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McCreight Plumbs the Secrets of Marriage in Latest Thriller

isting Rikers Island in person was eye-opening.

“It was definitely illuminating,” said Kimberly McCreight L’98. “I was really glad I had the opportunity. Without having been there myself, I don’t think I could have written about it with nearly as much conviction.”

The prime suspect in McCreight’s latest thriller, A Good Marriage, spends the entirety of the novel at the notorious New York prison complex. The story opens with a prison phone call to the main character, Lizzie, who happens to be a Penn Law alumna and Big Law attorney in New York.

A Good Marriage, published this summer by Harper Books and optioned by Amazon, was McCreight’s first stab at a legal thriller and has been received with acclaim: Big names including The Washington Post, Kirkus Reviews and Publishers Weekly heaped on the praise. This is McCreight’s sixth work of fiction.

A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight

She said her own experiences from law school and as a Big Law attorney in New York largely shaped the legal aspects of the plot. “I could not have written this book without having been a lawyer,” she said.

McCreight also consulted a host of experts in criminal law and shadowed a criminal defense attorney, whom she accompanied to Rikers.

She couples the novel’s legal themes with an examination into what exactly makes a good marriage, as protagonist Lizzie becomes embroiled in a murder investigation involving several married couples and as her own halcyon life crumbles. The plot revolves around an acquaintance seeking her help after his wife’s body is found following a raucous, high-society party in Brooklyn’s idyllic Park Slope neighborhood.

McCreight said she chose marriage as a central theme because she finds the topic intriguing. “Marriage in general is a very mysterious institution — nobody knows the real truth about what goes on in anybody else’s marriage,” said McCreight, who is married and has two daughters. “I liked the idea of secrets a couple keeps from the world.” Her book, she said, challenges some prevailing notions of marriage and asserts that what can be considered “good” is not always black and white.

Additionally, McCreight said she is excited that Nicole Kidman, along with her producing partner at Blossom Films, Per Saari, is slated to executive produce the Amazon series depicting the novel. The adaptation is to be written by David Farr, who has also adapted popular shows “Hanna” and “The Night Manager.”

“I trust them completely,” she said. “And I have unreserved confidence that they’ll make an incredible adaptation. I just can’t wait to see it.”

She does plan to pen a sequel to A Good Marriage, but she’s currently working on a new thriller about a group of Brooklynites vacationing in the Catskills who run afoul of the locals. Called Friends Like These it’s slated to be published in June 2021.

“Lately, I’ve been at my desk 14 hours a day,” McCreight said, adding that while she loves it, novel writing can be arduous. “Sometimes, I work more hours than I did as a lawyer,” she quipped. “And the process can be harrowing. My books work like puzzles that I am both trying to create and solve at the same time. Often it isn’t until the end of my first draft that I even fully understand what I’m trying to do. After that, it requires a lot of rewriting and rewriting and rewriting until I can be sure I’ve gotten it right.”