Nathan Oates

Books Anna Stein, +1 212 556 5600 Email Anna Stein

A Flaw in the Design

book | 2023
US & Canada → Random House (Ed. Andrea Walker)
UK → Serpents Tail (Ed. Luke Brown)

A Flaw in the Design is a propulsive, brooding novel of psychological suspense.

A creative writing professor in a sleepy Vermont town, Gil’s quiet life is indelibly changed when he receives shocking news: his sister, Sharon, and her husband have been killed in a car accident, and their only son, 17-year-old Matthew, is coming to live with Gil and his family.

It’s with apprehension that Gil and his wife Molly greet Matthew. Yes, he has just lost both his parents. But they haven’t seen him in seven years, and the last time the families were together Matthew had lured Gil’s young daughter into a terrifying life-threatening situation. Since that incident Gil has been estranged from his sister and her flashy, vastly wealthy banker husband. And now: Matthew is their charge, living under their roof.

The boy seems charming, smart, and urbane, if surprisingly unaffected by his parent’s death. Gil hopes that they can put the past behind them, though he’s surprised when Matthew signs up for his creative writing class. Then Matthew begins turning in chilling stories about the imagined deaths of Gil’s family and his own parents. Bewildered and panicked with fear and rage, Gil ultimately decides he must take matters into his own hands, with disastrous consequences.

Full of insight into class and success--and how they play out in family dynamics—A FLAW IN THE DESIGN is written with the exacting dread of Leila Slimani and the psychological acuity of Patricia Highsmith.


Claire Nozieres manages the translation rights for A Flaw in the Design

Translation Rights Sold

Penn Publishing
Hayakawa Publishing Inc
Nemira Editura SRL
Editora Planeta

Get ready for a wild ride. Brutal and compelling, A Flaw in the Design is the story of a family driven toward destruction, as a father takes custody of the nephew he fears will wreck his life. This novel swerves and shocks before smashing into you, a T-bone collision you can hold in your hands.

Julia Philips, author of National Book Award finalist Disappearing Earth

With increasing tension and growing paranoia, A Flaw in the Design explores the threat of 'the other' while moving towards an inexorable truth... A gripping, twisty psychological thriller about the destructiveness of toxic masculinity hell-bent on protecting its own. I couldn't put it down.

Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, New York Times bestselling author of Bittersweet

This suspenseful debut novel keeps the reader on tenterhooks in a fearful family drama. Oh, this demands a sequel!

Christine Schutt, author of Pure Hollywood

A Flaw in the Design is a literary thriller of the highest order. Oates manages, with wisdom and insight, to explore the vulnerability of parenthood, the economic injustice of New York City, middle-age compromise, and the fallibility of storytelling, all while telling a heart-pounding tale that commanded my attention from the first sentence to the last.

Julia May Jonas, author of Vladimir

Anna Stein
+1 212 556 5600
Email Anna Stein
Translation Rights
Claire Nozieres
+44 (0)20 7393 4425
Email Claire Nozieres