Prologue

Dedication

For Dad, who’s read every book and liked most of them. And because I can’t dedicate this one to Mom.

Prologue

Eileen Dresden is blond, harried. Her wispy bangs brush along her brow line and she throws her head to get them out of her eyes. Her twin sons are seniors in high school, their arms ropey and thick, their laughs loud, their eyes dancing as they tease their mother. Eileen smooths back her daughter Rayann’s hair with a flat palm and a kiss to the crown of her head. Rayann, awkward and quiet, watches her brothers roughhousing until one of them slaps down on the chicken ladle and sends it flying, chicken bits and gravy splattering on the white carpet (who has white carpet in a dining room?), and Eileen starts to cry. Kent barely looks up from his phone, oblivious to his wife’s tears.

Kent is a motherfucker.

Kent is having an affair. He barely tries to cover it up. She comes over three times a week after Eileen leaves for her job as a teller at the bank. Kent is a software development engineer and works mostly from home.

Sometimes, he smiles at his wife, a quick blip of a smile, and her face relaxes and all the lines disappear and you can almost see how they used to love each other. Back when he was a programmer and she was working in marketing, making brochures for a software company, when software companies were all start-ups, when they held late-night meetings over Chinese food and dry-erase boards and had sex for the first time on the conference room table.

Everything is different now. See, in 2000, when the twins were barely toddlers, and Rayann was a bouncing newborn, Eileen was in the prime of her life. She was so happy then. She wasn’t working, she was a mom. But the good kind, the kind who went to baby yoga classes and sang along to Barney. The kind who arranged toddler playdates with the moms in the neighborhood so the kids would all be best friends before they got to kindergarten. She hosted tea parties and sank into motherhood the way other mothers sink into vodka. She hugged her children, freely and often, and smelled like Love’s Baby Soft, which she has used since college.

But then in November of that year, everything changed. Eileen’s sister, Annora, married a man named Quentin Kitterton. Not even a month later, Annora was found murdered in their townhouse in Philadelphia. They suspected Quentin for a long time. It didn’t help that Quentin was black and Annora was white, so for months, maybe a year, they looked too long and too hard at Quentin before eventually moving on to his past. To all his women, and his philandering, and eventually, a smart, savvy young junior detective found a connection no one else did.

Lilith Wade.

Lilith worked at a bar called Drifter’s. The kind with only a few blinking signs and even fewer patrons. Lilith was pretty, you know? A little overly made up, a little hardened around the edges, but she knew what to do and how to do it and didn’t bring home any of the hassle, either that time or all the other times Quentin went back for her. She was a nice, easy, sure thing in a world with so many unknowns. That must have made a man feel good. Then he met Annora and moved on, as men tend to do.

Until Lilith snuck in through the bathroom window and stabbed Annora seventeen times while Quentin was away on business. Posthumously, Lilith removed her ring finger, including her wedding ring, neither of which were ever found.

With Annora gone, Eileen was never the same. All the life just eked out of her like she died the same day as her sister. Her children never knew the mother she could have been, how present, how attentive she used to be. They got used to the new Eileen. Harried. Distracted. Sad. Until it all just seemed like normal, regular life.

The most infuriating part for Eileen is that Lilith doesn’t remember. There were six women in total, and she only remembers a few of them. Some of them she’s even denied. How could anyone forget her sister, who was so full of life before Lilith stole it from her? It seems to Eileen to be the cruelest irony. Or at least that’s what she rants about in the online forum, a gathering place for a handful of Lilith’s victims’ families and victims of other violent crimes. Healing Hope. Such a mawkish name for the graphic atrocities that are discussed there.

Eileen doesn’t know that she and I are connected. We’re both Remainders. We’re what’s left after Lilith, part of a small, exclusive, horrific club. Some of them know one another. None of them know me. It doesn’t seem possible that one person can cut such a large swath of destruction through a city. If they knew who I was, they’d turn their rage—their helplessness, the never-ending hell of grief, the feeling that death row is not enough punishment—toward me. After all, we share the same blood: microscopic pieces of Lilith coursing through my veins, our molecules alike from the dark parts of the heart that no one can see, right down to our bones.

Lilith is my mother.

Acknowledgments

Thank you to Sarah Cantin, who worked tirelessly to help me get down to the question of why. I have been grateful for your guidance and expertise before, but never quite this much. Thank you to the whole Atria team, but especially Stephanie Mendoza and Haley Weaver (who offered wonderful feedback!). And, of course, thanks to Mark Gottlieb, agent extraordinaire, tireless cheerleader, astonishing deal-maker, biggest retweeter.

I am so incredibly grateful for the writing community. You are my colleagues, my friends, my ardent supporters, and I wouldn’t love this job half as much as I do without you. To my Tall Poppy Writers, you are my go-to girls. I’m so proud to be part of a community that lifts up and supports women. To my first readers with keen observations and kind delivery: Karen Katchur, Kimberly Giarratano, Elizabeth Buhmann, Ann Garvin, Sonja Yoerg. Writer pals and Calamity Dames: Emily and Kim, who talk me off ledges daily, bless them (but not bless their hearts). To my family and friends who come to my events, even now, five years later (it might be for the drinks after, though): Mom and Dad and Meg and the Peanuts Gang, Aunt Mary Jo and Uncle Jeff, Becky and Molly, Dottie, Chuck and Lauren. To BethAnn and Sarah (Reindeer Fur!), Sharon, Betsy, Kelly G., my A-Phi sisters who shout to the rooftops and are supportive in surprising and delightful ways. Finally, to the bloggers, Instagramming community, the reader groups (Hi, Bloomies!), the reviewers, and, of course, the readers. I’m so incredibly grateful for your support, kindness, and love of books. I could not begin to thank you each individually; I’d leave someone out and never sleep again. And of course, endless gratitude to all librarians and booksellers, particularly Moravian and Clinton Book Shops, who have always welcomed me with open arms.

I would also like to acknowledge Steve Rush, who gave me insight into all the psychiatry mentioned in this book. And Joe Murray at the PPD, who sat with Karen and me for hours at a diner in Center City and answered all my procedural and Philadelphia-related questions. My mistakes and liberties are my own.

Finally, I have my biggest thanks to my family. It’s because of you that I actually leave the house. I appreciate your patience when I’m in writer la-la land, which is only about 95 percent of the time. To Lily and Abby, I hope I’m teaching you how to chase your dreams. To Chip, words cannot express my appreciation, ever. You take care of everything while I tap away. As usual, I’m so sorry I write about such shitty marriages.

– – –

Excerpt from The Serrated Edge: The Story of Lilith Wade, Serial Killer, by E. Green, RedBarn Press, copyright June 2016

Timeline of Murders (For reference)

FEBRUARY 1998: Renee Hoffman, stabbed nineteen times in her abdomen, chest, and face (the only victim with face lacerations); found in her car twenty-two hours after being reported missing. Spouse: Charles Hoffman, home, alibi confirmed (via phone call with mistress).

MAY 1998: Melinda Holmes, found stabbed eight times in her backyard. Fiancé: Matthew Melnick, at his residence. Father: Walden Holmes, asleep upstairs when murder occurred (alibi confirmed).

MARCH 1999: Penelope Cook, stabbed fourteen times in her living room. Spouse: Mitchell Cook, away on golf outing (deceased since 2010; alibi confirmed).

OCTOBER 1999: Colleen Lipsky, found behind her apartment Dumpster; stabbed three times. Spouse: Peter Lipsky, away on business (alibi confirmed).

NOVEMBER 2000: Annora Quinlan is stabbed seventeen times and her ring finger is removed, including her wedding ring, neither of which were ever found. This is the only victim to be missing this finger. Spouse: Quentin Kitterton, away on business (alibi confirmed).

JUNE 2001: Margaret Mayweather, stabbed twelve times in the abdomen and torso while in her bed. Spouse: Troy Mayweather, away on business (alibi confirmed).

JUNE 2001: Lilith Wade arrested for four counts of criminal homicide, murder in the first degree. She was thirty-four. She was eventually convicted of six counts of murder in the first degree in the city of Philadelphia and surrounding areas.