About the Series
The most innocuous of moments for an ordinary suburban family–a toddler losing a beloved toy—is the first domino to fall, triggering a terrifying series of events that play out over two generations.
Live to Tell
Secrets can scandalize …
In a lovely suburban town just north of New York City, the gossip mill runs more efficiently than the commuter train line. And in every impeccably decorated house, they’re talking about Lauren Walsh. They say that nothing could be worse than being abandoned by your husband for another woman. They’re wrong …
Secrets can shock …
All Lauren wants is to protect her children from the pain of her messy divorce. But when their father goes missing, a case of mistaken identity puts all their lives in danger, and a stealthy predator lurks in the shadows, watching…waiting…
Secrets can kill …
Lauren is about to uncover an unfathomable truth—a truth this cold-blooded mastermind would never let her live to tell…
“Staub (Dead Before Dark) follows an innocuous stuffed animal into a widening spiral of intrigue in this absorbing series launch. Newly single mom Lauren Walsh asks her ex, Nick, to look for their daughter’s toy rabbit in the lost and found at Grand Central Station. In the heart of Manhattan, Congressman Garvey Quinn is riding a popularity wave that could carry him to the White House-but only if he can keep a certain dark secret from bubbling into public view. And in a small Connecticut town, Elsa and Brett Cavalon are still grieving 14 years after their son was kidnapped from their backyard. The connections among these troubled families are slow to reveal themselves, but once Staub’s brilliant characterizations and top-notch narrative skills grab hold, they don’t let go.”
—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“Solid gold suspense … this one is a wild ride.”
—#1 NY Times Bestselling Author Lee Child
“I couldn’t put it down!”
—#1 NY Times Bestselling Author Lisa Jackson
“Live to Tell is Wendy Corsi Staub at her best. A superbly crafted plot and characters who immediately draw you into the story makes this subtle yet terrifying thriller a must read.”
—NY Times Bestselling Author Beverly Barton
“Clever, well-written and riveting. Wendy Corsi Staub is a master storyteller!”
—NY Times Bestselling Author Brenda Novak
“(Four Stars) Staub is a master of making the everyday somehow terrifying and giving a seemingly innocuous action life-altering implications. In her latest, she weaves an ominous plot together through several separate strands, stretching out the suspense until it all scarily comes together. Then Staub leaves the reader rather unsettled, as the ending is really the beginning of her next thriller. All one can do is be patient until it arrives.”
—RT Book Reviews
“Much like a roller coaster, LIVE TO TELL starts off slow and deliberate but quickly builds up speed, delivering twists, turns, and thrills before coming to a satisfying halt–all while leaving open the possibility to another go ’round.”
—Hartford Books Examiner
“As any fan will tell you, Staub’s characters are rich with personality and building plotlines with texture and depth is her specialty. What would you do to save your children? The answer to that question is the underlying foundation in “Live to Tell”. While the initial thread between each may be invisible at the start, when the pieces begin to fall into place, the suspense is almost palpable and you won’t be able to set “Live to Tell” down.”
“One would think that Wendy Corsi Staub is seven people inhabiting the body of one, writing thrillers and young adult books under her own name while penning women’s fiction titles under a pseudonym. What is more impressive than the quantity of her work, however, is its sustained quality. Reading her is akin to watching someone walk a tightrope over Niagara Falls: you wonder how long that person is going to be able to keep doing it without slipping. The answer—at least in Staub’s case—is not yet, if ever, given that her latest work is one of her best to date.
“The MacGuffin that propels LIVE TO TELL is a stuffed pink rabbit that belongs to Sadie Walsh, a four-year-old girl whose parents, Nick and Lauren, have just separated. The rabbit, named Fred, has gone missing after an excursion into New York, possibly in Grand Central Station. Nick, the absent father, is shamed into retrieving Fred from the Grand Central Lost and Found. Though he dutifully makes the effort, he collects the wrong pink stuffed animal. Sounds like a Helen Fuller Orton story, right? Well, it’s not. Someone wants the stuffed animal that Sadie now has and will do anything to get it. Secreted within it, you see, is a memory stick that has some extremely interesting background data on a political candidate.
“In lesser hands this could have been a comedic novel, but LIVE TO TELL is no comedy, as there is some domestic drama that darkens the picture. Lauren has been summarily dumped by her husband.
“And—this is pure genius—Nick has left her for an older woman. Not much older, but the conventional wisdom is that men of a certain age automatically stray with a (much) younger woman, though the book presents a vastly different and more highly believable scenario. The devastation visited upon Nick and Lauren’s two other, older children by Nick’s absence is quietly but effectively portrayed as well, even as they go about their lives, unaware that the entire family is being observed with bad intent and in plain sight. And where is the stuffed animal with the goods? Only Sadie knows for sure, and she isn’t telling.
“LIVE TO TELL, though it stands very well entirely on its own, is the first book of a trilogy that, at least from initial appearances, plays out the thick thread of unintended consequence that radiates bad actions. A preview of the second installment, SCARED TO DEATH (to be published later this year), is included at the end of the novel. It appears that this upcoming book may be even better than the current one. My best advice: read LIVE TO TELL now and wait for the next two volumes. You won’t be sorry.”
—Joe Hartlaub for Bookreporter.com
“Wendy Corsi Staub has created strong, emotionally drawn characters who will sweep you up and draw you into LIVE TO TELL. There is not a moment you will be able to put this book down without thinking about what is going to happen next. I thought the plot was deliciously written to carry the thrilling story to the last sentence. Fantastic! New York Times bestselling author Wendy Corsi Staub takes thriller writing to a new level with “Live to Tell”, her strongest book to date”
“When Lauren Walsh’s soon-to-be ex husband retrieves what he assumes to be his daughter’s favorite stuffed animal from Grand Central Station’s lost and found, nobody in this broken family is prepared for the dangerous events that follow. Hidden in the mistakenly retrieved toy is a file that can bring down a rich and powerful man, and the secrets it reveals are not only career killing secrets, but ones that can destroy his family and his reputation as a morally upstanding citizen, leading to a path of destruction and death for anyone who comes in contact with the file. All of which puts this Lauren’s family in jeopardy as those that seek the file become more desperate to find it, wiping out anyone on their path. Corsi Staub has long been a personal favorite of mine; her mastery at domestic suspense almost unrivaled. And now that she’s settled in with a new publisher, thankfully it seems that she intends to continue writing what she’s so good at without pause. Blending nonstop thrills with closer-to-home family dramas such as divorce, raising teenagers, and the fallout for a family broken by betrayal, she brings readers a novel that is both exciting and heartfelt. As this seems like the first in a series, get in now, as what’s to follow will surely be just as good.”
—New Mystery Reader
“Wendy Corsi Staub’s LIVE TO TELL is an awesome work of suspense! Well-plotted, well-imagined, and rich in emotional and character details, LIVE TO TELL takes an all too common scenario, divorce, and twists ideas of family trust and protection into a terrifying scenario. LIVE TO TELL grabs from the very first pages as the reader enters Lauren’s world. The author captures perfectly Lauren’s distrust and self-questioning following her divorce. The awkwardness she experiences before others now, trying to appear strong while she becomes the subject of the gossip mill, at once makes a reader connect with her while also creating heightened tension as the reader understands more the stakes. As Lauren’s story unfolds, Wendy Corsi Staub alternates point of view, bringing the reader into the thoughts of those whose need for secrecy threaten Lauren and her children. Most chilling of all are those sections when the author allows the reader a peek into the emotions and thoughts of the youngest child Sadie. One empathizes with her while, at the same time, wanting to protect her. Unlike Lauren, the reader knows the danger approaching but not the reason or all the interconnections until the very last page. The ending is perfect! Wendy Corsi Staub brings everything together at the end, yet also leaves the reader with a bone-chilling line, a line that makes this reader most anxious to read the next book, SCARED TO DEATH. LIVE TO TELL satisfies a reader’s craving for rich intricate suspense. LIVE TO TELL is more than a quick action-packed race to the finish. Each moment brings the reader more and more into Lauren’s world, and the villain’s, creating an intensifying, unnerving, thrilling reading experience. The novel becomes richer and richer as it progresses with the gradual unveiling of the secret as the clock counts down. LIVE TO TELL reminds this reader, an avid reader of suspense, of the power of the genre. LIVE TO TELL is several cuts above most of the suspense published today. Simply outstanding!”
“As the suspense builds, the reader begins to understand the background story and what draws these families together. Live To Tell is a very exciting story that keeps the reader turning pages well into the night.” — Mysteries Galore “An enthralling suspenseful tale that starts with small facts and seemingly unrelated events, which gradually coalesce into a rapidly snowballing juggernaut. Staub’s facility at developing realistic characters with their complex set of problems enhance the believability of this tale that superficially is about the impact of a man’s midlife crisis upon his wife and children. Several red herrings keep the reader guessing and the various storylines weave a complex tapestry that continues beyond this novel.”
–Night Owl Reviews, Top Pick
“It is a relentless and driving force of nature to safeguard our children against all dangers, but when that danger is life-threatening, is there anything we will not do to protect them? I am not too sure that any one of us really wants to find out just how far we would go, but unlike Garvey, most of us have limits. The characters in this story are embittered with a whole host of anxieties, fears, and insecurities that shadow them every step of the way, but it is Lauren’s constant self recriminations that I find the hardest to take. The pain of betrayal, the loss of a child, and the fear of exposure all conspire to make this a hair-raising and heart-wrenching read from beginning to end. ”
–Coffee Time Romance & More
“I love books based upon what I call Ordinary Evil that begins with an event that can happen to anyone. A car accident. An unwanted pregnancy. A child picking up something they shouldn’t. It is what happens after that takes these ordinary instances – accidents typically, mild carelessness at worst – into devastating crime. And the best part? It is normally a slow buildup, a character doing things out of character until suddenly, they aren’t even who they thought they were anymore. LIVE TO TELL is just such a book, eerily combining the everyday with the horrific, making the tale all that more chilling in the telling. Live to Tell takes the bonds that we all rely on everyday and shows how twisting or breaking them can blow up in our faces. It is an edge of your seat thriller, the type of book that takes off and is hard to put down once it does. A good read for anyone who likes suspense. I will be reading the sequel Scared to Death when it comes out in December.”
–Maggie Boyd for All About Romance
“Riveting and gripping with several interwoven plots Wendy Corsi Staub has written a tense and suspenseful tale!”
–Reader To Reader
“LIVE TO TELL will keep you riveted to your seat. Suddenly, you will want to do nothing else with your time other than finish this book. The realness of the characters, the tangible pain of Lauren, and the underlying fear of the story line will stay with you long after you have closed the book. Wendy Corsi Staub does a tremendous job. This is a must read for any suspense/ mystery readers!
–Kathy Fisher for The Romance Reader’s Connection,” Rating: 4 1/2
The author’s writing style and description of events grip and pull you in within the first few pages. The story takes place over an approximate time span of two weeks. Each chapter is written with information of each involved family according to the time line, which makes the reader want to read just one more chapter until the very end. In this gripping story are sub-plot mini mysteries that come together in an explosive ending. This is the first book of a series. If your genre of favorite reads is suspense or you just happen to be in the mood for a good mystery, I suggest you should read this book before Scared To Death is published later this year.
“The back-story of each of the three main characters is doled out very slowly as the tale unfolds, over and beyond the first two to three hundred pages and beyond. As it does, the reader – and the characters – are unsure who is what he, or she, appears to be and who can be trusted. I for one was totally unprepared for the point at which they converge. All does not even start to become clear until well over 300 pages have been turned, as the tale shifts into overdrive. Suspenseful and eminently readable, the book is recommended. [The reader is given a peak at the next novel by this author,Scared to Death, in which at least some of these characters reappear.”
Scared to Death
A Mother’s Worst Fear…
Elsa Cavalon—petrified that the nightmare from fifteen years earlier is beginning all over again…
Marin Quinn—hiding with her daughters in their concrete fortress…her storybook marriage over…
Perfect strangers whose once-perfect lives were cruelly shattered, they’re bound by a long lost child , a fragile strand of newfound maternal hope—and mutual loneliness. Yet Elsa and Marin are never truly alone. Someone is always nearby, watching them and their children. Someone driven by vengeance and the simple poetry of nursery rhymes…Someone who must satisfy dark need with innocent blood. And now time is running out for two mothers stalked by a cunning mastermind who wants to leave them… SCARED TO DEATH.
“Staub explores the conflict every parent feels between reasonable care for the safety of their children and paranoia in this compelling, well-crafted suspense novel. Elsa Cavalon, who’s trying to rebuild her life in Groton, Conn., 15 years after the kidnapping of her seven-year-old adopted son, Jeremy, and his later reported murder, doubts her sanity even as she worries that a stalker is prowling around the bedroom of her new seven-year-old adopted daughter, Renny. Meanwhile, Marin Quinn, a Manhattan socialite whose life has been crushed by the arrest of her congressman husband, finds that difficulties raising her daughters alone remind her of the trauma of secretly giving up Jeremy at birth. But long-missing Jeremy isn’t dead, and his jealousy as he secretly watches the two families that have moved on without him drives a story that raises fears about losing loved ones almost any reader can sympathize with.”
“By pointing out the apparent ‘ordinariness’ of the Cavalon family, Staub convinces her readers that their children too could be at risk. In one such scene, Elsa and Brett walk with Renny between them to meet Mike Fantoni, the private detective who investigated Jeremy’s case. They each hold on to one of Renny’s hands. Elsa reflects on how they must appear to passersby. ‘To them, she knows, she and Brett and Renny must appear to be just an ordinary family. No one would ever imagine that the parents are hanging on to the child for dear life.’
“Scared to Death, like Live to Tell, demonstrates Wendy Corsi Staub’s talent for depicting the menace behind everyday events.”
“Scared to Death is aptly titled — the momentum and chills keep going throughout the entire book. While it may take some readers a little while to get all of the characters straight, each one is richly written, with his or her own personalities and quirks. Some of the characters have been seen before in a previous Staub novel, but there is no need to have read it to follow this story”
“The outcome initially appears obvious, but that just wouldn’t be Staub’s style. Each twist and turn is methodical, meant to build anxiety as she cleverly yanks the rug out from underneath.”
—Shannon Raab for Suspense Magazine
“A fast-paced, thrilling ride of suspense and terror that will keep readers guessing till the end.”
“I love Wendy Corsi Staub. Seriously. Every time I go to her signings I am reminded of what a kind human being she is. She has not forgotten where she came from and she is truly thankful for her community. It’s great. This book was the follow up to Live to Tell and, as usual, I was hooked from the first page. The killer was a complete surprise, in fact I thought it was someone else and I had convinced myself 100% that I figured it out…but I was wrong. Don’t you love that? I can’t wait for the third book in this trilogy!”
—Confessions of a Bookaholic
“Staub can wring more terror out of a walk down the hallway of a New York townhouse than many writers can conjure out of an entire city. She is also a master of the “for want of a nail, the kingdom was lost” school of plotting. In the world of SCARED TO DEATH, the failure to charge a cell phone or inventory a child’s toy bag can be an event that leads to a frantic and deadly turn of events. Staub did this to wonderful effect in LIVE TO TELL with a stuffed animal, and takes this plot device to even greater heights here. She uses these tools to create a series of plot twists that the reader never sees coming, leading to a frightening conclusion that is stunning in its presentation and brilliant in its execution.
“SCARED TO DEATH is a complete work in itself, with a definite ending and resolution. But more is coming. HELL TO PAY, the third book in the series, is excerpted in this novel and appears every bit as frightening and haunting as its predecessors. Wendy Corsi Staub is an author who is not to be missed.”
—Joe Hartlaub for Bookreporter.com
“SCARED TO DEATH by Wendy Corsi Staub was a gripping, intense novel I could hardly put down. Filled with action, suspense and creepy antagonists, this story had me turning the pages to find out what happens next.”
—Night Owl Reviews
Hell to Pay
And so it begins…again.
Survivors of a serial killer who invaded their childhood, Lucy Walsh and Jeremy Cavalon are married now, replacing nightmares of their terrifying past with joyful dreams of the upcoming birth of their first child. Fiercely determined to protect the fragile balance of their lives, Lucy doesn’t know that her new husband guards a deadly secret…or that an Act of God is about to unleash a vengeful fury.
For shell-shocked Lucy and Jeremy, the horrible death of a loved one is a tragic accident. But for a shadowy predator, it’s the first step toward completing a deadly mission that was interrupted so long ago. Now, at last, the members of the Walsh and Cavalon families will pay for their sins, one by one…
“Staub’s latest explores trust and the after-effects of bloodshed, and is filled with suspense, hope, and psychological manipulation. Plot, terror, and empathy for the plight of these people escalates like a freight train fighting the wind to deliver Christmas presents by December 25th. Staub’s suspense works and so do her characters. If you like women in peril and the suspense they face, pick up a copy of Hell to Pay.”
“I personally have been a Wendy Corsi Staub fan for years. I’ve probably read close to everything she’s published and I can’t recommend her enough to those that like suspenseful novels. HELL TO PAY is no exception. Ms. Staub has, once again, crafted a nerve jangling book that is really hard to put down until the last page.”
“The narrative…stands on its own, with Staub’s trademark twists, turns, surprises and thrills carrying the day”
—Joe Hartlaub, Bookreporter.com
“The terror is very real—neither Jeremy nor Lucy is aware someone hunts them. The deranged maniac’s shocking plans create gruesome scenes which will leave you tensely turning pages; don’t expect a good night’s sleep.”
—Romance Reviews Today
“Action-packed, emotional and suspenseful, HELL TO PAY is an adrenaline pumping read.”
“(Staub) once more does a superb job of showing that evil can happen to anyone, anywhere. (She) also didn’t shy away from the horrors that the past brings to the present. Too often in books, people who have been through traumatic experiences are shockingly healthy and well adjusted as adults. All of these people bear tremendous scars, and the only thing keeping them going is each other and their own awareness that the ugliness is there and must be dealt with regularly. It was painful to see what some of my favorite characters had gone through, and yet it made the whole reading experience much more poignant and realistic.”
—All About Romance
“Staub is well known for her depictions of women in peril, and Lucy Walsh is a particularly strong example of this…Staub infuses new blood (if you’ll pardon the expression) into a series that could easily have drifted into the ordinary. Rather, the fifteen year gap in time coupled with the shift in focus takes the story in exciting and unexpected new directions. It also allows the author to examine the after-effects of the bloodshed, deception and dysfunction that punctuated the events of the first two books—a penetrating perspective that should give readers pause to consider the consequences of real-world situations even as they strive furiously to assemble the pieces of Staub’s intricately crafted puzzle. With this book, Staub offers an exceptional conclusion to a well-executed and often unpredictable trilogy. She methodically brings the story full circle, merging past and present in a terrifying series of events that reminds us that one person’s happy ending often comes at the expense of somebody else’s. As unsettling a truth as this may be, it’s one that needs to be reckoned with. Because if it’s not, there just may be Hell to Pay…”
“In the February 2010 issue of Suspense Magazine, Wendy Corsi Staub expressed her continuing interest in themes that reflect domestic concerns. ‘Many of my books aren’t technically romantic suspense, in that there is often no central romantic conflict—not in the sense of a hero and heroine falling in love in the course of the plot, anyway,’ she pointed out. ‘I’m much more likely to delve into issues involving marital love and parenting and familial trust.’ All three of these issues provide the core of Staub’s Live To Tell books. Hell To Pay offers a fitting conclusion to that trilogy. Like the previous generation of Cavalons and Walshes, Lucy and Jeremy learn that there is nothing they will not do to save the life of their child.”
“In the season of family homecomings, (a) young couple are stalked by a crazed killer from their tragic past who is bent on a most terrible revenge. Wendy Corsi Staub knows how to replaces the ‘Merry’ with the very ‘Macabre’ in this Christmas horror story, Hell to Pay.”
—Iron Mountain Daily News
“This book is terrifying and the suspense builds to a dramatic climax. The Walsh and Cavalon families were first introduced in Live To Tell. Their story continued in Scared to Death. If you haven’t read the first two books, the author gives enough background that Hell To Pay is an enjoyable read. I’ve read all three books and can recommend the series as an exciting one with many surprises.”