A moment on the subway platform changes two women’s lives forever—a debut thriller that will take your breath away.
A total stranger on the subway platform whispers, “Take my baby.”
She places her child in your arms. She says your name.
Then she jumps...
In a split second, Morgan Kincaid’s life changes forever. She’s on her way home from work when a mother begs her to take her baby, then places the infant in her arms. Before Morgan can stop her, the distraught mother jumps in front of an oncoming train.
Morgan has never seen this woman before, and she can’t understand what would cause a person to give away her child and take her own life. She also can’t understand how this woman knew her name.
The police take Morgan in for questioning. She soon learns that the woman who jumped was Nicole Markham, prominent CEO of the athletic brand Breathe. She also learns that no witness can corroborate her version of events, which means she’s just become a murder suspect.
To prove her innocence, Morgan frantically retraces the last days of Nicole’s life. Was Nicole a new mother struggling with paranoia or was she in danger? When strange things start happening to Morgan, she suddenly realizes she might be in danger, too.
Woman on the Edge is a pulse-pounding, propulsive thriller about the lengths to which a woman will go to protect her baby—even if that means sacrificing her own life.
I flinch at the brittle, scratchy voice. I’m standing on the subway platform as I do every day after work, waiting for the train to come. I used to try to smile at people, but I’m warier now. Ever since my husband, Ryan, died, no one knows how to act around me, and I don’t know how to act around them. I usually keep to myself, head down, which is why the voice surprises me.
I look up. I thought the woman was talking to a friend, but she’s not. She’s disheveled, wearing faded black yoga pants and a stained white T-shirt. She’s alone, and she’s talking to me.
She clutches a sleeping baby to her chest with one arm. She knows she has my attention now. She presses up against me, and my purse bangs into my side. Then she digs sharp nails into my bare wrist. “Please, take my baby.”
Icy fingers of fear run up my back despite the sweltering heat inside Grand/State station. The woman is on edge, and so am I—literally, at least. I always stand on the edge of the platform so I can be first on the train. One hard push is all it would take for me to fall onto the tracks. As bleak as the last eighteen months have been, no matter how ostracized I’ve become after Ryan’s suicide, I’ve made a new life for myself. I don’t want it to end here.
I gently extract my arm from her tight grip. “Sorry, could you …”
She steps even closer to me, so close that I’m on the blue strip. Her eyes are wild, lips so bloody and raw, like she’s been chewing on them. She clearly needs help. I pull my long black hair around my face, lower my gaze to the gray speckled tiles, and say, “We should step back a bit. Here.” I put a hand out to guide her away from the edge, but she won’t move.
She’s making me so nervous. As a social worker, I recognize the signs of distress, signs I should have noticed in Ryan. If I hadn’t been the loyal, obtuse, willfully blind wife I never thought I’d become, my husband might have turned himself in and gotten help before it was too late. He might have realized that even though he’d be found guilty of embezzlement, there were worse things to lose. Like life itself. If I’d noticed anything ahead of time, I might not be paying for the crimes I didn’t even know he’d committed until he was dead.
I might even be a mother myself now, like this woman in front of me.
She looks awful. Clumps of matted dark curls stick out haphazardly from her scalp as though her hair has been hacked with a chain saw. I look away quickly.
“I’ve been watching you,” she says to me in a strangled voice.
She squeezes the sleeping baby so tightly, too tightly, and I fear for the safety of the child. The woman’s eyes—ringed with such dark circles it’s like she’s been punched—flick back and forth.
“Are you looking for someone? Is someone supposed to meet you here?” Then I curse myself for getting involved when I should just give her my boss Kate’s number at Haven House, the women’s shelter I work for. I’m not the lead counselor and head advocate at the shelter anymore. I’ve been demoted to office manager. I wish I’d never met Ryan. I wish I’d never fallen for his crooked smile and self-deprecating humor. And I have no recourse. I still have a job. I did nothing wrong, yet I lost so much, including everyone’s faith in me. My faith in myself.
She is not my client to counsel. Who am I to counsel anyone?
Her haunted eyes land back on me, and on her gaunt face is a look of pure terror. “Keep her safe.”
The baby is fast asleep, her tiny nose and mouth pressed too closely to her mother’s chest. She’s unaware of her mother’s suffering. I feel myself unwittingly absorbing this woman’s pain, even though I have enough of my own to contend with. I’m about to give her the shelter phone number when she speaks again.
“I’ve been watching you for a long time. You seem like a nice woman. Kind. Smart. Please, Morgan.”
My head jolts back in shock. Did she just say my name? It’s impossible. I’ve never seen her before in my life.
The woman kisses her baby’s tufts of hair, then stares at me again with those piercing blue eyes. “I know what you want. Don’t let anyone hurt her. Love her for me, Morgan.”
I know what you want?
“How can you possibly know anything about me?” I say, but my voice is drowned out by an announcement to stay back from the platform’s edge. The woman’s cracked lips move again, but I can’t hear her over the wind roaring through the tunnel.
I’m truly panicked now. Something about all of this just isn’t right. I feel it in my gut. I need to get away from this woman.
People surround us, but they don’t seem to notice that something strange is going on here. They are commuters in their own world, as I was just a few minutes ago.
The woman’s eyes sweep the platform once again. Then her arms reach out. She launches her baby toward me; my hands catch the infant by instinct. I look down at the child in my arms, and I tear up. The yellow blanket she’s wrapped in is so soft against my skin, the baby’s face serene and content.
When I look back up at her mother a second later, the train is shrieking into the station.
Samantha M. Bailey is a Toronto-based novelist, journalist, and freelance editor. Her work has appeared in NOW Magazine, The Village Post, and Oxford University Press, among other publications. She was a writer-in-residence for Kobo Writing Life at BookExpo America 2013. She is the co-founder of BookBuzz, a promotional and interactive author-reader event held in New York City and Toronto. Woman on the Edge is her debut novel. Connect with her on Twitter @SBaileyBooks and on her website at SamanthaMBailey.com.
“A fast-moving thriller with satisfying twists.” — Toronto Star
“Bailey has talent and I, dear reader, am looking forward to her next novel.” — Globe and Mail
“[A] nail-biting debut. . . . The tension becomes unrelenting . . . Fans of psychological suspense are in for a treat.” — Publisher's Weekly (Starred review)
“Woman on the Edge races towards its final destination with breakneck speed.” — Chatelaine
“The debut novel from Toronto writer Samantha M. Bailey mines maternal anxiety, marital secrets, female friendship, and C-suite power grabs—not to mention public transit horror—for a satisfyingly twisty psychological thriller.” — Toronto Life
“One woman’s struggles with motherhood and another’s desperate desire to be a mother collide in this explosive debut. Woman on the Edge is a white-knuckle read that welcomes a bright new talent to the world of psychological suspense.” — MARY KUBICA, New York Times bestselling author of The Good Girl
"Writing with compassion for her characters and a keen eye on her carefully woven plot, Samantha Bailey’s Woman on the Edge is a page turning delight!" — WENDY WALKER, international bestselling author of All Is Not Forgotten
A remarkable thriller. — Morning Live
[A] must-read thriller. . . . A series of events that will keep you turning this book’s pages till the end. — 29Secrets
If you’re looking for a page-turner to bundle up with this holiday season, look no further than . . . Woman on the Edge. The gripping story follows Morgan Kincaid, who is suddenly given a baby by a woman moments before she dies by suicide. Pick it up when you have a few hours, because you’ll want to finish it in one sitting. — Elle Canada
“Woman on the Edge begins with a shocking, tragic event and doesn’t stop there. Samantha M. Bailey has written an impressive debut that will keep you reading until the final twist.” — SAMANTHA DOWNING, USA Today bestselling author of My Lovely Wife
“A fast-paced, twisty roller coaster ride in which a desperate widow, a guilt-ridden new mother, and the secrets of the past collide—with a baby’s life hanging in the balance. . . . I couldn’t race to the end quickly enough! An exciting, binge-worthy debut.” — KRISTIN HARMEL, bestselling author of The Winemaker’s Wife and The Room on Rue Amelie
“From its first chapter—its first line!—Woman on the Edge will grip you like so few novels manage to do. From the moment two women’s lives collide on a subway platform to the shocking finale, you’ll be dizzied by the twists and turns the story takes. Some writers toil their entire career trying to master this kind of adept plotting, but Samantha M. Bailey nails it in her first effort. Woman on the Edge stayed with me for days after I turned its final pages. A truly thrilling debut.” — AMY STUART, bestselling author of Still Mine and Still Water
“A shocking premise and two intriguingly damaged characters whose storylines hurtle toward each other, colliding in a powerful, moving climax. A propulsive read! Samantha M. Bailey is a writer to watch in the thriller genre.” — ROBYN HARDING, bestselling author of The Party and The Arrangement
“Begins with a bang and takes the reader on a tense, emotional journey of love, betrayal, loss and straight into the heart of a mother willing to do anything to protect her child. Infused with riveting, hold-your-breath suspense, this masterful debut needs to be your next binge-read. A knockout page turner.” — HEATHER GUDENKAUF, New York Times bestselling author of The Weight of Silence and Before She Was Found
“A captivating thriller. . . . Bailey masterfully spins a chilling tale of deceit and duplicity that will have you guessing until the very end. Filled with unexpected twists, tight prose, and penetrating characters, this novel heralds the arrival of an immensely talented author.” — LORI NELSON SPIELMAN, New York Times bestselling author of The Life List
“This is the page turner you’ve been looking for! Bailey’s writing is gripping and emotionally resonant at once, and her debut novel, perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell and Kimberley Belle, will keep you on the edge of your seat until the final sentence.” — MARISSA STAPLEY, bestselling author of The Last Resort
"A tale so tightly told that you won’t swallow or exhale for the entire duration. Dark, riveting, utterly gripping. . . . Bailey is a new name to watch in the genre!” — ROZ NAY, bestselling author of Our Little Secret
“One word: Exhilarating! Woman on the Edge was impossible to put down as the twisty thrills kept on coming—and kept me guessing—leaving me breathless. Fans of Shari Lapena will no doubt gobble this one up in a heartbeat.” — HANNAH MARY MCKINNON, bestselling author of Her Secret Son and The Neighbors
"Gripping from the first page to the last, Woman on the Edge had me nail-biting and breathless all the way through. But even after you've turned the final page, this riveting and deeply felt thriller from debut author Samantha M. Bailey won't relinquish its hold on you." — LAURA SIMS, author of Looker
“With the narrative acceleration of a runaway train, Woman on the Edge kept me at the edge of my seat for its entire zigzagging ride; I had to remind myself to breathe. Bailey’s confident prose and dark satire enrich the ingenious plot, and her authentic characters—whether damaged, yearning, or downright diabolical—make this compulsory reading for fans of suspense. An exceptional debut!” — SONJA YOERG, Washington Post bestselling author of True Places
“Exhilarating and evocative. . . . Woman on the Edge had me gripped. This book effortlessly ticks all the boxes: wonderful world building, realistic characters and a gripping plot that made me keep flipping the pages. It’s about obsession and madness, motherhood and trauma. This is a debut you’ll want to slip straight to the top of your to-read pile!” — CHRISTINA MCDONALD, USA Today bestselling author of The Night Olivia Fell
“Readers, clear yourself a block of time for this one, because once you pick up Woman on the Edge, you won’t want to set it down. From its breathless first chapter to its startling conclusion, Bailey is in control, delivering a gripping plot, palpable tension, and characters pushed ever closer to the brink in this unmissable debut.” — PAULA TREICK DEBOARD, critically acclaimed author of Here We Lie and The Drowning Girls
“A glowing debut that starts with a bang and never lets up, Woman on the Edge weaves the stories of two women, both on the edge, who find themselves at different times the protector of a baby girl. Unrelenting suspense and a taut, propulsive plot add up to a first-rate, heart-pounding mystery. I loved this one!” — EMILY CARPENTER, bestselling author of Burying the Honeysuckle Girls
“Every mother’s worst nightmare comes to life in this taut, razor-sharp thriller. Bailey’s genius is in her story’s structure. By alternating the voices of two narrators—a new mother driven to the edge of insanity and a woman crawling out of the emotional abyss of her devastated life—gruesome clues reveal the sinister events that led one to abandon her infant in the arms of the other before ending her life. Crackling with suspense, the blistering pace of Bailey’s story will keep you turning pages late into the night to find out who—if either—is telling the truth.” — JOSIE BROWN, bestselling author, The Housewife Assassin series
“Woman on the Edge opens with an ingenious setup: a woman on the subway hands her baby to a total stranger, then jumps in front of an oncoming train. But were they really strangers, and did she really jump? Suspicions swirl in this propulsive debut, and the truth is revealed in twisty, page-turning increments that culminate in a whopper of an ending. A clever and addictive read from a bright new talent.” — KIMBERLY BELLE, USA Today bestselling author of Dear Wife
“A knockout premise, break-neck pacing and a twisty plot with two strong women at its core make Woman on the Edge irresistible. I read it in one sitting, absolutely riveted by this propulsive tale of motherhood, loss and betrayal. A must-read for thriller lovers.” — DANIELA PETROVA, author of Her Daughter’s Mother
“Page-turning, up-all-night, expertly tracked. . . . Woman on theEdge is a twisty tale where paranoia, double takes, reversals, and deceit bend to the awe-inspiring power of a mother’s love. Not to miss!” — JULIE VALERIE, author of Holly Banks Full of Angst and the Village of Primm series
“Samantha M. Bailey’s highly anticipated debut Woman on the Edge grips you from its first line. Quick-paced with roller coaster-like twists and turns, Woman on the Edge is a thrilling story of two women whose lives, in one brief moment, are forever changed. You’ll be breathless as you tear through the final pages. Loved it!” — LIZ FENTON & LISA STEINKE, bestselling authors of The Two Lila Bennetts
Woman on the Edge may be a thriller, but at its core, it encapsulates Bailey’s thoughts, feelings and anxieties about the pressure of being a modern mother. — Canadian Jewish News
[A] totally gripping psychological thriller about the lengths in which a woman will go to protect her baby. You’ll be on the edge of your seat as you devour each page to find out how this story ends. — SavvyMom