Book Spotlight: Exclusive Excerpt from Redling’s BAGGAGE

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“Redling does a superior job of sharing Anna’s fearthat someone is out to get her and that she’s living in a nightmare.”

Publishers Weekly *Starred Review* on Baggage 

“A captivating page-turner with a unique setting and intriguing plot.”

—The Cascade, UFV Student newspaper on Flowertown 

“Redling (Flowertown) demonstrates an acute sensitivity to the nuances of language and the importance of communication as she tells the story of two people caught in the center of a momentous discovery that could change the universe forever.”

Library Journal *Starred Review* for Damocles


Over the years, terrible things keep happening to Anna Ray on February 17th. First, there was the childhood trauma she’s never been able to speak about. Then, to her horror, her husband killed himself on that date.

A year later and a thousand miles away, Anna tries to find solace in a fresh start with a new job in a new place. She takes comfort in the relationship she has with her outspoken cousin Jeannie, the confidant and best friend who’s there whenever she needs help.

On the day of the dreaded anniversary, Anna and Jeannie hit the town, planning to ease the pain with an alcohol-induced stupor and the remedy of forgetful sleep…

When Anna awakes the next morning, she thinks she can put one more February 17th behind her, but fate is about to intervene in the form of two gruesome murders with eerie similarities to her violent past.

This time, though, she won’t be an abandoned daughter or a grieving widow. This time…she’ll be a suspect.

Darkly riveting and remarkably detailed, BAGGAGE introduces readers to the secretive and violent world Anna has tried so hard to leave—but is never far behind.

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Photo credit: Toril Lavender
Photo credit: Toril Lavender

S. G. Redling hosted a morning radio program for fifteen years before turning to writing. A graduate of Georgetown University, she was a finalist in the 2011 Esquire Short Short Fiction Contest.

She is the author of The Widow File, Redemption Key, Damocles, Flowertown, and Braid: Three Twisted Stories and much acclaimed recent Nahan series; io9 called the first book in that series, Ourselves, a “fantasy you can’t afford to miss.”

Redling is also an avid traveler and a so-so gardener and currently resides in her beloved home state of West Virginia.

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Exclusive Excerpt from Baggage:

It’s February 18 and the world is completely new.

I laugh when I realize I’ve stepped off the path and the snow is almost up to my knees. I turn the corner at the student center and the wind gusts up from the valley below, momentarily blinding me with blown snow. I blink it away and stop.

The light is different here. The blue-gray fog is broken, not by brink and spruce but by a sharp, pulsing blue and red. Blue and red. Bright, blinding.

Police lights.

I know what the cop’s radio will sound like before I get close enough to hear it. People are talking, gathered in a cluster around the maintenance door at the basement. Sirens sound from over the hill. More cops are showing up. They never come one at a time. They’re like starlings, they move in thick, black flocks with lots and lots of noise.

My hangover reemerges with a sour taste in my mouth as I keep trudging closer. Probably a break-in, I tell myself over a voice deep within me whispering something much different. An accident. Someone fell down the stairs or sledded into the building. Someone vandalized the Jenkins Building or someone’s car slid off the road and down the embankment. There are plenty of reasons cops would have their lights on. Fewer that they would use their sires, but I can think of some.

Someone must have been hurt. It must have been an accident. The words roll through my mind as I watch people huddle together, some crying, some hugging, all glued to the maintenance door. College kids are so dramatic. Always weeping. And cops, oh, cops love to turn everything into a fucking scene. I’m shaking my head, willing myself to become annoyed at what is surely an exaggeration of drama for an unimportant event.

A student holds his arm out to stop my planned march through the scene. Cop radios are blaring as two more patrol cars pull up on the parking lot. Everyone yelling at everyone else to stay back and I really don’t have time for this.

“You can’t go in there,” the kid says, all lit up with the excitement of whatever this bullshit is. “They’re closing the whole building. It’s a crime scene.”

No shit, kid. Anyone could see that. The red and blue flashing lights are a huge giveaway. So is the yellow tape that the cop is stringing from the corner of the building to the edge of the crowd. The urge to lie down and close my eyes is almost more than I can resist and I already know what the kid is going to say happened here. He’s dying to tell me. He’s dying for me to ask but I already know. I know why they use that tape, why they move so quickly.

They don’t move like that for vandalism. They don’t tape off accident scenes that quickly or into that big of a space. Nope, I know this drill. I know what I’m seeing.

Someone has been murdered.

I’ve seen it before.

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About Libby

Libby started with Author Exposure as the book review editor and has evolved into the AE site editor. She was the creator and interviewer for the What's Next feature and still manages to squeeze in reviews of her own.

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