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The Last Writer







Past - Spring 1964


Past - Spring 1964


Past - Spring 1964


Past - Spring 1964


Past - Spring 1964


Past - Spring 1964


Past - Spring 1964


Past - Summer 1964

Past - Summer 1964

Past - Summer 1964

Past - Summer 1964

Past - Summer 1964

Past - Summer 1964

Past - Summer 1964


Past - Fall 1964


Past - Fall 1964


Past - Fall 1964


Past - Fall 1964


Past - Winter 1964





Dear Reader

In Thanks

The Sunday Wife

Before She Lied

The Author




Copyright 2021 by Adriane Leigh

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be used or reproduced without express permission by the author unless it is for a book review. All scenarios and characters are fictional and any resemblance to real people or situations is coincidental.

When amateur thriller writer Ryn Weaver is accepted for the prestigious Writer-in-Residence program at The New York Public Library, she never expected to stumble into a real-life mystery surrounding the famous children’s book, Lillies in the Cellar. Inspired by Yara and her twin Yarrow Thornberry's eccentric upbringing raised behind the walls of the library, the siblings have long-buried their infamous literary past as Yara now mentors young authors to follow in the footsteps of her best-selling success. But at what price?

Before night falls on her first day, Ryn is left with three haunting questions: did the unspeakable horrors that unfolded in the children’s book occur not just in fiction, but in reality too? Is she destined for the same fate? And how did the last writer end up dead?

For Ellen: the dearest friend a soul could hope for. Thank you.

“All that we see or seem

Is but a dream within a dream.”

- Edgar Allan Poe


Shelter Island, NY

The smell of damp earth invaded my nostrils.

Would the terra of earthworms fill my last wasted breath on this planet?

I dragged my fingernails through the darkness, screaming with horror when I realized I’d been buried alive. Not under wood and nails, dirt or mud, but concrete and stone. The rough, granulated ridges where stone and plaster merged hardened to form the barrier of my exit.

Solidified my death.

Terror crackled through my veins like fireworks.

“No! Please! Somebody,” I sobbed, “help me.”

Wet blood coursed down my fingers and pooled between each digit, my fingernails tearing as I scraped around the edges of the concrete in search of earth to dig through. A tiny gap filled the bottom of the space, the earth alive underneath me as I imagined tiny creepy insects settling into the folds of my clothing.

“Let me out!”

Fresh tears bled down my cheeks as the coppery scent of my own blood filled the air. I knew who did this. I knew this was no trick, pure evil lived and breathed in this house, the evidence of stolen lives lining the dark walls.

I should have run when I had the chance.

Before chance was taken from me.

Soft scudding noises filled my ears then. I quieted, waiting for anything. More rustling from above my grave, and then the murmur of voices, a soft cadence that normally soothed my ears now brought quiet terror to my frontal lobe.

I recognized those voices.

Both of them.

I sucked in another breath, registering the scent of the ocean through the layers of dirt and cement. My earthen bed, draped in salty sea air and blinding despair.

The cliffs.

The garden.

The fountain.

A soft humming started then, a song I couldn’t quite make out but the tone still too familiar.

The same song I’d often heard her humming.

Evil, only a breath away. How could she?

“L-let me out of here!”

The humming halted, rustling came closer before a soft “Hush,” grazed my ears, “it will be over soon.”


RynThe New York Public Library, Now

My fingertips sifted the deckled edges of the hardbacks.

#1 New York Times Bestseller was printed in bold along the top. Soon to be a Major Motion Picture emblazoned in a small golden circle in one corner.

Critical and commercial bestsellers, all of them.

I slipped the title back on the shelf in the tiny free library at the west corner of Fifth Avenue.

Before me stood the real deal.

The New York Public Library, one of the oldest in the country, in the center of Midtown Manhattan.

I’d grown up revering this library and the writers that graced its shelves.

And now I would be one of them.

Well, sort of.

Three weeks ago and on a whim, I’d applied for the prestigious Writer-in-Residence program at The New York Public Library. Only two authors were hand-selected twice a year by the bestselling thriller author Yara Thornberry.

Tremors singed my nerves at the thought—this woman’s books hit the #1 bestseller status on publishing day, and held the spot for most of the year, or until her next title was released.

I’d done my research on Yara; her quiet life living in the abandoned apartments of the Schwartzmann building of the library must have been a gold mine for inspiration. She published at least twice a year, and sometimes even a third time, and her tales of twisted family suspense and terror carved a new path in the industry: domestic thrillers. The New York Times ran a piece early in her career, billing her the Stephen King of family chillers, calling her insomnia-inducing endings equal parts macabre and magnificent.

She was everything I wanted to be, but my writing chops were more third-rate college trash than bestselling suspense novelist.

Which is why, after a few glasses of rosé and a bottleful of frustration at my latest freelance essay landing on every major trash heap in the city, when the Facebook ad for the Writer-in-Residence position surfaced, I had nothing to lose.

Ninety days of one-on-one mentorship from the great Yara Thornberry and the world’s greatest research library at my fingertips.

This position was a dream come true, and when I’d woken up the very next morning to an email congratulating me on being chosen for the position, I’d screamed and danced and then cried a handful of very grateful tears.


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