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Nice Girls: A Novel (Hardcover)
“Darkly delicious . . . Nice Girls is about the girlhood we never really leave behind, and what happens when we dare to confront our past demons. A pulsating mystery with a narrator you won't soon forget.” — Laura Dave, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of The Last Thing He Told Me
"If you’re a total true crime addict, Catherine Dang’s debut novel will have you hooked real fast." — Cosmopolitan
Recommended by New York Times Book Review • Entertainment Weekly • Cosmopolitan • Harper's Bazaar • New York Post • E! Online • Bustle • Popsugar • CrimeReads • The Nerd Daily • PureWow • Mystery & Suspense Magazine • Criminal Element • and more!
A pulse-pounding and razor-sharp debut with the emotional punch of Luckiest Girl Alive and All the Missing Girls that explores the hungry, angry, dark side of girlhood and dares to ask: Which is more dangerous for a woman—showing the world what it wants to see, or who she really is?
What did you do?
Mary used to be such a nice girl. She was the resident whiz kid of Liberty Lake, Minnesota—the quiet, chubby teen with the scholarship to an Ivy League school. But three years later, “Ivy League Mary” is back—a thinner, cynical, restless failure who was kicked out of Cornell at the beginning of her senior year and won’t tell anyone why. Taking a job at the local grocery store, Mary tries to make sense of her life’s sharp downward spiral.
Then beautiful, magnetic Olivia Willand goes missing. A rising social media star, Olivia is admired by everyone in Liberty Lake—except Mary. Once Olivia’s best friend, Mary knows better than anyone that behind the Instagram persona hides a willful, manipulative girl with sharp edges. As the town obsesses over perfect, lovely Olivia, Mary wonders if her disappearance might be tied to another missing person: nineteen-year-old DeMaria Jackson, whose case has been widely dismissed as a runaway.
Who is the real Olivia Willand, and where did she go? What happened to DeMaria? As Mary pries at the cracks in the careful facades surrounding the two missing girls, old wounds will bleed fresh and force her to confront a horrible truth.
Maybe there are no nice girls, after all.
“Complex characters, questionable choices, and conflicted feelings about who we are and the people we leave behind combine in a compelling thriller that will have you flipping pages to discover how it all fits together.”— Darby Kane, #1 internationally bestselling author of Pretty Little Wife
“Nice Girls finds itself among the most haunting of mysteries, those that resonate with our current affairs, like Alyssa Cole’s When No One Is Watching and Rumaan Alam’s Leave the World Behind. Perfect for the millennial armchair detective, Nice Girls will satisfy your true crime addiction and intensify your desire for justice.”— Paperback Paris
About the Author
Catherine Dang is a former legal assistant based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is a graduate of the University of Minnesota. Nice Girls is her first novel.
"Dang captures the surface cynicism a young college student like Mary would adopt to mask the flameout of potential, itself the product of simmering rage against multiple forms of alienation, particularly of a class variety. . . . But Dang smartly pivots the novel into a greater reflection of savior complexes and the ways we can be blinded by projected images rather than remaining true to ourselves."
— New York Times Book Review
"A thriller that offers a tongue-in-cheek take on the idea of "Minnesota nice," this story is about a girl who moves back to her Midwestern hometown and finds herself wrapped up in the murder of a local social media star."
— Entertainment Weekly, 15 Must-Read September Books
"If you’re a total true crime addict, Catherine Dang’s debut novel will have you hooked real fast. It follows a nice girl turned cynical failure who mysteriously got kicked out of college her senior year. When she meddles in the cases of two missing girls, she ends up facing a devastating truth."
— Cosmopolitan, 15 Compelling Fall 2021 Books to Add to Your Reading List
"Nice girls don't get kicked out of college in their senior year, they don't move back to the hometown they swore to escape from and they definitely don't get involved in the disappearance of their childhood frenemy. But that's exactly what Mary does in this engrossing and sharp debut that true crime fans will devour faster than an episode of My Favorite Murder."
— E! Online
“Catherine Dang's darkly delicious debut, Nice Girls, is about the girlhood we never really leave behind, and what happens when we dare to confront our past demons. A pulsating mystery with a narrator you won't soon forget.”
— Laura Dave, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of The Last Thing He Told Me
“Complex characters, questionable choices, and conflicted feelings about who we are and the people we leave behind combine in a compelling thriller that will have you flipping pages to discover how it all fits together.”
— Darby Kane, #1 internationally bestselling author of Pretty Little Wife
“A refreshingly original and intriguingly written mystery with a flawed, yet relatable protagonist at its heart. Nice Girls drew me in and I found it hard to put down as the tension rose to its I-didn’t-see-that-coming end. A highly recommended and brilliant read.”
— Karen Hamilton, international bestselling author of The Last Wife
"True crime fans, this one is for you."
— Popsugar, Books You'll Want to Read ASAP
“Catherine Dang is an asset to the woman’s suspense genre. She layers the story so it builds and slowly lets the reader in . . . It was hard to put down and easy to imagine myself in the dark and gritty setting, with two specific parts of town. Nice Girls talks about anxiety, depression, and the importance of mental health. It points out racism in the police force and the media, and inequality in the way crimes are investigated. It brought up many important points while also being an exciting and mysterious read. I recommend this debut to lovers of All The Missing Girls and Luckiest Girl Alive.”
— Mystery & Suspense Magazine
"Mary isn't always a sympathetic narrator . . . adding to the edginess as readers are gripped by the story's provocative twists and turns. . . . Compelling."
“Dang has created a thriller that is gripping both in the sense of its genre but also due to its cultural relevance . . . Both woke and riveting, Nice Girls finds itself among the most haunting of mysteries, those that resonate with our current affairs, like Alyssa Cole’s When No One Is Watching and Rumaan Alam’s Leave the World Behind. Perfect for the millennial armchair detective, Nice Girls will satisfy your true crime addiction and intensify your desire for justice.”
— Paperback Paris
"Jessica Knoll’s Luckiest Girl Alive meets Cruel Summer in this engaging thriller. . . . A page-turning, multifaceted mystery with emotional depth and a thrilling conclusion."
— School Library Journal
"A gripping tale of small-town drama, clandestine trysts, and secrets gone too far."
— Mpls St Paul Magazine
“Missing girls, overlooked girls, smart girls, ambitious girls emerge in Catherine Dang's scintillating debut novel . . . Expertly character-driven, Nice Girls shows Dang is a talent to watch.”
— Shelf Awareness
"The suspense builds as the uncomfortable secrets of the well-drawn and varied characters gradually emerge. Dang provides a full complement of thrills and suspense while addressing status inequities based on looks, race, and wealth. Readers will eagerly await her next."
— Publishers Weekly
"Engaging, edgy, and packed with suspense, Dang’s debut is sure to appeal to any fans of true crime."
— Book Riot, 8 Stunning Debut Novels to Read
"True crime addicts and armchair detectives will gobble up this razor-sharp debut in one sitting. Full of twists and turns, small town drama, edge-of-your-seat suspense and insightful social commentary, it just might be the book of the season."