Book Spotlight: Chrysalis by Brendan Reichs
Ex-lawyer follows in mother’s footbones with novel series
"IT'S NICE to work in sweatpants,” says Brendan Reichs. He’s calling me from a room over his garage in south Charlotte—a home office he keeps immaculate as a means of procrastination. For the last decade, it’s where he’s written best-selling novels for young adults. “I’m a dead-silence writer, so I don’t really like to work anywhere else,” he says.
If his name sounds familiar, that’s because he’s the son of Kathy Reichs, the UNC Charlotte professor whose crime novels were the basis for Bones, a TV series that aired for 12 seasons on Fox. Kathy raised Brendan in Montibello, just three miles from where he lives now. “When I left town in 1996 after high school, I didn’t anticipate ever coming back,” he says. “I thought Charlotte was too small and too slow. But while I was away, it exploded into a major city behind my back.”
After law school, Brendan Reichs returned to Charlotte as an attorney, working 80 hours a week at a big firm uptown. “At some point during my second year, I realized I hated the day-to-day drudgery,” he says. But thanks to his mom, he was a huge reader, and he had an idea for a Bones spin-off book with a sci-fi twist: “We pitched it to the publisher in New York, and the day I got back to Charlotte, I put in my notice at the law firm.”
Now, Reichs is about to finish a separate series of his own: Project Nemesis, a trilogy of sci-fi thrillers he calls “a technological retelling of Lord of the Flies.”
In the first book, Nemesis, a stranger murders teenagers every two years on their birthdays, but they wake up perfectly healthy the next morning. The teens discover shocking secrets about their small Idaho town, which makes it hard to talk about the second book, Genesis, without spoiling the first.
This brings us to the third and final novel, Chrysalis (March 5, G.P. Putnam's Sons). “It’s as twisty and genre-bending as the first two, but then I took things to the extreme,” Reichs says. The book is so shrouded in secrecy, the publisher didn’t even make an advance copy available for media. “All I can say is, everything you thought you knew at the end of Genesis may or may not be a lie,” Reichs adds, and I can hear him grinning over the phone.
READ THESE, TOO
Three more books to add to your list this month, recommended by our editor:
Anna Jean Mayhew
Charlotte native Anna Jean Mayhew’s sophomore novel is based on her observations from growing up in the segregated South. In Tomorrow’s Bread (March 26, Kensington), gentrification threatens the predominantly black neighborhood of Brooklyn and the lives built there. Woman’s World calls the book, “A must-read for fans of The Help.”
A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership
On March 26, former FBI director James Comey will speak at the Belk Theater. Ahead of the talk, read his 2018 best-seller A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership. Comey gives readers an inside look at his decades-long career and his perspective on effective leadership.
Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story
Growing up, Jacob Tobia was labeled a sissy. The gender-nonconforming writer and North Carolina native’s debut memoir—aptly titled Sissy (March 5, G.P. Putnam’s Sons)—examines the challenges that come with being different in the South. Tennis star and activist Billie Jean King says, “Sissy bravely moves the needle forward, boldly advocating for a world where people of all genders are treated equally and with dignity.” —Emma Way