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Justice for Sara

Justice for Sara

4.5 55
by Erica Spindler

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When rebellious seventeen-year-old Katherine McCall awakened one morning to find her sister, Sara, viciously murdered, her whole life changed in the blink of an eye. Kat was named the prime suspect, charged, and tried—and found innocent. But not everyone agreed with the verdict, and Kat's only



When rebellious seventeen-year-old Katherine McCall awakened one morning to find her sister, Sara, viciously murdered, her whole life changed in the blink of an eye. Kat was named the prime suspect, charged, and tried—and found innocent. But not everyone agreed with the verdict, and Kat's only choice was to leave her family behind and go into hiding. She carried a dark secret with her for years…until, on the tenth anniversary of Sara's death, Kat receives an anonymous letter that reads: What about justice for Sara?

When Kat returns to her Louisiana hometown to investigate the days surrounding Sara's death she learns that the cost of justice may be too high. The murderer, who seems to have never left Liberty, is on her trail. In a place filled suspicion and secrets, Kat has only one ally: Sergeant Luke Tanner. He is the son of Liberty's former police chief, the very man who led the rush to judgment against her. With no one to trust and a killer fighting to keep a dark secret from coming to light, Kat must decide if justice is worth fighting—or dying—for.

"Spindler's [novels] boast fast-paced action and emotional tension…for readers who like to keep guessing all the way to the end."—RT Book Reviews

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Guaranteed to chill your blood and set your teeth on edge.” —#1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jackson on WATCH ME DIE

“A gripping thriller [with] numerous twists and turns until the startling conclusion.” —Publishers Weekly on WATCH ME DIE

“A pulse-pounding, page-turning, absolutely can't-put-it-down roller coaster ride of a read! Get ready to stay up all night.” —#1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner on BLOOD VINES

Blood Vines is as mysterious and delicious as a fine cabernet...TOP-NOTCH SUSPSENSE.” —Linda Castillo, New York Times bestselling author of Sworn To Silence on BLOOD VINES

“A fast-paced, intense story that's hard to put down.” —RT Book Reviews (4 stars) on BLOOD VINES


“A GRIPPING STORY that unfolds with breakneck speed, heart-quickening suspense and characters you can't help but root for.” —Bookreporter.com on BREAKNECK

“TOP PICK! Filled with well-developed, multidimensional characters, Spindler's latest boasts fast-paced action and emotional tension…The intricately woven plot makes this novel a sure winner for readers who like to keep guessing all the way to the end.” —RT Book Reviews on BREAKNECK

“A MUST READ. In this gripping new thriller, we are introduced to a tough, new detective duo set to take the crime fiction world by storm…a great read.” —Evening Telegraph (UK) on BREAKNECK

“BREAKNECK SUSPENSE...Breakneck is a taut thriller, which proves Erica Spindler is still a master of suspense. With adrenaline fused prose, you will find yourself sitting up into the wee hours unable to put the book down until you reach the very last page.” —Ulster Tatler (Ireland) on BREAKNECK

“A FIRST-CLASS THRILLING READ...Breakneck grabs the interest immediately and never lets go. This is a timely and enthralling piece of work, and has a message for all computer users.” —Fresh Fiction Review on BREAKNECK

“Erica Spindler never disappoints...Breakneck literally moves at breakneck speed.” —Reader to Reader.com on BREAKNECK

Publishers Weekly
A 27-year-old woman’s quest to uncover the truth behind her sister’s murder propels this spine-tingling romantic thriller from bestseller Spindler (Watch Me Die). Katherine “Kat” McCall returns to her hometown of Liberty, La., 10 years after being acquitted of the bludgeoning murder of her older sister, Sara, in 2003. Having received random hate mail for the past decade,Kat isdetermined to find her sister’s true killer. When someone breaks into her sister’s old cottage, where Kat is staying, Kat informs Sgt. Luke Tanner of the Liberty PD, one of the few people left in town who actually believes in her innocence. As the attraction between the two heats up, Luke reluctantly accepts Kat’s help in the search for Sara’s murderer. Plenty of people had reason to want Sara dead, including Kat’s former boyfriend, Ryan Benton. With red herrings aplenty, Spindler keeps the reader guessing until the last page. Agent: Scott Miller, Trident Media Group. (Aug.)
New York Times bestselling author of Sworn To Sile Linda Castillo

Blood Vines is as mysterious and delicious as a fine cabernet...TOP-NOTCH SUSPSENSE.
Library Journal
Cleared of sister Sara's murder but still dogged by suspicion, Kat McCall returns to Liberty, LA, on the tenth anniversary of Sara's death. She's motivated in part by the last in a string of anonymous letters she has been receiving, this one demanding, "What about justice for Sara?" This New York Times best-selling author is great on atmosphere; look for big promotion, including an original e-story.
Kirkus Reviews
Best-selling author Spindler relies on clichés and red herrings to flesh out this modestly entertaining thriller. Katherine "Kat" McCall, of the oil-rich McCall family, has returned to tiny Liberty, La., where she grew up. After her wealthy parents died in a car accident, her older sister, Sara, a teacher, raised her. When the rebellious 17-year-old Kat started hanging with the wrong crowd, Sara attempted to control her and wound up dead. After Kat was acquitted, she moved to the West Coast and now, a decade later, has returned to Liberty (pop. 750) to open a new business and find out who killed her sister. There's a problem, though: Not only is someone trying to scare Kat off, but the whole town, including the police chief, thinks she's the real killer, even though a jury failed to convict her. Now Kat must soldier through intimidation attempts, a ton of suspects and the dark minds of the townspeople who don't want to believe she could be innocent. Kat meets many people from her past and finds most of them are far more worried about their own stake in this game, but eventually, she starts to realize that seeking out her sister's killer could be, and is, a deadly pursuit. And, naturally, Kat is beautiful and finds an ally and romantic interest in the police chief's son, handsome Luke Tanner. Spindler's readers will probably overlook some of the sillier details (the townsfolk's vitriol is melodramatic, and the tiny town seems to have a limitless supply of both police officers and expensive estates). But it's hard to ignore the predictable by-the-numbers plot and cookie-cutter cast; however, for those who want a basic romance with a little damsel in distress thrown in, this might fit the bill. Thriller connoisseurs won't find any thrills here. Still, a decent summer read for fans of romance.

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.00(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.20(d)

Read an Excerpt




Liberty, Louisiana

Monday, June 3, 2013

10:00 A.M.

Katherine McCall stood at the broken front gate and stared at the words that had been spray-painted in black across the yellow clapboard siding. Simple. Ugly. A warning.

We know u did it

No surprise there. Kat shifted her gaze. The once sunny yellow had turned forlorn. The white trim was peeling, the gardens overgrown and overrun by weeds. She pictured it as it had been the last time she’d seen it, ten years ago. The cute gingerbread cottage with the white picket fence, gardenias in bloom, their fragrance potent in the June sun.

Not her childhood home. No, that had been a grand estate on the Tchefuncte River. Plantation grand—with white columns and a double gallery, a sweeping expanse of lawn with ancient live oaks and century-old magnolias. A swimming pool and cabana. A guesthouse and tennis courts. A home befitting the owner of McCall Oil.

No, this had been her sister Sara’s cottage. Her first home, her pride and joy.

As it had turned out, the only home Sara would ever own.

Regret and grief washed over Kat, as piercing as a fresh wound. If she hadn’t been such a selfish little shit back then, maybe Sara would be alive today. Maybe her murderer wouldn’t have had the opportunity.

Kat reined in her thoughts, the regret. She couldn’t change the past, no matter how hard she fought accepting it, no matter how far or fast she ran from it.

Being back in Liberty was an acknowledgment of that.

Kat unlatched the gate and stepped through. She’d thought she would never return. She had promised herself she wouldn’t.

Yet here she was. The scene of the crime. The place her life had come to a bloody, screeching halt.

She started up the walkway, heartbeat quickening. Breath coming fast and thin. Kat forced herself to keep moving, to put one foot in front of the other. She reached the porch steps. Three of them, though it could have been a hundred by the way she dreaded climbing them.

She did anyway. Crossed to the front door. With unsteady hands, she fit the key into the lock, turned it and stepped into the foyer.

Cousin Jeremy had opened the cottage and had it cleaned for her. The smell of the polish and cleaners still hung in the air. She closed the door behind her but didn’t move.

Her gaze went to the spot where she’d found Sara. In a crumpled heap, blood pooled around her in the shape of an amoeba.

An amoeba. Kat remembered thinking that. She had just studied the single-cell organisms in science class.

She stared at the floor, unable to tear her gaze away. The blood had subtly stained the honey-colored wood, creating a faint but permanent shadow.

Or was that her imagination?

The doorbell sounded.

Startled, she jumped, then, hand to her chest, peeked out the sidelight. A man. Dark hair. Good-looking. Holding up a badge.

The sight of it knocked the breath out of her.

“Miss Katherine, I’m afraid you’re going to have to come with me.”

“Ms. McCall? Sergeant Luke Tanner. Liberty P.D.”

Kat gazed at him, suddenly seeing the resemblance. Now, there was a name she had never wanted to hear again.

She nodded and opened the door. “Hello, Sergeant. Did you say Tanner?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Any relationship to Chief Stephen Tanner?”

“His son.”

“Perfect.” The sarcasm slipped past her lips before she could stop it. “Sorry, your dad and I have some uncomfortable history together.”

“Funny, he and I do as well.”

She surprised herself and smiled. “How can I help you, Sergeant Tanner?”

He motioned to the graffiti across the front of the house. “I heard from Mrs. Bell across the street that you’d had a little trouble already, thought I’d stop by and check it out.”

“Iris Bell’s still alive? I thought she was a hundred ten years ago.”

Kat could see he wanted to smile but thought better of it. His brown eyes crinkled at the corners. He cleared his throat. “Probably just kids, but we’ll be keeping a close eye on the house, stepping up drive-bys and the like.”

“I appreciate that, Sergeant Tanner. And I’m sure Iris Bell will be stepping up her surveillance as well.”

Again, he struggled not to smile. “This is a small town, Ms. McCall, everybody knows everybody and their everything. To that end, you might as well call me Luke.”

“I remember you now. Local football hero. You were off to college before I got to Tammany West High.” She cocked her head. “You were a bit of a hell-raiser, am I right?”

He laughed. “So now you understand my comment about bad history with my dad. We all carry our pasts around on our backs.”

“Or written on our foreheads,” she said. “A bloodred ‘M’ on mine.”

He glanced toward the graffiti, expression serious. “Yes, well, don’t hesitate to call if something comes up.”

She followed him onto the front porch. He stopped when he reached the stairs and turned back to her. “I don’t know why you came back to Liberty, Ms. McCall, but little towns have long memories. People don’t forget. You’d be wise to keep that in mind.”

She watched him drive off. How could she not? She had the longest memory of them all.

Sara McCall


Four days before the murder

Sara stood on the front porch, waiting for Kat. She glanced at her watch. Just past four thirty. Any moment, her sister would come trotting around the corner. Bubbling over about how well softball practice had gone. Playing Miss Innocent to the very hilt.

But she hadn’t been to practice. Not today. Not once. Lying little sneak.

On cue, Kat arrived, baseball bat propped on her right shoulder. She was smiling.

Not for long. Sara struggled to control her anger. She shook with it. Deep down. All the way to her core.

She needed her wits about her when she confronted her sister. Kat was going to pitch a holy fit. It could get really ugly. If she let it.

Calm, Sara. In control. You’re the adult.

The truth was, she didn’t have the heart for this right now. She didn’t have the energy. Not with everything else going on. But she didn’t have a choice. She was Katherine’s guardian.

“Hi, Sissy,” Kat called, jogging up the steps.

“How was softball?”

If Kat heard the sarcasm in her tone, she didn’t show it. “Great. I’m getting really good.”

“Yes, you are.” Sara held out her hand. “I’ll take the bat.”

She looked confused but handed it over. “What’s up?”

“Jig’s up, kiddo. You’re grounded.”

“What! Why?”

“Why? Let’s try that you’ve been lying to me. I found out everything, Kat. What you’ve been doing and who you’ve been doing it with.” She paused, watching as the reality of what she was saying sank in. “He’s twenty years old. You’re seventeen. No.”

Kat’s expression darkened. “You can’t tell me what to do or who I can see.”

“The hell I can’t. I’m your guardian and that’s exactly what I’m doing.”

“That’s not fair!”

Sara almost laughed. “Tough. Life’s not fair.” And boy, did she know it. If it was, their parents wouldn’t have died and she wouldn’t have been saddled with raising an obnoxious teenager.

“I hate you!” Kat shouted. “You’re ruining my life!”

Sara didn’t even flinch. It wasn’t the first time her younger sister had shouted those words at her. She was certain it wouldn’t be the last. “Stop with the drama, Katherine. If anyone’s life’s being ruined, it’s mine.”

“Then emancipate me.”

They had been here before, as well. “Emancipate yourself. You’re seventeen.”

“Then I won’t get my money.”

“That’s right, little sister. So, either go without ‘your’ money or live by my rules.”

“I wish I’d died with Mom and Dad! Then I wouldn’t have to live with you!”

It took every scrap of Sara’s self-control not to shout back that she wished that too. That she wanted her life back. That caring for Kat had become like a prison sentence.

But she didn’t. She loved her sister—at least the kid she used to be. In the past year, that girl had disappeared and this creature had taken her place.

“Wow, Kat, I love the way you’re playing the victim here. You’re not the one who’s been lied to for weeks. Girls’ softball? You didn’t think I’d find out eventually? I’ve got to hand it to you, though, our trip to the sporting goods store to get everything you needed was pretty convincing.”


Sara wanted to slap the smirk off her face. “What were you doing all those afternoons you were supposedly at practice? Were you with this Ryan boy? Or that group of kids I told you to stay away from? They’re bad kids, Kat.”

“You don’t know anything about them!”

A breeze stirred the azalea bushes beside the porch. In full bloom, they provided a brilliant shock of color; from the magnolia blossoms on the tree to her right floated a sweet, almost lemony fragrance.

Sara breathed in the colors, the smell, using nature’s beauty to calm her. She was the grown-up here, she reminded herself. Kat had been through so much.

“Kit-Kat,” she pleaded, using their mother’s pet name for her, “I’m worried about you. The girl I know doesn’t do things like this. Talk to me. No problem’s too big we can’t work it out together.”

Kat’s face softened, tears filled her eyes. “You don’t know what it’s like. All the other kids have their moms and dads. And mine—” She choked on the last, a tear rolling down her cheek.

Sara’s heart hurt for her. She held out a hand. “I know what you’re going through. I’m going through it, too.”

“You don’t know. I was twelve when they died, you were grown up.”

Just out of university, at her first teaching job. Barely on her own two feet. “But I still needed them, too. I miss them every day.”

“Why’d they have to die?”

She started to cry and Sara took her in her arms. “I don’t know. And I wish I could change things, but I can’t.”

“I’m sorry I lied to you. It’s just that—” She sniffled, her face against Sara’s shoulder. “The only time I’m happy is when I’m with my friends. They understand me. They make it … stop hurting. That’s why I lied about where I was.”

Something in her sister’s tone didn’t ring true. A cloying quality. Sara frowned as a suspicion wormed its way into her head: Was she being played?

Kat went on. “You don’t know them the way I do. They’re really good kids. Please don’t take them away from me, too.”

Sara’s resolve wavered. She’d heard things from the other teachers about the group. They had warned her to keep Kat away from them. But that was all secondhand information. There was a reason the courts didn’t allow hearsay as testimony, right?

Sara glanced across the street. Old Mrs. Bell stood on her front porch. Listening to every word. Or trying to.

“I tell you what, Kit-Kat, have them over here. Let me get to know them. If they’re the kids you say they are, I’ll feel comfortable letting you hang out with them.”


“Sure.” She smiled. “I just have to know you’re safe.”

“You’re the best!” Kat hugged her. “Can they come over tonight?”

“You’re still grounded, Kat.”

“But you just said—”

“That I’ll give your friends a chance. And I will. After you do your punishment.”


“Two weeks. And I’m taking your phone, car and computer.”

“You can’t do that! How am I supposed to get to school?”

“I’ll drive you.” Kat looked horrified. “And the answer’s still no about you and this Ryan dude. He’s too old for you.”

Before her sister could squeal her protest, she dropped the final bomb. “Cousin Jeremy suggested I start drug-testing you. And I think he’s right.”

“What?” The one word conveyed outrage and innocence. “I can’t believe you don’t trust me!”

“Are you kidding? Really?” Sara folded her arms across her chest. “If you’ve got nothing to worry about, what’s the problem?”

Kat stared at her, her face an open book as she stuttered and searched for the right response.

She had been playing her. Little brat.

“Give me your car keys.” She held out her hand. “Now.”

“I lied before. I wish you were dead. Then I wouldn’t have to put up with your shit!”

“Want to say it a little louder? I don’t think all of Liberty heard you.”

“I wish you were dead!” she screamed, turning toward the street. “You hear that, everyone? I wish my stupid sister were dead!”

Kat threw the car keys. Sara reacted just in time not to take them square in the face. They grazed her cheek before hitting the wall and dropping to the floor. It stung; her eyes teared up and she brought her hand to her cheek.

But instead of apologizing, Kat stormed past her into the house. A moment later, she heard a door slam.

Sara sank onto the porch step and dropped her head into her shaking hands. What was she going to do? She was frustrated. Overwhelmed and exhausted. And it wasn’t just the situation with Kat. It seemed every part of her life had spun out of control as well, situations that made dealing with a rebellious teenager a piece of cake.

Mom, Dad, why’d you have to go out that night? Why’d your path have to cross that drunk’s?

She couldn’t do this alone. But who could she trust? It seemed like everyone had either turned against her or had their own agenda. If ever she could have used a miracle, it was now.


Copyright © 2013 by Erica Spindler

Meet the Author

New York Times bestselling author Erica Spindler has written thirty-one novels, including Watch Me Die, Blood Vines¸Breakneck, and Last Known Victim. Erica lives just outside New Orleans, Louisiana, with her husband and two sons.

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Justice for Sara 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 55 reviews.
MaryBNC More than 1 year ago
I'm reading this book now and it grabs you right from the start,I would recommend this book to anyone to read,Erica Spindler is a very good writer and never lets you down.
DebThread More than 1 year ago
I love Erica Spindler book's so I knew I would like Justice for Sara, I just didn't know how much. From the beginning of the book to the end of the book, I learned and felt like I knew Sara and insight into all of the characters.  There are some that you will love and other's that you will loath.  Don't even try figuring out who did it. I changed my mind several times and still didn't get all of it correct. I am originally from a small town and Erica has the real feel of how a small town real town works down pat. Just fair warning, make sure you have plenty of time to read when you start the book, I couldn't put the book down. It gives you new character and reasons that they could have been the one who killed Sara, from the beginning to the end. If you have never read Erica Spindler just this a great one to start with and if you are an Erica Spindler fan, she doesn't disappoint.  
SS0 More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing book. I love the ending as well. The characters are very believable and they work their way into your heart. It's a great read and definitely one you need to add to your shelves.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting story with lots of twists. Definately recommend.
LovesToReadNR More than 1 year ago
Had me going right to the end..... Very good read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Easy, well written and kept my attention.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read
NerdyReaderTX More than 1 year ago
Was an easy read and worth the time and money.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Murderer kept me guessing nearly to the end. Absolutely loved Luke and Katherine. Good story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this story more than any others I have read by Erica !!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Will Erica Spindler did it again. I thought the book was great. Ana was arrested for killing her sister, but the jury find her not guilty. She has returned to the town to see if she could find the one that had done it.
ReadingOverTV More than 1 year ago
Justice for Sara by Erica Spindler This thriller romance had quite a few twist and turns before the end. Very entertaining. You think it’s solved but still have quite a few pages left and realize there is another variable thrown in. I was kept entertained, involved and anticipating how it would all turn out. And the last one? Didn’t expect it. Erica Spindler is one of my favorite authors for spinning a good mystery. I was not disappointed here. Katherine McCall is back in her hometown to get justice for her sister’s unsolved murder. The case is reopened by Sergeant Luke Tanner, the son of the original investigator. Can there be justice or is the killer just waiting for Kat to make the wrong move and make her the next victim.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was a drawn out story. The end was blah. Don't waste your money!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought the book was very suspenseful. The plot was great and you were unsure who the bad guy really was until the end. Kat McCall is only 17 when she is arrested and charged with the murder of her older sister. Although the evidence was only circumstantial, the sheriff was convinced of her guilt and refused to look elsewhere. The jury felt otherwise and found her not guilty. Now, ten years have passed and Kat has returned to find justice for Sara. When she returned to the small town of Liberty, Louisiana, she meets outright hostility from many of its citizens who feel that Kat got away with murder. But when she meets Luke Tanner, sergeant with the local police department and son of the sheriff, she tells him her story. He reviews the department's old records and decides to reopen the case. Kat tells him of the hate letters she has received. The last one contains the message WHO DO THE POLICE ALWAYS LOOK AT FIRST? The answer is family members but the only family Kat has left is her cousin Jeremy. He has always been there for Kat and Sara. Could he have killed Sara? Together Kat and Luke are determined to find the answers and the guilty party.
TLViands More than 1 year ago
Once again, Erica does not disappoint. Her books grab you from the beginning, and doesn't let you go through all the twists and turns, she keeps you interested right up through the end! I LOVE her books!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love Erica Spindler, but this was just okay. Liked the characters; overall story was too predictable. I like to be kept guessing.....figured out everything early on.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book. A MUST READ! Madicnm
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of my most favorite authors! Fabulous story. Love the small town feel, the intensity and suspense will keep you reading (and guessing) 'til the very end!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a huge fan of all of Erica Spindler's books, but I have to say I think this was her best yet!  So full of suspense and surprises that I read it in one sitting.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read love all her books!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We went back to playing video games, but jumped at any noise. We made sure to lock all doors. I decided to get some air. "Ill be back." I step onto the back porch that outlooks the woods. I turned the porchlight on and gasped. In the bushes in front of the porch was the man. He watched me for a few seconds, then disappeared into the woods again. To this day we never saw that man again. SWEET DREAMS
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was ok 59 chapter
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