A New York Times bestseller!
An Edgar Award Winner!
Appearing on over 30 Best Book of 2018 lists including The Boston Globe, Bustle, Buzzfeed, Globe and Mail, Good Morning America, NPR, Publishers Weekly, and more!
A YALSA Top 10 Quick Pick
4 Starred Reviews from Kirkus, School Library Journal, Booklist, Publishers Weekly!
"Sadie: a novel for readers of any age, and a character as indelible as a scar. Flat-out dazzling." A. J. Finn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in the Window
"Sadie is an electrifying, high-stakes road trip. Clear your schedule. You're not going anywhere until you've reached the end." Stephanie Perkins, New York Times bestselling author of There's Someone Inside Your House and Anna and the French Kiss
"A haunting, gut-wrenching, and relentlessly compelling read." Veronica Roth, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Carve the Mark and the Divergent series
A missing girl on a journey of revenge. A Seriallike podcast following the clues she's left behind. And an ending you won't be able to stop talking about.
“Today, WNRK is launching the first episode of our new serialized podcast, The Girls, created and hosted by West McCray.”
When popular radio personality West McCray receives a desperate phone call from a stranger imploring him to find nineteen-year-old runaway Sadie Hunter, he’s not convinced there’s a story there; girls go missing all the time. But when it’s revealed that Sadie fled home after the brutal murder of her little sister, Mattie, West travels to the small town of Cold Creek, Colorado, to uncover what happened.
Sadie has no idea that her journey to avenge her sister will soon become the subject of a blockbuster podcast. Armed with a switchblade, Sadie follows meager clues hoping they’ll lead to the man who took Mattie’s life, because she’s determined to make him pay with his own. But as West traces her path to the darkest, most dangerous corners of big cities and small towns, a deeply unsettling mystery begins to unfoldone that’s bigger than them both. Can he find Sadie before it’s too late?
Alternating between Sadie’s unflinching voice as she hunts the killer and the podcast transcripts tracking the clues she’s left behind, Sadie is a breathless thriller about the lengths we go to protect the ones we love and the high price we pay when we can’t. It will haunt you long after you reach the final page.
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.30(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.20(d)|
|Age Range:||13 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
[THE GIRLS THEME]
Welcome to Cold Creek, Colorado. Population: eight hundred.
Do a Google Image search and you'll see its main street, the barely beating heart of that tiny world, and find every other building vacant or boarded up. Cold Creek's luckiest — the gainfully employed — work at the local grocery store, the gas station and a few other staple businesses along the strip. The rest have to look a town or two over for opportunity for themselves and for their children; the closest schools are in Parkdale, forty minutes away. They take in students from three other towns.
Beyond its main street, Cold Creek arteries out into worn and chipped Monopoly houses that no longer have a place upon the board. From there lies a rural sort of wilderness. The highway out is interrupted by veins of dirt roads leading to nowhere as often as they lead to pockets of dilapidated houses or trailer parks in even worse shape. In the summertime, a food bus comes with free lunches for the kids until the school year resumes, guaranteeing at least two subsidized meals a day.
There's a quiet to it that's startling if you've lived your whole life in the city, like I have. Cold Creek is surrounded by a beautiful, uninterrupted expanse of land and sky that seem to go on forever. Its sunsets are spectacular: electric golds and oranges, pinks and purples, natural beauty unspoiled by the insult of skyscrapers. The sheer amount of space is humbling, almost divine. It's hard to imagine feeling trapped here.
But most people here do.
COLD CREEK RESIDENT [FEMALE]:
You live in Cold Creek because you were born here, and if you're born here, you're probably never getting out.
That's not entirely true. There have been some success stories, college graduates who moved on and found well-paying jobs in distant cities, but they tend to be the exception and not the rule. Cold Creek is home to a quality of life we're raised to aspire beyond, if we're born privileged enough to have the choice.
Here, everyone's working so hard to care for their families and keep their heads above water that, if they wasted time on the petty dramas, scandals and personal grudges that seem to define small towns in our nation's imagination, they would not survive. That's not to say there's no drama, scandal, or grudge — just that those things are usually more than residents of Cold Creek can afford to care about.
Until it happened.
The husk of an abandoned, turn-of-the-century one-room schoolhouse sits three miles outside of town, taken by fire. The roof is caved in and what's left of the walls are charred. It sits next to an apple orchard that's slowly being reclaimed by the nature that surrounds it: young overgrowth, new trees, wildflowers.
There's almost something romantic about it, something that feels like respite from the rest of the world. It's the perfect place to be alone with your thoughts. At least it was, before.
May Beth Foster — who you'll come to know as this series goes on — took me there herself. I asked to see it. She's a plump, white, sixty-eight-year-old woman with salt-and-pepper hair. She has a grandmotherly way about her, right down to a voice that's so invitingly familiar it warms you from the inside out. May Beth is manager of Sparkling River Estates trailer park, a lifelong resident of Cold Creek, and when she talks, people listen. More often than not, they accept whatever she says as the truth.
MAY BETH FOSTER:
Just about ... here.
This is where they found the body.
911 DISPATCHER [PHONE]:
911 dispatch. What's your emergency?
On October third, forty-seven-year-old Carl Earl was on his way to work, a factory in Cofield. It's an hour's drive from Cold Creek. He'd barely begun his commute when he noticed black smoke marring the early morning horizon.
Started out like any other day. Least, I think it did. I imagine I got up, had breakfast and kissed my wife on my way out the door because that's what I do every morning. But I honestly can't remember a thing before I saw the smoke and everything that happened after that ... well.
I wish I could forget it.
CARL EARL [PHONE]:
Yeah, my name's Carl Earl and I just want to report a fire. There's an abandoned schoolhouse off Milner's Road and it's all lit up. It's about three miles east of Cold Creek. I was just driving by and I noticed it. I pulled over to call. It's lookin' pretty bad.
911 DISPATCHER [PHONE]:
Okay, Carl, we're going to send someone out.
Are there any other people around? Anyone in need of assistance you can see?
CARL EARL [PHONE]:
Just me out here, far as I can tell, but I might not be close enough ... I could maybe get a little closer and see —
911 DISPATCHER [PHONE]:
Sir — Carl — please stay clear of the fire. I need you to do that for me, all right?
CARL EARL [PHONE]:
Oh, yeah, no — I wasn't going to —
So I did as I was told, even though a part of me wanted to play hero. I'm still not sure what compelled me to stick around because I couldn't afford to miss the work, but I stayed 'til the cops and the firemen came. I watched 'em go at it until the flames were under control and that's when I noticed ... just beyond the schoolhouse there, I saw — I was the, uh — I was the one that saw her first.
The body of Mattie Southern was discovered between the burning schoolhouse and the apple orchard, just out of sight. She'd been reported missing three days earlier and here she was, found.
I've decided the gruesome details of what was uncovered in that orchard will not be a part of this show. While the murder, the crime, might have captured your initial interest, its violence and brutality do not exist for your entertainment — so please don't ask us. The details of this case are easy enough to find online. In my opinion, you only really need to know two things.
The first is the cause of her death was blunt force trauma to the head.
The second is this:
MAY BETH FOSTER:
She was only thirteen years old.
I don't sleep great anymore, since it happened.
Mattie left behind a nineteen-year-old sister, Sadie; a surrogate grandmother, May Beth; and her mother, Claire; but Claire's been out of the picture for a while.
I first heard about the Southern murder at a gas station outside Abernathy, about thirty minutes from Cold Creek. I was with my crew in the eastern plains and we'd just wrapped interviews for a segment of an episode of Always Out There dedicated to profiling small towns in America. You know, the kind on a rambling decline. We wanted their residents to tell us what those places lost, not because we thought we could restore them to their former glory but simply so you knew they existed. We wanted to give them a voice before they disappeared.
It's a nice thought, anyway. That somebody gives a damn.
That was Joe Halloran, one of the Abernathy residents we interviewed. I wasn't thinking about his words when I was standing behind the guy ahead of me at the gas station, listening as he told the clerk exactly what happened to the Southern kid. The grisly facts didn't inspire me to stick around. My crew and I had gotten what we came for and we were ready to go back home. It was a terrible thing, sure, but we live in a world that has no shortage of terrible things. You can't stop for all of them.
A year later, I was sitting in my office in New York. It was October, a year to the day Mattie died, actually, the third — and my attention kept wandering from my computer screen to the window, where I could see the Empire State Building. I liked my job at WNRK, and I liked my life in the city, but maybe some part of me — the same part that let me walk away from Mattie's story the first time without a second thought — was overdue for a shake-up.
It arrived in the form of a phone call.
MAY BETH FOSTER [PHONE]:
Is this West McCray?
WEST McCRAY [PHONE]:
It is. How can I help you?
MAY BETH FOSTER [PHONE]:
This is May Beth Foster. Joe Halloran told me you give a damn.
There'd been no new developments in the Mattie Southern case, no suspects named to the crime. The investigation seemed to have ground to a halt. But that wasn't the reason May Beth contacted me.
MAY BETH FOSTER [PHONE]:
I need your help.
Three months ago, in mid-July, she'd gotten a call from a police station in Farfield, Colorado, a town many, many miles from Cold Creek. They'd found a 2007 black Chevy parked on the side of the road and inside of it, a green bag full of personal affects belonging to Mattie's older sister, Sadie Hunter, who had disappeared that June. Sadie herself was nowhere to be found. She still hasn't been found. After a cursory investigation, Sadie was declared a runaway by local law enforcement, and, having exhausted all possible avenues available to her, May Beth Foster reached out to me. I was her last hope. She thought maybe I could bring Sadie back home to her alive. Because Sadie had to be alive, because —
MAY BETH FOSTER [PHONE]:
I can't take another dead girl.CHAPTER 2
I find the car on craigslist.
It doesn't matter what kind, I don't think, but if you need more than that to work with, it's boxy, midnight black. The kind of color that disappears when it's next to any other. Backseat big enough to sleep in. It was offered up in a hastily written ad in a sea of hastily written ads, but this one riddled with spelling errors that suggested a special kind of desperation. Make an offer, pleas settled it for me. It means I need money now which means someone's in trouble or they're hungry or they've got a chemical kind of itch. It means I've got the advantage, so what else can I do but take it?
It doesn't occur to me that meeting someone on a road outside of town to buy a car for any amount of money I'm willing to pay might not be the safest thing in the world but that's only because what I'm going to do once I have the car is even more dangerous than that.
"You could die," I say, just to see if the clean weight of those words off my tongue will somehow shock their reality into me.
I could die.
I grab my green canvas backpack off the floor, shrug it over my shoulders and run my thumb over my bottom lip. May Beth gave me blueberries last night and I ate them for breakfast when I woke up today. I'm not sure if they've stained my mouth and I have a hard enough time with good first impressions as it is.
The screen door on the trailer is rusted out, sparks a whine into all our surrounding Nowhere That Matters, but if you need a visual, picture a place far, far less than suburbia and then imagine me, a few more rungs down that ladder living in a trailer rented from Fed-Me-Blueberries May Beth for as long as I've been alive. I live in a place that's only good for leaving, is all that needs to be said about it, and I don't let myself look back. Doesn't matter if I want to, it's just better if I don't.
I grab my bike and ride my way out of town, briefly stopping on the green bridge over Wicker's River where I stare down at the water and feel the dizzying pull of its raging current in my gut. I dig through my bag, pushing aside clothes, bottles of water, some potato chips and my wallet until I find my cell phone tangled up in a ball of underwear. Cheap piece of plastic; doesn't even have a touchscreen. I throw it in the water and then I get back on my bike and ride out to Meddler's Road, off the highway, to meet the woman who wrote the craigslist ad. Her name is Becki with an i. She'd write that, with an i, like I couldn't see it for myself in every email she sent. She's standing next to the boxy, midnight-black car, one hand rested on its hood and the other on her pregnant belly. Behind her, another car is parked, a little newer. A man sits at the wheel with his arm hanging out the open window and he's tense until he sees me and then all his tension seems to melt away. It's offensive. I'm dangerous.
You shouldn't underestimate people, I want to call out. I have a knife.
It's true. There's a switchblade in my back pocket, a leftover from one of my mother's boyfriends, Keith. Long time ago. He had the nicest voice of all of them — so soft it was almost fuzzy — but he was not a nice man.
"Lera?" Becki asks, because that's the name I gave her. It's my middle name. It's easier to say than my own. Becki surprises me, the way she sounds. Like a scraped knee. Longtime smoker, I'd bet. I nod and take the cash-fatted envelope from my pocket and hold it out. Eight hundred in all. Okay, so she countered my initial offer of five but I know it's a good deal. I'm more or less paying for the repairs they made on the body. Becki says I should get a good year out of it at least. "You sounded a lot older in your email."
I shrug and extend my arm a little farther. Take the money, Becki, I want to say, before I ask you what you need it for. Because the man in the car does look pretty itchy; unfixed. I know that look. I'd know it anywhere, on anyone. I could see it in the dark.
Becki rubs her swollen belly and moves a little closer.
"Your mama know you're out here?" she asks and I settle on a shrug, which seems to satisfy her until suddenly it doesn't anymore. She frowns, looking me up and down. "No, she don't. Why'd she let you come out here all alone to buy a car?"
It's not a question I can shake, nod, or shrug to. I lick my lips and steel myself for the fight. I have a knife, I want to tell the thing that likes to wrap its hands around my voice.
"My m-mom's d-d-d —"
The more I d-d-d the redder her face gets, the less she knows where to look. Not at me, not directly in my eyes. My throat feels tight, too tight, choked, and the only way I can free myself is if I stop attempting to connect the letters altogether. No matter how hard I try in front of Becki, they'll never connect. I'm only fluent when I'm alone.
The stutter's hold loosens.
"Jesus," Becki says and I know it's not because of the inherent sadness of what I've just told her, it's because of the broken way it came out of my mouth. She steps back a little because that shit is catching, you know, and if she gets it, there's a 100 percent chance she'll pass it on to her fetus. "Should you — I mean, can you drive?"
It's one of the more subtle ways someone has asked me if I'm stupid, but that doesn't make it any less maddening coming from a woman who can't even spell the word please. I tuck the envelope back in my pocket, let that speak for me. Mattie used to say it was my stubbornness, not my stutter, that was my worst quality, but one wouldn't exist without the other. Still. I can afford the risk of pretending Becki's ignorance is more than I'm willing to fork over for her used-up car. She laughs a little, embarrassed. Says, "What am I talking about? Of course you can ..." And again, less convincingly: "Of course you can."
"Yeah," I say, because not every word I speak turns itself into pieces. The vocal normalcy relaxes Becki and she quits wasting my time, shows me the car still works by bringing the engine alive. She tells me the spring on the trunk is busted and jokes she'll let me keep the stick they use to prop it open at no extra charge.
I hmm and uh-huh my way through the transaction until it's official and then I sit on the hood of my new car and watch them reverse out, turning left onto the highway. I twirl the car key around my finger while the early morning heat slowly envelops me. The bugs find me an affront to their territory and make a feast of my pale white, freckled skin. The dry, dusty smell of road tickles my nostrils, speaking to the part of me that's ready to go, so I slide off the car and roll my bike into the brush, watching it fall unspectacularly on its side.
May Beth gives me blueberries sometimes, but she also collects expired license plates, displaying them proudly inside the shed behind her double-wide. All different colors and states, sometimes countries. May Beth has so many license plates, I don't think she'll miss two. The registration stickers are courtesy of old Mrs. Warner, three trailers down from mine. She's too frail to drive and doesn't need them anymore.
I muddy the plates up and wipe my dirty palms on my shorts as I round the car and get in the driver's side. The seats are soft and low and a cigarette burn marks the space between my legs. I slip the key into the ignition and the motor growls. I push my foot against the gas and the car rolls over the uneven terrain, following the same path out Becki took, until I reach the highway and then I go in the opposite direction.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Sadie"
Copyright © 2018 Courtney Summers.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Also by Courtney Summers,
About the Author,