The Scamp: A Novel (Paperback)
Mysterious, chilling, and told a breakneck pace, The Scamp will thrill readers of Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone and Roxane Gay’s An Untamed State.
Rayelle Reed can’t escape in her small town, where everyone knows everything and not enough: All the guys she slept with, but not the ones she loved. The baby she had out of wedlock with the pastor’s son, and how the baby died, but not the grief and guilt that consume her. At a motel bar, Rayelle meets Couper Gale, a freelance detective on a mission to investigate a rash of missing girls, and she tags along as an excuse to cross the state line. But when Couper’s investigation leads them to the mystery surrounding Rayelle’s runaway cousin Khaki, she finds she is heading straight back into everything she was hoping to leave behind.
As fates become entwined, Rayelle must follow a haunted and twisted path—leading her toward a collision where loyalties will be betrayed, memories uncovered, and family bonds shattered. Unflinchingly dark and compelling, THE SCAMP confronts head-on the issues of family origins and the bonds between mothers, daughters, and sisters. It delves deep into the cycle of abuse and poverty, questioning, in the end, the value of any one life, child or adult.
In Pashley’s hands, the lost girls of rural and industrial America, trapped in the unforgiving systems of government assistance and single parenthood, are portrayed with depth and nuance. She exposes the ingrained poverty and atmosphere of disillusionment that damns them before they have a chance and she gives them a ray of hope for a better life ahead.
About the Author
Jennifer Pashley is the author of two short story collections, States, and The Conjurer, and a novel, The Scamp. Her stories have appeared widely, in journals like Mississippi Review, PANK, and SmokeLong Quarterly, and she has been awarded the Red Hen Prize for Fiction, the Mississippi Review Prize for fiction, and the Carve Magazine Esoteric Award for LGBT Fiction.
Thought you had a black sheep? Meet Rayelle's cousin.
An intense, riveting saga of ... a girl's determination to take control.
— Kirkus, STARRED REVIEW
Jennifer Pashley's debut novel The Scamp is pure grit: harsh, unsettling, impossible to ignore and impossible to shake off. . . It's rare to read about a female serial killer, and Pashley's debut . . . will become the gold standard.
the serial killer in her novel, Pashley takes the damaged bodies and souls of
her characters, narrates to us the intimate details of their lives and the pain
they’ve gone through, and then rebuilds them into gorgeous images of beauty,
redemption, and repair. Then, and only then, are we ready to
experience the dark revelations she has in store for them.
— The Toast
Jennifer Pashley's The Scamp is a slow-burn thriller, a cherry bomb with an eight-inch wick. This is a novel brimming with atmosphere, with gorgeous details, with murder and gore, a smeary canvas portraying the hard-won lives of two broken women. It is a book that will make you have sympathy for the devil. And don't be fooled: that bomb goes off.
— Lindsay Hunter, author of UGLY GIRLS
Jennifer Pashley’s stunning debut novel is wonderfully colorful and dangerous, following a tough, savvy narrator on a perilous trek toward release from a messy and difficult life, a dead child, a troubled and troubling family. Rayelle Reed mixes it up with and draws sustenance from a motley crew of slightly and more-than-slightly off-center characters, each of whom, in his or her way, adds richness and complexity to the hunt. Pashley writes like an angel who has spent time in parts South, figuratively and literally, and the pleasures of reading her are rich and satisfying.
— Frederick Barthelme, author of There Must Be Some Mistake
The Scamp is knife and velvet, tongue and bone. Its pages smell of pool water, trailer sex, and huffed gasoline; they taste of reservation cigarettes and peaches from the can. Jennifer Pashley tells the brutal, elegiac story of two girls on the move: broken, burning, and so dangerously beautiful.
— Dylan Landis, author of Rainey Royal
Gritty, seductive, and completely mesmerizing, Jennifer Pashley’s . . . novel limns a trail of broken relationships, broken bones, and broken promises. Be warned: these characters bloom so large on the page, you’ll ignore the real world around you until the last tangled secret has been unraveled.
— Shanna Mahin, author of Oh! You Pretty Things