For you, those precious years of your early twenties — the ones that fall after graduation and before marriage, children, and home ownership — might be what Bruce Springsteen would call the "glory days." It's a period in which you are no longer a kid, but not yet a fully-fledged adult. It is often marked by a sense of freedom: the freedom to say what you think, be who you are, and do what you want, whatever you want. But what happens when those glory days start to sour, when something transforms them from a dream come true to a living nightmare? You may have exited your early twenties mostly unscathed, but the characters in Andrea Bartz's forthcoming novel The Lost Night certainly do not. A psychological thriller about one woman's search for the truth about her best friend's tragic death, this highly anticipated debut doesn't hit shelves until February, but Bustle has an excerpt you can start reading right now.
In 2009, Edie had the kind of life most twenty-somethings would kill for. A recent graduate living in a hip Brooklyn loft famous for its cool concerts, wild parties, and general debauchery, she was the ringleader of her artsy group of friends and a star in New York's social scene. That is, until Edie's body was found near a suicide note after a long, drunken night and the group, shocked and heartbroken, went their separate ways.
Ten years later, Edie's best friend Lindsay is living an entirely different life than the one she left behind at Calhoun Lofts. She has a cozy apartment, a great group of friends, and a thriving career as the head fact-checker at a glossy magazine. But when a chance reunion with someone from her past leads Lindsay to discover a disturbing video from the night of Edie's death, she begins to wonder whether or not her friend's suicide was in fact a murder. Obsessed with uncovering the truth, Lindsay revisits those months in 2009 by combing through case files, old technology, and her own memories, only to discover that in order to find out what happened to Edie, she must confront her own violent past.
A thriller Luckiest Girl Alive author Jessica Knoll calls "a remarkable debut," The Lost Night is poised to be one of the most talked about books of the winter. Luckily, you don't have to wait until it hits shelves in February to start reading it, because Bustle has an exclusive excerpt from the book, below.
In this excerpt, Lindsay is having dinner with Sarah, one of the friends from her Calhoun Lofts era. Inevitably, the conversation turns from general catch-up to the topic neither woman has been able to stop thinking about for the last decade: Edie, her death, and what really happened that night.
Sarah didn’t mention Edie again until we were finishing dessert, picking at a shared flourless chocolate cake. “It’s crazy to think about how much has happened in ten years,” she announced. “I was so glad to hear you wanted to get together. I thought about reaching out a few times over the years, but I just wasn’t sure after... I mean, after how everything went down after Edie.”
“That’s exactly how I felt, to be honest,” I said. “I know I just sort of . . . went MIA afterward. I mean, I guess we were all just grieving in our own way. We were so young. None of us were equipped to deal with it.” She nodded and looked away, and I realized she wanted me to go on. “I always thought you had it worse than anyone, Sarah. Worse than everyone. I mean, you found her. God, I haven’t thought about this in so long.”
I’d done my crying and then I’d let Edie go, tucking the whole ordeal away so that it couldn’t taint what came before. So I was surprised by how quickly the night came back to me now that I’d called it up. Now that Sarah was sitting across from me and talking about August 21, 2009, in dark, tenebrous terms.
“I always thought you had it worse than anyone, Sarah. Worse than everyone. I mean, you found her. God, I haven’t thought about this in so long.”
It had been a Friday. A band had been rattling the windows in an apartment two floors up from Edie’s place, and a bunch of us were standing around at the concert, drunk or pretending to be. The guitars and bass were so loud, I could feel the vibrations in my collarbone. I remember registering with a flapping concern that I was too drunk, then scurrying out to the street, where a random girl had helped me hail a taxi home. Edie hadn’t been at the concert with us; Edie had been home alone, two floors down, crafting a brief suicide note and then pulling out the gun. Her time of death, we later learned, was while we were watching the band, their meandering chords cloaking the single gunshot. The rest I knew from my friends’ accounts, repeated so many times that I could see it: midnight, pitch black, Sarah hobbles into the apartment and flicks on the overhead lights, trying not to make too much noise in case Edie’s already asleep. Her screams had rattled the whole building, shrill and sharp and with that beelike whine hovering descant just above her cries.
“I know, it was awful.” She listed forward and I suddenly realized Sarah was drunk.
“You moved back home, right?”
“Yeah, my parents were pretty worried about me. I mean, I was acting like a lunatic, going all conspiracy theorist.”
I remember registering with a flapping concern that I was too drunk, then scurrying out to the street, where a random girl had helped me hail a taxi home.
“What do you mean?”
A sheepish laugh. “You remember. I guess I just didn’t want to believe my best friend could do that. She trusted me more than anyone, and I didn’t like feeling like I’d failed her.”
I sat up straighter. Her best friend? Who was she kidding? “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said.
“You don’t remember?” she continued. “I was running around insisting that Edie hadn’t actually killed herself, that it must have been an accident or foul play or something. I know, it’s ridiculous.”
“Oh, wow, I didn’t realize that.” Sarah’s flair for melodrama resurfaced in my memory like something emerging from the mist. “What made you think it wasn’t a suicide?”
“Oh my god, it was all stupid little things, in retrospect. There was the fact that I found her in her underwear—she was always so perfectly put-together, so that seemed weird.”
Right, but it was circumstantial. When we’d talked it out in those first shaken weeks, it had also seemed plausible that she wouldn’t have wanted to ruin any of the beautiful pieces in her closet; Edie had treated them like precious artifacts.
“And the gun stuff didn’t make sense to me: She was left-handed, but the gun was in her right hand, and the wound was on the right side of her face. Until a forensic expert explained to me that if she used two hands, she could’ve wound up slightly off-center and just, like, crumpled to either side.”
Jesus. She’d talked to a forensic expert? I watched as she slurped the last of her fourth martini.
“But I learned enough about criminology to figure out that there are a few loose ends in any investigation. Because that’s how life is.”
“. . . Unraveling,” I supplied.
She smiled. “But yeah, my parents found me an awesome therapist, and she helped me face the facts. I guess we all turned out okay.”
“We did. And you shouldn’t feel bad about dealing with it however you needed to deal with it. We were all so immature and maybe didn’t know how to . . . ask for help.”
“You mean like Edie.”
I’d been thinking of myself, but sure, Edie, too. What with the debt and the depression and the suicide note on her laptop. The gun pressed against her temple.
“We did. And you shouldn’t feel bad about dealing with it however you needed to deal with it. We were all so immature and maybe didn’t know how to... ask for help.”
“That was some heavy shit,” I said.
She poked at her cocktail napkin. “It’s still hard for me to believe sometimes. Like, we were at the top of our game. We were having the time of our lives.”
“I know what you mean,” I said. “Everyone glorifies their twenties, I guess, but for me that period was . . . It meant a lot.” I swallowed hard. “And then it ended. It’s nuts. Literally, we were dancing around to some stupid band just a few floors up while Edie was . . .”
Sarah narrowed her eyes. “Well, you weren’t.”
“You weren’t at the concert.”
Adapted from THE LOST NIGHT: A Novel Copyright © 2019 by Andrea Bartz. To be published by Crown Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House, on February 26, 2019.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741. You can also reach out to the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860 or the Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386, or to your local suicide crisis center.