The Huntress, the upcoming new novel from The Alice Network author Kate Quinn, is set to hit bookshelves everywhere later this month and we’ve got your exclusive first look.
This new novel tells the story of a Russian female bomber pilot who, in the aftermath of World War II, teams up with a British war correspondent to track down The Huntress, an elusive Nazi war criminal, and bring her to justice.
Judging from the book’s official synopsis and the fact that Kate Quinn is a master of historical fiction, we can’t wait to dive into this novel. But, until then, a peek at one of the book’s early chapters is just going to have to tide us all over.
So, without further ado, here’s an exclusive excerpt from ‘The Huntress’ by Kate Quinn
GARRETT LOOKED UNEASY. “I don’t know about this . . .”
“Just keep her distracted.” Jordan glanced past his shoulder toward the kitchen where Anneliese was humming like a tuneful bee. She’d been cooking up a storm in preparation for Thanksgiving in a week’s time—my first Thanksgiving as a proper American! as she said gaily. The house smelled of sage and sugar, and early snow fell past the curtains outside to complete the vision of holiday perfection. Jordan felt no warm holiday spirit; her stomach was churning.
Garrett raked a hand through his brown hair. “If you really need to ransack your stepmother’s room—”
“I do.” Because Jordan had spent the last weeks since Selkie Lake going out of her mind with conflicting theories, and enough was enough. She’d looked through Anneliese’s things before, when she was on honeymoon, but had found nothing. This time she was going to find what she needed, no matter what it took. By keeping the Iron Cross, Anneliese had shown she wasn’t above keeping mementos of her past. There had to be something to find.
Once Jordan would have had no trouble walking into her father’s room and going through it with a dusting rag in hand as excuse, but Anneliese had put a stop to that. Jordan wasn’t exactly forbidden in the room, it was just that Anneliese in her deft way had instituted lines that were not to be crossed. “I’d never dream of going into your room uninvited,” she assured Jordan. “Every woman needs her privacy. Just as new-married couples need theirs!” That little hint of marital intimacy had made Jordan uncomfortable enough to drop the subject. Very convenient.
Something was in that bedroom. There was certainly nothing in the rest of the house; Jordan had spent the last few weeks covertly combing through all the other rooms under pretext of holiday cleaning: running her hands under mirrors, inside picture frames, behind bureau drawers. Nothing.
Garrett was still arguing. “At least wait till she’s left the house—”
“I tried a few days ago, when she went shopping. I had to dive out again when she doubled back to get her gloves.” Also convenient, Jordan thought. Maybe Anneliese was keeping an eye on her, every bit as much as she’d been keeping an eye on Anneliese. “Keep her distracted. I can’t do this if I think she’s going to sneak up behind me on those little cat feet.”
“You’re actually scared, aren’t you?” Garrett sounded dubious. That stung, seeing he didn’t trust her instinct, but if she was being honest, Jordan couldn’t blame him. When she laid all her suspicions out, they sounded preposterous. Jordan and her wild stories.
“What if you do find something?” Garrett asked, but Jordan pretended she hadn’t heard, just headed into the bedroom.
Put it all back exactly as you found it, she warned herself, lifting up the folded nylon slips in the first drawer with fingers like tweezers. Nothing in Anneliese’s drawers, nothing in her lined-up shoes . . . Garrett’s voice floated from the kitchen; he was telling Anneliese something about pilot training, how college classes were boring compared to flying. Anneliese responded, spoon clinking against the side of a mixing bowl, but Jordan’s blood urged her to hurry.
Anneliese’s dresses, her skirts and blouses on their hangers, her hatboxes. Jordan pinched hems for lumps, lifted each hat and sifted the tissue paper before putting it back at exactly the same angle, felt along the wardrobe’s back. Anneliese’s traveling cases; nothing in any of the pockets. The case knocked against the back of the wardrobe, making a soft thud, and Jordan was out of the bedroom and down the hall in a blink, listening with thudding heart for the sound of her stepmother’s footsteps. You really are scared. She remembered Anneliese by Selkie Lake, face cool and considering.
Anneliese’s voice down the corridor: “That’s Linzer torte, Garrett. If you like it so much, I’ll teach Jordan to make it. Ruth, cut him a nice big slice.” She sounded so calm and motherly.
Yes, Jordan thought, I’m scared.
The wardrobe yielded nothing. She felt her way around the bedside tables, the bases of the lamps, aware that time was ticking. There was only so long Garrett could eat cake and make small talk. Nothing in the lamps, the drawers of the bedside tables, between the pages of Anneliese’s Bible.
The cover of the Bible, though . . .
Jordan nearly dropped it, fingers suddenly shaky. A quick crane of her neck toward the door; still the hum of voices from the kitchen. As delicately as she could, she peeled up the soft leather of the cover, where her fingers felt a straight edge of something slipped between decorative leather and the stiffer stock beneath. The leather peeled easily; it was used to being lifted.
A photograph, small and worn. Jordan brought it nearly to her nose. Definitely Anneliese, some years younger and considerably more carefree, trim figured and tousle haired in a bathing suit. Ankle deep in lapping water, the ripples of a pond or a lake stretching behind her, a man at her side. Considerably older than she, broad shouldered and smiling, also in a bathing suit, one arm raised as if to wave to someone in the distance. Anneliese’s handwriting on the back, but all she had written was März, 1942.
A vacation picture, Jordan thought flatly. All this trouble and suspicion to find a picture of Anneliese and what was probably her first husband, on a lakeside vacation. Well done, J. Bryde. You’ll be getting a Pulitzer for this for sure.
She began to slide the photograph back into its hiding place, disappointment bitter on her tongue, and paused. Took another good hard stare. The date. März, 1942.
And something else, besides the date. Some sort of mark under the man’s upraised arm . . . A memory scratched at the edge of Jordan’s mind, and she peered closer. Definitely a mark. A tattoo? Hard to be certain.
Jordan laid the photograph on the bed where the light was strongest and took several careful shots with the Leica. A photograph of a photograph; the detail wouldn’t be as good as she wanted, but she couldn’t take the original. If Anneliese had hidden it in her bedside Bible, then she reached for it often, even if only to feel the picture’s edge through the leather. So Jordan slid the photo back into place, pressed the leather back down, replaced the Bible, and ran a hasty search over the rest of the room. No sign of the Iron Cross; either it was gone or hidden elsewhere, but Jordan didn’t dare stay longer. She slipped out of the bedroom, easing the door shut, and dashed into the bathroom, turning the lock and sinking back against the bathtub.
“Jordan?” Anneliese’s voice down the hall.
“Just a moment!” Hastily she turned the taps on, dashing cold water on her cheeks, which she could see in the mirror were flaming. Not with shame, with triumph.
The voice came nearer. “I was going to ask Garrett to stay for supper.”
“Of course,” Jordan called back, patting the water off her face. In the mirror she let herself have one smile, hearing her stepmother’s heels click away. A date, a mark on a man’s arm, and a medal. Three things, but all caught on camera—and cameras didn’t lie.
The Huntress by Kate Quinn is set to hit shelves on February 26, 2019. You can preorder your copy now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, The Book Depository, or Indiebound. Also, don’t forget to add it to your Goodreads “to read” list!