Julie Prentice and her family move across the country to the idyllic Mount Adams district of Cincinnati, hoping to evade the stalker who’s been terrorizing them ever since the publication of her bestselling novel, The Murder Game. Since Julie doesn’t know anyone in her new town, when she meets her neighbor John Dunbar, their instant connection brings measured hope for a new beginning. But she never imagines that a simple, benign conversation with him could set her life spinning so far off course.
We know where you live…
After a series of misunderstandings, Julie and her family become the target of increasingly unsettling harassment. Has Julie’s stalker found her, or are her neighbors out to get her, too? As tension in the neighborhood rises, new friends turn into enemies, and the results are deadly.
Excerpt from Fractured:
I’m still not certain what it was that made me begin my daily morning vigil at the front windows. Something innocuous, I’m sure. That’s what I’ll say later today, surely, when I’m asked. Whatever the cause, the effect is that it feels like my days have always begun this way. Me in my boxers, coffee mug in hand, staring out the window at the neighbor’s house. And that my days always will begin this way, although I know neither is possible.
The coffee in my mug is strong and bitter. A plume of steam rises from it, circling the rim. We haven’t turned the heat on yet, so the hardwood floor is cold beneath my bare feet. As I catch a draft from the window that needs caulking and the skin on my arms turns to gooseflesh, I think about how important these moments of silence are to me. The time it takes for me to make a cup of coffee and drink it.
These are the moments I have to consider. To watch.
A shadow appears to rise and fall across our narrow street. I move the lace curtain aside to get a better look.
I’ve always hated these curtains. Their femininity. The way they don’t actually provide the privacy they promise.
A wedding gift from my wife’s parents. Impossible to say no to. Impossible to tuck away.
The slip of glass I’ve uncovered reveals only the cracked black pavement beyond my front stoop. It’s fall.
The few stunted trees that line our street are tinged with red, orange, and gold. Soon, the multicolored leaves will be just another chore for me to complete. Tumbling across the road. Wedging themselves into the gutters.
Clogging the street drain. But for now, they dance merrily in the first light, casting an innocent glow over the breaking day.
This day seems innocent; the house across the street does too. I’d never thought a house could be anything but. I still don’t, really; only with everything that’s happened, it’s easier to blame something.
Certainly not myself.
So I blame the narrow house with the dark-yellow clapboards and white trim. The one I watch every morning.
I blame its red door and double-hung windows that look back at me, unblinking.
It’s easier than assigning blame where it should be.
That day—two months ago—began this way too.
Me at the window. The coffee in my mug still too hot to drink. Then, later, the awful squeal of tires.
The scrunch of metal on bone. The shouts. The tears. The professions of innocence.
There’s that word again. One I’d never thought much about before, but is central to my life now.
There’s a shuffling noise above me. One of the curtains across the street twitches.
I drop the flimsy fabric from my hand.
Today, of all days, it wouldn’t do to be caught looking.
Excerpted from Fractured by permission of the publisher, Lake Union Publishing. Copyright Catherine McKenzie © 2016. All rights reserved.
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