I may need to seek out more heist novels, because I ate up Unbecoming like it was dessert. Grace is an American living in Paris, working in antiques repair. Her coworkers know her as Julie from California, but she's actually from Garland, Tennessee. Back home, two men are being paroled after serving time for a crime Grace masterminded.
It's only a matter of time before they catch up to her.
Scherm builds suspense by telling Grace's story out of order, flashing between her calm-on-the-outside life in Paris and her years growing up in Garland. Without the depth of insight into Grace's character, this would have been a light, fun, surface-level read, and I would have enjoyed the pants off it. Instead, I got something even better. I was fascinated by this regular girl turned career criminal and became totally tangled up in the lies she tells and the ways she justifies them to herself.
It takes some authorial sleight of hand to convince a goody-goody like me to root for the bad guy, but that's exactly what I found myself doing with Grace. I wanted her to get away with everything, and I'm not even sure why. I can't say I identified with her, or felt empathy for her, or even particularly liked her. But she was incredibly compelling. I also loved peeking over her shoulder into the world of high-dollar antiques—a topic I've never been remotely interested in, but which grew glamorous and irresistibly shiny through Grace's discerning eyes.
Unbecoming is an unputdownable pleasure from start to finish, dark and fun at the same time.