What You Leave Behind: A Novel (Hardcover)

What You Leave Behind: A Novel By Wanda M. Morris Cover Image

What You Leave Behind: A Novel (Hardcover)


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Award-winning author Wanda Morris returns with a powerful, haunting thriller following a lawyer who after the mysterious disappearance of a local landowner and the death of his sister just months before, uncovers a conspiracy that dates back to Reconstruction and persists in half the United States today.

Deena Wood’s life has fallen apart in the aftermath of losing her beloved mother, her marriage, and her prestigious job at an Atlanta law firm. She needs what the Geechee people of coastal Georgia call a “dayclean,” a fresh start.

She returns to her childhood home in Brunswick, Georgia, to heal. But her return is anything but the respite she thought it might be. To make peace with all her loss, she often drives through the city. One day, she unwittingly finds herself on the oceanfront property of a loner widower who is fighting to keep land that has been in his family since the end of the Civil War. He threatens her and warns her to never return. But shortly after, he disappears, and his very expensive property is quickly put up for sale. Curious about what has happened to the man, Deena digs into his disappearance and finds a family legacy at risk. What starts out as a bit of curious snooping, turns into a deadly game of illegal land grabs and property redevelopment in poor and rural communities with dark and powerful forces at work.

Without realizing it, Deena finds herself caught up in a nightmarish scheme that threatens her community and her family. She’ll need help and finds it in a close but unlikely source because she knows she must do whatever it takes to stop the sinister forces at play before she becomes their next target.

Wanda M. Morris is the award-winning author of All Her Little Secrets, which has been praised by Karin Slaughter as “brilliantly nuanced” and reviewed by The Boston Globe, LA Times, New York Times, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Seattle Times, and South Florida Sun Sentinel among others. Her second novel, Anywhere You Run, won the Anthony award for Best Historical Novel of 2023 and was longlisted for the prestigious Mark Twain Voice in American Literature Prize. She is married, the mother of three, and lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

"A single-sitting read! Morris brilliantly explores family ties, community injustice and haunting grief all in one fell swoop. This is the kind of thriller that keeps you thinking long after the last page." — Lisa Gardner, #1 New York Times bestselling author

"What You Leave Behind is a masterfully crafted story about grief, family, community, and multi-generational injustices. It’s also a phenomenal crime novel. One of the best legal thriller writers since John Grisham, Wanda Morris keeps getting better and better.”  — Alafair Burke, New York Times bestselling author of Find Me

“Wanda M. Morris’s What You Leave Behind is a propulsive and unforgettable thriller that paints a haunting picture of a homecoming gone wrong. Readers will ride along with Morris’s protagonist, Deena Woods, as she uncovers a deadly mystery that could ruin her Georgia hometown - and her entire life - in a story that spotlights Morris’s deft characterization and razor-sharp plotting. What You Leave Behind is a one-of-a-kind novel that will keep you guessing.”  — Alex Segura, bestselling author of Secret Identity and Alter Ego

“The award-winning Morris skillfully sculpts the myriad three-dimensional characters in What You Leave Behind, especially Deena and her family. She gracefully weaves in the issues of heirs’ property rights and the Gullah-Geechee culture in a solid, thought-provoking, timely plot.” — Florida Sun-Sentinel

"It takes a deft writer to craft a suspenseful page-turner ostensibly about real estate, but [Morris] proves up to the task in her third novel.... Morris has created her own beguiling form of magical realism as a chorus of Geechee-Gullah ancestors narrates each chapter in their patois to numinous effect, and benevolent haints lend a helping hand in crime-solving. It is a lyrical document of a vibrant culture as well as an exposé of real-life shady business practices." — Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Morris displays an astonishing mastery of multiple literary forms. At this story’s core is a solid mystery, intricately embroidered with characters who seem to jump off the page. She also excels at weaving in elements of the paranormal and inexplicable, like an oddly benevolent Shirley Jackson. This tale is ominous at first, full blown at the finish…. Not to be missed.”  — Booklist (starred review)

“Morris nimbly balances character and plot, anchoring the mystery’s big questions in the emotional lives of Deena and her fellow Brunswick residents. This entertains as much as it enlightens.” — Publishers Weekly

"With deep characterizations, local lore, and a sympathetic heroine, this is another feather in Morris’s cap." — Library Journal on What You Leave Behind

“With an engrossing plot that evokes the work of John Grisham, What You Leave Behind cements Wanda M. Morris as one of the most exciting thriller writers working today. You can’t help but root for Deena as she deals with personal issues, professional struggles, and a haunting encounter with a stranger that sends her down a dangerous path. What You Leave Behind is the perfect mix of mesmerizing thriller and emotional exploration of the question if you can ever go home again.” — Kellye Garrett, award-winning author of Missing White Woman

“In What You Leave Behind, Morris expertly weaves together a beautifully soulful mystery rooted in history. This is a story that reminds us of how the past, present and future intertwine to inform and guide our lives. Drenched in folklore and compelling to the final page, this book stirs the connection between our ancestors and ourselves, calling us to action.“ — Erin E. Adams, author of Jackal

"Morris (Anywhere You Run) returns with a tense and topical legal thriller...Morris nimbly balances character and plot, anchoring the mystery’s big questions in the emotional lives of Deena and her fellow Brunswick residents. This entertains as much as it enlightens." — Publishers Weekly

"A beautifully balanced novel that includes a foray into the world of the Gullah-Geechee people, the experience of grief, and the uncovering of a land grab, all wrapped up in an edge-of-the-seat thriller... Morris (All Her Little Secrets) has written a perfect novel for a book group, and it’s sure to be one of the best books of 2024." — firstCLUE

"Two novels into her career, Wanda M. Morris has established herself among the biggest risk-takers in the crime genre." — New York Times

“Wanda M. Morris is ready to shake up the legal thriller as only one who knows that world inside out can.”  — Entertainment Weekly on All Her Little Secrets

"It's hard to know just how far you might go to protect yourself and your secrets... but it's remarkably easy to get swept up into this razor-sharp workplace thriller. At times deeply disturbing and all the while gripping, All Her Little Secrets is a refreshing whodunnit that will keep you guessing—and second-guessing—from start to finish." — Zakiya Dalila Harris, New York Times bestselling author of The Other Black Girl

Anywhere You Run had me hooked from the first page. Wanda Morris brings 1964 to vivid, richly-textured life and populates it with unforgettable characters. It’s a novel both tender and ferocious—an absolute stunner.” — Lou Berney, Edgar Award–winning author of November Road

"A stunning thriller and a stunning work of historical fiction. Anywhere You Run is riveting, touching and terrifying. Wanda M. Morris is a ferociously talented writer." — Gilly Macmillan, New York Times bestselling author of The Long Weekend

"The suspense will set your heart thumping, the story will break it. A compelling thriller with powerful historical detail." — J.D. Barker, New York Times bestselling author of A Caller's Game