Everything We Didn't Say
By: Nicole Baart
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: 11/02/2021
My Rating: 5 Stars ++
From the author of Little Broken Things, a “race-to-the-finish family drama” (People) following a mother who must confront the dark summer that changed her life forever in order to reclaim the daughter she left behind.
Juniper Baker had just graduated from high school and was deep in the throes of a summer romance when Cal and Beth Murphy, a childless couple who lived on a neighboring farm, were brutally murdered. When her younger brother became the prime suspect, June’s world collapsed and everything she loved that summer fell away. She left, promising never to return to tiny Jericho, Iowa.
Until now. Officially, she’s back in town to help an ill friend manage the local library. But really, she’s returned to repair her relationship with her teenage daughter, who’s been raised by Juniper’s mother and stepfather since birth—and to solve the infamous Murphy murders once and for all. She knows the key to both lies in the darkest secret of that long-ago summer night, one that’s haunted her for nearly fifteen years.
As history begins to repeat itself and a dogged local true crime podcaster starts delving into the murders, the race to the truth puts past and present on a dangerous collision course. Juniper lands back in an all-too-familiar place with the answers to everything finally in her sights, but this time it’s her daughter’s life that hangs in the balance. Will revealing what really happened mean a fresh start? Or will the truth destroy everything Juniper loves for a second time? Baart once again brilliantly weaves mystery into family drama in this expertly-crafted novel for fans of Lisa Jewell and Megan Miranda.
“[A] lyrical suspense novel… Baart delivers enough twists not to disappoint as she movingly evokes love and innocence lost. This delayed coming-of-age story will have broad appeal.” —Publishers Weekly
"Nicole Baart is a master of crafting family dramas around a compelling mystery, and in Everything We Didn't Say she expertly weaves past and present into a journey to the truth of a decades-old murder case. Creepy and atmospheric, with vivid and emotional prose, this slow-burn will have you thinking twice about the people you know." —Kimberly Belle, internationally bestselling author of Dear Wife and Stranger in the Lake
"Nicole Baart skillfully blends suspense and family drama like no one else. Everything We Didn't Say is an atmospheric barn-burner that jumps from past to present in an Iowa farm community rife with secrets, simmering grudges, and an unsolved murder. I was utterly enthralled."
—Emily Carpenter, bestselling author of Reviving the Hawthorn Sisters
"In the small town of Jericho, the past is better left along—even when a double murder remains unsolved, casting shadows on a family that has been torn apart for our fourteen y ears. Weaving together past and present, Everything We didn't Say is a poignant, riveting tale about love, loyalty, and secrets that will sink into your bones and leave you breathless."
—Wendy Walker, bestselling author of Don't Look for Me
"Everything We Didn't Say brims with Nicole Baart's signature hallmarks—complex characters, tangled family dynamics, and, as always, beautiful writing. A multifaceted page-turner with intricate twists and turns, Baart has delivered a captivating read from first page to last."
—Susan Meissner, USA Today bestselling author of The Nature of Fragile Things
“A woman returns to her Iowa hometown to face her past, reclaim her family, and solve the cold-case murders that abruptly ended her childhood. Memory collides with consequence in this perfectly paced mystery and clear-eyed ode to America’s heartland. I loved everything about this book. Nicole Baart is a master storyteller.”
—Mindy Mejia, author of Everything You Want Me To Be and Strike Me Down
"The suspense sneaks up on you as you read this beautifully crafted novel, and seeps into your bones like a chilly winter day in Iowa. Nicole Baart’s latest explores memory and loss, as well as the redemptive power of second chances. I loved it." —Kaira Rouda, USA Today Bestselling author of Best Day Ever and The Next Wife
"Everything We Didn't Say is an eerie and intriguing page-turner that explores family dynamics, crime, and how hard it is to keep secrets in a small rural town. Highly recommended for readers of Megan Miranda and Lisa Jewell, this is the perfect fall mystery to curl up with by the fire!" —Off the Shelf
“Everything We Didn’t Say is suspenseful and smart…unputdownable and heart-stopping.” —Mystery and Suspense Magazine
“Packed with intrigue, suspicion, and plot twists, Baart’s novel of familial ties, betrayals, and long-overdue confrontations should keep any Paula Hawkins, Mary Kubica, or Janelle Brown fan satisfied.” —Booklist (starred review)
About the Author
Nicole Baart is the New York Times bestselling author of 10 novels.
Nicole Baart is a New York Times bestselling author, collaborator, ghostwriter, and speaker. Her critically acclaimed novels have been featured in Southern Living, Country Woman, Book Page, Glam, Bookbub, Brit & Co., and Yahoo! Lifestyle among several others. Nicole’s Little Broken Things, was a PEOPLE Magazine Editor's Top Pick, a Goodreads Best Book of the Month, and featured in Library Journal. A perennial reviewer favorite, Nicole has received starred and featured reviews from Publishers Weekly, Romantic Times, Midwest Connections, and more. She is best known for her “wholly compelling” stories that are “ripe with complex emotion and vivid prose.”
Baart lives with her husband and five children in a small town in Iowa. She is the co-founder of a non-profit organization that works in Liberia, West Africa, and a dual American/Canadian citizen. Her books range from literary to domestic suspense, but they always draw heavily from her personal experiences and her life in the Midwest. Nicole shares about her passion for travel, adoption, social justice, and bringing people together on social media. To find out more about Nicole, please visit: nicolebaart.com
Nicole’s novels range from romantic to suspenseful, but she is known for her artistic prose and finely drawn characters. Her stories celebrate the triumph of the human spirit and beauty in the midst of brokenness.
Connect with Nicole
Q&A Elevator Ride with New York Times Bestselling Author Nicole Baart
"Behind the Scenes" with the author & the book
Author Photo Credit: Ellenvelde Photography
EXCEPTIONAL AUTHORS. STANDOUT BOOKS.
INTRIGUING QUESTIONS. INQUIRING READERS WANT TO KNOW.
Welcome, Nicole! Thank you for joining us today. A huge fan of yours for years, am truly honored to have you join us for our #AuthorElevatorSeries today and tell us more about your tenth novel and latest hit, EVERYTHING WE DIDN’T SAY (your best yet) and more about yourself.
NICOLE: Thank you for having me.
Let us dive in!
Q. Describe EVERYTHING WE DIDN’T SAY in three words or less?
NICOLE: Small town mystery
Q. SETTING: Share with us the book setting and (optional) favorite thing about the area?
NICOLE: Jericho, Iowa is a small town in the heartland. It’s your quintessential, movie set slice of Americana… And just like every small town I know, it’s not as idyllic as it seems. Small towns are sweet and complicated, tight knit and full of secrets. They make the perfect setting for a murder mystery. My favorite thing about small towns and rural communities is that they are full of surprises.
Q. SKILL: Nicole, you always manage to balance darkness with light in your books with multifaceted complex compelling characters, small town families, and riveting suspense combined with lyrical prose for a winning signature style.
How do you manage to do this so well (and/or) what draws you to creating these storylines?
NICOLE: I think sometimes we believe that the line between good and evil is drawn between us and the rest of the world, but really the line between good and evil splits right through the heart of every one of us. We are all capable of love and light, and just as prone to darkness. Life is never as black and white as we would like it to be, and I love exploring that in my books
Q. WRITING: This is your tenth book (congrats!) and since you miraculously wrote this during a pandemic with a world turned upside down and its challenges; lock down, your family, (five kids), homeschooling, teens, and your non-profit work – how in the WORLD did you balance it all? Like a rock-star, I will add. 😊
NICOLE: It was so hard! I had to fight and claw for every single word—and I wrote and rewrote this book three times, pretty much from the ground up. I wanted to quit so many times. But I’m extremely stubborn (just ask my husband) and I was committed to finishing the book and being proud of the outcome. I think sometimes people believe writing is this mysterious, ethereal, exciting experience, and really it’s just plain hard work. Yes, there are moments of magic, but more often than not it’s a matter of putting in the time even when you don’t want to and don’t feel inspired. During the pandemic, I wrote in the margins: when my kids were doing homeschool, when they were sleeping, late at night. Wherever I could find time I took advantage of it.
Q. UPCOMING: Can you share what you are currently working on, or what is next in ten words or less?
NICOLE: The daughter of a semi-famous Instagrammer goes missing…
Behind the Scenes with the Author
Give Us Your Best Elevator Pitch for
EVERYTHING WE DIDN’T SAY
NICOLE: Everything We Didn’t Say is the story of Juniper Baker, a special archives librarian in Denver, Colorado who returns to her small, hometown of Jericho Iowa ostensibly to help an old friend. Really she’s there to solve a fifteen-year-old double homicide and win back the daughter she left behind.
FAVORITE THING ABOUT WHERE YOU RESIDE?
My kids are free range!
FAVORITE COLOR? Green
Tacos and margaritas
DOG/CAT LOVER? :
IF YOU WERE STUCK IN AN ELEVATOR ALONE WITH ONE CELEBRITY, AUTHOR, OR CHARACTER— WHO WOULD IT BE? (Male or Female)
FAVORITE HOLIDAY OR SEASON?
YOUR SECRET TALENT?
I make the most delicious scones
FAVORITE READING FORMAT?
FAVORITE TV SERIES? (Or Movie/Video) binge-watch, series, etc.?
Mare of Easttown
MOST MEMORABLE PLACE YOU HAVE TRAVELED? Liberia, West Africa
IF YOU WERE GRANTED 3 MONTHS OF UNINTERRUPTED WRITING TIME —WHERE WOULD IT BE?
A Quiet Scenic Mountain Cabin surrounded by nature
YOUR FAVORITE PLACE TO WRITE?
My living room
WHAT BOOK IS CURRENTLY ON YOUR NIGHTSTAND OR READING LIST OR BOOK YOU WOULD RECOMMEND?
I’m reading For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten and loving it
DESCRIBE ONE THING ON YOUR DESK, CURRENTLY? A stack of journals
YOUR FAVORITE SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM? (Or would you prefer none of them)?
I like the community on Instagram, but I could happily live without social media
YOU WOULDN'T BE CAUGHT DEAD, WHERE?
A haunted house
Thank you, Nicole!
Available in paperback, e-book, audiobook, and Audio CD
EVERYTHING WE DIDN'T SAY is extraordinary!! This family has gigantic secrets.
Multi-layered and psychologically rich, a compelling and skillfully-plotted twisty crime/psychological thriller where the past and present collide, with a protagonist you will root for to the end.
Master storyteller Nicole Baart dazzles as she returns following You Were Always Mine with her tenth novel and best yet —EVERYTHING WE DIDN'T SAY. Sins of the past come back to haunt, and hidden secrets abound.
"Sometimes the world is fire and ash, dirt and blood spilled on the ground, and there is nothing you can do to stop it. Sometimes you pour out all of your love, and it returns to you brittle and empty. But sometimes, we're given another chance. We begin again." —Everything We Didn't Say
A woman returns to her Iowa hometown to face down her past. She dives into the secrets of her family while reclaiming what she left behind. She hopes to help a friend in need and solve the cold case that has haunted her life and her family for years.
Juniper is returning to the small rural town of Jericho, Iowa, leaving her job temporarily in Denver as Special Collections and College Archives librarian (opened ended leave of absence). She is to help out her friend, Cora, who runs the local Jericho Public library and has stage four breast cancer.
Fifteen years ago, there was a tragic double murder of a sweet couple, Cal and Beth Murphy, and dog, Baxter (poisoned). They were different than most folks in the area, and they owned the hobby farm where they sold organic fruits and vegetables, made handmade goat milk soap and jams, and had beautiful flowers for sale from their garden at their roadside stand.
Who would want to murder them and why? A lovely wholesome young couple, but what was the motive? Was there a witness they missed? Because it was such a small town, the FBI did not put a lot of energy into it. However, it is coming alive once again.
The Murphys were neighbors of Juniper's family. Jonathan, her stepbrother only a year younger than her, was very close to them and helped them out since they had no children.
This town does not bring back fond memories for Juniper (June), who found herself pregnant as a young teen and went off to college. She left her daughter Willa with her mom and stepdad to raise, and her visits are always awkward. They have a strained relationship, and she finds it very difficult to step back into her old life.
To complicate matters, someone is stirring up the decades-old cold-case murder again. All fingers pointed to Jonathan since he found the bodies. But he was the one who called it in, and they had no other evidence, so he was not charged back then, but everyone has always believed it was him.
Now someone has a true-crime podcast and blog called Jericho Unscripted, and they are digging up old secrets and the past. Something else happened that night of the murders that changed the course of Juniper's life.
Flashing back and forth from 14 1/2 years ago to the present, we learn about her mom and step dad's strained troubled relationship. It seems everyone is hiding something, thinking they are protecting themselves or others.
Guilty or not, her brother bore the stain of accusation and had been treated accordingly for almost fifteen years. People in the area thought he got away with murder. He had to start his own web business because no one in town would hire him.
No one was entirely innocent, and not even Jonathan or maybe June. Is the original killer back? Then there is Ashley, June's nemesis and former best friend, (great back story here) who is also holding a grudge and now married to the rich boy Sullivan (June's former love) and the powerful Tate Family Farms that runs the town.
June was someone's alibis. Does she recall what happened? There are also plenty of red herrings and suspects with this powerful Tate family.
Strange things start happening again after she arrives in town —phone calls, drive-bys, harassment, sliced tires, dog poisoning, etc. In addition, Jonathan is acting weird and hanging out with the wrong crowd and seems to be hiding something from her. Her mom is also drinking more and not herself, and is she missing clues?
When her brother winds up in the hospital, Juniper is scared for her life and her brother. Maybe the secrets she had buried in the Iowa soil were now bearing bitter fruit.
The frantic race to find the truth places her family on a dangerous course. Land contamination and other issues put others under suspicion for the double murders, but those families (Tates) were like royalty, and no one would cross them.
When she left at age nineteen, she was edged out of her daughter's life and sent off to college as if nothing had happened. Now there is Sullivan Tate. But she has a job and a life and is strong and independent.
What about the Tate family? Everyone knew the Tates and the Murphys were feuding that summer over the land spillage. However, everyone is still pointing fingers at Jonathan, and she must help prove his innocence. He was the one who called 911 that night so long ago, and Jonathan was devastated when they died.
June is also holding a secret about her daughter's father and others about the night of the murders. Her mom is hiding something, and June senses her mom and brother need protection. She doesn't even know the identity of her own father.
No one is communicating. June, stuck in Jericho, and her decisions have the potential to unravel her world. Can she have love again, and will her daughter want to come and live with her in Denver one day? A second chance? Can she mend her relationship with her brother? Everyone seems to be dealing with their pain and memories in their own way.
Were the murders premeditated, a crime of passion? THE TRUTH IS ALWAYS IN THE DETAILS.
"Guilt, grief, and love are sometimes impossible to untangle, and we all have regrets."
Atmospheric, riveting, haunting."
WOW! The author racks up the tension and suspense to the explosive ending. EVERYTHING WE DIDN'T SAY is a perfectly fitting title for this well-written, emotionally-charged gripping thriller with richly drawn characters, lyrical prose, and vivid descriptions. The author is in total control, and fans of true-crime fiction will devour this one.
I found it difficult to put down and read in two sittings. Fans of Heather Gudenkauf, Mary Kubica, Lisa Unger, Wendy Walker, and Lisa Jewell will find a lot to like here!
My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Pub Date: 11/2/2021
Publisher: Atria Books