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Love Letters to a Serial Killer

Author Tasha Coryell On Tour
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An aimless young woman starts writing to an accused serial killer while he awaits trial and then, once he’s acquitted, decides to move in with him and take the investigation into her own hands in this dark and irresistibly compelling debut thriller.

Recently ghosted and sick of watching her friends fade into the suburbs, thirty-something Hannah finds community in a true-crime forum that’s on a mission to solve the murders of four women in Atlanta. After William, a handsome lawyer, is arrested for the killings, Hannah begins writing him letters. It’s the perfect outlet for her pent-up frustration and rage. The exercise empowers her, and even feels healthy at first.

Until William writes back.

Hannah’s interest in the case goes from curiosity to obsession, leaving space for nothing else as her life implodes around her. After she loses her job, she heads to Georgia to attend the trial and befriends other true-crime junkies like herself. When a fifth woman is discovered murdered, the jury has no choice but to find William not guilty, and Hannah is the first person he calls upon his release. The two of them quickly fall into a routine of domestic bliss.

Well, as blissful as one can feel while secretly investigating their partner for serial murder…
1

Undisclosed Location

I didn't plan to fall in love with an accused serial killer. Nevertheless, my wrists and ankles are bound to a chair, and I can blame only myself.

I'm in a nondescript white room with fluorescent lights and gray carpeting lined with geometric shapes. Across from me there's a window that reveals that it's still daylight and that I'm somewhere above ground level but gives no clues of my overall location. The ropes chafe where I strain, rubbing my skin raw. My bladder is regrettably full. If I'd known that I was going to find myself in a kidnapping situation, I would've used the bathroom.

"Hello?" I cry out.

I suspect that no one can hear me, because my mouth remains uncovered and I was not put here by a stupid man. My suspicions are verified when no one arrives.

"Please, I have to use the bathroom," I say.

The silence is more disturbing to me than anything else.

I'm not as frightened as I should be, though I am frightened, which is a relief. I always appreciate when I feel the emotions I'm expected to feel in any given situation, like when I bake a cake and it looks like the picture from the recipe when I pull it out of the oven.

Beneath the fear is undeniable excitement. If I wanted to be kind to myself, I would identify it as adrenaline that I need to help me survive, but I'm not sure that I deserve kindness. Even as I'm afraid, there's something thrilling about being tied to a chair, like a scene from a movie. There is no question about who the protagonist of this story is.

I'm worried that when my body is discovered, I will be found undeserving of mourning. That's the catch of martyrdom on social media. First, they lament your death, and then they count all the reasons why you deserved to die.

I want to believe that I'm a good person. I vote in every election and care about the environment. I have a Black Lives Matter sticker on the back of my laptop and send money to various groups whenever there is a national tragedy.

All of these things will be outweighed by the great wrong that I've committed in falling in love with an accused serial killer.

"Don't tell me you didn't want this," Meghan would say if she could see me. "No one does what you've done if they don't find being tied up and about to die at least a little hot."

Meghan isn't wrong. I find no pleasure in the prospect of death but enjoy picturing the mourning of the masses. I want my name remembered, unlike the hordes of other women who have been brutally murdered and then forgotten. At the very least, I want a podcast in my memory.

I hear a noise outside the door.

"Please! Help me!" I call out.

Despite the urgency of the situation, I can't fully believe that my death is inevitable. What is the world if I'm not in it?

Too late, I realize that the sounds are not those of a would-be rescuer and instead are the familiar footsteps of the man who brought me here. I strain at the ropes again, a futile act. I take a deep breath and prepare to die.

2

Before falling in love with a serial killer, I worked in communications for a nonprofit. It was a job that I got following a monthslong search after graduating with my bachelor's degree. I graduated into the recession and suddenly all of that "promise" that I'd always been told I had dissipated into thin air. "You can do anything" turned into comments from my parents suggesting that I apply to work at Target or Starbucks, which I did. They turned me down because I had no retail experience. No one cared about my English and political science double majors with a German minor. They just wanted men who could write code.

The job offer from the nonprofit in Minneapolis was a godsend. It allowed me to move out of my parents' house in the suburbs and live as the pseudo-adult I'd always dreamed of being. I figured that I could stay in the position for a couple of years and eventually move up the ranks until I had the type of job that I actually wanted. As it turned out, there was no moving up. The people already employed in the upper ranks of nonprofits took turns switching positions like a game of musical chairs. I scrolled hopelessly through real estate listings, fantasizing over houses with yards big enough for a dog, aware that I had somewhere between seventeen and a hundred dollars in my savings account at any given time and would never be able to afford a down payment. I bought shirts that cost five dollars and went out for brunches that cost twenty-five because brunch was the main and only joy in my life.

Needless to say, I was unmotivated in the office. I spent my days scrolling social media when I was supposed to be working. I followed celebrity gossip sites to find out who was sleeping with whom. I read articles about politics (bad), about how the U.S. treated immigrants (bad), how it treated women (bad), and how it treated members of the LGBTQ community (bad). I kept a document open on my computer called "Work in Progress" in which I intended to write the next great American novel and which was perpetually blank.

At night, I drank too much and went on dates with men who would never love me. I don't want to say that not loving me was an equivalent crime to killing women. In a legal sense, there wasn't any wrong committed at all. No contracts had been signed, no living spaces shared, no kids wounded in custody agreements that weren't fair to anyone. It was only my heart, that stupid clichéd thing, that had been stabbed, bruised, and strangled until I was willing to embarrass myself for even the tiniest drops of affection.

Before I opened myself up to William, before I knew the names Anna Leigh, Kimberly, Jill, and Emma, and had memorized the ways in which he was accused of hurting them, I dated Max Yulipsky. There was no real future with Max; I knew that from the start, a knowledge that never stopped me from willingly bending over and spreading my legs.

Max ghosted me on a Thursday, though I didn't know that yet. Max was always like that, ethereal and hard to reach. It was one of the things that drew me to him. Max was in a punk band called the Screaming Seals that rarely practiced and wasn't very good. That was another thing that I liked about him. It was endearing the way that he got onstage and played his little heart out in songs that were less than two minutes long and could've been written by a high schooler. I had one of their exclusive band T-shirts that was printed in the basement of the house that Max shared with his two roommates and featured an image of a seal wearing a bandana. I wore the shirt only on the nights that Max didn't stay over, because I didn't want him to know how much I cherished it.

For his day job, Max worked at a shop that sold specialty cheeses and sandwiches that I couldn't afford. Sometimes he brought me small pieces of cheese in plastic wrap and I allowed myself to cut tiny slices off in the evening as a way to taste him when he wasn't around. I still had cheese left when Max disappeared. If I had known it was the last cheese, I would've made it last longer. I would've kept it in the fridge until it grew moldy and then I would've eaten it anyway. To risk food poisoning for a person was a true sign of love.

But Max and I didn't use words like "love" or even "relationship."

"I'm not looking for anything serious," he murmured into my ear the first time we made out.

"Me neither," I said as I unzipped his pants. It was a lie that I'd uttered so many times that it no longer felt like a lie. Talking with men was more like reading a script than confessing from the heart.

Because I lacked sincerity, I assumed he did too. Surely, we would grow closer and closer until we were inexorably linked, and he would be forced to admit during the throes of passion that he couldn't stop thinking about me and wanted to be together forever. Instead, when we finished lovemaking, or fucking, or whatever term didn't make him uncomfortable about the carnal acts we'd just committed, he said things like "Do you think McDonald's is still open?" or "Can you make eggs the way that I like in the morning?"

The last date we ever went on was to a semi-vegan restaurant pop-up in a rapidly gentrifying area of town. It was October and the trees were grasping at their last bursts of color before turning skeletal for the winter.

"How can a restaurant be semi-vegan?" I asked Max. "Isn't the whole point of veganism that you're all in or, I guess, more accurately, all out?"

He smiled at me. He was wearing a homemade Fugazi T-shirt with a hole in the armpit. I wanted nothing more than for him to love me forever.

"That's what I love about you, Hannah. You're always thinking," he replied. I glowed at the use of the word "love."

Afterward, I asked Max if he wanted to go back to my place and he brushed me off.

"I have a lot to do tomorrow," he said.

I didn't remind him that he worked at a cheese shop.

"Come on," I replied in my most alluring voice, pushing my body against him. I wanted my flesh to be irresistible. It wasn't.

"Sorry," he said, pushing me away. He smiled when he said it, but it was crooked.

The rejection might've bothered me less if I thought we were each other's equals. Max still drove the car that his parents passed down to him when he was sixteen, even though the whole structure creaked every time he put on the brakes. He didn't have health insurance and when I asked, he said he couldn't remember the last time he'd gone to the doctor for a checkup. I assumed the same was true about the dentist, especially considering that he'd turned down my offer of keeping a toothbrush at my place.

"That's a little too serious for me," he said.

Max once explained to me that he couldn't get a real job because to get a real job was to sell out and he was dedicated to his punk band. What, I wanted to ask, is the pinnacle for a punk band? Once you've achieved everything you've dreamed of, what are you holding? Rather than say any of that, I murmured something about talent.

"I'm not like you, Hannah," he said at the end of the conversation. "I can't just get any old job."

The comment stung. It was true that I'd abandoned the creative pursuits I'd had as a child-theater, art, and writing-in favor of a forty-hour workweek. But if nothing else, I wanted to believe that I was doing good through my job at the nonprofit.

"Making change from the inside!" I'd said enthusiastically when I got the position, before I realized how the inside slowly devours a person until they're doing nothing at all.

I consoled myself with my health insurance that had a deductible that was too high, insurance I used to briefly attend therapy with a woman that I could describe only as being akin to a scolding teacher. I knew too that there were steady drips of money going to my retirement account, though I'd never learned to comprehend what those numbers meant. And on the days when those things weren't enough, I took solace in the occasional taco bar that appeared in the break room, stuffing chips in my mouth until my stomach hurt.

Max didn't have any sympathy for me. To him, it was the life that I chose, like there had been any kind of choice involved in the matter.

It took me a week and a half to realize that Max ghosted me. In the meantime, I wore my band T-shirt, nibbled on cheese, and refreshed his social media feeds looking for clues as to his whereabouts. When he posted a graphic for an upcoming Screaming Seals show, I stupidly decided to attend, thinking that the mere sight of me would be enough to trigger arousal.

I put on my favorite little black dress, plucked from a closet full of little black dresses. I straightened my hair into submission and drew cat eyes with my eyeliner, thinking that it made me look a little punk. I invited my best friend, Meghan, to attend the show with me and she arrived at my studio apartment with her boyfriend.

"He's going to be the designated driver," she said apologetically, an admission that she knew his presence was crossing a line. It was just supposed to be the two of us that night, but the notion of the two of us was already starting to erode.

I was drunk by the time we arrived at the venue. The Screaming Seals were only one band in a set of many and I spent the minutes leading up to their performance grappling with my age, so clearly on the wrong side of thirty in the midst of the cool punk girls around me. My hair, I realized, was stupid, my dress ill-fitting. By the time Max's band came on, I was falling-down drunk in attempts to regain my self-esteem. I spent their short set trying to make eye contact with him that I never caught.

He appeared in the crowd after his set and I walked toward him, waiting for him to exclaim "You're here!" and embrace me, touched by my devotion. It was a shock when he wrapped his arms around another girl. When they extricated themselves from the hug, I realized that I had met her before at a house party Max had thrown. Her name was Rebecca or Rachel and she had been friends with Max in college before he dropped out during his junior year because, as he said, "college was an inauthentic experience."

"They're just friends," I told Meghan, not realizing that Meghan had absconded to a dark corner to make out with her boyfriend.

"Hey!" I said as I approached Max.

It took his eyes a minute to focus, like he couldn't quite remember who I was.

"Oh, hey, Hannah," he said finally.

I tried to wrap my arms around him the way that Rebecca or Rachel had, but his body felt limp.
“Compulsive, twisted and darkly funny—you'll gobble this one up."
Sally Hepworth, New York Times bestselling author of The Soulmate

“I read this book in a single weekend and have been recommending it to people ever since. Fast-paced and thrilling, Love Letters to a Serial Killer is also a compelling character study of a woman who loves the man who might kill her. Coryell’s fiercely witty, intoxicating prose hooked me on page one and never let go.”
Ana Reyes, New York Times bestselling author of The House in the Pines

“I‘m a particular fan of women narrators who have a voice that‘s sardonic, biting, or just straight up self-absorbed. Hannah, the protagonist of Tasha Coryell’s often-hilarious debut is all three, and her black humor communicates truths about the current millennial ennui through her often outlandish remarks.”
Glamour

“...[A]n unhinged, humorous nail-biter that meets satirical social commentary for a wild, engrossing thrill ride.”
Seattle Times

"Tasha Coryell’s debut novel, Love Letters To A Serial Killer, may be this summer’s most relatable and entertaining read for millennials….Darkly comic, fast-paced, and thrilling, this is one book you’ll be hard-pressed not to read in one sitting."
Bustle

“Coryell expertly renders her protagonist’s uneasy perch between love and suspicion, keeping readers as in the dark as Hannah is about William’s true nature until the very end. This is un-put-downable.”
Publishers Weekly

“Coryell’s engrossing bent comedy isn’t afraid to delve into scathing and frank analyses of modern dating culture, American classism, and serial killer fixation, while still being a thrilling read with twists throughout....Witty, shocking, and wild, this is a must-have mystery.”
Library Journal (starred review)

"Oh my god. Utterly brilliant. Hannah is so painfully relatable I didn't know whether to shake her or hug her, but what I could not do was take my eyes off her. I was glued to the very end and I am begging for a sequel!"
Jesse Q. Sutanto, author of You Will Never Be Me

"A delightfully dark and deranged romp through the mind of one of 'those women'—you won't be able to look away from this high-stakes trainwreck of a relationship between Hannah and William, a match made in heaven for the true-crime obsessed."
Rachel Koller Croft, author of Stone Cold Fox

"Deeply disturbing pals up with darkly comic to create one heck of a morbid ride...But as in all good crime books, nothing is as it seems, and the truth sends Hannah—and the reader—spinning in a completely surprising direction."
firstCLUE

"This new book offers a fresh twist on the common true crime phenomenon of serial killers receiving love letters and even getting married to their correspondents while still in prison, even while sometimes facing life sentences for their crimes. It remains to be seen if either character lives to see the end of the book, but what is in store is sure to be a compelling thrill ride."
—Screen Rant

"A well-written, interesting yarn that is part comedy, part drama and 100% cautionary tale…Highly recommended beach read."
Game Vortex

© Emily Covington Photography, LLC
Tasha Coryell lives in St. Paul, Minnesota with her husband, son, and greyhound. She holds an MFA and PhD from the University of Alabama. Her stories, essays, and poems have been featured in a multitude of journals, and Love Letters to a Serial Killer is her first novel. In her free time, Tasha can be found running, cross-stitching, and watching copious amounts of television. View titles by Tasha Coryell

About

An aimless young woman starts writing to an accused serial killer while he awaits trial and then, once he’s acquitted, decides to move in with him and take the investigation into her own hands in this dark and irresistibly compelling debut thriller.

Recently ghosted and sick of watching her friends fade into the suburbs, thirty-something Hannah finds community in a true-crime forum that’s on a mission to solve the murders of four women in Atlanta. After William, a handsome lawyer, is arrested for the killings, Hannah begins writing him letters. It’s the perfect outlet for her pent-up frustration and rage. The exercise empowers her, and even feels healthy at first.

Until William writes back.

Hannah’s interest in the case goes from curiosity to obsession, leaving space for nothing else as her life implodes around her. After she loses her job, she heads to Georgia to attend the trial and befriends other true-crime junkies like herself. When a fifth woman is discovered murdered, the jury has no choice but to find William not guilty, and Hannah is the first person he calls upon his release. The two of them quickly fall into a routine of domestic bliss.

Well, as blissful as one can feel while secretly investigating their partner for serial murder…

Excerpt

1

Undisclosed Location

I didn't plan to fall in love with an accused serial killer. Nevertheless, my wrists and ankles are bound to a chair, and I can blame only myself.

I'm in a nondescript white room with fluorescent lights and gray carpeting lined with geometric shapes. Across from me there's a window that reveals that it's still daylight and that I'm somewhere above ground level but gives no clues of my overall location. The ropes chafe where I strain, rubbing my skin raw. My bladder is regrettably full. If I'd known that I was going to find myself in a kidnapping situation, I would've used the bathroom.

"Hello?" I cry out.

I suspect that no one can hear me, because my mouth remains uncovered and I was not put here by a stupid man. My suspicions are verified when no one arrives.

"Please, I have to use the bathroom," I say.

The silence is more disturbing to me than anything else.

I'm not as frightened as I should be, though I am frightened, which is a relief. I always appreciate when I feel the emotions I'm expected to feel in any given situation, like when I bake a cake and it looks like the picture from the recipe when I pull it out of the oven.

Beneath the fear is undeniable excitement. If I wanted to be kind to myself, I would identify it as adrenaline that I need to help me survive, but I'm not sure that I deserve kindness. Even as I'm afraid, there's something thrilling about being tied to a chair, like a scene from a movie. There is no question about who the protagonist of this story is.

I'm worried that when my body is discovered, I will be found undeserving of mourning. That's the catch of martyrdom on social media. First, they lament your death, and then they count all the reasons why you deserved to die.

I want to believe that I'm a good person. I vote in every election and care about the environment. I have a Black Lives Matter sticker on the back of my laptop and send money to various groups whenever there is a national tragedy.

All of these things will be outweighed by the great wrong that I've committed in falling in love with an accused serial killer.

"Don't tell me you didn't want this," Meghan would say if she could see me. "No one does what you've done if they don't find being tied up and about to die at least a little hot."

Meghan isn't wrong. I find no pleasure in the prospect of death but enjoy picturing the mourning of the masses. I want my name remembered, unlike the hordes of other women who have been brutally murdered and then forgotten. At the very least, I want a podcast in my memory.

I hear a noise outside the door.

"Please! Help me!" I call out.

Despite the urgency of the situation, I can't fully believe that my death is inevitable. What is the world if I'm not in it?

Too late, I realize that the sounds are not those of a would-be rescuer and instead are the familiar footsteps of the man who brought me here. I strain at the ropes again, a futile act. I take a deep breath and prepare to die.

2

Before falling in love with a serial killer, I worked in communications for a nonprofit. It was a job that I got following a monthslong search after graduating with my bachelor's degree. I graduated into the recession and suddenly all of that "promise" that I'd always been told I had dissipated into thin air. "You can do anything" turned into comments from my parents suggesting that I apply to work at Target or Starbucks, which I did. They turned me down because I had no retail experience. No one cared about my English and political science double majors with a German minor. They just wanted men who could write code.

The job offer from the nonprofit in Minneapolis was a godsend. It allowed me to move out of my parents' house in the suburbs and live as the pseudo-adult I'd always dreamed of being. I figured that I could stay in the position for a couple of years and eventually move up the ranks until I had the type of job that I actually wanted. As it turned out, there was no moving up. The people already employed in the upper ranks of nonprofits took turns switching positions like a game of musical chairs. I scrolled hopelessly through real estate listings, fantasizing over houses with yards big enough for a dog, aware that I had somewhere between seventeen and a hundred dollars in my savings account at any given time and would never be able to afford a down payment. I bought shirts that cost five dollars and went out for brunches that cost twenty-five because brunch was the main and only joy in my life.

Needless to say, I was unmotivated in the office. I spent my days scrolling social media when I was supposed to be working. I followed celebrity gossip sites to find out who was sleeping with whom. I read articles about politics (bad), about how the U.S. treated immigrants (bad), how it treated women (bad), and how it treated members of the LGBTQ community (bad). I kept a document open on my computer called "Work in Progress" in which I intended to write the next great American novel and which was perpetually blank.

At night, I drank too much and went on dates with men who would never love me. I don't want to say that not loving me was an equivalent crime to killing women. In a legal sense, there wasn't any wrong committed at all. No contracts had been signed, no living spaces shared, no kids wounded in custody agreements that weren't fair to anyone. It was only my heart, that stupid clichéd thing, that had been stabbed, bruised, and strangled until I was willing to embarrass myself for even the tiniest drops of affection.

Before I opened myself up to William, before I knew the names Anna Leigh, Kimberly, Jill, and Emma, and had memorized the ways in which he was accused of hurting them, I dated Max Yulipsky. There was no real future with Max; I knew that from the start, a knowledge that never stopped me from willingly bending over and spreading my legs.

Max ghosted me on a Thursday, though I didn't know that yet. Max was always like that, ethereal and hard to reach. It was one of the things that drew me to him. Max was in a punk band called the Screaming Seals that rarely practiced and wasn't very good. That was another thing that I liked about him. It was endearing the way that he got onstage and played his little heart out in songs that were less than two minutes long and could've been written by a high schooler. I had one of their exclusive band T-shirts that was printed in the basement of the house that Max shared with his two roommates and featured an image of a seal wearing a bandana. I wore the shirt only on the nights that Max didn't stay over, because I didn't want him to know how much I cherished it.

For his day job, Max worked at a shop that sold specialty cheeses and sandwiches that I couldn't afford. Sometimes he brought me small pieces of cheese in plastic wrap and I allowed myself to cut tiny slices off in the evening as a way to taste him when he wasn't around. I still had cheese left when Max disappeared. If I had known it was the last cheese, I would've made it last longer. I would've kept it in the fridge until it grew moldy and then I would've eaten it anyway. To risk food poisoning for a person was a true sign of love.

But Max and I didn't use words like "love" or even "relationship."

"I'm not looking for anything serious," he murmured into my ear the first time we made out.

"Me neither," I said as I unzipped his pants. It was a lie that I'd uttered so many times that it no longer felt like a lie. Talking with men was more like reading a script than confessing from the heart.

Because I lacked sincerity, I assumed he did too. Surely, we would grow closer and closer until we were inexorably linked, and he would be forced to admit during the throes of passion that he couldn't stop thinking about me and wanted to be together forever. Instead, when we finished lovemaking, or fucking, or whatever term didn't make him uncomfortable about the carnal acts we'd just committed, he said things like "Do you think McDonald's is still open?" or "Can you make eggs the way that I like in the morning?"

The last date we ever went on was to a semi-vegan restaurant pop-up in a rapidly gentrifying area of town. It was October and the trees were grasping at their last bursts of color before turning skeletal for the winter.

"How can a restaurant be semi-vegan?" I asked Max. "Isn't the whole point of veganism that you're all in or, I guess, more accurately, all out?"

He smiled at me. He was wearing a homemade Fugazi T-shirt with a hole in the armpit. I wanted nothing more than for him to love me forever.

"That's what I love about you, Hannah. You're always thinking," he replied. I glowed at the use of the word "love."

Afterward, I asked Max if he wanted to go back to my place and he brushed me off.

"I have a lot to do tomorrow," he said.

I didn't remind him that he worked at a cheese shop.

"Come on," I replied in my most alluring voice, pushing my body against him. I wanted my flesh to be irresistible. It wasn't.

"Sorry," he said, pushing me away. He smiled when he said it, but it was crooked.

The rejection might've bothered me less if I thought we were each other's equals. Max still drove the car that his parents passed down to him when he was sixteen, even though the whole structure creaked every time he put on the brakes. He didn't have health insurance and when I asked, he said he couldn't remember the last time he'd gone to the doctor for a checkup. I assumed the same was true about the dentist, especially considering that he'd turned down my offer of keeping a toothbrush at my place.

"That's a little too serious for me," he said.

Max once explained to me that he couldn't get a real job because to get a real job was to sell out and he was dedicated to his punk band. What, I wanted to ask, is the pinnacle for a punk band? Once you've achieved everything you've dreamed of, what are you holding? Rather than say any of that, I murmured something about talent.

"I'm not like you, Hannah," he said at the end of the conversation. "I can't just get any old job."

The comment stung. It was true that I'd abandoned the creative pursuits I'd had as a child-theater, art, and writing-in favor of a forty-hour workweek. But if nothing else, I wanted to believe that I was doing good through my job at the nonprofit.

"Making change from the inside!" I'd said enthusiastically when I got the position, before I realized how the inside slowly devours a person until they're doing nothing at all.

I consoled myself with my health insurance that had a deductible that was too high, insurance I used to briefly attend therapy with a woman that I could describe only as being akin to a scolding teacher. I knew too that there were steady drips of money going to my retirement account, though I'd never learned to comprehend what those numbers meant. And on the days when those things weren't enough, I took solace in the occasional taco bar that appeared in the break room, stuffing chips in my mouth until my stomach hurt.

Max didn't have any sympathy for me. To him, it was the life that I chose, like there had been any kind of choice involved in the matter.

It took me a week and a half to realize that Max ghosted me. In the meantime, I wore my band T-shirt, nibbled on cheese, and refreshed his social media feeds looking for clues as to his whereabouts. When he posted a graphic for an upcoming Screaming Seals show, I stupidly decided to attend, thinking that the mere sight of me would be enough to trigger arousal.

I put on my favorite little black dress, plucked from a closet full of little black dresses. I straightened my hair into submission and drew cat eyes with my eyeliner, thinking that it made me look a little punk. I invited my best friend, Meghan, to attend the show with me and she arrived at my studio apartment with her boyfriend.

"He's going to be the designated driver," she said apologetically, an admission that she knew his presence was crossing a line. It was just supposed to be the two of us that night, but the notion of the two of us was already starting to erode.

I was drunk by the time we arrived at the venue. The Screaming Seals were only one band in a set of many and I spent the minutes leading up to their performance grappling with my age, so clearly on the wrong side of thirty in the midst of the cool punk girls around me. My hair, I realized, was stupid, my dress ill-fitting. By the time Max's band came on, I was falling-down drunk in attempts to regain my self-esteem. I spent their short set trying to make eye contact with him that I never caught.

He appeared in the crowd after his set and I walked toward him, waiting for him to exclaim "You're here!" and embrace me, touched by my devotion. It was a shock when he wrapped his arms around another girl. When they extricated themselves from the hug, I realized that I had met her before at a house party Max had thrown. Her name was Rebecca or Rachel and she had been friends with Max in college before he dropped out during his junior year because, as he said, "college was an inauthentic experience."

"They're just friends," I told Meghan, not realizing that Meghan had absconded to a dark corner to make out with her boyfriend.

"Hey!" I said as I approached Max.

It took his eyes a minute to focus, like he couldn't quite remember who I was.

"Oh, hey, Hannah," he said finally.

I tried to wrap my arms around him the way that Rebecca or Rachel had, but his body felt limp.

Reviews

“Compulsive, twisted and darkly funny—you'll gobble this one up."
Sally Hepworth, New York Times bestselling author of The Soulmate

“I read this book in a single weekend and have been recommending it to people ever since. Fast-paced and thrilling, Love Letters to a Serial Killer is also a compelling character study of a woman who loves the man who might kill her. Coryell’s fiercely witty, intoxicating prose hooked me on page one and never let go.”
Ana Reyes, New York Times bestselling author of The House in the Pines

“I‘m a particular fan of women narrators who have a voice that‘s sardonic, biting, or just straight up self-absorbed. Hannah, the protagonist of Tasha Coryell’s often-hilarious debut is all three, and her black humor communicates truths about the current millennial ennui through her often outlandish remarks.”
Glamour

“...[A]n unhinged, humorous nail-biter that meets satirical social commentary for a wild, engrossing thrill ride.”
Seattle Times

"Tasha Coryell’s debut novel, Love Letters To A Serial Killer, may be this summer’s most relatable and entertaining read for millennials….Darkly comic, fast-paced, and thrilling, this is one book you’ll be hard-pressed not to read in one sitting."
Bustle

“Coryell expertly renders her protagonist’s uneasy perch between love and suspicion, keeping readers as in the dark as Hannah is about William’s true nature until the very end. This is un-put-downable.”
Publishers Weekly

“Coryell’s engrossing bent comedy isn’t afraid to delve into scathing and frank analyses of modern dating culture, American classism, and serial killer fixation, while still being a thrilling read with twists throughout....Witty, shocking, and wild, this is a must-have mystery.”
Library Journal (starred review)

"Oh my god. Utterly brilliant. Hannah is so painfully relatable I didn't know whether to shake her or hug her, but what I could not do was take my eyes off her. I was glued to the very end and I am begging for a sequel!"
Jesse Q. Sutanto, author of You Will Never Be Me

"A delightfully dark and deranged romp through the mind of one of 'those women'—you won't be able to look away from this high-stakes trainwreck of a relationship between Hannah and William, a match made in heaven for the true-crime obsessed."
Rachel Koller Croft, author of Stone Cold Fox

"Deeply disturbing pals up with darkly comic to create one heck of a morbid ride...But as in all good crime books, nothing is as it seems, and the truth sends Hannah—and the reader—spinning in a completely surprising direction."
firstCLUE

"This new book offers a fresh twist on the common true crime phenomenon of serial killers receiving love letters and even getting married to their correspondents while still in prison, even while sometimes facing life sentences for their crimes. It remains to be seen if either character lives to see the end of the book, but what is in store is sure to be a compelling thrill ride."
—Screen Rant

"A well-written, interesting yarn that is part comedy, part drama and 100% cautionary tale…Highly recommended beach read."
Game Vortex

Author

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Tasha Coryell lives in St. Paul, Minnesota with her husband, son, and greyhound. She holds an MFA and PhD from the University of Alabama. Her stories, essays, and poems have been featured in a multitude of journals, and Love Letters to a Serial Killer is her first novel. In her free time, Tasha can be found running, cross-stitching, and watching copious amounts of television. View titles by Tasha Coryell

Dear Librarians: A Letter from Tasha Coryell, Author of Love Letters to a Serial Killer

“The library was where I learned to love mysteries. Nancy Drew, to be more specific. I have a core memory of the line of yellow books in the kids’ section of my local public library. I read every single one that the library had. I read so many that I started to guess the endings. It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that the protagonist of my novel becomes a kind of detective herself, though her boyfriend is significantly less upstanding than Nancy’s Ned Nickerson.”

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