TITLE: The Poachers' Code
GENRE: Adult Mystery/Suspense
I hope you will consider THE POACHERS' CODE, my 91,000-word upmarket suspense novel.
While researching an invasive beetle ravaging New Hampshire's woodlands, an entomologist must confront the murder she covered up as a child, before her silence ruins an innocent man’s life.
Sadie Kessler has spent the past three decades trying to forget about the body in the woods, the murder she and her estranged childhood friend Daniela covered up as kids. Now an entomologist with the state forestry department, Sadie is on the verge of proving an invasive beetle is triggering forest fires when she receives a text from Daniela. They found him. Daniela begs Sadie to return home—her undocumented father has been falsely accused of the decades-old murder and may be deported if they don’t reveal the truth. Ignoring threats from the presumed killer, Sadie returns to the woods of her youth to search for evidence that will exonerate Daniela’s father, knowing it could destroy not only her life, but the lives of people she cares about. The real killer follows her into the woods—and so do the forest fires that edge closer as local officials dismiss Sadie’s warnings about the beetles. Forced to decide what she is willing to sacrifice to protect the people and the forest she loves, Sadie will learn that no one can hold back the power of Nature—whether in the form of species migration, wildfire, or the truth.
THE POACHERS’ CODE will appeal to fans of Megan Miranda’s All the Missing Girls, Emily Fridland's History of Wolves, and Jane Harper’s The Dry.
As a journalist, I have published more than a thousand articles in The Boston Globe, BusinessWeek, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. I workshopped THE POACHERS’ CODE in GrubStreet’s Novel Incubator, a year-long, MFA-level novel intensive. I have a Master’s in Creative Writing from Harvard University Extension School and have published short stories in the Charles River Review and The MacGuffin. I contribute regularly to DeadDarlings and GrubStreet’s writer’s blogs. I also own and operate a 100-acre organic farm in rural New Hampshire, where invasive insects chasing climate change present a looming threat —an unavoidable phenomenon scientists worldwide are bracing for.
Thank you for your time and consideration of THE POACHERS’ CODE.
Sadie peeled a strip of bark off yet another dying pine tree. Her fingers, blistered and raw from hunting the elusive pine beetle, froze as a gush of tiny insects writhed against the exposed wood. Beetles scattered for cover, but not fast enough.
“Got you.” Her voice, scratchy and dry from not having spoken in days, echoed off the granite boulders on the sparsely wooded slope. She scraped the insects into a small envelope and tilted her head up to the morning sun. Tomorrow she would storm her research director’s office, dump bags of dead beetles on her desk and her lap. Now no one could deny the invasive insects had migrated from the Rockies to New England.
‘I told you so’ burned sweet on her tongue.
This drought. This wildfire. This beetle. With a four degree increase in summer temperatures, New Hampshire had practically invited the beetles and the fires that followed them. She could head off the wildfires if someone would just believe her. The anticipation of being right, of being the hero, had lulled her to sleep the past several nights under a canopy of stars.
Smoke scratched the back of her throat, confirming the late summer wind was already pushing the fires east. She paused for a sip of warm water. Working alone in the woods, Sadie marked time in elevation and ounces of water. She was running out of both.