendship, past trauma, and the secrets we keep. Breathlessly entertaining and sharply incisive, Polly Stewart’s debut is a must read." — Kirstin Chen, New York Times bestselling author of Counterfeit?
"I can’t stop thinking about Polly Stewart’s The Good Ones. Smartly suspenseful and knife-sharp, this thriller explores the way our mistakes refuse to stay confined to the past tense. Stewart upends our understanding of how we fit into the stories that surround us—both the ones we tell ourselves and the narratives others spin for us. In these pages, those who stay behind have as many secrets as those who go missing, and I couldn’t stop reading until I'd untangled every mystery." — Sara Flannery Murphy, author of Girl One
“A young mother vanishes from her Appalachian hometown leaving little more than rumors and blood-stained carpets in her wake. Her overeducated and true-crime obsessed childhood friend is left to uncover what really happened in this stylish and totally compelling mystery that is as concerned with finding a missing woman as it is with challenging our assumptions about motherhood. I loved it!” — Darcey Bell, author of A Simple Favor
"Polly Stewart's The Good Ones is a fantastic achievement. A classic Southern Gothic tale told through the prism of modern-day sensibilities. Not to be missed." — S. A. Cosby, author of Razorblade Tears
“Sharp, smart and often sexy, The Good Ones is a knockout. Lauren Ballard's disappearance may be the core of this story, but it's the many raw secrets of Tyndall County that make this novel unique, clever, and compelling.” — Ace Atkins, New York Times bestselling author The Revelators and The Heathens
"An unsettling mystery about a young mother’s disappearance and the cost of centering ourselves in someone else’s story. Dark, suspenseful, and thought-provoking, The Good Ones kept me turning pages late into the night." — Allison Buccola, author of Catch Her When She Falls
“The Good Ones by Polly Stewart is a stunning achievement. With gorgeous writing, a compelling, flawed protagonist whose journey is so authentic, and an intricate mystery in which everyone is a suspect, this debut is captivating. The twists and turns are seamless and subtle, fully immersing us in a world of wealth and power in a small town, where the line between love and hate closely bleeds together. And just when you think you've figured it all out, Stewart wallops you with a mind-blowing ending.” — Samantha M. Bailey, national bestselling author of Woman on the Edge and Watch Out for Her
"Bold, beautiful, savage and stunning. The Good Ones is a taut thriller, an elegant exploration of loss and the haunt of past mistakes, and a true page-turning mystery. I adored it.” — Chris Whitaker, New York Times bestselling author of We Begin at the End
“The friendship at the heart of this gripping mystery is among the darkest and most complicated relationships I’ve read. The Good Ones had me suspecting everyone in Tyndall County, only to be proven wrong by an ending I never saw coming. Polly Stewart is an author to watch." — Ana Reyes, New York Times bestselling author of The House in the Pines
"In Polly Stewart's bittersweet debut The Good Ones, good girls lie and bad girls disappear. But which is which? With a compelling cast of suspects and twists that keep on coming, The Good Ones delivers a moving portrait of complex and flawed women that will haunt the reader long after the last page." — Amy Gentry
“A promising slice of psychological suspense . . .[Stewart’s] messy, endearing lead and swift pacing make for a . . . thrilling ride. This should please fans of Megan Miranda and Megan Abbott.” — Publishers Weekly
“Stewart’s debut is a powerful novel about a woman, recently returned to her Appalachian hometown, who grows obsessed with a friend’s disappearance twenty years prior, and with other cases of missing women. What emerges is a sprawling tale about a town’s secrets and lingering traumas, as well as one woman’s reckoning with life’s darkest turns. Stewart is a writer to watch.” — CrimeReads
“Polly Stewart’s The Good Ones is a Southern Gothic page-turner that’s as thoughtful as it is suspenseful. . . . In this haunting crime novel, even the smallest details are steeped in Southern Gothic beauty. The Good Ones is not content merely to thrill, but asks the reader probing questions about womanhood that will linger long after its startling twist of an ending.” — Chapter 16
"With writing that stands out in the genre, Polly Stewart creates a true page-turner that has both atmosphere and depth." — Mosaic Magazine
“[Polly Stewart] is a master of creating a compelling narrative. The Good Ones is a complex and engrossing story. Filled with secrets, surprises, and a shocking twist, this book is well worth reading. Highly recommended.” — Fresh Fiction
“This book kept me guessing to the end. Just when I figured out who was responsible for the disappearance, [Stewart] would throw in something that made me completely change my mind. The ending was perfect and answered all of the questions that existed throughout the book. . . . The entire mystery around Lauren's disappearance makes this book an interesting read." — Girl Who Reads