Title: THE POACHERS’ CODE
Category/Genre: Upmarket Women’s Fiction
Word Count: 88,000
My Main Character would use SUN to battle her biggest obstacle:
As a young girl, Sadie Kessler could taste sunlight. Lemony, with fizz. But as an adult, plagued by guilt from covering up a murder 30 years earlier, Sadie no longer sees (or tastes) the wonder around her. When she uncovers another murder linked to the one she concealed as a child, she knows its time to tell the truth. To resurrect her courage, she’ll need to bring the summer sun into the dark woods where she grew up — the woods where she hid a murder. There’s going to be a fight. And Sadie’s bringing the heat.
I am seeking representation for my debut novel, THE POACHERS’ CODE. Set in rural New Hampshire, it is about Sadie Kessler, a restless journalist seeking redemption for the murder she covered up thirty years ago.
Journalist Sadie Kessler discovers a murder linked to a crime she and a friend witnessed as children. A murder they chose not to report. Eleven-year-old Sadie stayed silent to protect the girls from the perpetrator — and to cover up crimes of their own. The girls vowed to remain silent and pledged a blood oath to The Poachers’ Code, a list of commandments they constructed to justify their actions. Torn between misplaced allegiance and the desire for redemption, Sadie spends the next 30 years avoiding her past.
Faced with the second murder, 41-year-old Sadie must confront her guilt. As she searches for proof of the killer’s identity, she rediscovers the sense of wonder she lost as a child and falls in love with a man from her past. But the ripple effect of Sadie’s thirty-year-old secret begins to threaten people she loves. When an illegal immigrant is falsely accused of the murder, it sets off a wave of anti-immigrant protests. Sadie’s best friend Marta, a Salvadoran immigrant, is trying to adopt her niece and nephew, both undocumented immigrants. The protests derail the custody proceedings and land Marta’s father in jail under threat of deportation. Revealing the shameful truth could threaten Sadie’s credibility as a journalist and jeopardize her new romance, but she must act before an innocent man is convicted of murder and the real perpetrator hurts someone she cares about. It is time to betray The Poachers’ Code.
Inspired by storytelling elements in Atonement and the movie Stand By Me, THE POACHERS’ CODE delves into the timely issue of immigration and will appeal to fans of Ann Patchett, Mary Kubica and Karen Katchur.
First 250 words:
Damp ink sizzled against Sadie Kessler’s lips, stirring the hunger she worked years to suppress. The freshly-printed police reports warmed her cheek with possibility. She slipped past the safety of her copyediting desk and ducked behind a wall of file cabinets in the back of the newsroom.
She kicked off her running shoes and spread the pages on the floor. The tease of story fluttered on her fingertips. Pressing her palms into the greasy carpet, she hinged up into a creaky downward facing dog and scanned the pages. Domestic disputes, disorderly conduct.
Sadie had feigned repentance when her editor sentenced her to four weeks writing the Sunday police log. But she couldn’t tamp down the giddiness simmering in her gut.
“I knew you’d be back here.” Marta peeked around the wall. She nudged the stack of incident reports with the pointy toe of her boot. “Sorry you’re stuck with that. Four Sundays seems harsh. Especially when it wasn’t you who screwed up.”
Sadie’s knees locked. Her heart stuttered. Marta stood above her, hand on hip, eyebrows raised. Sadie tried to soften her tight shoulders and flipped to the next page. Vehicle break in, identity theft.
“I know it wasn’t really you who transposed those names,” Marta said. “Why’d you take the blame? You hate writing the police log.”
“Does anybody else know?” Sadie repositioned her hands on the slick carpet and pressed into her throbbing left ankle. “I probably deserved it anyway for mistakes no one ever caught.”
“Your secret’s safe. For now.”