Mar 2014. 402 p. Viking, hardcover, $27.95. (9780670014859).
Debutante or demon? The title character of Zimmerman’s gripping historical novel seems to be a little bit of both. Discovered in a Nevada mining town by a wealthy couple determined to overcome the “savage” girl’s apparent feral upbringing, Bronwyn is introduced by them to Gilded Age Manhattan’s high society. But as the couple’s son, the novel’s narrator, can attest, she is perhaps not as innocent as she seems. All revolves around the central question of whether Bronwyn or the captivated narrator is responsible for the trail of bloody crimes left in their wake. Suffused with a gothic aura of dark suspense, this is a finely wrought psychological work from the author of The Orphanmaster (2012), rich with historical detail. The mystery stretches from society’s heights to its absolute depths and touches everything between, always increasing in dramatic tension. Zimmerman’s settings spring off the page, from the stinging dust of the American desert to the dank despair of the Tombs prison in New York. Immensely readable, Savage Girl takes the reader by the throat and doesn’t let go.
— Bridget Thoreson