Hi everyone! I’m back today with a blog tour post for She Lies Close by Sharon Doering! I’m so excited to share my review with you next month, closer to the release date. For now, I have an excerpt to share with you!
US Release Date : November 10, 2020
Five-year-old Ava Boone vanished without a trace six months ago. No witnesses, no sightings or arrests. But Grace Wright just moved in next door to the only suspect the case had: quiet, middle-aged Leland Ernest.
Recently divorced, Grace uprooted her two small children to start again and hopes the move will reset her crippling insomnia. With whispered neighborhood gossip and increasingly sleepless nights, Grace develops a fierce obsession with Leland and the safety of her children. Could she really be living next door to a child-kidnapper? A murderer?
With reality and dream blurring more each day, Grace desperately pursues the truth – following Ava’s family, demanding answers from the police – and then a body is discovered…
Excerpt from He Lies Close:
“Hi, Grace. This is Chuck. Sorry I didn’t get back to you yesterday. I’m catching up on phone calls this morning from home.”
At the sound of his voice, my skin prickles and my throat quivers.
Chuck is the representative for Whisper County State’s Attorney’s Office. We have become strangely familiar these past five days. During our previous two conversations, I drilled him with questions about Ava Boone’s case, driving my raw emotion across telephone wires.
He has not enjoyed talking to me. I am a mosquito buzzing his ear, but he empathizes and that’s why he hasn’t blown me off. I haven’t asked him, but I’m guessing he has kids. He is also Liz’s neighbor. He knows I work with Liz so it’s just as possible that he doesn’t have kids,
but doesn’t want to be a dick to his neighbor’s pesky friend.
I stand at the screen, watching the kids. Still in the sandbox, still getting along. A small lottery.
“I’m sorry to keep bugging you,” I say, not sorry at all, “but I need more details about Ava’s case.” It’s difficult to even say her name. It feels indulgent or shameful or careless or maybe all of these.
Don’t consider what she’s like, that she’s a girl with an easy joy in her eyes, generous with her candy, mortified of bees, and will stand her ground when it comes to brussels sprouts and hairbrushes. That she has a bad habit of picking at the dry edges of scabs on her knees.
That she dances and twirls even when there’s no music. That she loves cats and horses and anything you can sniff: markers, lip gloss, lotions. Don’t dare contemplate what she might have gone through. What she might still be going through.
“Well,” I say, “not about the case, but why Leland Ernest is a suspect.”
“Listen, Grace. Like I said before, my hands are tied in what I can tell you because the investigation is ongoing.”
We have gone through boring, rehearsed generalities before. I need more. I need gossipy details that will give me a feel for my neighbor’s state of mind and why the police consider him possibly dangerous.
Don’t let him off the phone until you get at least one detail.
“Chuck, I need to gauge how dangerous this guy is. I mean, my kids are outside. They’re in the sandbox right now. Should I let them outside?”
He ignores this question. Of course he does. He maneuvered around most of my questions during our previous conversations, maneuvered himself off the phone, which is why I left him another message, which is why we are talking again.
“If the detectives had evidence that Leland abducted a child, they would have charged him,” he says. “But there is no case against him. Ava Boone is, well, it’s not a court case; it is a police investigation. All I know has come from talk around the office. The police department is your best bet for information.”
“I have called the police department. Many times. They won’t tell me anything.” He knows this.
I check the sandbox. Two heads? Affirmative.
“Chuck, I have a little girl outside. I don’t have a fence. My door is, I don’t know, twenty, thirty feet from his, nothing between our doors but grass and trees.” I gaze at Leland’s backyard. There’s a cluster of saplings at the end of his lawn, his own little forest. “If Leland is, was, a suspect, doesn’t that mean there is some concerning evidence on him?”
This is another question that will get a vague answer, but I need to keep the conversation rolling. I need to wear him out, I need him to feel bad for shutting me down over and over. I need to nudge him into an emotionally charged state of mind where his sympathy outweighs routine and protocol.
“Someone can be considered a suspect without physical evidence. If they had a motive or opportunity.” His coolness raises my pulse. My forehead feels tight.
“So, they have nothing on him? Leland is this innocent guy, and his neighbor, me, is going out of her mind for no reason?”
“That could be the case.” He sighs. Condescending.
The next time you call, he’s not going to call you back.
The helplessness I feel ignites my nerve endings, and sparks sizzle and race across bundles of neurons heading for my brainstem.
“Huh. I just realized something,” I say, my voice clipped and cynical. “You don’t know anything about this case. Not a thing. Detectives haven’t shared information with you. The guy down my street knows more than you. He said Leland was flirting with her.” I shove the word flirting off my tongue like Lou did, head high, shoulders back, but inside I’m quivering.
“Why didn’t you just tell me straight you knew nothing? Why waste your time, my time?”
I cringe at my poor manners and cruel accusations, and hold my breath. I am crossing my fingers that he’s embarrassed for me and he won’t mention to Liz that her friend is a douche.
He sighs again. Not condescending, but annoyed. “Off the record. This is off the record. Ava’s dad told detectives Leland took an interest in the girl. They hired him to paint interior walls, the kitchen and bathrooms, I think. He was there, painting, for a week and he talked to Ava a bunch of times. He was trying to teach her to whistle.”
My breath catches. His casual tone is like steel wool rubbing against my tender eardrum. He was trying to teach her to whistle. It sounds innocent, yet it sounds lewd. I gnaw at wet, rubbery skin along my thumb, biting tiny pieces off, willing myself to not interrupt.
“He asked her what she wanted for her birthday. Asked her what color her room was painted. One day he gave her a Happy Meal toy. A Shopkin character.”
Chuck definitely has a kid. No other reason to know about Shopkins: plastic, thumb-size figures which personify food items or accessories. A happy, wide-eyed root beer float. A winking, long-eyelashed ice cream sundae. A coquettish handbag. Chloe has about thirty of them.
“Ava’s dad let her keep the toy, but he didn’t like the gesture. She goes missing a week later,” Chuck says. “They interviewed Leland once and didn’t get anywhere. That is all I heard.”
Dang, Chuck. You didn’t even make me work that hard.