Darby Kane

#1 International Bestselling Author of
Domestic Suspense and Thrillers

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The Engagement Party

And Then There Were None meets I Know What You Did Last Summer in #1 international bestseller Darby Kane’s latest gripping and twisty thriller set on a private island in Maine where secrets piled upon secrets and lies upon lies are all revealed in one fateful weekend.

Emily Hunt went missing from her affluent liberal arts school on graduation weekend. Her body was found floating in a river, and a quiet loner who most people on campus really didn’t know committed suicide. A tenuous link—one text—bound the two dead students together and was enough for law enforcement to close the case. But they got it wrong and now someone is determined to set it right.

Twelve years later, college friends gather to celebrate an engagement over a long overdue getaway on a swanky private island in Maine—with only one way in and one way out. Sierra Prescott, invited as a guest and unconnected to past events, is the only person who soon senses not all is what it seems.

The tension in the air is ignited when they find a dead man in the trunk of a car with a note: time to tell the truth. And things only get worse. As a torrential storm strands them together, the group’s buried stories begin to surface and secrets are bartered. To survive this deadly party, they’ll need to stop a killer before they become prey.

The Engagement Party

Excerpt

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CHAPTER ONE

Book Notes: Lost and Found

Emily Hunt disappeared on the Saturday of graduation weekend. No one noticed until Sunday afternoon.

A blonde with big brown eyes and a deep, soulful laugh that lit up her face wasn’t the type to blend in. The recent college grad dreamed of becoming an investigative reporter, of breaking big stories, getting awards, and doing splashy interviews. Even ignoring her questionable talent, she lacked the patience and drive it would take to survive years of mind-numbing, day-to-day plodding, stockpiles of phone calls and messages, and notoriously unreliable pay. Now, none of that mattered.

Local police and college officials rushed to grab microphones at the press conference and blame alcohol for Emily disappearance. Men decked out in business suits and uniforms shook their heads as they lectured the public about the dangerous mix of binge drinking and too much partying on college campuses.

In the span of a few hours, Emily morphed from a young woman with promise to a cautionary tale. The quick pivot to “this is why we don’t allow fraternities and sororities on campus” by the college’s president ignored the fact neither institution played a role in her being missing.

By not showing up at her parents’ planned celebration lunch, Emily had forfeited the presumption of innocence in her own disappearance. Did you see her dress the other night? She seemed out of control at the party. I tried to warn her, but she wouldn’t listen. The whispers carried more than a hint of reprimand. But a simple continuum between a fixed point where Emily made smart choices and one in which she invited tragedy didn’t exist no matter how determined people were to bend and twist her story to make it fit.

The rumored explanations for her failure to sleep in her own bed that weekend overlooked the obvious details. Her car hadn’t moved from the school parking lot. Her upended purse sat at the bottom of the steps of the campus’s Museum of Art. Her abandoned cellphone with the newly cracked screen rested a few feet away.

As the hours rolled on, pontificating gave way to panic. Before sunset on Monday night, they formed a search party. The “they” included the official cadre who’d engaged in enraged finger-wagging about Emily’s partying and the supposed “friends” who barely knew her yet spilled half-truths disguised as secrets in exchange for less than five minutes of fame and attention. Within hours, a couple in their sixties who happened to be boating in the area found Emily’s body. There she was, four miles from campus, naked and tangled in weeds in the New Meadows River.

She’d been twenty-two for nineteen days and a college graduate for one afternoon.

The water cleansed her crisis-manufactured guilt. Her role shifted again, this time from the cause of her own demise to beloved victim, forever enshrined as young and beautiful. Her personality locked in place, waiting for the passage of time to polish and mute every flaw into oblivion.

Her death turned out to be a horrible beginning to a winding and tragic tale rather than an ending. Not an accident. Not a result of alcohol. A murder.

The saddest part? None of this would have happened if she’d gotten into Amherst as she’d dreamed.

end of excerpt

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