None Shall Sleep


By Ellie Marney

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The Silence of the Lambs meets Sadie in this riveting psychological thriller about two teenagers teaming up with the FBI to track down juvenile serial killers.

In 1982, two teenagers—serial killer survivor Emma Lewis and US Marshal candidate Travis Bell—are recruited by the FBI to interview convicted juvenile killers and provide insight and advice on cold cases. From the start, Emma and Travis develop a quick friendship, gaining information from juvenile murderers that even the FBI can't crack. But when the team is called in to give advice on an active case—a serial killer who exclusively hunts teenagers—things begin to unravel. Working against the clock, they must turn to one of the country's most notorious incarcerated murderers for help: teenage sociopath Simon Gutmunsson.

Despite Travis's objections, Emma becomes the conduit between Simon and the FBI team. But while Simon seems to be giving them the information they need to save lives, he's an expert manipulator playing a very long game…and he has his sights set on Emma.

Captivating, harrowing, and chilling, None Shall Sleep is an all-too-timely exploration of not only the monsters that live among us but also the monsters that live inside us.


I think of the journey

we will take together

in the oarless boat

across the shoreless river.

Ursula K. Le Guin, “Travelers”


Edmund Cooper, federal agent, stands at the edge of the training field and looks up. There is flashing movement between the trees in the forested area beside the athletics oval. Ohio State University maintains an obstacle path in the woods there, and students sometimes run drills. Two students emerge from the tree line now. Cooper watches one of them carefully.

She’s a very slight figure, her smallness exaggerated by a baggy gray OSU sweatshirt and black training pants cut off at the knees. She looks healthy. That’s positive. In the photos from two and a half years ago she looked like a wreck. Now her cheeks are ruddy from exertion, her focus keen. She runs hard, though, the armpits of her sweatshirt stained dark. Her skin is white, but her legs are very tan.

And she’s buzzed her hair. It’s a regulation-style Number One, like you’d get in the corps, or in jail. Cooper tries not to read too much into that. He doesn’t really know this girl, except for what he’s seen in the file.

He waits by the edge of the oval as Emma splits from her running partner and talks with the coach. Patience is one of Cooper’s particular talents.

She’s heading for the locker rooms when he calls out. “Emma Lewis? Miss Lewis?”

It’s there in her body language: that jerk, the instant of animal tension. The flat assessment in her eyes, even once she realizes he’s wearing a suit, holding up credentials.

He stays exactly where he is. “Miss Lewis, my name is Edmund Cooper. I work for the government. I’d like to speak with you, if I may. Somewhere public, if that is your preference.”

It’s okay if he sounds rehearsed. Formal and polite is fine. Emma waits a few beats, then takes the business card he’s holding out. Cooper is reminded of feeding deer off the back of his mother’s porch in New England.

“You work for the government?” She’s still perspiring after the run, but her breathing is already back under control. She glances at the card, at him. “You’re a federal agent, this says.”

“That’s correct. I work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

She makes a single styptic blink. “I don’t have any more information about the Huxton case. I’ve told the police everything I know—”

“No, no,” he says. “Miss Lewis, this meeting is not in regard to that case. This is unrelated. Can we perhaps sit down somewhere to talk?”

Hesitation before she relents. “Sure. Uh—here is fine, I guess.”

She directs him to a picnic table in a grassy open area beside the equipment shed. Nice and public, but with enough distance for privacy. It’s sunny, though. He’s sweating a little in his jacket.

Emma has a towel draped around her neck and a canteen on the table to her right. The dark stubble on her scalp is like a fine down. It suits her, actually. She looks compact, contained. Fierce. Cooper makes sure to sit across from her at the table, give her space.

“Thank you for speaking with me. It’s nice to meet you.”

She doesn’t respond to that. “Did you fly from Virginia?”

“No, I drove.”

“That’s a long drive.”

“Yes, it is. You study psychology here at OSU, is that right? Hoping to specialize in pediatric psychology? Your professor said you were inspired by a positive experience with an excellent therapist—”

“Yes.” She tilts her head, lets the sun fall on her face. “Mr. Cooper, why have you come to see me?”

Time to plunge in. “Miss Lewis, have you heard of the Behavioral Science section of the FBI?”

“Yes.” Her gaze is direct. “They do psychological assessments—profiles. They did a profile on Huxton.”

“We help in cases like that, yes. Violent crimes. Behavioral Science is a young area—we’ve been working active cases for less than a decade. But we seem to be one of the sections producing results.”

“You catch killers.”

She’s quick. He knew she was quick. “We look at the evidence and the information we have and try to figure out a pattern of behavior. Once we have a pattern, it allows us to narrow down suspects, even predict what a perpetrator might do next. It helps us find them faster.”


He understands the change in her expression straightaway.

“It’s not one-hundred-percent accurate, Miss Lewis. Nothing is. We just do our best. But our success rate is generally high.” Not with Huxton. Huxton was a mess. Cooper buckles that shit down. It’s not helpful here. “The reason we’re successful is because we do our homework. We go into jails and institutions and interview the perpetrators we incarcerate. It’s a lot like a research project. The information we gather is compiled in a database and used to inform our profiling work.”

“Great.” Emma’s posture is very stiff.

There are times Cooper wishes he still smoked. He could light a cigarette, look more normal, relaxed. If you seem to relax, it relaxes the subject.

“Miss Lewis, we’ve interviewed about thirty-five incarcerated perpetrators from all over the country. But there’s a cohort of people we still don’t have access to. And it’s not because we can’t see them. They just… won’t speak to us.” He’s been looking at her, but now he really looks. “I’m talking about juvenile offenders.”

The OSU Buckeyes cheer squad is rehearsing on the other side of the oval. Cooper hears the rallying calls as a far-off stir of echoes.

“Juvenile killers.” Emma rolls the syllables in her mouth. Then she reaches for the canteen and takes a swig, like she’s washing away the taste. “There can’t be many teenage serial killers, though.”

“There’s enough.” He doesn’t want to come in hard, but he’s getting the feeling she responds better to that. “Everyone starts somewhere.”

“Like it’s a career.” She looks toward the oval.

“Bundy started at fourteen.”

She stares at him. She looks very young. He resists the instinct to be gentle. They need this. Her, or someone like her. There aren’t many people like her.

“Miss Lewis, we think the reason these teenage offenders won’t talk to us is because they distrust authority figures, including our interviewers. And this is why I’ve come to speak with you. We need someone to—”

“No.” She shifts, ready to rise.

“Five inmates. Five interviews, total.”

“Ha. Still no.”

“You would have support. A partner. A unit. It would be entirely safe—”

“Is that what you think?” She stands. “Mr. Cooper, you’ve come a long way, but you’re asking the wrong person.”

“I don’t believe I am. And I’d like you to think about what I’m offering.”

Her jaw locks and she breathes out her nose. “Okay. What are you offering?”

He keeps his voice even. “The chance to come in on a kind of scholarship. You’d defer your summer classes and come live on base with us over the break. You’d be paid as a candidate and given some bureau instructional training. If forensic psychology is something you decide to pursue, you could enter our program. Your education after your freshman year would be subsidized. Or if not, you could return here to complete any further units in pediatric psychology.”

“That…” She sinks back down. “That sounds very generous. I suppose I don’t need to ask why me.”

“Mostly, it’s because you’re the right age. But you’re also studying in a field of undergraduates we’re already interested in. You have the academic background, you’re top of your class—”

“And I have first-hand experience of the subject.”

“That is only one of a number of considerations.” For the first time, he leans forward. “We’re looking for a certain mindset, Miss Lewis. These interviews… Every piece of information we gather helps us. And every time our knowledge increases, we get faster. Save more lives.”

The “saving lives” line was heavy-handed. He still thinks that’s how he’ll win her.

She narrows her eyes. “I’ve spent two and a half years trying to get out of that mindset, Mr. Cooper.”

“Do you think you’ve succeeded?”

Her expression doesn’t change, but he sees it again: that flare of animal panic in her face. But it is sometimes his job to do hateful, necessary things.

She looks away from him, looks around at the grass, at the trees and buildings. Then she gets to her feet, slowly this time, as if the conversation has aged her. “Mr. Cooper, I appreciate what you’re doing. But I don’t think I can help you. I hope you have a safe drive home.”

“You’re driving home yourself, is that right? Back to Apple Creek?” He rises to match her. “Would you please think about what we’ve discussed over the weekend?”

“I’ll think about it.” She retrieves her canteen.

“You have my card, if you need to call. Thank you for your time.”

“Goodbye, Mr. Cooper.”

He watches her walk away, dark head bobbing, sun glaring off the white of her running shoes. They’re good-quality shoes.

His pager beeps at him. He walks back up the rise, to the bus stop area above the oval, where there’s a pay phone, and calls collect. “Cooper.”

FBI section chief Donald Raymond sounds pissed even at a distance. “I call down to your office, they tell me you’re in Columbus. What the fuck are you doing in Ohio, Ed?”

Cooper’s habit is to always respond to Raymond with calm. “Don, we talked about this.”

“I thought you were kidding. You’re not kidding? You seriously want to send an eighteen-year-old girl into maximum security prisons to interview serial murderers?”

“She won’t be going in alone.”

“Oh, right, sure. She’ll be going in with your other candidate, what’s-his-name… Travis Bell, who’s—” There’s the sound of Raymond flicking through file notes. “Who’s not even old enough to buy a beer. That’s great, Ed.”

“Don, we tried sending agent interviewers in to see these prisoners. You could hear crickets three states away. If we send in teenage interviewers, at least we’ll have tried something different. And these aren’t green kids, remember. They’re veterans.”

“This Lewis girl,” Raymond says. “She survived the Huxton thing, right? How many did Huxton do? Nine?”

“Nine,” Cooper confirms.

“So number ten got lucky.”

Through the plexiglass of the phone booth, Cooper tracks Emma’s retreating figure. “It had nothing to do with luck. She didn’t get rescued. She fought. Escaped.”

“Okay, so she’s a soldier. Same as this Travis Bell. He’s Barton Bell’s kid? From the Gutmunsson case? Jesus.”

“Yes.” Cooper pauses, so they can both give the Gutmunsson incident the moment of somber contemplation it deserves. “Bell went into USMS training soon as they let him. Takes after his dad, the instructors are saying.”

“Good for him.” Raymond pauses. “This is gonna be a tough gig, Ed. You really want to send these kids back into the nightmare?”

Raymond is not known in the bureau for his insight. This is the first insightful thing he’s said since the conversation started and Cooper runs with it, speaks now with the terrible authority of battlefields served. “After a thing like that, Don, I don’t think the nightmare ever lets you go. You just get better at dealing with it. These two are dealing with it. Let’s give them a chance to help.”

Raymond huffs. “All right, then. You want to give it a try, you let it run. But listen to me, Ed. This is a one-time pass. They come in, they do the work, claim their per diem, go home. I find out they’ve overstepped, or I hear one single whisper about this in the press, and I’ll pull the plug so fast you’ll hit your chin on the drain hole going down. Are we perfectly clear?”

“Sir, yessir.” Cooper finds himself slipping into his old Marine disciplines when something sticks in his craw.

“Now, any updates on Pennsylvania? Carter said there were two bodies this time.”

“That’s correct. I’m still waiting on forensics—I’ll give you a full report when I return to base.”

“All right, keep me in the loop. Goddammit, these monsters just keep multiplying like the fucking Hydra.” The sound of Raymond’s pen clicking. “Did the Lewis girl even agree to come on board?”

“She’s getting back to me.” Cooper can’t be sure Lewis will accept, or that she’ll be capable of doing what he needs her to do. She’s just a kid. But he remembers the way she looked around at the university buildings and the training fields, like she was memorizing them. He thinks she’ll bite.

“I get Bell,” Raymond is saying. “Bell makes sense. But I don’t know about this girl.”

Cooper is aware that whatever he says right now, he has to believe it.

“Emma Lewis has experience with these types of offenders. She understands the way they think and behave. She’s not fooled by them—she knows what they are.” He thinks of Emma’s dark-stained sweatshirt, her twitchy reactions. Her bright, fierce eye. “We can’t be sure until she settles in. But I think she’ll do just fine.”


In the lonely hours of the morning, Emma jerks awake in the dark, gasping.

It takes her a few moments to remember where she is, to get the outlines of her body solid. She’s all right. She’s home. Her T-shirt is damp. She’s safe. Breathe.

She lies there with her eyes open, listening to the sound of katydids outside. She hasn’t had a bad dream in months. This dream was not Cooper’s fault, although it’s hard not to feel resentful. Emma allows herself to clutch the resentment tight for the space of a few heartbeats, then deliberately releases. It’s okay to acknowledge the emotions, but that sort of thinking is not useful to her.

She flicks the switch on the lamp on the nightstand, throws off the bedclothes, and goes to change her shirt and collect her robe.

Downstairs, the kitchen of her parents’ house is lit up like always. Emma fixes herself a glass of milk with one of her mother’s choc-chip cookies. She’s just sat down at the kitchen island when her older sister, Roberta, shuffles in.

“Don’t eat all the cookies.”

“It’s after midnight,” Emma points out. “Teen magazine says I can eat as many cookies as I want after midnight.”

Teen magazine…” Roberta humphs, opening the fridge for the milk. She’s pulled a quilted nylon dressing gown over her men’s flannel pajama pants and Blondie T-shirt. “Fine, but you’ve gotta help me bake replacements tomorrow.”

“I can do that.”

“I’m bummed you’re not staying the whole week.”

“Eh, summer classes.”


Emma eats her cookie. Robbie pours milk into a glass and returns the carton, careful not to bang the fridge door closed. If the door bangs, it jostles the Boston fern their mother has balanced in a saucer on top of the fridge.

“You’re not gonna tell Mom and Dad about the fed guy, are you?” Robbie finally says.

“It’s not worth freaking them out.” Emma goes to the sink, takes an empty glass from the draining board, and half fills it with water. “He just wanted to ask me something.”

“New set of questions?”

“No, weirdly enough.” Emma walks to the fridge and balances on tiptoe to pour the water from the glass into the soil around the fern. “It was more like… a job interview.”

“No shit.” Robbie leans against the counter and sips her milk. “That’s different.”


“I still wouldn’t tell Mom and Dad. They will most definitely freak.”

Emma places the glass in the sink. “It was just a conversation. I said no.”

“Is that why you’re down in the kitchen after midnight, eating cookies?”

“Hey, you’re here with me.”

Robbie grins. “I’m providing moral support.”

Emma knows this is only partially true. Her sister developed insomnia when Emma went missing. Even two and a half years after her return, Robbie’s sleep problems have lingered. The toll hasn’t just been on Emma. For a while there, it was like the whole family needed therapy.

“I said no,” Emma repeats gently.

Robbie nods. She picks up her glass and heads toward the hall. “They flew a fed guy from Virginia to speak with you? Can’t fault them for effort.”

“He drove.” Emma picks at the crumbs from her cookie. “He drove from Virginia, he didn’t fly.”

“Man, that’s a drive.” Robbie pushes back her mass of dark hair with one hand. Emma had hair like that once. “He must’ve really wanted that conversation.”

Her sister waves, then wanders back to her room along the hall. Emma sits on her stool, staring at the cookie crumbs, the Boston fern, the pendant light above the kitchen island. Cooper drove from Virginia. Suddenly she knows what it signifies. I will go the extra mile for you, it says. I wouldn’t ask a recruit to do anything I wouldn’t do myself.

He expects her to drive back in return. He was telling her the way is open.

On Saturday morning, Emma helps Robbie bake replacement cookies and helps her mother plant seedlings—petunias, mostly—in flower boxes around the house. Then she goes to the barn, where her father is cleaning the air filter on the tractor.

“How’s it going, Emma Anne?”

She’s careful to reply without hesitation. “All good, Dad.”

“The Rabbit’s running okay? It’s probably due for a new carburetor.”

“The carburetor’s fine, Dad. The car’s holding up.”

“Glad to hear it. You wanna pass me that can of Dust-Off on the bench?”

She passes him the Dust-Off, and later, there’s a family dinner. Everything about being home is comfortable and safe. Except for the fervency of her mother’s mealtime grace blessing, it’s like the world never changed.

Hours later, when Emma’s wrenched up in bed, choking, she realizes the thin, high tinnitus in her head is not tinnitus. And it’s not just going to go away.

She changes her shirt in the dark, pads downstairs. Slips a fresh cookie from the tin and encourages herself to consider the problem from all angles.

Cooper talked about a partner, a unit. The idea of being part of a team is tempting. It’s the isolation of the thing that eats away at you: being alone on the island of the mind. The number of people who have brushed up against what she’s experienced and are still breathing, still functioning, is almost infinitesimal.

So the concept is appealing: a team of other people to bounce ideas off, to share misgivings, to share the load. But Emma has no sense of what such a team might look like.

And that horseshit about saving lives… Emma used to think she could’ve saved the others—the other girls—if only she’d run faster, gotten help quicker. But on her therapist’s suggestion she read the police report on Huxton, and she doesn’t believe that anymore. She’s wary of that response in herself now. She’s alert to guilt. Guilt doesn’t help anybody.

So it’s not guilt tugging at her with tiny hooks, she tells herself, but rather the idea of the research. New information is the key. If she could play a part in gathering that information, if they could spot these guys more accurately, find them more quickly… then yes, other potential victims might be spared.

Emma sits under the pendant light for some time. Then she uses the phone in the kitchen, with the long curly cord. The call picks up after two rings.

“Cooper.” His voice is raspy but he sounds alert.

“I’m in.”

“Miss Lewis?”

“I’m in,” she says. “I’ll join the project, the unit, whatever it’s called. But I won’t join the bureau. I want to go back to OSU once the interviews are done.”

She hangs up, not waiting for his reply. Immediately, she feels a sensation like her soul is flying out of her chest.

Only when she catches sight of the digital clock on the microwave does she realize it’s three thirty in the morning.


After some initial fretting, Emma wears jeans and a white T-shirt and running shoes for her first visit to Quantico, because that’s what she’ll feel normal in.

There are lots of oak and maple trees around the parking area on the base. She slows her car for runners, training groups of guys in black gym shorts and regulation gray sweatshirts. It’s been three days since she herself ran, and she feels it like a twitch in her thighs and the balls of her feet.

Once she’s parked, she sits in the car thinking about Robbie’s parting hug, and going through the instruction notes from the second phone call with Cooper. MPs at checkpoints have your name. Park outside Jefferson. Ask at the desk for Behavioral Science. Yesterday she drove six and a half hours to reach Virginia, and she’s still not sure she really wants to be here. She stares at the buildings until the heat gathering between the windshield and the dash forces her out.

The Jefferson building is much cooler. Lots of people in khakis and dark polo shirts in the foyer. The man at the desk directs her to a bank of elevators, and the basement offices.

The basement, she thinks. Of course it has to be in the goddamn basement.

The elevator door opens onto low ceilings with concrete coffers, pipes for heating, pipes for air-conditioning, cable chases. The corridors are disconcertingly similar and anonymous. Lots of white and gray cinder block, fluorescent lighting, like a nuclear bunker or a morgue.

There are a few people in suits in the corridors, all moving with purpose. At the end of a hallway, behind a glass door, a woman at another desk.

“Please wait. An agent will be with you shortly.” The receptionist extends a hand to the other side of the tiny foyer, which is the entry to the suite of offices beyond.

There are no chairs, but the opposite wall is decorated with a board of FBI Most Wanted posters. A guy stands facing them, hands on hips, pushing back the fall of his windbreaker.

Emma stands nearby and checks her watch. Cooper said ten, and it’s edging toward ten past. She could’ve come at ten thirty, slept in an extra half hour.

Last night’s motel off Route 1 turned out to be seedier than she would’ve liked, but the woman in the diner poured her extra coffee. It was probably on account of her hair, Emma thinks. She wears a scarf over it occasionally, which makes her look like a cancer patient. She’s found that it’s sometimes better to look like a cancer patient than to deal with random strangers sneering at her.

Yesterday she wore her scarf. Now she’s here without it, in the foyer of Behavioral Science, as the boy to her right continues his contemplation of the Most Wanted posters. He has pressed cargo pants and his collar is stiff and neat. He checks his watch, and Emma realizes they are both waiting. This is a waiting area, though. There are many offices. She wonders why Cooper didn’t have her directed to wait in his.

Emma anchors herself in the solid press of her feet on the concrete floor, her hands in her pockets, shoulders square. She’s relieved to find herself steady, holding firm.

Then she rubs a hand across her head and it arrives: She has not seen anyone in this building so far who is younger than their midtwenties. She is young. The guy beside her is young. They could be the only young people in the building, and they are both waiting here.

When she turns, he is already looking at her.

“I’m thinking… I’m thinking maybe we should introduce ourselves,” he says.

He has very dark hair and eyes, olive skin. He holds out his hand.

“Bell, Travis J.” He doesn’t squeeze her fingers out of existence. It’s a short, professional handshake. “I’m waiting on Special Agent Cooper and I believe you might be, too.”

“I am. I mean, yes. I’m Emma Lewis.”

“Pleased to meet you.”


She absorbs his accent: southern, probably Texas with that laconic delivery, and if she had to guess she’d say army brat or law enforcement trainee. After the handshake, they return to standing side by side, like a pair of trout who’ve somehow found themselves swimming together against the current. Through the glass door, Emma sees a figure approaching. When she straightens, Bell does the same and speaks out of the corner of his mouth.

“Were you told about a unit? I was told there was going to be a unit.”

Emma presses her lips. “I think we’re the unit.”

Cooper has already breached the door.

“Miss Lewis, Mr. Bell.” He shifts the folders he’s carrying and shakes their hands in turn. Emma finds it easier to take his hand here, in a formal setting. “You’ve already been introduced? Thank you both for coming. There’s a place for us to talk—please follow me.”

He leads them, not toward the offices as Emma had anticipated, but back out to the hallway. Cooper’s walk is brisk, military; otherwise, he is just a slight, Caucasian man in a regulation suit who looks more like an accountant than an FBI agent. He steers their course farther along and then around a corner into another corridor.

“Why aren’t we talking in your office about this?” Emma asks.


  • "A YA Silence of the Lambs that blew me away with its daring premise, gripped me with its twists and turns, and kept me up all night until its stunning conclusion. Ellie Marney brings the serial killer thriller to YA with riveting suspense and sizzling style. Don't read this book in the dark!"—C.S. Pacat, USA Today bestselling author of Fence
  • "...The tightly plotted story moves inexorably forward with shocking twists. Vivid, chilling, and important."—Kirkus Reviews
  • "Marney (Circus of Arts) has created a thrilling cat-and-mouse story in this taut, Silence of the Lambs-like thriller.... Marney also skillfully creates engaging and complex characters as well as a budding romance that tenderly juxtaposes the overarching plot."—Publishers Weekly

On Sale
Sep 28, 2021
Page Count
400 pages