Catch Her When She Falls

A Novel



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February 1, 2022 | ISBN 9780593555958

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About the Book

In this “propulsive” (Kimberly McCreight) debut thriller, a young woman questions everything she thought she knew about the shocking murder that changed her life when she was in high school.

“Wildly suspenseful and almost gothic in tone.”—BookPage

Ten years ago, my boyfriend killed my best friend.

When Micah Wilkes was a senior in high school, her boyfriend was convicted of murdering her best friend, Emily, a star ballerina with a bright future. A decade later, Micah has finally moved on from the unforgivable betrayal and loss. Now the owner of a bustling coffee shop in her small hometown in Pennsylvania, she’s happily coupled up with another old high school friend, the two having bonded over their shared sorrow.

But when reminders of her past begin appearing at her work and home, Micah begins to doubt what she knows about Emily’s death. Questions raised on a true crime blog and in an online web sleuthing forum force her to reexamine her memories of that fateful night. She told the truth to the investigators on the case, but was there another explanation for Emily’s murder? A stranger in the woods. An obsessive former classmate. A domineering ballet instructor. Or the internet’s favorite suspect: Joshua, Emily’s outcast younger brother who hasn’t been seen since his sister’s death.

As Micah delves deeper into the case, she feels her grip on reality loosening, her behavior growing more and more secretive and unhinged. As she races to piece together the truth about that night ten years ago, Micah grapples with how things could have gone so wrong and wonders whether she, too, might be next to disappear.
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Praise for Catch Her When She Falls

“A riveting mystery debut . . . an intriguing story about crime, punishment, and how a murder case changes countless lives forever—no matter what the verdict turns out to be.”Mystery Scene

“Buccola’s deeply developed characters and simmering suspense propel this story of one woman’s quest to discover the truth about the mysterious death of her best friend.”—Liv Constantine, bestselling author of The Last Mrs. Parrish

“Promising . . . startling twists and troubling questions concerning guilt and justice . . . Psychological thriller fans will be curious to see what Buccola does next.”Publishers Weekly
“Wildly suspenseful and almost gothic in tone.”Bookpage

“Gripping and mesmerizing, reading Catch Her When She Falls is like watching a building catch fire, aware that dark ends are coming but unable to look away. Ten years after a shocking murder, amateur sleuths question whether the man in prison is responsible, causing his former girlfriend to reopen a case she never wanted to confront again. As new clues pile up, her paranoia and fear ratchet higher until almost everyone is a suspect. A portrait of a woman unraveling, this is the definition of ‘shirk all responsibilities and stay up until 2 a.m.’ reading. A superb story.”—Ashley Winstead, author of In My Dreams I Hold a Knife

“Richly atmospheric and thoroughly propulsive, Catch Her When She Falls is a thought-provoking mystery about the fraught interconnectedness of youth and the tragic limitations of teenage insight.”—Kimberly McCreight, New York Times bestselling author of Reconstructing Amelia and A Good Marriage

“A tense and twisting debut thriller . . . After receiving ominous warnings that the wrong person might be in prison for her best friend’s murder, Micah is in a desperate race for answers, but can she uncover the truth before her own life unravels? Catch Her When She Falls probes the dark shadows of guilt, suspicion, and obsession that surround a case where nothing is as it seems.”—Laura McHugh, author of What’s Done in Darkness
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Catch Her When She Falls


7:15 a.m., Wind Gap, Pennsylvania. 350 miles remaining.

Ten years ago, my boyfriend killed my best friend.

For a long time, that’s all anyone thought about when they looked at me. Christ, for a long time that’s all I thought about when I’d catch my reflection in the mirror: sand-­brown eyes, so plain compared to Emily’s vivid green, with dark shadows forming in the creases underneath. I am Micah Wilkes, I’d say to myself, former girlfriend of Alex Swift, former friend of Emily Winters. Or: I am Micah Wilkes, and I make bad decisions. Or, in my darker moments, I am Micah Wilkes, and the one thing I’ve learned, the one thing I know for sure, is you can’t trust anyone but yourself.

Those old mantras come back to me now, and I try to put them out of my head, to focus instead on the rhythmic sweep of the windshield wipers, the sharp pings of sleet against the glass. I glance up toward the rearview mirror, study the ice-­slicked road behind me. A white sedan approaches, moving fast; I hold the steering wheel tight as though my grip could provide some protection against what’s about to happen. But the sedan jolts to the left at the last minute, speeding past me, continuing on its way, and then I’m alone again: just woods and road and snow.

I shouldn’t have let my guard down, shouldn’t have let myself forget. These past few years have been good—­even better than good, at times. They’ve been normal. I’d find myself at Stomping Grounds, laughing at a customer’s corny joke, or burrowing into Ryan on the couch, his yellow and black fleece pulled up over us, my cold toes warmed under his feet, and I’d think: Maybe this is what other people have been doing all this time. Maybe this isn’t so bad.

I reach out across the passenger seat for my messenger bag and pull it toward me, across a bed of crumpled-­up papers and loose wrappers. My car isn’t usually disheveled like this, but I’ve had things other than cleaning on my mind. I fish around in my bag until my fingers touch my phone. I pull it out, take a breath, and check the screen.

Five missed calls. None of them from you.

I need to talk to you, Joshua. You need to talk to me. It wasn’t him. I got it wrong. I’m trying to fix things. I just want to make things right.

That’s why I’m coming to find you.

About the Author

Allison Buccola
Allison Buccola is the author of Catch Her When She Falls.  She is an attorney with a JD from the University of Chicago. She lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and two young children. More by Allison Buccola
Decorative Carat
Random House Publishing Group