Just Stay Away
by Tony Wirt
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Pub Date 01 Oct 2023 | Archive Date 15 Oct 2023
When a mysterious neighborhood boy befriends his young daughter, stay-at-home dad Craig considers him a godsend—until it becomes clear that there’s nothing angelic about him at all.
Craig Finnigan is determined to finish his book this summer, but being an aspiring writer while wrangling his seven-year-old daughter is not easy. So when Alice makes fast friends with a neighborhood boy, Levi, Craig is happy she has a distraction from her constant visits to his home office.
But that happiness soon turns to misgivings as Levi’s behavior evolves from that of a shy, odd boy into something far more disturbing. Strange noises in the middle of the night and things disappearing from their home could be explained away—maybe it’s the water heater, or maybe Craig simply misplaced his flash drive. Craig can’t explain his paranoia, but he feels sure Levi is behind it.
As Levi’s visits to their backyard become more and more frequent, Craig finds himself the unwilling participant in a game he never asked to play…and one he’s not sure he can win.
A Note From the Publisher
Praise for Just Stay Away
“Nobody believes Craig when he insists nine-year-old Levi is the source of the mayhem in his life—which is regrettable, as Levi might be a troublemaker worse than Baby Teeth’s Hanna (so says the author of Baby Teeth). Just Stay Away is a tense page-turner that literally had me reading with my shoulders hunched.” —Zoje Stage, bestselling author of Baby Teeth and Mothered
“Cancel your plans and find a good chair because once you start Just Stay Away, you won’t be able to stop. A psychological game of cat and mouse evolves between a writer and his daughter’s creepy new friend in this superbly plotted, fantastically immersive domestic thriller. From the characters to the writing to the pitch-perfect ending, Wirt delivers on every level.” —Mindy Mejia, bestselling author of Everything You Want Me to Be and To Catch a Storm
“A relentlessly creepy and dangerously addictive read, Just Stay Away will have you checking your locks and jumping at shadows once you’ve finished. Using the unique perspective of a stay-at-home dad, Tony Wirt expertly crafts an atmosphere of ever-increasing isolation, claustrophobia, and gaslighting to ramp up from a sinister simmer into a full-blown nightmare. In doing so, Wirt explores gender roles, masculinity, and boyhood in the profound ways you find in the best of the genre. An absolute must-read—if you dare!” —Brianna Labuskes, Wall Street Journal bestselling author of A Familiar Sight
“In Just Stay Away, Wirt flawlessly weaves tension into everyday domestic life. The protagonist, Craig, finds himself in a suspenseful game of cat and mouse with a neighborhood child that will leave you wondering, What would you do to protect those you love?” —Elle Grawl, author of One of Those Faces and What Still Burns
Praise for A Necessary Act
Underground Book Reviews 2017 Novel of the Year, Reader’s Choice
“I literally could not put this book down. As far as thrillers and crime novels go, it ticked every box for me while also managing to be unique in its concept and style. Great characters, genuine bellyaching tension, and an ending that both surprises and satisfies…and yet is left wide, wide open…I truly hope there is more to come.” —Underground Book Reviews
“A Necessary Act grabbed me by the throat and refused to let go—even after I turned the last page!” —C. H. Armstrong, author of The Edge of Nowhere
“This book is filled with creepy and suspenseful moments that are sure to get anyone’s heart pumping. Just leave the lights on.” —Rochester Magazine