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Excerpt Sampler 2017
THESE ARE UNCORRECTED PROOFS. PLEASE DO NOT QUOTE FOR PUBLICATION UNTIL YOU CHECK YOUR COPY AGAINST THE FINISHED BOOK.
Excerpt from Watch Me Disappear © 2017 by Janelle Brown Excerpt from Shadow Man © 2017 by Alan Drew Excerpt from The Little French Bistro © 2017 by Nina George Translation copyright © 2017 by Simon Pare Excerpt from Do Not Become Alarmed © 2017 by Maile Meloy
All rights reserved. First published by Spiegel & Grau, Random House, Crown, and Riverhead divisions of Penguin Random House. First Printing, 2017 Copyright 2017 All rights reserved
REGISTERED TRADEMARKS Printed in the United States of America. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book. PUBLISHER’S NOTE Watch Me Disappear, Shadow Man, The Little French Bistro, and Do Not Become Alarmed are works of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the authors’ imaginations or a used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. This publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content. The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.
Delicious Summer Reads Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown ....................................................... 5 Shadow Man: A Novel by Alan Drew ......................................................... 13 The Little French Bistro: A Novel by Nina George........................................................ 23 Do Not Become Alarmed: A Novel by Maile Meloy........................................................ 29
Coming soon to your local library! Be sure to place your holds early for the hot summer reads everyone will be talking about!
Available July 2017 • Spiegel & Grau • Hardcover, eBook, and Audio Editions
For fans of Big Little Lies. “Tantalizing and twisty . . . a spider’s web of a thriller and a moving exploration of the deeper mysteries of marriage and family. You won’t be able to put it down.” —Megan Abbott
Y P RO LO G UE It’s a good day, or maybe even a great one, although it will be impossible to know for sure later. By that point they’ll already have burnished their memories of this afternoon, polished them to a jewel-like gleam. One of the last days they spent together as a family before Billie died: Of course Jonathan and Olive are going to feel sentimental about it. Of course they will see only what they want to see. Still, Jonathan will think, on the spectrum of all their days together, ranging from that time the whole family got food poisoning at Spenger’s Fish Grotto to the day Olive was born, this one certainly ranks closer to the top. It is, for one thing, a clear sunny day, which is no small piece of luck when you’re on a Northern California beach in October. The – Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown –
sand is actually warm between their toes, instead of dank and gritty; but the air also has the crisp autumnal bite that makes you want to wrap yourself in something soft. No one acts crabby, or restless, or bored. Billie has packed some particularly delicious sandwiches— pesto chicken for the adults, hummus for Olive (who has recently gone vegetarian)—and they wash these down with tepid cocoa from a thermos. After they eat their lunch, Billie and Jonathan sit on the beach while Olive goes down to the water’s edge and mucks about barefoot in the surf. There’s a tree-sized piece of driftwood that’s been deposited near the crest of the tide line, and Jonathan sits with his back braced against this. He’s brought printouts of a half-dozen Decode features that urgently require his attention, but the whole point of the day was family time, to compensate for all those days and nights vacuumed up by his job. Besides, how can he focus on narrative coherence and Oxford commas when the tide is low and the surf is high? Billie uses Jonathan’s bent legs as her chair, her long hair draping down his thighs. She studies the surfers bobbing out at the break as she scoops up sand and lets it trickle through splayed fingers, absently picking out rocks and twigs. Jonathan reaches out and takes a strand of her hair, one of the silver threads that are starting to lace through the dark brown. He rubs it gently between his fingertips, testing its texture, testing the temperature of his wife. “What are you, a monkey?” Billie says. She’s built a tower of smooth stones, and she examines it, then flattens it again. “Still hungry. Looking for snacks,” he says. He looks up to see Olive at the edge of the water, studying them from a distance. He waves at his daughter, and she arcs her own arm back in a half-moon of acknowledgment. She looks happy, but sometimes it’s hard to tell: Her down-turning mouth frowns even as it smiles, contradicting itself. A wave washes up the sand, licking at her bare toes, and she dances away from it. Billie follows his gaze. “How is she going to manage?” He releases her hair. “What do you mean?” 6
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“In life. The world is tough on soft things. She’s going to need to grow a thicker skin or she’s going to spend her whole life being too afraid to try anything.” Jonathan studies his daughter, silhouetted by the crashing sea. She’s spied something beneath her feet—a shell or a hermit crab or a piece of trash—and her brow furrows as she leans down and picks it up to examine it. He feels a flash of empathy for her, the bookish child he used to be in silent communion with the child she is. “She’s just sensitive. That’s normal for fifteen.” “I was bold at that age,” Billie says crisply. “You were not the typical kid,” Jonathan says. Billie laughs at this and tips her head backward over Jonathan’s knees to smile at him. There’s sand speckling her cheekbones, stuck in the delicate lines around her eyes, and he gently wipes it away. “Anyway, Olive is tougher than you’re giving her credit for.” She lifts her head and examines their daughter in the distance. “OK. Good.” “If you’re so worried, talk to her,” he adds. “I tried when I took her hiking last month. Didn’t go well.” She sits upright and leans forward and away from him, running a hand through the tangle of her hair. “She used to soak up every word I uttered like it was gospel. She doesn’t do that anymore.” Jonathan notes the edge of pained querulousness in her voice. “Oh, please. She still worships you,” he says. “She’s just a teenager, she’s individuating. Keep trying, she’ll come around soon. And it’s good for her to know you care.” As Jonathan watches Billie, he thinks that the person it really would be good for is his wife, who perhaps needs to feel needed by their daughter again. You don’t realize how much you’ll miss the asphyxiating intimacy of early parenthood until you can finally breathe again. “Always the optimist, my Jonathan.” She says this as she’s looking out to sea, her words swallowed up by the pounding surf, so that for a moment he’s not sure he’s heard her right. He blinks, a flush of gratitude. “Billie? I still think—” But she cuts him off, her words cooling quickly: “I can tell by your – Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown –
tone of voice where you’re going, and don’t. Just don’t. I don’t want to talk about it.” Down at the other end of the beach, the group of surfers has emerged from the sea, and they strip their wetsuits back like banana peels, bare flesh emerging from black neoprene. The boys jostle up against the girls, crowding their space, grabbing at their towels while the girls pretend to be indignant. Billie carefully wipes the sand from her hands as she stares at the surfers, the muscles in her back going taut under the thin cotton of her T-shirt. Jonathan wonders if she’s seeing a former version of herself in the girls, in their loose-limbed freedom, in the way they demand that the entire beach notice them. He remembers that Billie—the girl he fell in love with sixteen years earlier, and honestly, not so much changed—and he reaches out to massage the tenseness away, but she shrugs him off. They sit there like that for a while, silently watching the surfers collect their towels and then disappear in the opposite direction. Once they’re out of sight, Billie’s shoulders go slack. She stretches, lets out a muffled sound that’s a cross between a sigh and a groan. “You know, I might do a backpacking trip one of these weekends soon. Maybe up the Pacific Crest Trail.” “Again? With Rita?” “No, by myself.” She gives a little laugh. “You know, just me alone with my thoughts.” “Sounds nice. But is that such a good idea?” he says, hiding a small hiccup of anxiety: Alone with what thoughts? Billie ignores this and stands up, crumpling the waxed paper from her sandwich with efficient finality. She beckons to Olive, who walks toward her mother with her hands full of some algae-covered flotsam that she’s plucked from the sea. “If we’re going to see those butterflies before it gets too late, we should head up,” Billie announces. She turns and jogs up the dunes without checking to see if her husband and child are following her. The monarch preserve is crowded, but not with butterflies. The arrival of the annual migration was announced in the local news earlier that week, and apparently Billie wasn’t the only one to flag the 8
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story, because the tourists are out in force. Olive trails after her parents as they wander up and down the wooden walkways, craning her neck to scan the trees. The occasional butterfly flutters by overhead, an orange fleck backlit by the sun. The place is loud with the squeals of kids and shouting parents, unlike the reverent, hushed temple to nature that Olive had imagined. She dodges a woman now, followed by another, all of them busily Instagramming any old insect that flits by, as their children lunge at the butterflies with sticky hands. Alarmed, Olive wants to shout: Don’t they know that if they touch the butterflies’ wings, they’ll die? Did no one teach them to Leave No Trace? She looks around at the overflowing trash cans, the parents wielding aerosol sunscreens, and worries that this is why there aren’t more butterflies here today. Or is it global warming, pesticides? So many potential reasons why the monarch population is declining precipitously; she should really get her mother to plant milkweed in the garden. Her mother disappears for a while, wandering off without warning, as she sometimes does. But as Olive turns back along the path, she hears Billie calling her name. Olive follows the sound of her mother’s voice and finds her lying on her back in a little hidden corner of the wooden walkway. She has her hands crossed over her belly, the collar of her fleece zip-up spread underneath her head as a pillow. Olive lies down beside her mother on the sun-warmed wood. She follows Billie’s finger to where she is pointing. There, directly above them, the eucalyptus trees are pulsing. Hundreds of monarch butterflies are clinging to the branches, their wings moving in syncopation. The leaves droop under their weight, swinging heavily in the breeze. Olive’s breath stops in her throat, something huge and beautiful aching within her. “Why do you think they come here?” her mom asks in a low voice. “Of all the places in the world they could go, they come here, to this zoo, every winter. Couldn’t they find a secret place, somewhere they could be more alone? Or do you think they want to be here, where people are? That they instinctually want to be seen?” – Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown –
Olive considers this. “I think it’s dew hydration and wind protection. There’s a sign at the entrance. That’s what butterflies need most, and they get it from the eucalyptus and the fog off the ocean.” Billie flaps her hand as if thrusting this explanation aside. “There are lots of other places with eucalyptus up and down the coast that they could choose. They come back here, to this one place, despite the hordes.” She is quiet for a minute, watching the butterflies clustering above them, as thick as barnacles on the eucalyptus leaves. “All that glory. And the worst part of it is, no one here really appreciates what they’ve been allowed to see. Instead they take this precious thing and just fuck it up.” There is an odd, angry hitch in Billie’s words. Olive turns her head to look at her mom. Billie has her eyes closed tight, but a tear has escaped from one corner and is slowly working its way down toward her earlobe. “Mom?” Olive says, alarmed. “I’m sure the butterflies are OK here. It’s a sanctuary, right? So someone’s watching out for them.” “I know.” Billie’s eyes are still closed, but she turns to rest her face in Olive’s hair before turning back to gaze up at the butterflies. Olive hears footsteps on the boardwalk, and then her dad is lying down next to her. He reaches across Olive for her mom’s hand. They lie there like that for a while, Olive’s parents’ hands clasped over her body, silent. It feels like they are breathing in time with the pulsing of the butterflies and the swaying of the trees. In the distance, Olive can hear the waves crashing against the rocks. Finally, a pack of schoolchildren comes thundering along the walkway, and the butterflies lift in unison and fly off in search of a safer branch. As the three of them also rise, Billie dries her face with the back of her sleeve, and Jonathan snaps a family selfie for posterity (their last family photo, and it’s not a good one, Billie’s face blurry as she tries to avoid getting her picture taken; and Jonathan squinting from the sun; only Olive in clear focus), and then they head back down the path toward their car. As they drive back home—Billie nodding off in the front seat, Olive absorbed by her iPhone in the back—Jonathan thinks about his 10
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wife’s tears and smiles. He assumes that Billie, like him, was touched by the grace of that moment: the fragile butterflies triggering an exquisite consciousness of the miracle of existence, of the growing girl lying between them, of the stretch of days stringing out behind them. Of the days that he believes are still ahead.
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Available Now • Random House • Hardcover, eBook, and Audio Editions
For fans of Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly, and Tana French. “A home run—wonderfully imagined and wonderfully written, patient but propulsive, serious but suspenseful, grown up but gripping . . . everything a great thriller should be.” —Lee Child
Y Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler.
Find a little strip, find a little stranger Yeah you’re gonna feel my hand I got a livin’ angel, want a little danger Honey you’re gonna feel my hand —Iggy and the Stooges
– Shadow Man by Alan Drew –
PA RT O N E THE THINGS THAT KEEP YOU SAFE
Electrical currents pulsed in the tip of each of his fingers.When he had keyed open the trunk of the car fifteen minutes earlier to find the gloves and the X-Acto knife, a spark had leapt off the keyhole. Now the wind was up, just as the man on the radio had said, ripping leaves from the eucalyptus trees and scattering them into the playground. There, beneath the bruised late-evening sky, a couple swayed on a swing, the teenage girl draped across her boyfriend’s lap. He leaned against a tree trunk for a moment and watched them—their tangled bodies swaying in a half circle, her small hand pressed against the boy’s cheek, her kisses wide-mouthed and devouring. He peeled strips of bark from the tree until the green skin was exposed to the desert air. The two kids were aware of nothing except each other’s body—not the wind, not the deepening darkness, not the screech of the swinging S-hook, not the man standing fifteen yards away in the night shadow of the bowing eucalyptus trees. The streetlamps flickered to life, and suddenly the dark path of the greenbelt was illuminated, a cement walkway snaking the grass behind fenced backyards. The girl glanced up at the light, but her mind was focused on the boy, on the inner storm heating her body. She might have felt him there, he wasn’t sure. People felt things; he’d learned that in the last few months—the heat of his eyes on the backs of their necks, his electric body radiating beneath the windowsill, the hint of his footsteps on their patio steps. It excited him, his presence pricking their awareness. He stood still in the darkness, just as he did now, watching their momentary pause as though hearing some primal echo of people once hunted.Yes, you were prey once. The girl blinked blindly and then slid down her boyfriend’s thighs, her hand moving toward his belt. He could see what her hand was doing, and a memory gripped him—a door thrown open to bursting light, fingers like giant spider legs prickling his skin, his childhood name whispered among the earwigs and beetle bugs and white curlicue worms of the basement. And his childhood voice spoke something, not in his head, not in the memory, but out loud into the present world. 14
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“Who’s there?” the girl said, and he was jolted back to himself. Dusk. Santa Ana winds. Greenbelt running through the center of a housing tract. “Who the hell’s there?” the boy spoke now, his voice pitched low to hide his sudden fear. He liked the boy, liked his fear. Awake to himself, he spun around the tree trunk and walked behind the grove of eucalyptus. “Creeper,” he heard the girl say. “Rent a goddamned movie,” the boy yelled after him. His head throbbed now. The electricity buzzed in his teeth and the row of trees bowed over him, their limbs shaking in the wind. He could feel his left eye fluttering and closing, his mind spinning into vertigo until his adult self chastised his childhood self and everything found its place again in the world.The lights illuminating the path were like bright white moons stabbed into the ground. He was drawn into the warm pools of light and then into the cool darkness and back into light until he found himself in the half darkness of a flickering bulb. He stood for a moment beneath the staccato filament until finally it sparked and popped. Another light caught his attention then. Beyond the pathway was a window. It glowed orange in the night and cast its mirror image on the mowed lawn beneath it. In that window stood a woman, her head enveloped in steam, her features smudged as though an eraser had been rubbed across her face. He watched the woman now, from the greenbelt, music from her stereo floating into the hot evening. Some sort of jazz, his fingers tingling with the beat, a cigarette-scorched singing voice turned loud to keep her company. She was alone, he could feel it. There was an opening in her fence—no locked gate, just a garden of stunted cactus twisting out of white rock. He didn’t always know what he was looking for. Sometimes he just went for walks in the neighborhoods—watching the boys in the street popping ollies on their skateboards, sniffing the dampness of pesticide sprayed on the grass, peering into windows where women slipped blouses over their heads. These neighborhoods with their privacy fences and dwarf palms, their greenbelt walks and rows of eucalyptus, their leaves spicing the air with oily mint. Here, in these neighborhoods, people left garage doors open,
– Shadow Man by Alan Drew –
left backyard sliding glass doors unhinged.They slept with their windows cracked, the ocean breeze on their necks in the early morning. He might go three or four nights without the feeling. A week, maybe. Sometimes he got lucky and felt what he was looking for two nights in a row. Tonight, standing in the pool of darkness beneath a shorted-out bulb, he felt it, and he stepped over the cactus spines into her backyard. He came up along the side of the house. There she was, bent over a cutting board, slicing tomatoes. She was cooking pasta, the starchy thickness of the noodles steaming out the screened side window, knotting his stomach. It had been a while since he’d eaten. The window beaded with steam, turning the glass into a mirror, and for a moment he could see half of his face. He’d caught only glimpses of it in the last few months—a shard of it in the rearview mirror, a cheek and an eye in the side-view, a nose and a forehead while bent over a sink, scouring his hands. His face was soft and boyish, and he was forced to look at it now, that baby face, until the woman slicked her hand across the pane and glanced through the window. He froze and stared back at her, feeling the charged current pass between them. If she saw him, he would run, but if she didn’t . . . It was dark outside her window and he knew it was a mirror for her, too. When she tried to look through the glass, all she saw were her own eyes staring back, as though what had frightened her was imagined. No, he said to himself. What you’re afraid of is real. Then she turned to the sink and washed a bowl, her back to him, her shoulders sloped, her flowery housedress tangled around her waist. The music blared into the kitchen—trumpets, bass, drums rat-a-tat-tatting a beat, notes plinking through the screened window like pieces of candied metal. When she was finished she sat on a stool, facing the boiling pasta, and sipped a glass of wine. There was no ring on her finger, no one coming home to her tonight. He liked her, liked her loneliness; her aloneness would make things easier; people who had someone else, he had discovered, fought harder. He found the sliding door. The glass was pulled back, the house opened to the hot wind. Just a screen separated him from the carpeted living room. He tugged on the handle. Locked. He felt his blood rush then, a brief fluttering of his left eye.The door to the basement had had a lock on it, an iron hinge clamped shut from the outside. When the door closed, when he
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was his childhood self, he had been like a bird with a hood pulled over his eyes, blinking in the darkness of his own brain until the voice in his head strung made-up syllables together and a space opened up in his mind where the voice lived and the voice kept him from being afraid. Locked. The screen was locked. He watched the woman in the kitchen, her back bowed with heavy shoulders, the steam swirling above her head, the music a chaos of metal clinks. It’s just aluminum and mesh, he wanted to say to her. Mesh and aluminum. The stupid things that make you feel safe. Doors and walls, screens and lights. He put on the gloves first, like slipping into new skin, and slit a line along the aluminum frame with the X-Acto knife—the plinking of each thread drowned by the squeal of trumpets. When it was cut, he peeled back the screen, and the mesh yawned open to let him inside.
1 Emma was already up in the saddle. She sidestepped Gus across the gravel driveway, the horse’s hooves kicking up dust that blew across the yard. “C’mon, Dad,” Emma said. “It’s getting late.” Detective Benjamin Wade was hammering the latch back onto the barn door. When they came up the driveway in his cruiser fifteen minutes earlier, the door was slung wide open, the latch ripped out of the wood by the gusting Santa Ana winds. The winds had burst into the coastal basin midmorning, dry gusts billowing off the desert in the east that electrified the air. The morning had been heavy with gritty smog, the taste of leaded gas on the tongue. By early afternoon, though, the basin was cleared out, the smog pushed out over the Pacific. A brown haze camouflaged Catalina Island, but here the sky was topaz, the needle grass in the hills undulating green from early-fall storms. “I’ll meet you up there,” Emma said, spinning Gus around and cantering him up the trail.
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“Hold on,” Ben said. But she was already gone. He dropped the hammer, the latch swinging loose on a single nail. He pulled himself up onto Tin Man, raced the horse after her, and finally caught up to her on Bommer Ridge. “You’re getting slow, old man,” Emma said, turning to smile at him. “You’re getting impatient.” “You want to be here as much as I do,” she said. That was true. This was exactly where he wanted to be—in the hills, riding a horse, with his daughter. They rode side by side now, Emma rocking back and forth on Gus’s swayback. Tin Man snorted a protest, shaking his head to rattle the reins; the horse was getting too old for that kind of running, his cattle-rustling days well behind him. Gus and Tin Man were the last of the cutters. Four years ago, in 1982, when the cattle ranch officially shuttered the Hereford operations, they were set to be shipped off as dog-food canners. Ben wasn’t having any of that, so he bought them for the price of their meat and taught his daughter to ride. The horses guided themselves along the fading cow path past the old cowboy camp, hooves flushing jackrabbits out of sagebrush clumps. He smiled and watched Emma, her thin back and wiry legs in perfect control of Gus. He wished his father could have met her; she was a natural on a horse, a cowboy in a place that didn’t need them anymore. They rode through a tangle of manzanita, the branches scratching their calves, and sidled through the shade of gasoline trees until they were in the open again, trailing the backbone of Quail Hill. A slope of poppies spread beneath them, blossoming orange into El Moro Canyon and down to the blue crescent of Crystal Cove. One of the advantages of being a detective was the flexible hours, and when things were slow, as they mostly were in Rancho Santa Elena, Ben could pick up his daughter from school. He had done this for four years now, a reliable pleasure that continued even after the divorce was finalized a year and six days ago and he and his wife—his “ex-wife”—negotiated joint custody. Picking up was not 18
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a part of the settlement, but Rachel had stacks of papers to grade and when he proposed it to her she was thankful for the extra time. The added benefit of the gesture, too, was that sometimes Rachel gave him an extra night with Emma or let him take their daughter for horseback rides on weekday afternoons that weren’t supposed to be his. He savored every moment with Emma; he figured he had another year or two of these afternoons together, and then it would be all boys and cruising South Coast Plaza mall with her girlfriends. “How was the algebra test?” he said, taking advantage of the moment. “Irrational.” He smiled. “Shoot anyone today?” she said. “Was in a gunfight over at Alta Plaza shopping center,” he said. “You didn’t hear about it?” “I missed the breaking news.” It was her daily joke; in the four years since Ben had left the LAPD and moved south to join the Rancho Santa Elena police force, he hadn’t discharged his weapon, except into the hearts of paper bad guys on the firing range out by the Marine base. “How are you and Mrs. Ross getting along?” he said, hoping Emma hadn’t gotten in another argument with her ninth-grade English teacher. “Equitably,” she said, another witty evasion. “Arrest anyone today?” “Nope,” he said. “But there’s always tomorrow.” He’d driven down to the Wedge in Newport Beach at sunrise, bodysurfed a few windblown waves, and rolled back into town by 8:00 a.m. for his shift. He’d awoken a man sleeping in his car on a new construction site in El Cazador, checked his tags, given the man his fresh coffee, and sent him on his way. He’d run IDs on a psychologist he suspected of selling psychotropics on the side. He’d been called to a skateboard shop off Via Rancho Parkway to hunt down two elevenyear-old boys who’d absconded with new Santa Cruz boards. “Just borrowing them, dude,” one of the kids said, when he found them – Shadow Man by Alan Drew –
kick-flipping the boards at the local skate park. In master-planned Rancho Santa Elena, he was mostly a glorified security guard, paid to make residents feel safer in a place already numbingly safe—and both he and Emma knew it. “How’s your mother?” he asked, hoping for a tidbit. “Domineering.” And there she went, standing in the stirrups, cantering Gus down the hill ahead of him. Rachel said it was normal, this pulling away from them—she was fourteen, after all—and he guessed it was, but it didn’t make him feel any better about it. “Take it easy,” Ben called out to her. “It’s steep here.” “Geez, Mr. Overprotective,” she said, reining the horse in and plopping back in the saddle. He could feel her rolling her eyes at him, a condition that had worsened in the last year. Emma kept her distance now, trotting Gus along the ridgeline, the two of them disappearing behind an escarpment of rock before coming back into view. Down into Laguna Canyon, Ben could see the stitching of pink surveying flags waving in the wind—the “cut here” line for the new toll road, if the environmentalists couldn’t fend it off. The flags followed an old cattle trail that led to the beach. On full moons, Ben and his father would ride the trail together in the shadows of the canyon, the hillsides rising milky white above them. This was the 1960s, before the developers had started bulldozing the hills, and the land was silently alive with owl and raccoon, with the illuminated eyes of bobcat. It was so wild back then that when a grizzly bear escaped a local wild-animal park, it took game wardens two weeks to hunt the animal down and shoot it in the darkness of a limestone cave. For thirteen days it was the last wild grizzly in California, making an honest symbol out of the state’s flag. After two hours of riding one moonlit night, Ben and his father had reached Route 1, recently renamed the Pacific Coast Highway, a four-lane expressway zipping cars up and down the coast. They had to sit perched on their horses for five minutes, waiting for the blur of headlights to pass. “In ten years,” his father had said, bit20
– Shadow Man by Alan Drew –
terness in his voice, “everything will be goddamned concrete.” His father had lived out here since the Dust Bowl days, he and his family escaping a bone-dry Kansas in ’34, stepping off a coast-to-coast Greyhound into irrigated fields of orange groves. When he was ten, this was ranchland all the way down to the frothing surf, and he had spent his life watching it be slowly devoured. When there was finally a break in traffic, Ben and his father had nudged the horses across the cement until sand silenced the clipping hooves. They tied the horses to a gnarl of cactus and sat watching the bioluminescent waves crash the beach. It was the red tide, his father said—blooms of algae that sucked the oxygen from the water and flopped dead fish onto the beach. During the day the ocean was stained rust with it, but at night the foam of crashing waves glowed phosphorescent blue, swelling and ebbing bursts of light arcing down the coastline. Ben and Emma reached the top of the hill now, the fledgling city of Rancho Santa Elena spreading beneath them in a patchwork of unfinished grids. Even when Ben was a kid, the basin had been mostly empty—a dusty street with a single Esso gas station, the crisscrossing runways of the Marine air base, a brand-new housing tract out by the new university, a few outlying buildings for ranchers and strawberry pickers. Now Rancho Santa Elena spread in an irregular geometry from the ocean to the base of the eastern hills of the Santa Ana Mountains, where newly paved roads cut swaths through orange groves. The center of town, the part of the master plan that was finished, looked vaguely Spanish—peaks of red-tiled rooftops organized in neat rows, man-made lakes with imported ducks, greenbelts cutting pathways for joggers and bicyclists. It was like watching a virus consume the soft tissue of land, spreading to join Los Angeles to the north. A sudden screech, and an F-4 fighter jet roared above Emma’s head. Tin Man leapt backward, and Gus startled and bucked, losing his purchase on the rocky trail. “Heels in,” he called out to Emma, as one of her hands lost grip on the reins. Ben dug his boot heels into Tin Man’s flanks and the horse stead– Shadow Man by Alan Drew –
ied, but Gus stumbled down the hill and Emma flipped backward, thumping solidly on her back in the dirt. Ben was off Tin Man, rushing to her, and by the time he was there she was already sitting up, cursing the plane and its pilot. “Asshole,” she said, slapping dust from her jeans. “You all right?” Ben said, his hand on her back. “No.” She slapped the ground, her brown eyes lit with fury. “I want to kill that guy.” “Anything broken?” “No,” she said, standing now. “Where’s Gus?” “Don’t worry about the horse.” She had fallen before, of course, but his panic never changed about it. “Just sit. Make sure your ribs are in the right place.” He touched the side of her back, pressed a little. She elbowed his hands away. “I’m fine, Dad.” She went to Gus, who was shaking in a clump of cactus, a few thorns stabbing his flank. She hugged the horse’s chest as Ben yanked the thorns out, points of blood bubbling out of the skin. The jet swerved around the eastern hills, dropped its landing gear, and glided to the tarmac. “Asshole,” Ben said. “Yeah,” Emma said, smiling. “Took the words right out of my mouth.”
– Shadow Man by Alan Drew –
Available June 2017 • Crown • Hardcover, eBook, Audio, and Large Print Editions
For fans of The Little Paris Bookshop, Chocolat, and You’ve Got Mail. “A luscious and uplifting tale of personal redemption in the tradition of Eat, Pray, Love.” —Kirkus Reviews
+ It was the first decision she had ever made on her own, the very first time she was able to determine the course of her life. Marianne decided to die. Here and now, down below in the waters of the Seine, late on this gray day. On her trip to Paris. There was not a star in the sky, and the Eiffel Tower was but a dim silhouette in the hazy smog. Paris emitted a roar, with a constant rumble of scooters and cars and the murmur of Métro trains moving deep in the guts of the city. The water was cool, black and silky. The Seine would carry her on a quiet bed of freedom to the sea. Tears ran down her cheeks; strings of salty tears. Marianne was smiling and weeping at the same time. – The Little French Bistro by Nina George –
Never before had she felt so light, so free, so happy. “It’s up to me,” she whispered. “This is up to me.” She took off the shoes she had bought fifteen years ago—the shoes she had needed to resole so many times. She had purchased them in secret and at full price. Lothar had told her off when he first found out, then gave her a dress to go with them. The dress was bought directly from a factory, and was reduced due to a weaving fault; a gray dress with gray flowers on it. She was wearing that too today. Her final today. Time had seemed infinite when she still had many years and decades ahead of her. A book waiting to be written: as a girl, that was how she had seen her future life. Now she was sixty, and the pages were blank. Infinity had passed like one long continuous day. She lined up the shoes neatly on the bench beside her, before having second thoughts and placing them on the ground. She didn’t want to dirty the bench—a pretty woman might get a stain on her skirt and suffer embarrassment as a result. She tried to ease off her wedding ring but didn’t succeed, so she stuck her finger in her mouth and eventually the ring came off. There was a band of white skin where it had been. A homeless man was sleeping on a bench on the other side of the street that ran across the Pont Neuf. He was wearing a striped top, and Marianne was grateful that his back was turned. She laid the ring beside her shoes. Someone was bound to find it and live for a few days from the proceeds of pawning it. They could buy a baguette, a bottle of pastis, some salami; something fresh, not food from the bin for once. Maybe a newspaper to keep themselves warm. “No more food past its sell‑by date,” she said. Lothar used to put crosses next to the special offers in the weekly newspaper inserts, the way other people ticked the TV programs they wanted to watch. Saturday—Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Sunday—True Detective. For Lothar it was: Monday—Angel Delight past its best-before date. They ate the items he marked. Marianne closed her eyes. Lothar Messmann, “Lotto” to his 24
– The Little French Bistro by Nina George –
friends, was an artillery sergeant major who looked after his men. He and Marianne lived in a house in a cul-de-sac in Celle, Germany, with a lattice fence that ran along the side of the turning bay. Lothar looked good for his age. He loved his job, loved his car and loved television. He would sit on the sofa with his dinner tray on the wooden coffee table in front of him, the remote control in his left hand, a fork in his right, and the volume turned up high, as an artillery officer needed it to be. “No more, Lothar,” whispered Marianne. She clapped her hands to her mouth. Might someone have overheard her? She unbuttoned her coat. Maybe it would keep someone else warm, even if she had mended the lining so often that it had become a crazy multicolored patchwork. Lothar always brought home little hotel shampoo bottles and sewing kits from his business trips to Bonn and Berlin. The sewing kits contained black, white and red thread. Who needs red thread? thought Marianne as she began to fold up the light-brown coat, edge to edge, the way she used to fold Lothar’s handkerchiefs and the towels she ironed. Not once in her adult life had she worn red. “The color of whores,” her mother had hissed. She had slapped Marianne when she was eleven for coming home in a red scarf she had picked up somewhere. It had smelled of floral perfume. Earlier that evening, up in Montmartre, Marianne had seen a woman crouching down over the gutter. Her skirt had ridden up her legs, and she was wearing red shoes. When the woman stood up, Marianne saw that the makeup around her bloodshot eyes was badly smeared. “Just a drunken whore,” someone in the tour party had remarked. Lothar had restrained Marianne when she made to go over to the woman. “Don’t make a laughingstock of yourself, Annie.” Lothar had stopped her from helping the woman and tugged her into the restaurant where the coach tour organizers had booked them a table. Marianne had glanced back over her shoulder until the French tour guide said, with a shake of her head, “Je connais la chanson—the same old story, but she can only blame herself.” – The Little French Bistro by Nina George –
Lothar had nodded, and Marianne had imagined herself crouching there in the gutter. A need for escape had been building in her for some time, but that was the last straw—and now she was standing here. She had left even before the starter had arrived, because she could no longer bear to sit there and say nothing. Lothar hadn’t noticed; he was caught up in the same conversation he had been having for the past twelve hours with a cheerful widow from Burgdorf. The woman kept squeaking, “That’s amazing!” to whatever Lothar said. Her red bra was showing through her white blouse. Marianne hadn’t even been jealous, just weary. Many women had succumbed to Lothar’s charms over the years. Marianne had left the restaurant and had drifted further and further until she found herself standing in the middle of the Pont Neuf. Lothar. It would have been easy to blame him, but it wasn’t that straightforward. “You’ve only got yourself to blame, Annie,” whispered Marianne.
Y She thought back to her wedding day in May forty-one years ago. Her father had watched, propped on his walking stick, as she had waited hour after hour in vain for her husband to ask her to dance. “You’re resilient, my girl,” he had said in a strained voice, weak from cancer. She had stood there freezing in her thin white dress, not daring to move a muscle. She hadn’t wanted it all to turn out to be a dream and come grinding to a halt if she made a fuss. “Promise me you’ll be happy,” her father had asked her, and Marianne had said yes. She was nineteen. Her father died two days after the wedding. That promise had proved to be one big lie. Marianne shook the folded coat, flung it to the ground and trampled on it. “No more! It’s all over! It’s over!” She felt brave as she stamped on the coat one last time, but her exhilaration subsided as quickly as it had come. She picked up the coat and laid it on the arm of the bench.
– The Little French Bistro by Nina George –
Only herself to blame. There was nothing more she could take off. She didn’t own any jewelry or a hat. She had no possessions apart from her shabby handbag containing a Paris guidebook, a few sachets of salt and sugar, a hair clip, her identity card and her coin purse. She placed the bag next to the shoes and the ring. Then she began to clamber onto the parapet. First she rolled onto her tummy and pulled her other leg up, but she nearly slid back down. Her heart was pounding, her pulse was racing and the rough sandstone scraped her knees. Her toes found a crack, and she pushed herself upward. She’d made it. She sat down and swung her feet over the other side. Now she simply had to push off and let herself fall. She couldn’t possibly mess this up. Marianne thought of the mouth of the Seine near Honfleur, through which her body would sail after drifting past locks and riverbanks and then float out to sea. She imagined the waves spinning her around, as if she were dancing to a tune that only she and the sea could hear. Honfleur, Erik S atie’s birthplace. She loved his music; she loved all kinds of music. Music was like a film that she watched on the back of her closed eyelids, and Satie’s music conjured up images of the sea, even though she had never been to the seaside. “I love you, Erik, I love you,” she whispered. She had never spoken those words to any man other than Lothar. When had he last told her that he loved her? Had he ever told her? Marianne waited for fear to come, but it didn’t. Death is not free. Its price is life. What’s my life worth? Nothing. A bad deal for the devil. He’s only got himself to blame. She hesitated as she braced her hands hard against the stone parapet and slid forward, suddenly thinking of an orchid she had found among the rubbish many months ago. She’d spent half a year tending and singing to it, but now she would never see it flower. Then she pushed off with both hands. – The Little French Bistro by Nina George –
Her jump became a fall, and falling forced her arms above her head. As she fell into the wind, she thought of the life insurance policy and how it would not pay out for a suicide. A loss of 124,563 euros. Lothar would be beside himself. A good deal after all. With this in mind, she hit the ice-cold Seine with a sense of joyous abandon that faded into profound shame as she sank and her gray flowery dress enveloped her head. She tried desperately to pull down the hem so no one would see her bare legs, but then she gave up and spread her arms, opened her mouth wide and filled her lungs with water.
+ Dying was like floating. Marianne leaned back. It was so wonderful. The happiness didn’t stop, and you could swallow it. She gulped it down. See, Dad. A promise is a promise. She saw an orchid, a purple bloom, and everything was music. When a shadow bent over her, she recognized death. It wore her own face at first, the face of a girl grown old—a girl with bright eyes and brown hair. Death’s mouth was warm. Then its beard scratched her, and its lips pressed repeatedly on hers. Marianne tasted onion soup and red wine, cigarettes and cinnamon. Death sucked at her. It licked her; it was hungry. She struggled to break free. Two strong hands settled on her bosom. Feebly she tried to force open the cold fingers that, little by little, were cracking open her chest. A kiss. Cold seeped into her throat. Marianne opened her eyes wide, her mouth gaped and she spewed out dark, dirty water. She reared up with a long moan, and as she gasped for air, the pain hit her like a keen blade, slicing her lungs to shreds. And so loud! Everything was so loud! 28
– The Little French Bistro by Nina George –
Available June 2017 • Riverhead • Hardcover, eBook, Audio, and Large Print Editions
For fans Ann Patchett and Liane Moriarty. “Smart and thrilling and impossible to put down. Read it once at breakneck speed to find out what happens next, and then read it slowly to marvel at the perfect prose and the masterwork of a plot.” —Ann Patchett
Y 7 The kids were engrossed in a complicated game with the three inner tubes, making a kind of raft that they could stand on. It required a great deal of concentration. Hector was the master of the game, and he kept everyone involved. He didn’t leave Sebastian and June out, or cut them any slack just because they were little. Penny admired that in him. He tossed his wet hair off his face. If Hector had been in a band, Penny’s friends would have fainted over him. And he could be in a band. He played guitar that well. He was good at building a structure, too, like her father was. He gave directions, saying, “Hold there. Now, Penny, you sit there. Okay, now you can stand up there. Now Penny, too.” He kept the whole three-ring raft stable. She loved hearing him say her name. – Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy –
His stomach was tan and slick above his pink-and-green checked shorts. Every few minutes, someone would slip or step in the wrong place and everyone would go crashing into the water, screaming with delight, the inner tubes flying. Hector would make sure everyone was safe and afloat, and then they would start rebuilding. They were so focused that they didn’t notice when the tide changed. It must have paused when they were first in the water. Then it reversed, and began to flow inland. No one noticed that the water from the sea was pushing them upstream, slowly at first, and then with surprising force. When they finally looked up, waterlogged, each with an arm slung over a tube and legs treading the silty water, they were in a different place. There was no beach. There were no mothers on towels. The river was starting to narrow. It was overhung with trees. Penny squinted against the sun. She was hanging on to an inner tube with Isabel, and had one arm over the smaller tube June and Sebastian were on. Her fingertips were pruned. She felt her little brother’s arm slide against hers. Hector and Marcus were on the third tube. Birds sang, and insects buzzed in the trees, but there were no human sounds. “What do we do?” she asked. They all looked to Hector, their leader. He frowned. Then he said, “We hold on and kick back.” He rolled his long body over and started to kick. They tried, all six of them, to propel themselves back toward the beach. But it was pointless, the tidal current was too strong. The little ones spluttered, water in their faces. “Stop!” Hector commanded. The song of insects and birds returned. On they floated, with the muscle of the river. “Will they come find us?” Sebastian asked, in a small voice. “Of course they will,” Penny said. And really, what was keeping them? The jungle on the bank looked impenetrable, but their mothers would find a way. 30
– Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy –
“Should we shout?” Marcus asked. Together they cried, “Mom,” “Mommy,” “Mami,” in one shrill, beseeching voice. Then they stopped, as if with the swipe of a conductor’s wand, and waited in the silence. There was no response. The river swirled around them. “I have to pee,” June said. “Just go in the water,” her brother said. “I can’t.” “Why not?” “I just can’t. What about those fish that swim up the pee, inside you?” “That’s in the Amazon,” Marcus said. “Why couldn’t they be here?” June asked. “Because the Amazon doesn’t connect to here,” he said. Penny already had peed, and hoped those fish really weren’t in the water. On the left bank, there was a tiny sloping place. They all kicked to it and clambered out. It felt good to be on solid ground. As soon as they stood up, it seemed clear that they should wait here, rather than traveling ever farther away from their mothers. It had been smart to get out. Penny helped June find a place to peel down her wet bathing suit, behind a tree. The trees were like something out of fairy tales: thick, twisted, hung with vines. June peed into the damp ground, looking up. “Are you scared, Penny?” she asked. “No,” Penny lied. “Because they’re going to find us?” “Yes,” Penny said. She helped June pull up her swimsuit straps and felt very grown-up. Isabel might be the oldest girl, but Penny was the one June knew and trusted. Her mother had told her to keep an eye on Sebastian and she had, but she hadn’t known this would happen. “I’m hungry,” June said. “We can go back to the buffet on the ship,” Penny said. “When they find us.” – Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy –
They rejoined the group, and Hector announced, “I’m going to swim back.” “You can’t swim against the river,” Marcus said. “I can,” he said. “If I stay to the sides. Where the water goes the other direction.” Penny had been whitewater rafting with her grandparents. “You mean in the eddies,” she said. Isabel said something protesting. “I’ll come back for you,” Hector said. He waded out, lowered his body in near the bank, and started swimming. He was very strong. His arms slashed through the water. They watched in silence as he disappeared around a bend. Then they were alone. “We should be on the other side of the river,” Marcus said. “We can’t get up that bank,” Penny said. They studied the other side of the river and the steep mud bank. And then the bank moved. At least it seemed to move. There were tangled roots, and a section of the mottled mud was sliding. “Oh!” Penny said. Isabel said something under her breath. It was not mud sliding, but an enormous crocodile, sunning itself on the bank. It had moved its big sinister head, split by a row of teeth, but now it settled again, motionless. Isabel put a hand over her mouth. “Hector will be okay,” Marcus said. Sebastian and June weren’t paying attention. They had started making a small mud castle in the soft ground. No one said anything more to alarm them. Penny imagined her mother picking her way through the trees on the opposite bank and coming across that monster. They had to get back before that happened. But there was no reason crocodiles wouldn’t be on this side of the river, too. Penny stepped backward. She wanted to get away from the water, away from the muddy banks. In the trees behind them, they heard an engine noise, and turned. “There’s a road!” Penny said. She started toward it. “We have to stay here,” Isabel said. “And wait for Hector.” 32
– Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy –
“We should find the road,” Penny said. They looked at each other. A battle of wills. Penny had read the phrase in books and knew that this was what it meant. Isabel was older. But Penny was smarter. She could not say in front of the little ones that they might be eaten by a crocodile if they stayed here, but she beamed the argument into Isabel’s eyes. “I’m hungry,” Sebastian said. “Me too,” June said. Penny thought of how her mother would panic when she saw they were gone. Sebastian needed food or his blood sugar would drop, but he also needed insulin or his blood sugar might go too high. And he didn’t have his pump. Marcus said they should hang the inner tubes on a branch, to show where they had left the river. Isabel clearly wasn’t happy about the plan, but she didn’t want to stay alone, so the five of them set off into the dense forest.The crocodile on the other bank hadn’t moved again. Hector would be fine, Penny told herself. There was no trail, and it was painful, climbing barefoot over roots and fallen trees. Beneath the undergrowth, things scuttled away. Penny saw ants marching in a column, carrying green pieces of leaves over their heads like sails. She took Sebastian’s hand, a thing he would not usually tolerate. They stumbled out into a clearing, where a Jeep was parked. Two men sat on the ground drinking bottles of Coke. They stared as if the children were fairies, materialized from the woods. “Say something Spanish,” Penny whispered to Isabel. “No,” Isabel whispered back. “Hola!” Penny called. The men just stared. There were two shovels on the ground and their clothes were dirty. “Can I have a Coke?” Sebastian whispered to Penny. The door of the Jeep opened, and a woman got out. She had strong brown arms, and she wore a beige tank top and cargo pants. Penny thought she looked like the girl action figure that goes with the toy Jeep. The woman asked them a question in too-fast Spanish. – Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy –
Isabel didn’t answer. Penny said, “We’re Americans.” That seemed important to say. “How long you stand here?” the woman asked in English. “We just got here,” Penny said. “We walked from the river.” “Why?” “We were looking for a road.” “Is no road,” the woman said. “We heard an engine,” Penny said, looking pointedly at the Jeep. “Where are your parents?” “At the big beach, down the river,” Penny said. “We came from the ship, a big cruise ship, but then we had a car accident. We were swimming. Mi hermano es diabético.” She’d been taught that sentence before they left, for emergencies. Sebastian leaned into her. “Can I have a Coke?” he asked, louder than before. The woman in the tank top frowned, then reached into the Jeep, brought out a bottle, and twisted off the top. Sebastian ran forward to grab it, then ran back to Penny’s side and drank. She wished her mother were here. If Sebastian was low, the Coke would be good, but if he was high, it could make him feel worse. “Will you give us a ride?” Penny asked. They were not supposed to get in cars with strangers, but there were five of them. And they were asking for a ride. That seemed to make it safer. And the driver was a woman. You were supposed to ask a woman for help, if you got in trouble. Preferably a mother, but this was who they had. And maybe she was a mother. Although Penny doubted it. “Okay,” the woman said, waving toward the Jeep. Penny and Sebastian got in front together. The Jeep had an open top. Isabel looked toward the river and seemed like she might run, then got in the back seat with Marcus and June. The two men with the shovels crouched in the cargo area behind them. The woman reversed the Jeep. Penny pulled the seatbelt over Sebastian’s bare chest and buckled it over herself, too. “Are you okay?” she asked him. 34
– Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy –
“I’m a little sleepy.” “You should stay awake.” “Okay.” His blond hair was limp and damp on his forehead. Penny pushed it off his face. “I have to poop,” June said, in the back seat. “Hold it,” her brother said. Penny looked back and saw June with her hands clamped on the crotch of her blue swimsuit, Marcus looking anxious beside her. When she looked out the windshield again, they didn’t seem to be going in the right direction. “We’re going back to that beach, right?” Penny asked. The woman nodded. “I don’t think this is the right way.” “We call them,” the woman said. “But their cell phones don’t work here.” “We call the ship.” “But they aren’t at the ship.” The Jeep was driving down a paved road among trees, just like the one where the tire had blown up. That seemed like a long time ago now. Would her mother have gone back to the ship? “I really have to poop,” June said. “Keep holding it,” her brother said. “I am!” The Jeep stopped at a place where another road crossed, and the two men hopped out of the back, leaving the shovels. The woman waved to them. Then the Jeep was climbing a mountain, and a few houses appeared on the side of the road. The road wound and twisted and then a man on a tall white horse was riding toward them. The Jeep slowed. Penny thought she might be imagining the horse, it was so white and bright. But then June whispered, “He’s beautiful,” and Penny knew that the others could see it, too. The Jeep stopped, and the man on the horse looked down at them. He had dark, frowning eyebrows, and he spoke with the woman in Spanish. It was all too fast to understand. Penny looked to Isabel in – Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy –
the back seat for a translation, but Isabel ducked her chin toward her yellow bikini as if trying not to be seen. The horse snorted. It had soft nostrils, gray and pink. The man on the horse smiled. His teeth were white and straight. “Welcome,” he said. “We need insulin,” Penny told him. She felt blinded by embarrassment and confusion, the heat rising to her face. “Insulina. My brother is diabético. Also we need a bathroom.” “I have to poop!” June said. “Pues, vámonos,” the man said, turning the horse with the reins, and the Jeep started up the mountain again.
– Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy –
from Smitten Kitchen Every Day SERVINGS: 10
TIME: 30 MINUTES + FREEZING TIME
½ cup (120 ml) water ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar 1 cup (120 grams) fresh raspberries 2 cups (340 grams) peeled chopped peaches in small/medium chunks 1/8 teaspoon almond extract (optional) 1½ cups (305 grams) vanilla ice cream, frozen yogurt, or nondairy vanilla ice cream of your choice, slightly softened (think: soft-serve consistency) Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer; stir until sugar dissolves. Pour ¼ cup syrup (just eyeball it—it’s about a third of the mixture) over the raspberries in a bowl. Add the peach chunks to the remaining syrup in the saucepan, bring back to a simmer, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until the peaches soften. Let both raspberries and peaches cool in syrup. The raspberries will cool quickly, but you can hasten the peaches along by setting them in a larger bowl of ice water for 10 to 15 minutes. In a blender or food processor, purée the peaches and their syrup first, then scrape the mixture into a measuring cup with a spout and stir in the almond extract, if using. Purée the raspberries and place in a smaller spouted cup. (The raspberry color will muddle the peach purée much more than vice versa, so blend the peaches first.) Pour a tiny splash of raspberry (you’ll only want to use half of your total sauce) into the bottom of each Popsicle mold or small glass that you’re using as a mold (I like champagne flutes, for this and really everything), followed by a larger splash of peach (again, using about half the purée), and dollop in a little softened ice cream. Repeat with the remaining raspberry, peach, and ice cream. Use a skewer to lightly marble the mixtures together—I get the best swirls by swiping the skewer right along the inside of each mold. Freeze the Popsicles according to manufacturer’s instructions. NOTE You can use either fresh or frozen peaches and berries here. For the berries, use a little less than 1 cup as they’re more collapsed from the freezer. For the peaches, if yours are a little overripe and soft, you can probably get away without cooking them and just purée them. The same goes for frozen peaches, which will no longer be firm once defrosted. The cooking is just to ensure a smoother purée. I learned about using simple syrup as a sweetener in Popsicles from Fany Gerson’s fantastic Paletas book; it freezes to a better texture than just sugar alone.
For more delectable recipes . . . SmittenKitchen.com
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Take a look inside for a taste of these wonderful new novels.
Watch Me Disappear Janelle Brown Spiegel & Grau July 2017
Shadow Man: A Novel Alan Drew Random House May 2017
The Little French Bistro: A Novel Nina George Crown June 2017
Do Not Become Alarmed: A Novel Maile Meloy Riverhead June 2017
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