You Let Me In delivers a stunning tale from debut author Camilla Bruce, combining the sinister domestic atmosphere of Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects with the otherwordly thrills of Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane.
Cassandra Tipp is dead…or is she?
After all, the notorious recluse and eccentric bestselling novelist has always been prone to flights of fancy—everyone in town remembers the shocking events leading up to Cassie’s infamous trial (she may have been acquitted, but the insanity defense only stretches so far).
Cassandra Tipp has left behind no body—just her massive fortune, and one final manuscript.
Then again, there are enough bodies in her past—her husband Tommy Tipp, whose mysterious disembowelment has never been solved, and a few years later, the shocking murder-suicide of her father and brother.
Cassandra Tipp will tell you a story—but it will come with a terrible price. What really happened, out there in the woods—and who has Cassie been protecting all along? Read on, if you dare…
Please enjoy this excerpt of You Let Me In, available 04/21/20.
I have sometimes been asked why I remained in S— after the trial. After the man you knew as Tommy Tipp died. It would have been so easy then, to slip away and move somewhere else, to a town or a city where people didn’t know me. A clean slate was what Dr. Martin prescribed.
A fresh start.
Of course, I didn’t particularly like staying in S—. All the eyes staring when I walked down the street or bought ground beef and carrots at the grocery store. My name had been on everyone’s lips for months, my face gracing the front pages. If they didn’t know me before, they certainly did by then. But I had reasons, as you’ll come to understand.
And things weren’t quite as they seemed. Tommy Tipp was not what you think he was.
I know you liked him, he was always good to you children. I remember him taking Janus fishing and spinning with Penelope on the lawn. You picked him flowers once, do you remember, Penelope, those daisies and bluebells you gave him? Even your mother warmed to him, eventually. Told me how happy she was that I had finally found “an ounce of happiness,” that I was “settling down”—even with Tommy Tipp.
They were mystified, I think, Olivia and her friends, and Mother too, as to why Tommy Tipp chose me. He was dashingly handsome in a dangerous way with a shock of blond hair and very blue eyes, body lean and skin tanned. He was the man all the women in S— dreamed of at night while lying in their husbands’ arms. He was at the center of that guilty, sweet lust they could not curb, no matter how respectable, how well adjusted and successful, they were. Tommy Tipp could ignite a fire in virgins and widows alike. Married women were his specialty; they cost him very little both in effort and in risk. Before he met me, he made a business of it, sleeping around for gifts and favors. He was a champion of secret daytime trysts, every one of the women thinking herself the only one. We all knew he had been to prison, of course, that his past was littered with battery and theft. S— is a small town. But who doesn’t love a redeemed villain, an angel with the alluring taint of sin? I never was so blind, never wanted him for being dangerous; I already had a dangerous lover—already knew the taste of sin. No wonder the ladies were cross, though, when his gorgeous body was found in the woods.
But I’m moving too fast, we’re not there yet. A lot of things happened before that.
One thing you must know: I was never a good girl.
Never like your mother, all compliant and soft. She reveled in praise, that one, twinkled like a star when someone told her she did well. I was the awkward older sister, ungainly and thin where she was soft and round. Olivia’s hair shone like polished copper, mine was wavy and brown. Her skin was like milk, mine marred by freckles, but a sprinkle of pigments makes no bad girl, of course, it runs deeper than that, runs in the blood. Some of us are just born wrong.
Your mother would have told you we were never close. How we were never the same, she and I. Especially after the rumors and, of course, after the trial, she was eager to forsake me.
I remember it differently, though. I remember summer vacations spent at the seaside, small golden anchors pinned to our chests. I remember looking through the glass-like water in shallow ponds, teasing crabs, collecting seashells. I remember sand between our toes, sweet ice cream melting on our tongues. I remember cake on the porch, fat pieces of fruit embedded like jewels in the sponge. The setting sun before us bleeding a golden light that turned her hair into a coppery river, turned her milky skin a darker, softer shade.
I remember the dolls we got one Christmas morning; pale skinned and black of hair. The home we made for them under the dining room table; white walls of tablecloth, eggcups as goblets and silken pillows as thrones. Medieval princesses both. We picked roses in the garden and adorned their hair, wrought thorny stems as crowns, and had our brother, Ferdinand, serenade them with his recorder, which he played with zeal if not delight.
I remember laughing together, like sisters. I remember that, and more.
Olivia would tell you it never happened. Maybe she’s forgotten that it did.
Copyright © Camilla Bruce 2020
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