New York Times bestselling author Jessica Knoll is making her return to fiction with her forthcoming thriller The Favorite Sister.
As the follow-up to Knoll’s 2015 bestseller Luckiest Girl Alive, once akin to the breakneck suspense factor of Gillian Flynn‘s Gone Girl, Knoll’s return parallels the lives of two ruthless sisters whose darkest sins end in murder during their appearance on a reality TV show called Goal Diggers, playing against a group of other women.
Knoll tapped Entertainment Weekly, who first broke the exclusive Wednesday (December 6), to reveal the cover and provided a special excerpt from the mystery, forthcoming this May.
I haven’t read many thrillers lately, and that’s mostly due to the fact that I don’t have time to read as much as I’d like. Which, in some ways, is an okay thing — since I am working a lot more often than before — but I’d really like to fill that void with the mysteries and thrillers that made be fall in love with the genre in the first place.
I’ll be honest: I tried, twice, to read LGA and it was the most insufferable undertaking I’d ever experienced with a book. The level of pretentiousness and self-importance of Knoll’s writing and her story’s protagonist really killed it for me. I even tried reading it in audio book format, but it was literally exhausting.
However, for the sake of sounding like a complete asshole (or is it too late?), because Knoll’s new book sounds like something I would latch onto — a sibling rivalry put on public display and results in murder? Sign me up, please — I’m going to chalk up my bad experience with her first as a consequence of a self-imposed summer reading slump.
You can read the excerpt from the book, below:
I take my seat with the grim poise of a fallen soldier’s widow. The room is cozy as a Christmas card—fire going, overstuffed chairs. Brett is dead and I’m not innocent, but at least I will be comfortable as I tell everyone otherwise.
“Kel, you mind?” the sound guy asks, his hand already groping around inside my new blouse. The media consultant had suggested a shopping trip before I sat down for this interview, the purpose of which is to clarify the events of season four before it airs, and also to morally permit viewers to watch my sister die from the comfort of their couch. Netflix and kill. Ha. Brett didn’t get all the funny genes. I shouldn’t joke. I’m very nervous.
For the interview, the media consultant advised I wear something a little less East Village. I didn’t know what that meant. I’ve never been to the East Village. (That I know of.) But I stood a little taller knowing I’ve successfully passed myself off as one of them, a Digger. My closet was nothing but chambray button-downs and unironic mom jeans before the show sunk its fangs in me, a vampire adding one more to its kind.
I went to Ann Taylor—not Loft; when someone you love dies, you spring for the core product—and bought a starchy white button- down and black pants that hook above my belly button, holstering myself tight at my centermost folding point. I showed up for the interview (Location one, Jesse’s living room) feeling spruce, but Jesse Barnes, the executive producer and creator of Goal Diggers, number three reality show in the highly prized nineteen-to forty-nine-year-old demographic on Tuesday nights, took one look at my spruce outfit and called over her stylist with an excoriating sigh. My grieving big sister costume has since been reimagined with the help of a pair of ripped jeans and sneakers, though we kept the white button-down, just rolled up the sleeves and tied it at the waist. This is an intimate fireside chat in my living room, not a network interview with Diane Sawyer on a soundstage, Jesse told the stylist, speaking about me as though I was not standing right next to her. She noticed but did not comment on the price tag, still attached to the interior seam of the rejected pair of black pants by a small brass safety pin. Diane Sawyer did actually want to interview me on a soundstage for half a million dollars but I said no, for Jesse, and I’m a single mother wearing clothes I’ll try to return tomorrow.
“Keep your hair off your left shoulder if you can,” sound guy says. Jesse also told me to wear my hair down, because no one knows who I am yet, and we must rely on visual cues to communicate to the viewers at home that I am the Sister. I have nice hair. Brett had beautiful hair.
I nod at the sound guy. I wish I could remember his name. Brett would have known it. She made a point of learning the names of the crew—from the gaffer to the ever-rotating harem of production assistants. My sister’s specialty was making underappreciated people feel appreciated. It’s a testament to that quality that we are all here, pretending she is an innocent victim of the trendiest crime around (stop joking, Kel!), though I don’t actually know who is pretending anymore and who isn’t. Who knows what really happened and who actually believes that what we are saying happened, happened.
Jesse Barnes sits down across from me and does a very confusing thing. She smiles at me. All morning, she has oscillated between picking me apart and ignoring me, which is not an easy thing to do in her nine-hundred-square-foot apartment that costs more than a nine-bedroom mansion where I’m from. ( Jersey.) Jesse Barnes knows what really happened and that’s why she can’t seem to decide how she feels about me now. She needs me, that’s for sure, so you would think she would play nicer with me. The problem is that I might need her more.
“You feel okay about this?” she asks, sounding almost nervous. All around us, yellow sandbags moor light stands, their naked bulbs too bright to look at directly. It’s like we’re preparing for a natural disaster, I thought the first time I saw them, not too long ago. I nod and swallow at the same time. I’m here. I’ll do my best to keep all of our lies straight.
Jessica Knoll’s The Favorite Sister is available for pre-order here.