I have something very exciting today for all you Tess Gerritsen fans, an extract from her latest novel, The Shape of Night.
The No.1 bestselling author returns with her new standalone novel, a gothic contemporary ghost story full of chills and suspense. Published with Bantam Press on 3rd October, it is an honour to join Anne Cater and Random Things Tours on the blog tour for this thrilling new novel from such a renowned writer.
‘It’s a psychological suspense novel with a dark and sexy twist: What if you found the perfect lover, but you’re not certain he’s real – or if he might end up killing you? Unlike my Rizzoli & Isles crime novels, which are focused on hard-boiled police investigations, THE SHAPE OF NIGHT is about a vulnerable woman who is very much alone and haunted by a secret shame. When she moves into an isolated mansion on the Maine coast, she begins to fear for her sanity – and her life – but she has no one to turn to. This thriller is told from a very personal, very intimate point of view. ‘ – Tess Gerritsen
[ From the Back of the Book ]
When Ava arrives at Brodie’s Watch, she thinks she has found the perfect place to hide from her past. Something terrible happened, something she is deeply ashamed of, and all she wants is to forget. But the old house on the hill both welcomes and repels her and Ava quickly begins to suspect she is not alone.
Either that or she is losing her mind.
The house is full of secrets, but is the creeping sense of danger coming from within its walls, or from somewhere else entirely?
[ Extract ]
I had felt no such apprehension on that day in early August when I turned onto North Point Way and drove toward Brodie’s Watch for the first time. I knew only that the road needed maintenance and the pavement was rippled by the roots of encroaching trees. The property manager had explained to me on the phone that the house was over a hundred fifty years old and currently still under renovation. For the first few weeks, I would have to put up with a pair of carpenters swinging hammers up in the turret, but that was the reason why a house with such a commanding ocean view could be rented for a song. “The tenant who was renting it had to leave town a few weeks ago, months before her lease was up. So you called me at just the right time,” she said. “The owner doesn’t want his house to stand vacant all summer and he’s anxious to find someone who’ll take good care of it. He’s hoping to find another female tenant. He thinks women are much more responsible.” The lucky new female tenant just happens to be me.
In the backseat my cat, Hannibal, yowls, demanding to be released from the pet carrier he’s been trapped in since we left Boston six hours ago. I glance back and see him glaring at me through the grate, a hulking coon cat with pissed-off green eyes. “We’re almost there,” I promise, although I’m beginning to worry that I’ve taken a wrong turn. Roots and frost heaves have cracked the pavement and the trees seem to crowd in ever closer. My old Subaru, already weighed down with luggage and kitchenware, scrapes the road as we bounce along an ever-narrowing tunnel through pines and spruce. There is no room here to turn around; my only choice is to continue up this road, wherever it may lead. Hannibal yowls again, this time more urgently as if to warn: Stop now, before it’s too late. Through the overhanging branches I catch glimpses of gray sky, and the woods suddenly give way to a broad slope of granite mottled with lichen. The weathered sign confirms that I’ve arrived at the driveway for Brodie’s Watch, but the road climbs into fog so thick that I can’t see the house yet. I continue up the unpaved driveway, my tires sputtering and spitting gravel. Mist veils my view of windswept scrub brush and granite barrens but I can hear seagulls circling overhead, wailing like a legion of ghosts. Suddenly there is the house, looming in front of me. I shut off the motor and just sit for a moment, staring up at Brodie’s Watch. No wonder it had been invisible from the bottom of the hill. Its gray clapboards blend in perfectly with the fog and only faintly can I make out a turret, which soars into low- hanging clouds. Surely there’s been a mistake; I’d been told it was a large house, but I was not expecting this hilltop mansion. I step out of the car and stare up at clapboards weathered to a silvery gray. On the porch a swing rocks back and forth, squeaking, as if nudged by an unseen hand. No doubt the house is drafty and the heating system is archaic and I imagine damp rooms and air that smells of mold. No, this is not what I had in mind as a summer refuge. I’d hoped for a serene place to write, a place to hide.
A place to heal. Instead this house feels like enemy territory, its windows glaring at me like hostile eyes. The seagulls scream louder, urging me to run while I still can. I back away and I’m about to retreat to my car when I hear tires crunch up the gravel road. A silver Lexus pulls to a stop behind my Subaru and a blond woman climbs out, waving as she walks toward me. She’s about my age, trim and attractive, and everything about her radiates chipper confidence, from her Brooks Brothers blazer to her I’m your best friend smile. “You’re Ava, right?” she says, extending her hand. “Sorry I’m a bit late. I hope you haven’t been waiting too long. I’m Donna Branca, the property manager.” As we shake hands, I’m already hunting for an excuse to back out of the rental agreement. This house is too big for me. Too isolated. Too creepy. “Gorgeous spot, isn’t it?” Donna gushes, gesturing toward the granite barrens. “It’s a shame you can’t see anything right now with this weather, but when the fog lifts, the ocean view will knock your socks off.” “I’m sorry, but this house isn’t exactly what— ” She’s already climbing the porch steps, the house keys dangling in her hand. “You’re lucky you called about it when you did. Right after you and I spoke, there were two other inquiries about this house. Summer’s been a madhouse in Tucker Cove, with all the tourists scrambling for rentals. It seems like no one wants to spend the summer in Europe this year. They’d rather be closer to home.” “I’m glad to hear there are other people interested in the place. Because I think it might be too much house for— ” “Voilà. Home sweet home!” The front door swings open, revealing a gleaming oak floor and a staircase with an elaborately carved banister. Whatever excuses I had on the tip of my tongue suddenly evaporate and an inexorable force seems to pull me over the threshold.
In the entryway, I stare up at a crystal chandelier and a ceiling with intricate plasterwork. I had imagined the house to be cold and damp, to smell of dust and mold, but what I smell now is fresh paint and wood polish. And the sea. “The renovations are almost finished,” says Donna. “The carpenters still have a bit more to do up in the turret and on the widow’s walk, but they’ll try to stay out of your hair. And they only work on weekdays, so you’ll be left alone on weekends. The owner was willing to lower the rent for the summer because he knows the carpenters are an inconvenience, but they’ll only be here for a few weeks. Then you’ll have this fabulous house all to yourself for the rest of the summer.” She sees me gazing up in wonder at the crown molding. “They’ve done a nice job restoring it, haven’t they? Ned, our carpenter, is a master craftsman. He knows every nook and cranny of this house better than anyone alive. Come on, let me show you the rest of the place. Since you’ll probably be testing recipes, I’m guessing you’ll want to check out the fabulous kitchen.” “Did I tell you about my work? I don’t remember talking about it.” She gives a sheepish laugh. “You said on the phone you were a food writer, and I couldn’t help googling you. I’ve already ordered your book about olive oils. I hope you’ll autograph it for me.” “I’d be happy to.” “I think you’ll find this the perfect house to write in.” She leads me into the kitchen, a bright and airy space with black and white floor tiles set in a geometric pattern. “There’s a six-burner stove and an extra-large oven. I’m afraid the kitchenware’s rather basic, just a few pots and pans, but you did say you were bringing your own cookware.” “Yes. I have a long list of recipes I need to test, and I never go anywhere without my knives and sauté pans.” “So what’s your new book about?” “Traditional New England cooking. I’m exploring the cuisine of seafaring families.”
[ Bio ]
Bestselling author Tess Gerritsen is also a physician, and she brings to her novels her first-hand knowledge of emergency and autopsy rooms.
Her thrillers starring homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles inspired the hit TV series Rizzoli & Isles. But Tess’s interests span far more than medicine and crime. As an anthropology student at Stanford University, she catalogued centuries-old human remains, and she continues to travel the world, driven by her fascination with ancient cultures and bizarre natural phenomena.
Tess has sold over 40 million copies of her books worldwide.
Twitter – @tessgerritsen