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WATCH THE GIRLS

Meet The Author: Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe worked as a phlebotomist, a fiction writing teacher, a copywriter, and ran a concert venue before quitting to move to Los Angeles, where she performed odd jobs in the film industry for a decade. She now divides her time between Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. WATCH THE GIRLS is Jennifer’s debut thriller. She also publishes young adult fiction under the name Jennifer Bosworth.
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What's Inside

O L I V I A H I L L

2 0 0 3

1 7 y e a r s o l d ; 1 0 9 l b s .

 

I’ve been watched nearly as long as I’ve been alive. I was used to being stared at. Observed. Followed. Probably why I didn’t notice we had a shadow until Miranda, the younger of my two little sisters, twisted around in the passenger seat and said, “That car’s been on us since we left the house.”

A glance in the rearview mirror told me she was right. A black SUV hung back a hundred yards. I would have tried to lose him, but Mulholland Drive—a snaky, two-lane strip of road balanced on the ridgeline of the Santa Monica Mountains—was no place for evasive maneuvers, especially at night. Below us, Los Angeles was a blanket of rusty stars, but Mulholland was lit only by the occasional lights of foliage-cloistered, multimillion-dollar homes.

“One of the usuals?” I asked, referring to the gaggle of photographers who stalked my other sister, Gemma, and me so regularly we had their license plates memorized. We knew their nicknames. Their girlfriends’ and wives’ names. Even a few of their birthdays.

“He’s too far away. I can’t tell.” Miranda faced forward again. “We should go back.”

“Gemma needs us.”

Miranda snorted. It was an ugly sound. Too bitter for her age. Fourteen and already jaded, but justifiably so.

“Neither of us can give Gemma what she needs.” She dug absently at the dime-size hole she’d gouged in her arm that morning. There were others hidden from view on her legs and back. A few years ago, Desiree (I stopped calling her Mom after she appointed herself my manager) took Miranda to a Beverly Hills psychiatrist to find out what was wrong with her. What she really wanted was to know why Miranda wasn’t like Gemma and me. Why didn’t she want to act or sing or dance or model? Why didn’t she cooperate and justify her existence in Desiree’s life? Why didn’t she earn?

Anxiety, depression, perhaps a dash of ADD and a sprinkle of OCD. That’s what the shrink proclaimed, and wrote several prescriptions. But no combination of pills would change Miranda’s circumstances. With a different mother, a different set of sisters, growing up in a different city, she might have been a different girl. One who didn’t pick at an unblemished canvas of skin until it was spattered in sores. Who didn’t wake up every morning knowing the woman who gave birth to her would have traded her in for another model if she could have, preferably a model who wanted to model.

Behind us, the road went dark. I checked the rearview again and sighed in relief. The headlights were gone.

“She wouldn’t lift a finger for you unless it was scripted,” Miranda said, continuing to scrape at her wound. There was no love lost between my sisters. Gemma followed Desiree’s lead and treated Miranda with the same cold dismissal as our mother did. So I wasn’t sure why I’d dragged Miranda with me to retrieve  Gemma, except there had been something in Gemma’s voice when she called, a note of terrorized, alcohol-slurred desperation, and I didn’t want to go alone. 

Olivia, can you come get me? I’m at a party. I don’t know whose. I just need to get out of here. Don’t tell Desiree. Please hurry. I want to come home. I can’t live like this anymore. I can’t be this person anymore.

She had said it in an urgent whisper, like she was afraid someone might overhear. What was I supposed to do, tell her no? I’d never heard her sound like that. Weakened. Vulnerable. If Miranda had heard her, even she might have softened toward Gemma.

I can't be this person anymore...

I’d waited a long time for Gemma to say those words. I hoped she still meant them when she was safe and sober.

So here we were, after midnight, racing toward some sleazy Hollywood party in the red BMW Desiree had bought me for my seventeenth birthday. A car I hadn’t asked for, purchased with money from my trust fund that I was not allowed to access until I was eighteen, just a few months away, thank God. At the rate Desiree was spending the money Gemma and I earned on our show, there would be nothing left by the time we were able to touch it. Desiree claimed there was plenty to go around, and it wasn’t like Gemma and I were going to stop working, so we ought to enjoy our success. Gemma didn’t argue with Desiree. She already had a taste for Dom Pérignon and four-hundred-dollar shoes. She owned handbags that cost as much as a semester at UCLA.

Maybe it was because Gemma didn’t get her first job until she was nine years old, and all of this—the attention, the money—still seemed new and shiny to her, whereas I’d been working nonstop since before I could eat solid food. I’d heard Drew Barrymore got her first job when she was eleven months old because a dog bit her during an audition, presumably because the producers were afraid her mom would sue if they didn’t cast Baby Drew. I got my first job in a national diaper spot because the casting director said my tiny baby nipples were the perfect color. Pink, but not too pink. Desiree reminded me of this every time I stipulated I would never do a topless scene.

Miranda picked up the Post-it note on which I’d scrawled the address Gemma had given me. “Why didn’t she call Desiree? She always calls her when she needs to be evacuated.”

This was not the first time Gemma had gotten hammered at a party and needed an exit strategy. But Miranda was right. Gemma always called Desiree, and tonight she had specifically asked me not to tell our mom, which was easy since I didn’t even know where our “momager” was. Probably schmoozing it up at some studio exec’s mansion, working an angle to get Gemma or me or both of us cast in a teen rom-com or a slasher movie. I’d play the final girl, Gemma the one who has sex first and is promptly slain, if anyone would cast her these days with all the rumors circulating that she was a drunk and a liability. Yet another teen star destined for rehab. There was talk that Gemma might be written off the show we’d starred in for two seasons, and Desiree was frantic to segue her little moneymakers into film.

A flash of light in the rearview. The SUV was back, following more closely now. I jammed my foot down on the gas pedal, accelerating past the speed limit as I envisioned a telephoto lens snapping rapid-fire pictures of me crutching my wasted sister to the car. If a single one of those photos ended up in People or In Touch or US Weekly, it would be the end for Gemma. I didn’t want that for her, even though I had a strong suspicion that she wouldn’t mind if I derailed my career and disappeared from the spotlight.

The road curved suddenly. I made the turn too fast, and Miranda sucked in a sharp breath. I spotted a line of cars parked along the road and pulled over abruptly, killed the engine, cut the lights. The SUV rounded a curve behind us and sped past without slowing. I exhaled a breath and reached for the door handle.

“I’m staying here,” Miranda said, crossing her arms and glaring out the windshield.

I left the keys in the ignition, too tired to argue. Too proud to tell her I didn’t want to go in there alone.

“Keep the doors locked. And if you spot that SUV again, duck.”

Halfway to the house, I felt a crawling sensation between my shoulder blades. I paused, looked around, expecting to spot the manic, lidless eye of a telephoto lens clicking at me from the bushes. I saw nothing. Heard nothing.

But the feeling remained.

 

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Praise

"A devastating novel that evokes Ingmar Bergman and David Lynch....This disturbing, surrealistic thriller will keep readers spellbound."—Publishers Weekly (STARRED REVIEW)
"Sibling rivalry and Hollywood obsessions collide...Fast-paced and fraught with suspense, WATCH THE GIRLS unravels like a perfect summer-night movie."—BookPage
"WATCH THE GIRLS is one of those books--it gets under your skin and stays with you long after you've devoured the last page. It's the perfect dark, chilling thriller for the age of social media and ubiquitous reality TV that's anything but real. Jennifer Wolfe's damaged heroine toes the thin and ever-blurry line between truth and fake Hollywood glitz, right up until the devastating conclusion."—Nina Laurin, author of Girl Last Seen
"Make no mistake: Wolfe's got the goods. Timely, harrowing, and vividly imagined, WATCH THE GIRLS is a wild ride with style to burn."—Chris Holm, Anthony Award winning author of The Killing Kind
"Twisty, tense, and addictive, WATCH THE GIRLS is like a great horror flick, a classic mystery, and an edgy piece of social commentary-all wrapped up into one dark, delicious package. Jennifer Wolfe is a huge new talent. Welcome to the book everyone will be reading this summer."—Brad Parks, author of Closer Than You Know
"[A] campy debut thriller...with [a] twisty and twisted ending."—Kirkus Reviews
"Debut author Wolfe has created a compelling, sympathetic character in Liv, a scared, lonely woman who acts jaded and tough but grieves over a missing sister of her own. The author takes readers on a psychologically dark ride through a twisted underworld of fame and desperation, a journey that will keep readers guessing until the shocking ending."—Booklist

reader reviews

Watch the Girls

Watch the Girls

Fame and obsession collide in this darkly twisted novel from an incredible new voice in suspense.

I’ve been watched all my life. I’m used to being stared at. Observed. Followed.

SOMEONE IS WATCHING
Washed up teen star Liv Hendricks quit acting after her beloved younger sister inexplicably disappeared following a Hollywood party gone wrong. Liv barely escaped with her life, and her sister was never heard from again. But all this time, someone’s been waiting patiently to finish what was started…

FOUR MISSING GIRLS
Now fifteen years later, broke and desperate, Liv is forced to return to the spotlight. She crowdfunds a webseries in which she’ll pose as a real-life private detective–a nod to the show she starred on as a teen. When a mysterious donor challenges her to investigate a series of disappearances outside a town made famous by the horror movies filmed there, Liv has no choice but to accept.

FOLLOW THE WHITE WOLF
Liv is given a cryptic first clue: Follow the white wolf. And now a darker game is about to begin. Through social media, someone is leaving breadcrumbs to follow. As Liv makes increasingly disturbing discoveries, her show explodes in popularity. A rapt internet audience is eager to watch it all–perhaps even at the cost of Liv’s own life…

Filled with provocative twists and turns as the line between plot and reality blurs in this inventive tour-de-force from breakout writer Jennifer Wolfe.

INCREDIBLE ACCLAIM FOR WATCH THE GIRLS:

“Sibling rivalry and Hollywood obsessions collide…Fast-paced and fraught with suspense, Watch the Girls unravels like a perfect summer-night movie.” — BookPage

“A devastating novel that evokes Ingmar Bergman and David Lynch….This disturbing, surrealistic thriller will keep readers spellbound.” — Publishers Weekly (STARRED REVIEW)

“[A] campy debut thriller…with [a] twisty and twisted ending.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Debut author Wolfe has created a compelling, sympathetic character in Liv, a scared, lonely woman who acts jaded and tough but grieves over a missing sister of her own. The author takes readers on a psychologically dark ride through a twisted underworld of fame and desperation, a journey that will keep readers guessing until the shocking ending. ” — Booklist
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Genre: Mystery & Thriller / Fiction / Thrillers / Suspense

On Sale: July 10th 2018

Price: $25.98

ISBN-13: 9781549169199