Kate White’s Between Two Strangers – A Life Changing Gift Could Take Her Life

Struggling artist Skyler Moore is skeptical when she’s told she’s inherited a “significant sum” and asked to travel to the tony New York suburb of Scarsdale to meet with a lawyer. Her benefactor’s name – Christopher Whaley – means nothing to Skyler. And the lawyer, Bradley Kane, can’t shed any light on the situation. It’s only when Skyler hears Whaley referred to as “CJ,” that she remembers a one-night stand when she was a grad student in Boston. But why would Skyler inherit the $3.5 million trust rather than CJ’s widow and two children? 

Although the lawyer advises Skyler not to tell anyone about the money, she really has no one to trust with that information. Ten years ago, Skyler invited her younger half sister Chloe to a party. When Chloe disappeared and was later found dead, their mother blamed Skyler. Distraught, Skyler dropped out of the graduate program, left behind everyone she knew in Boston, and moved to New York. Rather than the paintings she once produced, she began to put together collages. Her work caught the eye of Josh, a gallery owner, who commissioned her for an exhibition. While she hopes to make some money by selling the works in the show, Skyler realizes that CJ’s gift will not only allow her to continue her work as an artist, but also to do what she’s wanted to do for a long time – become a mother.

Kate White continues her winning streak of stand alone mysteries with Between Two Strangers. The set up is ingenious. Who hasn’t received one of those spam emails with the news that some rich individual is gifting the recipient a huge amount of money? Most of these emails are quickly deleted and, for sure, the voice mail Skyler initially receives has the same effect. But what if…? 

Arriving at Kane’s office, Skyler is impressed with everything from the elegant decor to the efficient, well dressed receptionist. Certainly the offer is legitimate, even if the reasons for bestowing such an amount are unknown. Still, there’s no guarantee that the money will land in Skyler’s account. While CJ’s mother, Caroline, supports her son’s decision, his wife, Jane, tells Skyler she will pursue legal action. That possibility prompts Skyler to ask one of her neighbors, Mikoto, a law student, for advice.

Skyler realizes the only way she will win a legal battle is to learn why CJ is assigning the trust to her. Going back into the past, however, dredges up painful memories. The night she slept with CJ was also the night she learned that Chloe was missing and might be dead. White has the narrative shift between “now” and “then,” slowly filling in the back story. Since CJ was older, Skyler knows he wasn’t at the party where Chloe went missing, so she pursues other possibilities that might have prompted the gift. In between lovemaking, Skyler and CJ played a game, Two Truths and a Lie. Did CJ reveal something damaging during that game and he’s repaying Skyler for keeping his secret?

What CJ perhaps didn’t anticipate was that he would place Skyler’s life in danger. Both her apartment and studio are broken into and she often feels like she’s being followed. Will this life-changing gift end up taking her life?

White manages to get everything right in this mystery – the plot, the characters, and settings. But it’s also the little details that show the amount of research she does. In one chapter, we follow Skyler through the Village and Soho as she collects items – wrapping paper, stamps, even African porcupine quills – for a future collage. At another point, Skyler tries to reconstruct what happened in that Boston hotel by putting together a collage using photos of herself and what she remembers of the room to jog her memory. Don’t be surprised if you feel creative and begin to collect items for your own masterpiece.

Between Two Strangers
Kate White

Top photo credit: Jordan Matter

About Charlene Giannetti (705 Articles)
Charlene Giannetti, editor of Woman Around Town, is the recipient of seven awards from the New York Press Club for articles that have appeared on the website. A graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Charlene began her career working for a newspaper in Pennsylvania, then wrote for several publications in Washington covering environment and energy policy. In New York, she was an editor at Business Week magazine and her articles have appeared in many newspapers and magazines. She is the author of 13 non-fiction books, eight for parents of young adolescents written with Margaret Sagarese, including "The Roller-Coaster Years," "Cliques," and "Boy Crazy." She and Margaret have been keynote speakers at many events and have appeared on the Today Show, CBS Morning, FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and many others. Her last book, "The Plantations of Virginia," written with Jai Williams, was published by Globe Pequot Press in February, 2017. Her podcast, WAT-CAST, interviewing men and women making news, is available on Soundcloud and on iTunes. She is one of the producers for the film "Life After You," focusing on the opioid/heroin crisis that had its premiere at WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival, where it won two awards. The film is now available to view on Amazon Prime, YouTube, and other services. Charlene and her husband live in Manhattan.