It Takes Monsters

It Takes Monsters

by Mandy McHugh
It Takes Monsters

It Takes Monsters

by Mandy McHugh


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A SheReads "Most Anticipated" Thriller

She had decided to kill her husband. But then somebody else got there first.…

Victoria Tate has had enough of her controlling, incompetent husband Warren. But planning the perfect murder is more difficult than she expected. When the social event of the year, an over-the-top costume ball, is rescheduled for the date she has selected for her crime, Victoria has to scramble to make sure she will still be able to follow through. But even hours of listening to crime podcasts cannot prepare her for the next wrench that is thrown into her plans: Warren turns up dead by someone else’s hand.

Now Victoria finds herself at the center of a murder investigation in which she is actually innocent. The real killer taunts her, making it clear that they knew what she was planning all along. With the police closing in and her neighbors turning on her, Victoria stands to lose everything she had hoped to gain from Warren’s death, unless she can figure out who wanted her husband dead—and why. It turns out that Warren was better at keeping secrets than she ever could have guessed. But which secret is the one that led to his death? And even if she can find the answers, does Victoria have what it takes to confront a real murderer?

In this twisty thriller from the author of Chloe Cates Is Missing, danger comes from both the monsters among us and the monsters that lurk inside us.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781613164440
Publisher: Penzler Publishers
Publication date: 10/17/2023
Pages: 312
Sales rank: 360,011
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Mandy McHugh holds an MA in English from the College of Saint Rose and a BA in English Education from Le Moyne College. Her works have appeared in various literary magazines and podcasts, and she lives in upstate New York with her husband, two kids, and dog.

Read an Excerpt

She was going to fix her Warren problem. It was going to take longer than she wanted, but this wasn’t defeat. Postponing was the smart thing to do. She believed that, too, wrapped herself in confidence, until the doorbell rang.

Victoria held her breath.

Had she imagined it? No one would just show up at this hour, especially not with the snow and the Gala. Warren wouldn’t ring the bell. Unless he’d forgotten his keys? Lost them in the pocket of that ridiculous costume?

Another ring interrupted her thoughts, followed by several loud knocks.

She rushed to the window. Someone was out there. A car, possibly a dark sedan, had parked in front of Teagan’s. It was still running, snowflakes swirling in the headlights on the otherwise silent street.

I hope you’re happy. You know what didn’t make her happy? she thought. Strangers at the front door in the middle of the night. The anonymous text popped in her mind, the message eerie in this moment as Victoria lost her hold on the illusion of safety.

More heavy knocks made her jump.

Definitely not a neighbor. Kent Wood Manor residents were polite to a fault, no matter the hour. A shadow moved down the sidewalk, slowly taking on the shape of a person. Could that be—no.


Police. Worse than random strangers.

Her thoughts tackled into each other. Why were they here? Warren wasn’t dead yet. How could they know?

Victoria left the mess on the floor. She snapped the box with the hunting knife shut and shoved it in the bottom drawer of her dresser. Her clothes were an issue. The all-black ensemble. I look like a cat burglar, she thought. Snatching Warren’s robe from the hook in the bathroom, Victoria tied it snugly around her torso, adapting the drowsy lethargy of one who has been rudely awakened from a deep sleep.

Good enough.

She crept down the stairs. Figures moved outside the foyer windows.


She took a deep breath and opened the door. “Hello,” she said, eyes flitting from one person to the next, voice scratchy with pretend sleep. “Is everything all right?”

“Victoria Tate?” the woman in front asked. Unlike the uniformed officers behind her, she wore a pea coat over dark jeans and a t-shirt.

She cleared her throat. “Yes, that’s me. Is there a problem?”

“Mrs. Tate, my name is Detective Briana Meyers.”

“I hope you don’t mind if I ask to see your identification,” Victoria said.

“Not at all.” The woman tugged at her pocket. She presented Victoria with a badge. “I’m with Kent Wood Homicide.”


Victoria’s stomach sank. They know, they know, they know, her subconscious insisted. How could they? There was nothing to know. She hadn’t done anything. Someone tipped them off.

They were here to arrest her.

This could be fake. The gold star looked a little too much like a child’s prop, but she didn’t have a clue what an actual badge was supposed to look like.

“What’s this about?” she asked.

The peat coated woman frowned and stuffed her hands deeper inside her pockets. “Might be better to discuss inside.”

Absolutely not. She couldn’t let them inside. “Please,” she said, betraying her own common sense and ushering them through the door. She cinched the top of the robe tighter under her chin. “Can I offer you all something to drink? Tea? Water? Coffee? It’s awfully cold out tonight.”

“Coffee would be great,” the dark-haired woman said. “Thank you.”

Polite. Would a cop be cordial if they were going to arrest her? And wouldn’t they compel her out to the porch? She couldn’t be taken into custody in her own house, if the podcasts were to be believed. What if this wasn’t about Warren?

“Mrs. Tate—”

“Victoria, please,” she said, pulling a trio of mugs down from the top shelf and busying herself with the coffee maker. The officers sat at the table and watched her glide from cupboard to cupboard. She poured the first cup and handed it to Briana Meyers. “Cream?” she asked.

She shook her head and blew on the steaming liquid. “Black’s fine. Same for them.” She motioned to the others and sipped. “Thank you.”

On autopilot, Victoria prepared the rest of the mugs and set out a plate of day-old pastries that Betty Knottier had forced into her hands after the neighborhood watch meeting.

“So, what can I do for you, Detective Meyers?”

No reaction when she emphasized the title. Either Briana Meyers was a good liar, or…well, Victoria didn’t like the alternative. The longer she observed them, however, the more convinced she became that they were not here to arrest her.

That should’ve taken the edge off, but if anything, Victoria grew more agitated with every passing minute.

Wrapping her fingers around the mug, Briana Meyers leveled her with a serious expression. “Mrs. Tate, I’m afraid we have some bad news. You may want to sit down.”

To hell with that. “I’ve never been one to sugar coat or beat around the bush, Detective Meyers. You might as well come out with it. Or should we wait for my husband? He should be home any minute.”

Meyers grimaced, sending up every red flag in Victoria’s artillery. What the hell was going on?

“We’ve just come from the Kent Wood Mansion,” she said. “Were you in attendance at the Gala this evening?”

“Yes, I was there.” Victoria’s tongue was too big for her mouth. “I wasn’t feeling well, so I left early. I’m sorry, what’s going on? Did something happen at the Gala?”

“There’s been an incident.”

“An incident?” she said, more of a statement than a question.

“Mrs. Tate. We’re here because of your husband. Warren Tate, is that correct?” She pulled a tiny notepad from her pocket and flipped through the pages. The gesture was something out of a movie.

Victoria’s pulse thrummed. “Yes, Warren’s my husband.” The sentence tasted stale on her lips. Moldy.

Briana Meyers frowned. It made her look old in the dim kitchen light, the soft wrinkles around the corners of her mouth stretching into sadness. “Mrs. Tate, I’m sorry, but your husband is dead.”

“I—” I can explain. She actually started to say it, a gut reaction. I didn’t do it. But she cut off the thought, processing what the detective had said. “I’m sorry?”

“Your husband’s body was discovered a short while ago. I’m very sorry.”

Body? Discovered? “H-how?” Victoria muttered.

“We can’t go into details yet, but from everything we’ve been able to gather so far, we’re pursuing this as a possible homicide.”

For all the ways she had envisioned this moment, Victoria had never seen it happen quite like this. In her imaginings, she was guilty and playing innocent, hiding her blood-stained hands. It was suicide, not homicide. Yet this detective was telling her that Warren was dead. Murdered.

And she hadn’t been the one to do it.

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