Between Two Strangers
By Kate White
Harper Paperbacks/HarperCollins Publishers; paperback, 304 pages; $18.99; available this Tuesday, May 16th
Kate White is the former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine and the New York Times bestselling author of the standalone psychological thrillers The Second Husband, The Fiancee, and The Secrets You Keep, as well as eight Bailey Weggins mysteries. She has also written several career books for women, and editor of the Anthony and Agatha Award-nominated The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. For more, please check out katewhite.com.
Between Two Strangers is White's new psycholgical thriller, and it starts when a women receives an inheritance out of the blue, and that sends her into a search for the truth about her benefactor and the unfinished business he left behind.
Skyler Moore is an artist who retreated from the world after tragedy devastated her family. She has begun to create again, and is preparing for her first real gallery show when a phone call from a lawyer changes everything about her life, past, present, and future.
After missing the initial call, she receives a message from a lawyer, Bradley Kane, in Scarsdale, New York, that it's about a private matter. When she calls him back, she listens skeptically as she is informed of a myterious bequest. The one problem is that the deceased's name, Christopher Whaley, drew a blank.
While being summoned to a law firm in an exclusive New York City suburb, Skyler suspects this is an elaborate con or a case of mistaken identity. Despite these misgivings, she can't help but think of the windfall big enough to fund her dream of motherhood.
When Skyler hears the would-be benefactor's nickname, that's when a flashback surfaces. They shared a single electrifying night in a Boston hotel room nearly 12 years before, and never encountered each other again. Nothing about this random gift makes sense, and she is under no illusions that the hours they spent together somehow equate to seven figures, which is the value of the trust at stake.
Whaley's widow is, understandably, outraged, and accuses a shaken Skyler of having an ongoing affair with her late husband. She issues menacing warnings and vows to fight for every penny. In order for Skyler to protect herself and the money, she needs to puzzle out the dead man's motives, and fast. Their brief encounter could hold clues, but a lot of those memories have been locked away. She now has no choice but to dredge up history as she faces this legal challenge.
There are many secrets surrounding Christopher Whaley's legacy that are buried deep, and as she tries to unearth them, Skyler will discover how much someone wants them to stay hidden. The path to get to the shocking final reveal is one that's very unpredictable, which only adds to the suspense of this deeply thought-provoking novel.
EVENTS FOR Between Two Strangers - IN PERSON & VIRTUAL:
Tuesday, May 16: Virtual - A Mighty Blaze - Kate White will have a live interview with Hank Phillippi Ryan on Facebook Live at 3:00 p.m. Eastern - click here for more information
Tuesday, May 16: In Person - Kate White will be appearing at Corner Bookstore in New York City at 6:00 p.m. Corner Bookstore is located at 1313 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10128, and click here to find out how to hear Kate read from Between Two Strangers.
Thursday, May 25: In Person - RJ Julia Booksellers in Madison, Connecticut at 7:00 p.m. It is located at 768 Boston Post Road, Madison, CT 06443. Click here for more information.
Thursday, June 1 through Thursday, June 3: In Person - Thrillerfest - please go to thrillerfest.com for all you need to know to attend.
Thursday, June 8: In Person - Westport Library at 7:00 p.m. It is located at 20 Jesup Road, Westport, CT 06880 - click here for more information.
This excerpt is of the initial phone call between Skyler and the attorney about the inheritance:
"The call that ends up changing everything - not only my present and future but the past, too - comes late on a Friday afternoon. At the sound of the ringtone, I shoot a glance at my phone screen, but once I see it's from a number I don't recognize, with a 914 area code, I just let the phone ring. I never pick up if I don't know who's on the other end, and sometimes even if I do. It's probably spam, anyway, some automated voice warning me I need to renew my vehicle warranty, though I haven't owned a car in over a decade.
I return my attention to the pile of items on the worktable in my tiny East Village studio, but I'm interrupted again moments later when a sound alerts me that the caller's left a voice mail.
My breath catches. What if it's Deacon, the jerk I last saw a few weeks ago? During the brief period I'd known him, he'd phoned a couple of times just to chat, and since I've deleted his name and number from my contacts, it would show on my screen only as digits. But the number doesn't seem familiar, and based on how our last date ended, there's no way it could be him.
I tap the voice-mail icon and play the recording, feeling nervous anyway.
'Ms. Moore, my name is Bradley Kane,' a male voice says, deep, firm, and serious. 'I'm an attorney in Scarsdale, New York, and it's important that I speak to you about a private matter. Can you please give me a call at your earliest convenience?'
The second I hear him say 'attorney,' my stomach twists. There's something about that word that always triggers a rush of dread in me, like when I notice one of those K-9 unit German shepherds at an airport and wonder if I swallowed a half dozen cocaine-packed condoms earlier in the day without remembering it.
I tell myself to relax, that although a call from a lawyer seems ominous, I can't be in any kind of legal trouble. I've never broken the law to my knowledge, except smoking weed in college before it was legal. The only debt I'm carrying is on my credit card, which, if anything, the bank seems delighted with, and I don't have a sidewalk someone could have slipped and cracked their skull on. I've also never even been to Scarsdale, a suburb north of the city, or heard of anyone named Brandon Kane...
I glance at the time on my phone. It's close to four, meaning the law office will surely be closing soon. If I don't want this weird voice mail to eat away at me for the entire weekend, I need to return the call now. Steeling myself, I tap the number. A secretary or receptionist answers with the name of the firm - something, something, Harrison, and something - and after I tell her my name, she says she'll transfer me to Bradley Kane right away. While the hold music plays, I glance out the studio window and across Second Avenue. The October sky has already darkened like a mottled bruise, and I'm suddenly ambushed by an intense sense of unease.
'Ms. Moore, thank you for returning the call,' Kane says when he picks up. 'I have some information of importance to you, but for security purposes, I need you to verify your identity first.'
I exhale, feeling my tension release as I realize I have nothing to worry about - it's a scam. Like those people who claim to be calling from someplace like Social Security and are trying to trick you into revealing personal data they can use to hack into one of your accounts.
'I bet you need my iCloud password, don't you?' I say, letting the sarcasm drip from my voice.
'How do you people even look in the mirror?'
'Ms. Moore, please, all I need is for you to do is confirm your address.'
'Oh, so now you want to break into my apartment?' I say facetiously.
'I can undersand your hesitancy, and please forgive me for calling before I mailed you an official letter.'
I start to lower the phone to end the call when he tells me. 'Please, it's essential that you hear this, Ms. Moore'
I hesitate. Because if I am in some kind of hot water, I need to know what it is.
'Thank you,' he says when it must seem apparent to him that I'm still on the line. 'Ms. Moore, a client of mine passed away recently, and the purpose of my call is to inform you that you've been left an inheritance by him.'
Before I can stop myself, I experience an involuntary swell of giddiness. An inheritance. Maybe there really is a God, and things for me are about to take a turn for the better. It's possible that I've been named in the modest will of some long-lost relative of my father's. My dad died of a sudden heart attack when I was only five, two years after my mother, Margo, left him, and though it's been forever since I was in touch with any of his relatives - a wayward brother and several cousins - one of them might have bequeathed me a little something.
'What was your client's name?' I ask, and then hold my breath.
The name draws a total blank in my mind, meaning there's clearly been a mistake. I feel a gush of disappointment as reality smacks me back down to size. Whatever inheritance Christopher Whaley left will certainly not be going to me."