Keep your family close, because your enemies are closer.
University student Matt Pine has just received devastating news. Nearly his entire family have been found dead while holidaying in Mexico. The local police claim it was an accident, but the FBI aren’t convinced – and they won’t tell Matt why.
The tragedy thrusts his family into the media spotlight again. Seven years ago, Matt’s older brother, Danny, was sentenced to life in prison for murdering his teenage girlfriend. Danny has always sworn he was innocent, and last year, a true crime documentary that claimed he was wrongfully convicted went viral.
Now his family’s murder is overlapping with Danny’s case, Matt is determined to uncover the truth behind the crime that sent his brother to prison. Even if it means putting his own life in danger, and confronting his every last fear.
Read this gripping thriller, perfect for fans of Karin Slaughter and Lisa Jewell.
- Publisher: Head of Zeus (an Aries book)
- Available in ebook, hardback (2 March 2021) | paperback (2 September 2021)
- 368 pages
“Evan, I’m so glad you made it.” Dr. Silverstein gestured for him to take a seat across from her on the leather couch.
Evan’s eyes drifted around the office. The framed diplomas, the neat desk, the grandfather clock that was out of place in the charmless no-frills office complex.
“I’m sorry I didn’t call last week,” Evan said. “You can charge me for missing our— ”
“Don’t be silly. I saw the news about your son on TV. I’m so sorry, Evan.”
She kept saying his name. A trick of the trade, he presumed. He imagined a much younger Dr. Silverstein diligently taking notes in her psychology class. Repeat the patient’s name often to show you’re listening.
He shouldn’t be so hard on her. She was a good therapist. And it must be difficult counseling someone who was attending sessions only because of a spouse’s ultimatum.
“So what’s next?” she asked. “Legally, I mean. For Danny.” Evan didn’t want to talk about it, but there would be no escaping it here. “The lawyers say this is the end of the road. The Supreme Court refused to hear the case, so that’s it.” He shrugged.
Silverstein gave him a sympathetic look. “And how’s Danny? Did you get to talk to him?”
Evan thought of the call when he broke the news. He pictured his son’s face pressed to the dirty telephone at Fishkill, knowing he’d probably spend the rest of his life there, or some other godforsaken hole.
“He took it better than I’d anticipated. He actually spent most of our call talking about Linkin Park.”
Dr. Silverstein’s expression was curious. Evan realized she had no idea what he was talking about.
“They’re a band. The day I called Danny about the appeal, the radio said it would’ve been the singer’s birthday. He died a few years ago. Danny and I, we used to . . .” He trailed off. His mind ventured to the two of them driving home from football practice, Danny, smelly and sweaty, cranking up the car stereo, both of them belting out the lyrics to “Numb.”
“Something the two of you used to bond over?” Silverstein said. “The music . . .”
Evan smiled in spite of himself. “In high school Danny was obsessed with the band. I never understood why. Their songs are so rage-filled. Songs about teen angst, wrecked father-and-son relationships— the opposite of me and Danny.” More fitting for Evan and Matt.
“How’s the rest of your family dealing with the news? Olivia?” Before Evan started his solo sessions last year, the Pine clan used to trek out to this very office every other Saturday for family therapy, so Silverstein knew them and their brand of dysfunction well.
“Liv?” Evan said. “I think she’s come to terms that Danny isn’t getting out.”
“And how does that make you feel?”
It used to make him angry. Enraged. But now he was jealous— jealous that his wife didn’t spend every waking moment feeling like she’d been thrown into Lake Michigan with cinder blocks anchored to her limbs. Evan had once read about dry drowning, a person slowly dying hours or even days after leaving the water. That’s how he’d felt for the past seven years, oxygen slowly being stolen from his damaged insides. “I understand. We all had to find ways to deal with it.”
Dr. Silverstein seemed to see right through his forced reasonableness. But she’d prodded enough for now.
“And how about the rest of your kids?”
“Maggie’s hanging in there.” He smiled, thinking of his daughter. “She’s busy wrapping up her senior year, so that helps. But she’s always been my trouper— she believes that her big brother will get out, regardless of what the Supreme Court says.”
Dr. Silverstein offered a sad smile.
Evan continued. “Tommy, well, he’s just too young to understand.
And Liv shelters him from it all.” Shortly after Danny’s arrest, Liv learned she was pregnant— having a baby at “advanced maternal age,” as the doctor diplomatically put it. Unplanned and with the worst timing in the world, but somehow the pregnancy and that little boy saved them, especially Liv.
Silverstein waited a long moment. Another psychologist trick. Let the patient fill the silence.
When Evan didn’t bite, Silverstein finally asked: “And Matthew?” Evan looked at the floor. “We still haven’t talked.”
“So it’s been what, four months?” Her tone was matter-of-fact, not judgmental.
Evan nodded, folded his arms. He didn’t want to elaborate, and was surprised when Dr. Silverstein didn’t push it.
She looked at Evan thoughtfully. “Sometimes,” she said, “after a traumatic event— and in its own way I think this court decision was its own trauma— it can be good for a family to reset. To spend time away from your usual surroundings. Have fun, even.”
“You mean like a vacation?” Evan said, trying to hide the what the fuck tone in his voice.
“Maybe. Or just some time away together. As a family.”
“I’d love to, but we really can’t do it— financially, I mean.” He blew out a breath, deciding he might as well get his money’s worth for the session. “They let me go.”
“Who?” Silverstein said, her voice concerned. “You mean your job?”
“Yep. Twenty-five years, and poof.” He made an explosion gesture with his hands.
“What happened?” Dr. Silverstein’s eyes flicked to the grandfather clock, like she was worried she’d need more time now.
“What do you mean by that, Evan?” She was leaning forward in her chair, fingers laced, full eye contact.
“I mean, I don’t blame them. It’s a big accounting firm, and my billable hours have been terrible, particularly since I transferred to the Chicago office. I lost my main client six months ago. And let’s face it: the show.”
“You mean the documentary?”
Evan tried not to lose his patience, but what other show could it possibly be? The reason anyone knew or cared about Danny Pine. The reason the Supreme Court’s refusal to review Danny’s life sentence made national news. The reason Evan had tricked himself into thinking his son would come home after seven long years. The pop-culture phenom “A Violent Nature.”
“Yeah,” Evan said, “you’ve seen it, right?” “I’ve seen it, yes.”
“Well, you know then.”
“I’m not sure what you mean.”
“I came off like a lunatic.”
Evan gave her a disappointed look.
“I think you came off like a father devastated about his son being wrongfully imprisoned for murder.”
“And a lunatic.”
She didn’t answer. But she agreed. He could see it in her eyes. She mercifully stayed away from the questions that had haunted him for the past week. What are you going to do for money? How will you pay the mortgage? Maggie’s tuition?
“Are you okay?”
Evan sat back, exhaled loudly. “It’s funny, when I got the call that the court denied Danny’s appeal, I was listening to a Linkin Park song— one released shortly before the singer died. Over the years, his songs had become less angry, more melancholy.” Evan swallowed over the lump in his throat. He could feel Dr. Silverstein scrutinizing him. “The song said something about no one caring if a single star burned out in a sky of a million stars.”
Silverstein narrowed her eyes. “The singer of this band,” she said, “how did he die?”
“Suicide,” Evan said. The word hung in the air.
“Evan,” Silverstein finally said, her voice serious, “are you— ”
“Of course not.”
Dr. Silverstein leaned in closer. “The medications you’re on,” she said, her tone softer, “in some people they can cause intrusive thoughts.”
“Don’t forget the fatigue, sexual problems, and insomnia— all really helpful for someone who’s already depressed.”
Dr. Silverstein bunched up her face. “I appreciate the humor, but I’m being serious. The medications can cause suicidal thoughts. The meds can trick a patient into thinking there’s only one solution.”
Or maybe they cause the patient to finally see the truth.
“You’ve got nothing to worry about, Dr. Silverstein,” Evan said. “I’m fine.”
By her expression, Evan could tell she didn’t believe him. Like he said, she was a good therapist.
My thanks to Lauren of Head of Zeus for the tour invitation and extract.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alex Finlay lives in Washington, D.C. Born in the American South, Alex spent years traversing the globe, from a tropical island in the Pacific to a small village in the UK to a remote region in the Far East. But it was on a trip to Tulum, Mexico that Alex was inspired to write Every Last Fear.