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For fans of the high-stakes tension of the New York Times bestsellers Luckiest Girl Alive and The Lying Game, comes “a brilliantly paced thriller that gets under your skin in the best possible way” (Megan Collins, author of The Winter Sister) about female ambition and what happens when fake violence draws real blood.
After years of struggling in the Chicago theater scene, ambitious actress Kira Rascher finally lands the role of a lifetime. The catch? The mercurial Malcolm Mercer is the director and he’s known for pushing his performers past their limits—on stage and off.
Kira’s convinced she can handle Malcolm, but the theater’s cofounder, Joanna Cuyler, is another story. Joanna sees Kira as a threat—to her own thwarted artistic ambitions, her twisted relationship with Malcolm, and the shocking secret she’s keeping about the upcoming production. But as opening night draws near, Kira and Joanna both come to the realization that Malcolm’s dangerous extremes are nothing compared to what they’re capable of themselves.
An edgy, addictive, and fiendishly clever tale of ambition, deceit, and power suited for fans of the film Black Swan, Temper “revels in its mind games, delivering twist after twist as it races toward a Shakespearian climax. The final page will leave you gasping” (Amy Gentry, author of Last Woman Standing).
About the Author
Layne Fargo is the author of the thrillers Temper and They Never Learn. She’s a Pitch Wars mentor, Vice President of the Chicagoland chapter of Sisters in Crime, and the cocreator of the podcast Unlikeable Female Characters. Layne lives in Chicago with her partner and their pets.
“[F]or potboilers, nothing comes close to Temper… There’s violence here, but it’s not only physical; it’s emotional and psychological — even intellectual.”
— The New York Times Book Review
"Temper is raw, ingenious and utterly fearless. I devoured every word as the story bent and twisted in ways I did not see coming. Layne Fargo delivers psychological suspense at its very best - without tricks or misdirections, just brilliant story telling and profoundly astute observations about human emotions and relationships. Temper is the real deal."
— Wendy Walker, USA Today bestselling author of The Night Before
"In her dark, sultry debut, Layne Fargo delves deep into the psychological war zone of the theater, perfectly capturing its hothouse world of rivalries, dalliances, and duels--both onstage and off. Toying with the line between victim and villain, real life and fantasy, Temper revels in its mind games, delivering twist after twist as it races toward a Shakespearian climax. The final page will leave you gasping."
— Amy Gentry, author of LAST WOMAN STANDING
"Twisty, sexy, and so believable it's scary, the pages of Temper bleed an irresistible blend of voice, subculture, and character. Compulsive reading for fans of Black Swan, Mozart in the Jungle, or (dare I say it?) real-life backstage theatrics."
— Jessica Strawser, bestselling author of Not That I Could Tell
“Utterly compelling. A fascinating look at our willingness to accept the destruction of others for the sake of artistic genius.”
— Victoria Helen Stone, bestselling author of Jane Doe
"Temper is a completely compelling read in which anger and passion fizzes off the page. It is a strong and timely story, with two unflinching heroines whom I was totally rooting for, especially as they revealed their most unabridged selves."
— Araminta Hall, author of Our Kind of Cruelty
"Temper is a brilliantly paced thriller that gets under your skin in the best possible way. Zooming back and forth between two fierce and unforgettable narrators, this story digs its nails into you from the very first sentence and continues to leave its mark long after the final, jaw-dropping scene. With her exploration of ambition and obsession, pain and desire, Layne Fargo’s debut proves that she is a blistering and crucial new voice in psychological suspense.”
— Megan Collins, author of The Winter Sister
“The theater is a tempestuous, bloody place to be in Fargo's prickly debut. Fargo's propulsive writing style and Joanna's and Kira's dueling narratives drive the increasingly frenzied chain of events that play out… Fargo is an author to watch.”
— Kirkus Reviews
"Temper is a dark and sexy ride, its characters’ passion and rage snowballing in equal measure as the story builds to its shocking conclusion. This is the Black Swan psychological suspense novel we’ve all been waiting for."
— Wendy Heard, author of Hunting Annabelle
"Layne Fargo’s theatre noir debut Temper is a suspense novel paced to make readers twitch in their seats waiting for the final curtain. Sexy and sinister."
— Lori Rader-Day, Edgar Award-nominated and Anthony and Mary Higgins Clark Award-winning author of Under a Dark Sky
"[An] intense psychological thriller... Fargo is definitely a writer to watch."
— Publishers Weekly
"A twisted tale of what happens when violence, ambition, and the taste for blood take center stage... [Temper] builds a sense of danger and suspense that will keep readers guessing, literally until the last page. Fargo’s first novel features complicated female characters and will be well received by fans of Gillian Flynn and Tana French."
— Margaret Howard, Booklist
"Fargo maintains a scalpel-like control over her characters, even when they themselves are out of control.”
— The Chicago Tribune
“This sinister, of-the-moment novel focuses on the power struggle between an ambitious actress and an abusive director, but you don’t have to be a theater buff to enjoy it. The story brims with complex female characters, psychosexual manipulation, and plenty of drama on and off the stage.”
— Chicago Review of Books
“Temper dances the reader through the tangled, incestuous and artistically volatile network of Chicago storefront theater with ferocity and ambition. Part noir, part mystery, part feminist manifesto . . . The result is a fast-paced, tempting, hard-to-put-down story with vivacious characters, an unpredictable plot and a narrative climax worthy of the stage.”
— Newcity Lit
“Temper is the kind of debut people are going to remember: intense, well-crafted, and emotionally blistering.”
“Ambitious women and behind-the-curtain theater drama? Sign us up!”