The Sixes

The Sixes

by Kate White


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The Sixes by Kate White

From the New York Times bestselling author of Hush and the Bailey Weggins mystery series comes a thriller set in a college town where a student’s death sends one woman on a search for the truth and into the clutches of a frightening secret society.

Phoebe Hall’s Manhattan life has suddenly begun to unravel. Right after her long-term boyfriend breaks off their relationship, she’s falsely accused of plagiarizing her latest bestselling celebrity biography. Looking for a quiet place to put her life back together, Phoebe jumps at the offer to teach in a sleepy Pennsylvania town at a small private college run by her former boarding school roommate and close friend, Glenda Johns.

But behind the campus’s quiet cafés and leafy maple trees lie evil happenings. The body of a female student washes up on the banks of a nearby river, and disturbing revelations begin to surface: accusations from coeds about abuses wrought by a secret society of girls on campus known as The Sixes.. To help Glenda, Phoebe embarks on a search for clues—a quest that soon raises painful memories of her own boarding school days years ago.

As the investigation heats up, Phoebe unexpectedly finds herself falling for the school’s handsome psychology professor, Duncan Shaw. But when nasty pranks turn into deadly threats, Phoebe realizes she’s in the middle of a real-life nightmare, not knowing whom she can trust and if she will even survive.

Plunging deeper into danger with every step, Phoebe knows she’s close to unmasking a killer. But with truth comes a terrifying revelation: your darkest secrets can still be uncovered . . . and starting over may be a crime punishable by death.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061576621
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/02/2011
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Kate White, the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, is the New York Times bestselling author of the stand-alone novel Hush and the Bailey Weggins mystery series—If Looks Could Kill; A Body to Die For; ’Til Death Do Us Part; Over Her Dead Body; and Lethally Blond. White is also the author of popular career books for women, including Why Good Girls Don’t Get Ahead but Gutsy Girls Do. She lives in New York City.


New York, New York

Date of Birth:


Place of Birth:

Glens Falls, New York


Union College, 1972

Read an Excerpt

The Sixes

A Novel


Copyright © 2011 Kate White
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061576621

Chapter One

She sensed it as soon as she began to walk across the quad that night.

The weather was practically balmy, weird for late October,
and yet the air carried the pungent smell of wood smoke.
But that wasn't the reason things seemed strange to her.

It was the deserted pathways. Though
Phoebe wasn't really used to the place yet, she expected to find
more than just a few people crossing campus at eight o'clock on a
Friday night.
She'd veered left, planning to exit through the eastern gate,
when with a start she discovered where everyone was. About forty
people—both students and faculty—were congregated in front of
Curry Hall. In the two months she'd been at Lyle College, she'd
noticed that kids often relaxed outside this particular dorm, tossing
Frisbees or lolling on the slope of the balding lawn, but tonight
everyone was standing, their arms folded and their backs stiff, as
if poised for news.
As she drew closer, she saw what was drawing their attention:
two campus police, as well as a local town cop, were speaking to
an auburn-haired girl who appeared to be fighting back tears. The
dean of students—Tom something—was there, too, head lowered
and listening intently to the girl.
Phoebe's first reaction was to just keep moving. There were
things she needed to do in Pennsylvania, but getting involved in
someone else's drama wasn't one of them.
She started to walk away and then stopped. She knew that
ten minutes later she'd regret not finding out what all the fuss was
She edged back toward the crowd and sidled up next to two
young men on the fringe, who also looked like they'd just stopped
to check out the action.
"What's going on?" she asked the one closest to her. He glanced
at her and shrugged.
"No idea—I just got here," he said. He turned to the guy to his
right, whose blond hair was closely cropped. "Any idea what's up?"
he asked.
"Not sure," the other guy said, "but I think it has something to
do with this girl named Lily Mack. That's her roommate over there."
Phoebe took a moment to process the name. It wasn't someone
in either of the two classes she taught.
"Thanks," she said and snaked toward the front of the crowd,
hoping to score more info there. A second later she realized she
was now standing directly behind Val Porter, whose long, prematurely
gray hair gleamed, even in the dark. Val was a women's studies
professor with an office just down the hall from the one Phoebe
was squatting in this semester, and though on the surface Val was
courteous enough, Phoebe had detected a mild disdain ever since
their first encounter. Maybe, Phoebe had thought wryly, Val thinks
I set the women's movement back on its ass by my behavior.
Phoebe started to shift positions, not in the mood for a Val
moment tonight. But uncannily the woman seemed to sense her
presence, and she turned around. The movement stirred the scent
of patchouli from Val's skin.
"Hello, Phoebe," Val said. There was a slightly disapproving
tone to her voice, as if Phoebe had burst in late for an important
"Hi, Val," she said pleasantly. Her MO at Lyle was to play nice,
not create any unnecessary ripples. She'd had enough of those in
her life this past year. "Is there some kind of problem?"
"A student is missing," Val said bluntly. "Lily Mack—a junior.
Her roommate reported it to the campus police a little while ago.
No one's seen her since last night."
"How awful," Phoebe said. The revelation caught her like the
nick from a razor, and she found herself grabbing a breath. "Well,
kids this age can be pretty irresponsible at times," she said, recovering.
"Is it possible she's just gone off with a new boyfriend?"
Val gave her a withering look, suggesting that Phoebe didn't
know a damn thing about "kids this age."
"Anything is possible, of course," Val said dryly. "But according
to Tom Stockton, she's not the type to just go AWOL."
"I take it someone's called Glenda?" Phoebe asked, referring to
Glenda Johns, the president of the college.
"Of course. This could get very, very messy."
"How do you mean?" Phoebe asked.
"This girl's boyfriend disappeared this past spring. He was a
senior here, and he took off without a trace."
"Do they—"
"Will you excuse me?" Val said abruptly. "I better check in with
Tom and see if there's anything he'd like me to do."
It was more than a dismissal. It implied that Phoebe's help
wouldn't be needed—ever.
"Good luck," Phoebe said, keeping her voice even. "Let me
know if I can do anything."
Val started to turn but then looked back, giving Phoebe's outfit
the once-over. That's rich, Phoebe thought. Val's fashion style
could only be described as high priestess meets seductress—lots of
crushed velvet, jangling bracelets, and deeply scooped necklines—
and yet she always eyed Phoebe's clothes as if her fairly classic
style didn't pass muster.
"Doing something fun tonight?" Val asked in a tone that
suggested she hoped the answer was no.
Phoebe was tempted to deliver a zinger, like, "Actually, I have a
hot date with the captain of the men's lacrosse team," but that was
precisely the kind of ripple-making she needed to avoid.
"Just grabbing a bite to eat," she said instead. " 'Night."
Phoebe turned away and continued down the path across the
quad, heading east once again. Lyle wasn't exactly a gorgeous
college. All the buildings were either nondescript red brick or
concrete, without an inch of ivy shooting up their sides. But there
were dozens of big maples on campus, planted when the school
was built in the 1950s, and at night, illuminated by moonlight and
streetlamps, they looked majestic and almost magical.
As Phoebe hurried along the path, she thought about the missing
girl. She also considered the impact the situation could have on
both the college and Glenda Johns, who was not only the president
but also Phoebe's friend. Two and a half years ago Glenda had
been recruited by Lyle College to boost its lackluster reputation
and flabby endowment, and though she'd been making progress,
it had been tough going. A second missing student in a year would
hardly help.
Outside East Gate, Phoebe waited for the traffic light to
change, crossed the street, and then walked three blocks down the
Bridge Street hill to Tony's, a small Italian restaurant she'd discovered
after she'd arrived in Lyle in late August. It was one of those
"land that time forgot" kind of restaurants, with an amateurish wall
mural of Venice, dust-coated plastic ferns, and platters of shrimp
scampi reeking of garlic, but Phoebe found the small, candlelit
rooms to be comforting.
She'd already eaten at Tony's earlier this week and hadn't planned
to go back so soon, but a psychology professor named Duncan Shaw
had more or less forced her hand. The two of them had ended up
on an impromptu committee together, and she'd sensed his interest
in her from the start. Several days ago, to her dismay, he'd asked if
she'd like to join him and a few friends Friday night for dinner. He
was attractive, a little mysterious-looking, even, with his dark beard
and mustache. Engaging, too—affable without giving too much of
himself away—with a wry sense of humor. But she was on a self-
imposed sabbatical from anything romantic, so she wasn't going to
be stupid and bite. She'd told him sorry, she had plans tonight, but
thank you, and prayed he'd taken the hint.
She'd originally planned to eat at the bar of a new restaurant at
the edge of town, where the food and ambience were surprisingly
upscale, but now she couldn't take the chance of bumping into
Duncan there. After her last class she'd picked up the ingredients
for a salad with the intention of staying in. But then, feeling too
restless to face a night alone in the tiny house she was renting,
she decided she'd sneak off to Tony's. She figured it was the last
place in the world Duncan and his pals would be welcoming the
When she reached the restaurant, she paused for a moment
outside, trying to shake the twinge of melancholy she felt. Metallic
chips in the old sidewalk caught the moonlight and sparkled
like crazy. From a few blocks farther downhill, she could pick up
the smell of the Winamac River—muddy, fishy, but rousing in a
strange, earthy way. Sometimes from outside Tony's she could hear
music wafting up from the taverns along River Street, but it was
too early right now. Hopefully, she thought, Lily Mack had hooked
up with a guy last night and spent the day in bed with him, oblivious
to anything but the wild sex she was having.
As Phoebe entered the restaurant, the short, pudgy Tony
greeted her with a bear hug, once again declaring her his favorite
blonde. After her first dinner there, someone had apparently
divulged to him that she was a famous writer from New York City.
Obviously, Phoebe thought, the person had failed to reveal the rest
of the story, or Tony would be far less jolly about seeing her.
He led her to her usual table at the back of the main dining
room, which ran adjacent to the bar area. She slipped off her
trench coat and glanced around the restaurant. It was about three
quarters full, and most of tonight's patrons were well into their
meals. She'd come to learn that people ate insanely early in small
town Pennsylvania. At moments like these she felt like Alice after
she'd slipped down the rabbit hole: everything around her was not
only disturbingly unfamiliar, but it made no sense. Seven months
earlier she'd been living in Manhattan with her partner Alec, just
off the tour for her latest book—Hollywood's Badass Girls. She'd
bought herself a beautiful pair of diamond studs to celebrate the
book's sixth week on the New York Times list. Things couldn't have
been sweeter. And then it all came crashing down.
It had started with Alec. One night after dinner, when she
began to clear away the dishes, he'd held up a hand from his seat
at the table and asked her to please wait.
"What's up?" she asked, sitting back down again, predicting
what was coming. He was probably miffed at how distracted—and
absent—she'd been during the last leg of her book tour.
"We need to talk," he said slowly.
"O-kay," she replied, slightly disconcerted now.
"I care about you, Phoebe," he said soberly, "and we've had five
great years together."
My God, she thought, is he about to dump me as we sit here
with a platter of chicken bones between us? "What's the matter?"
she demanded, unable to keep the edge out of her voice.
"I've always known you didn't want to get married. And I
accepted that."
"Well Alec, if I remember correctly, you've never wanted to
either," she said.
"I guess. I mean, sure. But . . . I don't know, lately I've
wondered if I may have been wrong thinking that."
The comment stunned her but at the same time eased the
twinge of anxiety she'd begun to feel. "Are you saying you want to
get married?" she asked, smiling a little. But then she saw from the
panic flashing in his eyes that she had it wrong.
"It's not just marriage," he said quickly. "I think I'd like kids,
too. And I know that's a deal breaker for you."
"Well, it's a deal breaker now, certainly. I'm forty-two, and
there's not much chance of me getting pregnant. But let's at least
talk this over. If you're feeling different about certain things, I'm
happy to listen."
But his decision wasn't open to discussion. He'd made up his
mind to move on and move out, to try something new in life. No,
there wasn't another woman, he said. Phoebe had just sat there at
the table, reeling from the shock. She knew things weren't perfect
with them, that their relationship was less than passionate these
days, but she cared about Alec and had never seen this coming.
"I actually thought you might be relieved," he said after a few
"What's that supposed to mean?" she asked angrily.
Alec had shrugged. "You haven't seemed quite . . . I don't know,
in the throes of the relationship lately. Even with all your crusading,
you used to still save some energy for me, but not anymore."
Six weeks later he called Phoebe, wanting to let her know—
"out of fairness"—that he was seeing a thirty-one-year-old woman
at his law firm. No, he swore, nothing had happened while he was
still living with Phoebe, but "to be perfectly honest," he realized
in hindsight there'd been a certain attraction from the beginning.
Phoebe had set the phone down feeling stung and humbled. So
this must be karma, Hollywood style, she had thought. Is this what
I get for calling Jennifer Aniston a Needy Nellie on Entertainment


Excerpted from The Sixes Copyright © 2011 by Kate White. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins. 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.

What People are Saying About This

Harlan Coben

The Sixes is a terrifying, psychological thriller that takes ‘mean girls’ to a whole new level of creepy. It’s Kate White’s best!”

Lisa Scottoline

“Kate White’s newest standalone is scarily good—a riveting, psychologically complex tale of mean girls, with a dark twist. You won’t be able to put it down. I loved this book!”

Alafair Burke

The Sixes has all the ingredients for a fantastic summer read: an elite private school, a secret society, and a band of terrifying mean girls. In Kate White’s skillful hands, it’s a story that simultaneously scares and entertains.”

Sara Shepard

“It was so much fun to read about the secret-girl society in The Sixes. Their evil pranks gave me chills! A fun Pretty Little Liars for grown-ups . . . I can’t wait to read more from Kate. She got the evil girl thing just right.”

Customer Reviews

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Sixes 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 64 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have always enjoyed books that involve acadamia background in some way, however this story became more unbelievable as it continued. The story started off ok, but as it moved along the main character's situation seemed ridiculous. For me, the second half of the story fell apart and I was quickly losing interest. I finished it just because I paid for it honestly. There are better written books out there. It felt more like a teen read the further I got into it.
klyn2000 More than 1 year ago
The Sixes is a wonderful new Kate White thriller. She keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time. As a female thriller writer, she knows what scares women the best - and let me tell you, I was FREAKED OUT when I was reading some of the scenes! Wonderful writing and highly recommended. Can't wait for the next one
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was awesome. I literally didn't want to put it down. It kept me guessing and wondering the entire time. One minute I thought I knew who the culprit was, then the next minute...thought it could be someone else. The writing was so great. Wonderful book. Really! Mystery thriller with a little bit of a sexy twist. LOVE IT!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the books written by Kate White! I can't wait for the next "Bailey Wiggens" book.
pretty_inpink03 More than 1 year ago
Kate white does it again...great great book...a true thriller, kept me on the edge on my seat the whole time!! would highly recommend !!
Erica Hudson More than 1 year ago
Formulaic and predictable with no likeable characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great bombshell twist at the end! Loved it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very well written. I didn't want to put it down.
Vessa More than 1 year ago
The Sixes caught me by surprise. I was not familiar with this author and did not expect much - but it did sound interesting and had good reviews. As it turned out, it was a very good read. It kept my interest throughout and had me guessing who the killer was early on. Lots of twists and turns and a few surprises. This is one of those books that make you hope the author has written many more that are just as good. I will definitely read more of her work.
Sherri_Hunter More than 1 year ago
When we first meet Phoebe Hall, her life is in a downward spiral. Her boyfriend has ended their relationship abruptly and she is faced with every writer’s nightmare when she is accused of plagiarism. I immediately felt bad for her and, like Phoebe, thought a change of scenery would be a good thing. One of her oldest friends who she went to boarding school with offers her a great opportunity to teach a writing class at Lyle College, far from Manhattan and the bad press and unwanted publicity.  Initially, the move appears to have been a good decision. Phoebe is settling in well and is enjoying the small and quiet community that surrounds the college. She even has a romantic interest on the horizon with a fellow teaching colleague, but Phoebe is reluctant to begin any relationships. Suddenly, Phoebe’s peace and solitude are ripped to shreds when the body of a young coed who had gone missing is found in the river. Several clues point to a secret club on campus, only known as The Sixes. Phoebe’s friend, Glenda, enlists her help in finding out more. The more Phoebe digs, the closer she comes to a killer as well as reliving some horrible experiences she, herself, suffered while attending boarding school.  First of all, I enjoyed the story and the concept of a secret society with an intricate agenda recruiting coeds on campus. It gives the plot a very mysterious and sinister tone. Kate White does a good job of leading the reader through several scenes that allude to The Sixes being involved in the murders and then without warning, I started to suspect others. This story is full of suspicious characters that are all capable of heinous acts. I had a hard time deciding who was trustworthy.  The story goes from mysterious and sinister to downright chilling when Phoebe’s home is broken into and based on the items left behind, she appears to be the victim of bullying. She isn’t a stranger to this kind of treatment as she endured horrific treatment by bullies when she was at boarding school. It takes most of the story to learn the full extent of the bullying she endured. I would have preferred to have it revealed sooner because I just couldn’t understand why she was placing herself in danger. Once I learned what she went through, I understood that Phoebe wants to make sure nobody is ever bullied again. Unfortunately, the choices and decisions she makes while looking into the disappearance and murder lead to more murders and more danger to Phoebe. She has several close calls herself and is physically injured repeatedly because of those choices and decisions. I thought she was taking too many risks and just can’t understand why does the hero/heroine always realize who the killer is only after they are alone with them? It would have been better for my blood pressure if this revelation would have been made while Phoebe is sitting on the couch, eating ice cream and watching television.  In spite of Phoebe’s tenacious pursuit for the truth, I really liked her and admired her ability to rise above a painful past and move forward in times of adversity. The story is a standalone read and doesn’t leave any loose ends, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Phoebe makes another appearance in a book down the road. My Final Verdict: Overall, this was a good story that should appeal to readers who like their romance mixed with suspense and mystery. I would have liked it better if Phoebe hadn’t taken so many foolish risks, but I applaud her diligence in seeking out the truth and fighting for the underdog.
Diana54 More than 1 year ago
I really rnjoyed this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved reading every minute of this. Full of mystery and suspense. It just keeps you guessing until the very end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Spooky and I had the wrong person in the end! Very realistic!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I felt like the author built up this mysterious society and hinted at a lot of truths to be revealed but ended up just wrapping up the story with a quick twist and never really revealed a lot about how the sixes work. I was also annoyed with how much time was spent on the main character's fling.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I knew I would like this book because of Kate White. I loved the direction she took with Cosmo. I look forward to her next book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good for hunting. We will have skirmishes everyday. You can also practice here.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it.  It was also a great 'buy' as normally the Nook books are fairly expensive.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm sorry, this is realy bad...deep six it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like a lot if suspense and intrigue but this novel did not provide mr with that. Slow moving .. i couldnt get past the first 150 pages. 343 pages FYI....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago