Readers, are you dying for a look at Tess Gerritsen’s new thriller The Shape of Night? It’s one of this fall’s buzziest releases and we named it one of the season’s must-reads. If all of this sounds good, you’re in luck. We’ve got an exclusive excerpt you won’t find anywhere else. This gripping novel takes readers to a small town in Maine where Ava Collette moves into a house that just might be haunted. Read on and enjoy!
I clamber up the cliff and follow the path toward the point. There, where the land juts out like a ship’s prow, the house stands alone. I imagine the doomed Captain Brodie gazing out to sea from the rooftop widow’s walk, keeping watch through fair weather and foul. Yes, this is exactly where a sea captain would choose to build his home, on that wind-lashed outcropping of…
I freeze, staring up at the widow’s walk. Did I imagine it, or did I just glimpse someone standing there? I see no one now. Perhaps it’s one of the carpenters, but Donna told me they worked only on weekdays, and today is Sunday.
I hurry along the path and around the house to the front porch, but I find no other vehicles parked in the driveway, only my Subaru. If it was one of the carpenters, how did he arrive at the house?
I thump up the steps into the house and call out: “Hello? I’m the new tenant!” No one answers. As I climb the stairs and head down the second-floor hallway, I listen for the sound of workmen in the turret, but I hear no hammering or sawing, not even the creak of footsteps. The door to the turret staircase gives a loud squeak as I open it to reveal a dark and narrow staircase.
“Hello?” I shout up the stairs. Again no one answers.
I have not yet been up to the turret. Peering up into the gloom, I spy faint cracks of light through the closed door at the top of the stairs. If someone is working up there, he’s strangely silent, and for a moment I consider the unsettling possibility that the intruder is not one of the carpenters. That someone else has slipped into the house through the unlocked front door and now lurks upstairs, waiting for me. But this isn’t Boston; this a small Maine town where people leave their doors unlocked and the keys in their cars. Or so I’ve been told.
The first step gives an ominous creak when I place my weight on it. I pause, listening. There is still no sound above.
Hannibal’s loud meow makes me jump. I glance back and see him at my heel, not looking the least bit alarmed. He slithers past me, trots up to the closed door at the top of the staircase, and waits for me in the gloom. My cat is braver than I am.
I tiptoe up the stairs, my pulse quickening with each step. By the time I reach the top, my hands are sweating and the doorknob feels slippery. Slowly I turn it and nudge the door open.
Sunlight floods my eyes.
Blinded, I squint against the glare, and the turret room comes into focus. I see windows streaked with salt. Silky cobwebs dangle from the ceiling, swaying in the newly disturbed air. Hannibal sits beside a stack of wooden planks, calmly licking his paw. Everywhere is woodworking equipment—a band saw, floor sanders, sawhorses. But no one is here.
A door leads outside to the widow’s walk, the rooftop deck that overlooks the sea. I open the door and step out into a bracing wind. Gazing down, I see the cliff path where I’d been walking only moments earlier. The sound of the waves seems so close, I might be standing on the bow of a ship—a very old ship. The balcony railing looks rickety, the paint long ago scoured away by the elements. I take another step and the wood suddenly sags beneath me. Instantly I retreat and look down at rotted planks. Donna had warned me to stay off the widow’s walk, and if I’d walked out much farther, the deck might well have collapsed under my weight. Yet only moments ago, I thought I’d spotted someone standing on this balcony, where the wood looks as insubstantial as cardboard. I retreat back inside the turret and close the door against the wind. With its east-facing windows, the room is already warm from the morning sun. I stand bathed in that golden light, trying to make sense of what I saw from the cliff, but I can summon no answers. A reflection, perhaps. Some odd distortion caused by the antique glass in the windows. Yes, that must be what I saw. When I look through the window, the view is warped by ripples, as though I’m peering through water.
At the periphery of my vision, something shimmers.
I spin around to look, but see only a swirl of floating dust, glittering like a million galaxies in the sunlight.
Excerpt from The Shape of Night by Tess Gerritsen, copyright © 2019 by Tess Gerritsen. Used by permission of Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen earned international acclaim for her first novel of suspense, Harvest. She introduced Detective Jane Rizzoli in The Surgeon (2001) and Dr. Maura Isles in The Apprentice (2002) and has gone on to write numerous other titles in the celebrated Rizzoli & Isles series, most recently The Mephisto Club, The Keepsake, Ice Cold, The Silent Girl, Last to Die, Die Again, and I Know a Secret. A physician, Tess Gerritsen lives in Maine.