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Survive the Night
Cover of Survive the Night
Survive the Night
A Novel
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THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLEROne of New York Times Book Review's "summer reads guaranteed to make your heart thump and your skin crawl"; An Amazon Best of the Month Pick; Named a must-read...
THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLEROne of New York Times Book Review's "summer reads guaranteed to make your heart thump and your skin crawl"; An Amazon Best of the Month Pick; Named a must-read...
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  • THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
    One of New York Times Book Review's "summer reads guaranteed to make your heart thump and your skin crawl"; An Amazon Best of the Month Pick; Named a must-read summer book by The Washington Post, USA Today, Vulture, BuzzFeed, Forbes, Entertainment Weekly, CNN, New York Post, Good Housekeeping, E!, PopSugar, CrimeReads, Thrillist, and BookRiot
    It’s November 1991. Nirvana's in the tape deck, George H. W. Bush is in the White House, and movie-obsessed college student Charlie Jordan is in a car with a man who might be a serial killer.


    Josh Baxter, the man behind the wheel, is a virtual stranger to Charlie. They met at the campus ride board, each looking to share the long drive home to Ohio. Both have good reasons for wanting to get away. For Charlie, it’s guilt and grief over the shocking murder of her best friend, who became the third victim of the man known as the Campus Killer. For Josh, it’s to help care for his sick father—or so he says.
     
    The longer she sits in the passenger seat, the more Charlie notices there’s something suspicious about Josh, from the holes in his story about his father to how he doesn’t want her to see inside the trunk. As they travel an empty, twisty highway in the dead of night, an increasingly anxious Charlie begins to think she’s sharing a car with the Campus Killer. Is Josh truly dangerous? Or is Charlie’s jittery mistrust merely a figment of her movie-fueled imagination?
     
    One thing is certain—Charlie has nowhere to run and no way to call for help. Trapped in a terrifying game of cat and mouse played out on pitch-black roads and in neon-lit parking lots, Charlie knows the only way to win is to survive the night.

Excerpts-

  • From the book

    INT. DORM ROOM-DAY

    Staying isn't an option.

    That's why Charlie has agreed to get into a car with a perfect stranger.

    She's promised Robbie-promised herself as well-that she'll bolt if anything about the situation strikes her as shady. One can't be too careful. Not these days.

    Not after what happened to Maddy.

    Charlie has already steeled herself for flight, mentally listing all the scenarios in which she should run. If the car looks battered and/or has tinted windows. If someone else is inside, no matter the excuse. If he seems too eager to depart or, on the flip side, not hurried enough. She's sworn-to Robbie, to herself, to Maddy, whom she still sometimes talks to even though she's now two months in the grave-that a single shiver of apprehension will send her running back to the dorm.

    She doubts it will come to that. Because he seems nice. Friendly. Definitely not the type of guy who'd do the things that had been done to Maddy and the others.

    Besides, he's not a stranger. Not completely. They'd met once before, in front of the ride board in the campus commons, dwarfed by that wall of flyers from students desperate to get home and those eager to drive them there in exchange for gas money. Charlie had just put up her own flyer-carefully printed, her phone number placed on each meticulously cut tab-when he appeared at her side.

    "You're going to Youngstown?" he said, his gaze flicking from her to the flyer and back again.

    Charlie hesitated before responding. A post-Maddy habit. She never willingly engaged with people she didn't know. Not until she had a grasp on their intentions. He could have been making small talk. Or trying to pick her up. Unlikely, but not entirely out of the realm of possibility. It was how she met Robbie, after all. She'd been pretty once, before guilt and grief had sunk their claws into her.

    "Yeah," she eventually said, after his gaze returned to the ride board, making her decide he was there for the same reason she was. "That where you're heading?"

    "Akron," he said.

    Hearing that made Charlie stand at attention. Not quite Youngstown, but close enough. A quick stop on the way to his final destination.

    "Rider or driver?" she asked.

    "Driver. Was hoping to find someone willing to split the cost of gas."

    "I could be that someone," she said, letting him look her over, giving him the chance to decide if she was the type of person he'd want to spend hours alone in a car with. She knew what kind of vibe she gave off-an angry dourness that would have made guys like him tell her to smile more if she hadn't looked like she'd punch them for doing so. Doom and gloom hovered over her like a rain cloud.

    Charlie studied him right back. He appeared to be a few years older than the typical student, although that could have been a product of his size. He was big. Tall, broad-chested, square-jawed. Wearing jeans and an Olyphant University sweatshirt, he looked, Charlie thought, like the hero of a forties campus comedy. Or the villain in an eighties one.

    She assumed he was a grad student like Robbie. One of those people who got a taste for college life and decided they never wanted to leave. But he had nice hair, something Charlie still noticed even though she'd let her own grow limp and scraggly. Great smile, too, which he flashed when he said, "Possibly. When were you looking to leave?"

    Charlie gestured to her flyer and the four letters placed all-caps in the dead center of the page.

    ASAP

    He tore a tab from the bottom...

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from April 5, 2021
    Thriller Award finalist Sager (Home Before Dark) elevates a standard suspense trope—a young woman trapped in a car with a stranger she fears is a serial killer—in this stellar nail-biter set in 1991. Charlie Jordan blames herself for the death of Maddy, her best friend and roommate at New Jersey’s Olyphant University. A day after Charlie let Maddy walk back from a bar to their dorm on her own after an argument, Maddy’s corpse was found. She was stabbed multiple times and one of her teeth was removed, the hallmark of a two-time murderer dubbed the Campus Killer. Wracked with guilt and self-loathing, Charlie resolves to leave in the middle of the semester, and finds a ride home to Ohio with Josh Baxter, a janitor employed by Olyphant driving to the state to tend to his ill father. Charlie soon suspects Josh has been lying to her about who he is. Her tendency to create movies in her mind makes her perceptions unreliable, even to herself. Sager excels at playing with reader expectations and in concocting plausible, gut-wrenching twists. Fans of Ira Levin’s A Kiss Before Dying will be pleased. Agent: Michelle Brower, Aevitas Creative Management.

  • Kirkus

    April 15, 2021
    A hellish road trip from the author of Home Before Dark (2020) and Lock Every Door (2019). After her roommate and best friend is murdered, Charlie Jordan decides that she has to get away from Olyphant University. She's posting a flyer looking for someone to give her a ride home when she meets a stranger who just happens to be going her way. This is Sager's fifth novel, and readers familiar with his brand of psychological horror know that he favors high-concept plots. Here, the whole narrative unfolds over one long, eventful night in 1991. Sager's fans may also recognize that Charlie fits a type. She's a heroine who doesn't seem much interested in self-preservation; another way to put that is that she behaves in ways that are astonishingly stupid--again and again and again. In the opening pages, she spends a lot of time wondering if it seems reasonable for a young woman who just lost her friend to a serial killer to travel across two states with a man she's never met. It doesn't seem reasonable at all, but this is what has to happen if Sager is going to write the story he wants to write, so....The whole first half of the novel is Charlie discovering that her driver may not be who he says he is, that he may plan to do her harm. This feels like a lot of time to spend establishing something that every reader is going to assume. The back end, though, is filled with twists. When these dramatic turns are genuinely surprising, it's because they are absurdly baroque. In other instances, they are as inevitable as the denouement of a Greek tragedy. Oh, and there's also some business about Charlie's love of classic film and history of trauma combining to create a singular condition in which she momentarily leaves reality behind and gets lost in cinematic fantasy. This makes very little sense, but it's occasionally important to the plot. Despite its flaws, readers who decide to just give in and go along for the ride will have a diverting couple of hours ahead of them. Suspenseful--and silly.

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    May 15, 2021
    In 1991, Charlie, grief-stricken over the murder of her close friend (a victim of the so-called Campus Killer), accepts a ride to Ohio from Josh, a fellow student at Olyphant University. But soon she begins to suspect that Josh may not be telling the complete truth about himself. Is it possible that Charlie could be sitting in the passenger seat beside the Campus Killer? Sager's latest thriller has two big things going for it: richly textured characters and a story that absolutely refuses to follow a straight line, producing one startling revelation after another. Charlie, who was named after the heroine in Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt, must take a page out of her namesake's book, subtly sparring with Josh as she attempts to determine if her fears about him are justified. Sager has been turning out one fine thriller after another since Final Girls, his 2017 breakout novel, and this one just might be his best yet. It's certainly his most complex.

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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A Novel
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