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The Chateau

A Novel

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About The Book

A dream girls trip to a luxurious French chateau devolves into a deadly nightmare of secrets and lies in this “twisty, well-paced murder mystery that never fully lets go” (Sarah Penner, New York Times bestselling author).

Welcome to picturesque Provence, where the Lady of the Chateau, Séraphine Demargelasse, has opened its elegant doors to her granddaughter Darcy and her three friends. Twenty years earlier, the four girlfriends studied abroad together in France and visited the old woman on the weekends, creating the group’s deep bond. But why this sudden invitation?

Amid winery tours, market visits, and fancy dinners overlooking olive groves and lavender fields, it becomes clear that each woman has a hidden reason for returning to the estate after all these years. Then, following a wild evening’s celebration, Séraphine is found brutally murdered.

In the midst of this shocking crime, a sinister Instagram account pops up, exposing snapshots from the friends’ intimate moments at the chateau, while threatening to reveal more.

As they race to uncover who murdered Séraphine—and is now stalking them—the friends begin to suspect each other. Because the chateau houses many secrets…several worth killing for in this “mesmerizing story of betrayal and revenge” (Megan Collins, author of The Family Plot).

Excerpt

Chapter One: Jade CHAPTER ONE Jade
In the prelude to sunrise, just after I’ve returned to my room and drifted back off to sleep, I awaken to a scream. I bolt up in bed, shove my sleep mask off my face. I reach out to toggle the lamp, but where is the switch? Disorientation in the dead of night is doubled when you’re across the world, in someone else’s home. Finally, I grasp the switch and wince as light illuminates the cavernous room, the herringbone marble fireplace and towering windows framed in gauzy cream drapes, the leafy branches of an oak tree swishing against the exterior of the panes. In the thick silence that has ensued, I analyze the sound I thought I heard—its scratchy, desperate contours. Did I dream it? I sag back into my nest of pillows. I suppose I did.

I grab my phone to see if one of the girls has texted. No text, and mercifully no Instagram notification from @imwatchingyou88. Only the time blinks back at me. 6:05. So I stole not even ten minutes of sleep after returning from my little errand. My heart slaps my chest—did someone see me? Does someone know?

No. Impossible. I force my mind to turn over other affairs—the fact that my birthday is officially over. Forty. Thank the Lord. Thirty-nine felt like a forced march, but now that I’m here, in this new decade, I remind myself, again, that I have everything I’ve ever wanted. A kind, gorgeous husband; two amazing kids; a career that has steadily skyrocketed. And I’m hotter than ever, hotter even than most of the twenty-four-year-olds who clamor to take my spin classes. Forty isn’t our grandmothers’ forty, right?

My unconvincing pep talk is interrupted by another scream. My breath stalls, hovers, until I gulp for it. The sound rollercoasters my eardrums. I’ve never heard anything so primal. And its origin is clear. Darcy.

I hear footsteps outside my door. Arabelle?

“Belle?” When there is no answer, I shout, “I’m coming!” The few words I manage sandpaper my throat. Darcy needs me. Us. Someone. But still I am fixed in place to this linen duvet.

In the twenty years Darcy Demargelasse Bell has been my best friend, I’ve hardly ever heard her scream. Darcy is exceedingly patient and compassionate, not the type to overreact. Recently, though, I’ve witnessed her in a couple of disproportionate blowups—an unusually short fuse with her kids, with Oliver. It’s not nice of me to say, and I wouldn’t aloud. These are the kindnesses best friends pay each other, to trip over each other’s failings and then straighten out the rug.

Silence has once again descended like a tarp on the chateau. I pad down from the bed and reach for my tee draped on the olive velvet chaise, then tug it back on. My feet shiver against the terra-cotta tiles. For a moment the view from my window transfixes me: the manicured grounds, the still swimming pool, the shimmering moon. It is a Starry Night, like the one conceived by Vincent van Gogh, who painted his most acclaimed works at a sanitorium nearby. His muse was this very horizon that has shaped me in indelible ways.

I think about what I vowed before coming here. What I still must do.

Then my eyes catch on a shadowy figure on the outskirts of the pool, wandering past the hedges. Raph? The groundskeeper. But why would he be walking about before morning? I step closer to the window, but then he’s gone, disappeared around the corner, back to his little cabin on the outskirts of the property, I presume.

It is the lovely part of summer in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. June. I’ve never been here in summertime, but this isn’t my first time at Séraphine’s grand chateau. Darcy used to bring all of us to visit her grandmother during the semester we met, when we studied abroad in Avignon, fifteen miles away. This time of year, lavender fields swathe the countryside, providing endless backdrop fodder for all the tourists who flock. But summer aside, my teeth are now chattering like someone banging on a door knocker. My nerves are the obvious puppeteers.

Darcy is staying upstairs, down the hall from her grandmother’s suite. Across from Vix’s room, too. Arabelle and I are on the main floor in the hall by the stairs, across from each other. For me to hear Darcy scream from upstairs in this massive place, she had to scream really loudly, right? I bite down on my lip, then set out the door. Shuffles of feet echo ahead of me.

“Arabelle?” I call out. No answer. Anyway, didn’t she pass by before?

My head is fuzzy from the previous evening’s revelries, and buzzing from what I just did, only a little time ago. God, how much did I drink last night? I’m usually a strictly kombucha girl. Why did I let Darcy insist on that last shot of pastis?

Voices above, but I can’t yet make out their edges. Shadows ping off the walls like intruders.

Suddenly I hear weeping and then a different cry overlaid, more strangled. It is clear now that life will divide into a before and after this morning. This pronouncement may sound dramatic, but I have a compass for trauma. Not mine, necessarily, but that of those who came before me. And is there really a difference, when it all converges in your bones?

The cold stone floor absorbs my tentative footsteps. Somehow, I can’t coax myself up the last step. My icicle feet make me think of Darcy. When for years she struggled to get pregnant, one doctor asked if she wore slippers. When she said no, that she liked the feel of wood floor on her soles, he shrugged. Cold feet, cold uterus. When I heard this, I felt like punching the guy. Instead I brought her UGG slippers. I remember how we hugged, and I said, fiercely, Warm fucking uterus. Okay?

When I finally dart past the landing, I see the door flung open to Séraphine’s suite. Inside the opulent room, Arabelle hovers at the mouth of the door, her face sucked of color—the same gray as her silk pajamas. Then Vix is standing and Darcy kneeling, both beside the imposing poster bed made of mahogany wood and rich-people carvings. I walk slowly over. My eyes rove to the crimson stains on the sheets. The unmoving shape. The knife plunged in her chest.

Yes, the old bitch is dead.

I close my eyes, and my hand goes to the necklace at my throat. One diamond. The only one that remains.

When I open my eyes, I’m going to have to rearrange my face into something that resembles upset.

About The Author

Photograph by Shai Hansav

Jaclyn Goldis is a graduate of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and NYU School of Law. She practiced estate planning law at a large Chicago firm for seven years before leaving her job to travel the world and write novels. After culling her possessions into only what would fit in a backpack, she traveled for over a year until settling in Tel Aviv, where she can often be found writing from cafés near the beach. She is the author of The Chateau and The Main Character.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books (May 23, 2023)
  • Length: 336 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781668013014

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Raves and Reviews

"With haunting clarity, Jaclyn Goldis spins a web of deceit, revenge and jealousy in the atmospheric novel THE CHATEAU . . . . Goldis creates a luxurious fantasy vacation for four old friends that quickly turns dark. Secrets are uncovered, resentments bubble to the surface, and a shocking truth is revealed...that no one is as they seem and the chateau itself might be at the center of the biggest betrayal of all. Tense and twisty, THE CHATEAU is certain to be the hot new thriller of 2023."

– Julie Clark, New York Times bestselling author of THE LAST FLIGHT

"Four best friends, a luxe chateau in the French countryside, and a shocking crime: Jaclyn Goldis brilliantly balances sensuality and suspense. When I wasn't trying to figure out the whodunit, I was reveling in the book's luscious descriptions and millennial wit. A twisty, well-paced murder mystery that never fully lets go—readers will gasp, even at the final page. Brilliantly done."

– Sarah Penner, New York Times bestselling author of THE LOST APOTHECARY 

"A twisty delight of a mystery set in the perfect location. Written with lavish detail, lively prose, and one unfurled secret after another, THE CHATEAU is a thriller to savor.”

– Tosca Lee, New York Times bestselling author of THE LINE BETWEEN

"This twisting, serpentine novel has all the ingredients for an addictive read: a girls’ trip, a picturesque setting, and a shocking murder mystery. Prepare to get totally lost in this rich, complex story, with its complicated female friendships, where nothing is quite as it seems. THE CHATEAU is sophisticated, surprising, and equal parts delicious and devious."

– Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, author of THE GIRLS ARE ALL SO NICE HERE

"Come for the gorgeous setting; stay for the escalating tension, high-stakes drama, and dark revelations. With its labyrinth of secrets and intersecting mysteries, THE CHATEAU is a mesmerizing story of betrayal and revenge."

– Megan Collins, author of THE FAMILY PLOT

"THE CHATEAU asks us: How well do we really know our friends? A stay at the sumptuous Chateau du Platane in Provence sounds like the perfect girls’ trip–until it descends into deception and violence. . . . This book is a sensuous, suspenseful mystery threaded by topics that kept me musing well past the book’s close: the dark secrets we keep in relationships, the insidious influence of wealth, the lasting effects of generational trauma, and the healing nature of art. This story is an intense, intricate puzzlebox I couldn’t put down."

– Julia Bartz, New York Times bestselling author of THE WRITING RETREAT 

"A gloriously twisty and compulsive whodunit that I ripped through at warp speed. Felt just like I was curling up with a classic Christie! Stylish, smart, sinister, and completely unputdownable. I will follow Goldis anywhere she takes me."

– Linda Sivertsen, bestselling author and host of the Beautiful Writers Podcast

“In the tradition of a classic Agatha Christie locked-room mystery... Goldis is in firm control of her plotting and stealthily employs the unreliable narrator trope with alternating first-person chapters. . . . Shocking revelations do not stop until the very last page. Sex, lies, and secrets turn deadly in this modern-day tale built on classic plot devices.”

– Kirkus Reviews

*2023's Most Anticipated Mysteries and Thrillers*

– Goodreads

"Every page drenched with maximum drama, THE CHATEAU is a tale filled with life-altering secrets and money with friendships that may not be able to survive either. Jaclyn Goldis has delivered a novel that’s compelling theatre with a slow-drip of reveals that constantly rock your world."

– Best Thriller Books

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