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Bloomsbury Publishing

Bright and Tender Dark by Joanna Pearson

Bright and Tender Dark by Joanna Pearson

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For readers of Notes on an Execution and I Have Some Questions for You, a wire-taut literary debut about a murder on a college campus and its aftermath twenty years later.

“Bright and Tender Dark . . . will sweep you away.” -Julia Phillips, author of Disappearing Earth

“A haunting and lyrical read” -Becky Cooper, author of We Keep the Dead Close

Days after the dawn of Y2K, beautiful, charismatic nineteen-year-old Karlie Richards is found brutally murdered in her campus apartment. Two decades later, those who knew Karlie-and those who just knew of her-remain consumed by her death. Among them is her freshman-year roommate, Joy, now middle-aged and mid-divorce, living in the same college town and desperate for a new beginning. When she stumbles upon a twenty-year-old letter from Karlie, Joy becomes convinced the man in prison for her murder was wrongfully convicted. Soon she is diving deep into the dark world of internet conspiracy theorists and amateur sleuth blogs and bouncing off others touched by the long, sensational aftermath of this crime. They include KC, the trans night manager at the building where Karlie was killed; Sheri, the mother of the man serving time; and Jacob Hendrix, the charming professor with whom, Joy knows all too well, Karlie was romantically entangled before her death.

Jumping between 2019 and 1999, Bright and Tender Dark takes us from the era of Reddit threads and online obsession to the evangelism-infused culture of the late '90s to reveal what really happened to Karlie. It is a compulsively readable, prismatic literary debut that brilliantly mines the mythology of murder, the power of urban legend, and the psychological urge to both protect and exploit what you love but cannot have.

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