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Gifted musician Catherine Clayton was born into a life of wealth and privilege. Following the death of her father, she makes a bold decision she hopes would make him proud: she's using the family money to establish a music school and offer free lessons to the underprivileged. A providential suggestion from an old college friend leads Catherine to select Riley, New York, as the perfect location for her new school.
Hit hard by the economic downturn, Riley personifies economic hardship: peeling paint, overgrown landscapes, and damaged buildings. But the damage runs much deeper than Catherine first realizes. Two years ago, Riley was rocked by weeks of vandalism followed by the brutal murder of beautiful elementary school secretary Olivia Perry. Everyone in town loved Olivia — but especially the two men with whom she was caught in a love triangle. Though the murder remains unsolved, Catherine receives ominous warnings that one of these men, Adam Becket, is responsible for one girl's death. Unimpressed by the lack of evidence against him, Catherine is drawn to the shy but endearing Adam. Could he really have been involved in Olivia's murder?
Just as Catherine is settling in and getting to know Adam, a vandal strikes again, and it's eerily reminiscent of the events surrounding Olivia's murder. The death threats splashed on the walls prove that killer is back — and this time, it's Catherine who wonders if she's come to the wrong place at the wrong time.
- Size: 6 x 9
- Pages: 288
- Published: 09/2012
- Book on CD: Unabridged
- Number of Discs: 8
- Run Time: Approx. 9.5 hours
About the Author
Stephanie Black has loved books since she was old enough to grab the pages, and has enjoyed creating make-believe adventures since she and her sisters were inventing long Barbie games filled with intrigue and danger or running around pretending to be detectives. She is a three-time Whitney Award winner for Best Mystery/Suspense, most recently for Cold as Ice (2010).
Stephanie was born in Utah and has lived in various places, including Arizona, Massachusetts, New York, and Limerick, Ireland. She currently lives in northern California and enjoys spending time with her husband Brian and their five children. She is a fan of chocolate, cheesecake, and her husband’s homemade bread.
Catherine Clayton stood for a moment, resting her oversized portfolio case on the sidewalk as she stared at the two police cars parked in front of Flinders Elementary School. Flashing-light bars reflecting red and blue lights off the darkened school windows made it clear the officers weren’t there for a drug prevention assembly or community program. Something was wrong.
She shifted the tote bag on her shoulder, feeling the weight of stacks of glossy flyers. If something had happened to bring the police to Flinders, this was not a good time to breeze into the office to drop off a bunch of flyers and posters. This early in the morning—an hour before school began—it was unlikely that the police were present because of an issue involving a child. Perhaps there had been a burglary.
Drawing a deep breath, she scanned the school grounds. Sunshine brightened the maple trees on the lawn, highlighting leaves beginning to change from deep green to red-orange. The maples were the only attractive touch she could find. She couldn’t imagine a burglar desperate enough to think there were valuables in this grubby brick building with its cracked sidewalks and overgrown juniper bushes.
She should come back later rather than bother Danielle now. But considering how precise and organized Danielle was . . . Catherine glanced at her watch. Her appointment was at seven fifteen. Danielle wouldn’t forget it, no matter what problems were occurring this morning. She’d be concerned and irritated if Catherine didn’t show up, and the last thing Catherine wanted was to appear unreliable on day one. She imagined her father’s voice: You were worried about disturbing her, so you didn’t even check in? No one wants to work with a flake, Catherine.
She could check in, leave the flyers and posters, and come back later to discuss the details for the assembly. She picked up her portfolio case and started toward the front doors of the school.
Rust spots bled through the paint on the dented doors. This school—and most of the rest of Riley, New York—needed to be powerwashed, repaired, and repainted. Catherine pictured the spacious home she’d purchased and upgraded for her studio, with its spotless white siding, gold lettering on the door, wraparound porch, and thick green grass. Bridgeside Music Studio would look like an oasis when students saw it.
Catherine pulled the door open and stepped inside. A faded arrow on a sign pointed left toward the office.
The office door stood propped open, and a police officer with a stocky build and curly hair stood behind the counter, writing on a form. Looking into the office, Catherine saw that the windows facing what must be the back parking lot had been smashed. Glass shards glittered across the counters and floor.
Catherine took a cautious step through the doorway, and the officer glanced up. Without comment, he went back to his writing, but the woman standing behind him moved forward—a heavyset woman with wrinkles around her eyes and red hair nearly the same shade as Catherine’s. She gave Catherine a sharp look, scrutinizing her from head to toe. “Unless you want to be murdered too, you’d better get out of here.”
Horrified, Catherine started to step backward but froze. Danielle. “Who—what happened—”
“No one’s hurt.” The officer glared at the woman before giving Catherine a fleeting smile. “Don’t panic, ma’am. Can I help you?”
Heart still hammering, Catherine swallowed and tried to make her voice calm. “I’m sorry to interrupt. My name is Catherine Clayton. I had an appointment with Ms. Knight this morning, but obviously this isn’t a good time. I’ll come back later—”
The click of heels and a firm voice interrupted her. “Catherine!” Danielle Knight strode out of her office and came around the edge of the counter. On autopilot, Catherine moved to embrace her but stopped herself in time and offered her hand. Danielle wasn’t the type to greet a friend with a hug, even an old college friend who’d just moved to town.
“Welcome to Riley.” Danielle grasped her hand. “We were out of confetti, so we scattered glass.”
Hoping Danielle wouldn’t notice that her hand was cold and a little shaky, Catherine drew it away and looked up into Danielle’s face. At five foot six, Catherine didn’t think of herself as short, but Danielle had three inches on her and added another three with the heels she wore.
“You look fantastic. I love your hair,” Catherine said, then felt goofy for gushing compliments in the middle of a crime scene.
Danielle smiled slightly. “Too short?”
“No. It flatters you. As if those cheekbones needed any flattering.”
Danielle scrubbed her fingers through her dark-chocolate hair, mussing it. “I don’t know about cheekbones, but I like the hair because I can do this when I’m frustrated and call it windblown elegance.”
“So what happened?” Catherine asked, gesturing at the broken windows. “A burglary?”
“No. Nothing’s missing. Vandalism. We’ve had a few problems lately.”
The woman who’d spoken of murder stepped forward. “Other windows broken,” she said angrily. “And someone broke into the gym and left big gashes in the floor—”
“Thanks, Renee,” Danielle cut her off. “She gets the drift.”
“I’m sorry,” Catherine said. The last thing this decrepit building needed was someone deliberately destroying it. But if vandalism was all they were dealing with, why had Renee acted so dramatic and talked as though someone had been killed? “Do you have any suspects?”
Danielle shook her head. “Not yet. But we’ll nail them. Assuming we have any nails left after hammering this old haunt back together. Got your posters and flyers for me?”
“I do, but we can talk later. You have enough to deal with right now. May I help you clean up? Or do you need to wait for the police to—”
“Forget the mess. It’s not your concern.” The tightness in Danielle’s expression made her angular face sharp and intimidating. Catherine figured that expression must come in handy when Principal Danielle was dealing with troublemakers. “Let’s see the posters.”
“I don’t mind coming back another time, Dani.”
“Are you kidding me? We need good news right now, and you’re bringing good news.” Danielle snatched the portfolio case out of Catherine’s hand, set it on the counter, and unlatched it.
“Nice.” She held up one of the glossy black-and-gold posters. “Bridgeside Music Studio. Snappy. But what happens when you relocate from that place by the bridge?”
“People can contemplate the mystery of how the studio got its name.”
“Or you can rename it the Harold Hill School of Music.”
Catherine smiled. “The difference being that I actually know how to lead a band.”
“Beginning bands all sound about the same, whether or not they’re using the Think System,” Danielle remarked. At the blank look on Renee’s face, she asked, “Haven’t you ever seen The Music Man?”
“I’ll lend you the DVD so you’ll know what to expect from this one.” She pointed at Catherine and winked.
“Thanks a lot,” Catherine said dryly. “Maybe I’d better add a footnote to the posters explaining I’m not a con artist.”
“This is Renee Endicott, by the way.” Danielle introduced the woman. “Secretary. Keeps us on task.”
Catherine couldn’t imagine Danielle Knight had ever needed anyone to keep her on task. “It’s always good to meet a fellow redhead,” she addressed Renee.
“I’m not,” Renee said shortly. “Dye job.”
The age showing in Renee’s face had already proven her hair color was artificial; making a point of it struck Catherine as a cold response—as though Renee didn’t want Catherine creating a commonality between them.
“These are the flyers.” Catherine drew them out of her silver tote bag. Renee’s curtness made her feel even more awkward to be advertising her music studio while a cop was standing a few feet away filling out a report and shards of glass were poking at the soles of Catherine’s shoes. Glass had flown so far from the windows that she shuddered to imagine how savagely the vandal must have struck the panes. From where she stood, she could see dents and cracks in the window frames as though the vandal hadn’t been content with breaking the glass but had continued pounding even after the windows were rubble.
Struggling to refocus her thoughts, she set the flyers on the counter. “Dani, I’ll call you later, and you can let me know if there’s anything else I need to do before the assembly—”
“Ms. Knight? We need you back here.”
Danielle turned and hurried toward a blond officer who had emerged from the hallway leading to her office. “Cate, leave all your stuff with Renee, along with your card.”
“Thanks.” Catherine reached into her bag and removed her card case.
Renee raised an eyebrow at the matching silver card case and tote bag embossed with musical notes. “That’s an eye-catching combo.”
Catherine pretended not to notice the disdain in Renee’s voice. “Yes, it is. I was going to get dignified black leather, but when I saw these shiny things, I couldn’t resist. I’m like a magpie.”
“Shiny things, huh? That explains the diamond explosion.”
Catherine glanced at the row of chunky cubic zirconia bracelets around her wrist. Apparently Renee was determined to be unfriendly no matter how Catherine tried to be pleasant. Fine—at least snarky remarks were better than her creepy warning when Catherine had walked into the office. “My card has all my contact information. The flyers are already divided into stacks of thirty-five. I didn’t know how many children were in each classroom.”
Renee said nothing, clearly not interested in letting Catherine know if thirty-five had been a good guess. The officer at the counter turned and walked toward Danielle’s office, speaking into his radio as he went.
“Thanks for your help.” Catherine gave friendliness another try. “And I’m sorry about the vandalism.”
“Yeah, as if this place isn’t already falling down.” Renee lowered her voice. “And we don’t need people wasting our time with touchy-feely do-goodism either. A music studio. Where do you think you are? Boston? Greenwich, Connecticut?”
Catherine flushed. “If you’re not interested, don’t sign up.”
“You’re wanting a hobby to keep you busy between tennis dates at the country club. If you really want to do some good, do something that matters. You think kids whose parents have been out of work for a year and a half are going to care about screeching some strings or blatting a horn? Not that I think you’ll stick around for long.”
“If I weren’t planning to stick around, why would I have come at all?”
“I’m sure you have good intentions.” Renee made the words caustic. “But talk to me in six months when you’re bored out of your mind and decide you’d rather be worshipped by handsome men on a Mediterranean beach than by a bunch of ratty children in Riley, New York.”
“I’m in Riley to teach music, not to be worshipped,” Catherine said coolly. “I think you misread the flyer.”
Renee glanced over her shoulder, probably making sure Danielle wasn’t returning.
“We have enough on our plates trying to hold this school together. We don’t need your silly program taking up our attention.”
“I won’t be taking up your attention. This is not a school program. I’m running an independent studio, intended partly to fill the gap left by the cancellation of school music programs.”
“So what are you doing here, plotting to distract the kids from their work with some flashy assembly while you hawk your wares?”
“Principal Knight feels the program has value and wants the school community to know about it.” Catherine started to turn away.
“You might want to leave a guard next time you park your Porsche in the school lot,” Renee said. “Unless you like people scratching their names in the paint and using your hubcaps as Frisbees.”
“I don’t have a car here. I walked. But thanks for the warning.”
“It’s a beautiful morning.”
Renee’s expression went darker, and she glanced at the shattered windows. “Hope you can walk fast.”
“Why do you keep talking like I’m in danger?” Catherine snapped. “You’re dealing with vandalism, not murder.”
“Look at this.” Renee flapped her hand toward the windows. “You think this is some bored teenager whacking windows with a hammer just for kicks? That’s hate there. Rage. And that was where she sat. Near those windows.”
Jolted, Catherine asked warily, “Who?”
“One of the other secretaries here. She was murdered.”
Catherine gaped at Renee. “When?”
“About two years ago. Pretty girl like you. Just about your age.” Renee tried to sound harsh, but her eyes glistened with tears. “They never caught the killer.”
“I’m so sorry,” Catherine said. “Were you close to her?”
Renee turned away and started picking up papers from a desk and shaking glass shards off of them.
Not knowing what else to do, Catherine walked out the door, glass crunching under her shoes.
Buy this book!!
by Erin - reviewed on October 11, 2012
Stephanie Black does it again!!! I can not tell you how much I loved this book! This story had me hooked from minute one. Most of the time I can tell who did it at the beginning of a book, but this one had me guessing till the last page. Stephanie has a wonderful gift. Keep it up Stephanie!!
by Julie - reviewed on January 23, 2013
Shadowed is loaded with great characters, suspense, and just the right amount of romance. Stephanie Black is a master of keeping the reader guessing right up to the very end. Her characters have depth and believability, and her writing style is clear and easy to read. You get drawn into the story and it's hard to put the book down until you reach the exciting conclusion. The protagonist, Catherine, is strong and smart, but because of her privileged life she's also a little naive. Her personal struggles and flaws bring a nice realness to her character. Adam brings a starkly different element to the story as the man accused of murdering Olivia. I loved the way he dealt with the accusations. I have many favorite parts and plot twists I want to mention, but I can't because it would be a spoiler. You'll just have to get a copy. Anyone who enjoys a good suspense novel along the lines of the Mary Stewart classics will love Shadowed.