Culture & Lifestyle
Published April 29, 2024

Jessica Jones' Bad Morning Takes an Intriguing Turn in 'Breaking the Dark' Excerpt

In an excerpt from Lisa Jewell's 'Breaking the Dark: A Jessica Jones Marvel Crime Novel,' Jessica Jones' rough start to the day gets interrupted when her next case walks through the door.

Jessica Jones is on the case in the first installment of Hyperion Avenue's brand-new Marvel Crime fiction series for adults!

Written by #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jewell, Breaking the Dark: A Jessica Jones Marvel Crime Novel sends the retired super hero turned private investigator to a small village in the British countryside. There, she hopes to uncover the mystery of Amber Randall's twins, who returned to America changed after a visit to their father. 

Breaking the Dark: A Jessica Jones Marvel Crime Novel' cover

The twins don't act like themselves; they now have flawless skin, have lost their distinctive tics and habits, and keep talking about a girl named Belle. So, Jessica goes to meet this mysterious Belle, who lives a curiously isolated life in an old farmhouse with a strange woman who claims to be her guardian. Can this unworldly teenager really be responsible for the Randall twins' new personas? Why does the strange little village of Barton Wallop seem to harbor dark energies and mysteries in its tight-knit community?

A mother’s intuition is never wrong. And Jessica knows that nothing in life is perfect—not these kids, not her on-again, off-again relationship with Luke Cage, and certainly not Jessica herself. But even as she tries to buy into the idea that better days are ahead, Jessica Jones has seen all too clearly that behind every promise of perfection trails a dark, dangerous shadow.

In advance of Breaking the Dark: A Jessica Jones Marvel Crime Novel's release on July 2, check out an exclusive excerpt from the novel, where Jessica rescues a terrified cat and meets Amber Randall for the first time:


JESSICA TURNS ONTO her side and blinks into the darkness. The drapes are wide open, but the sky outside is so dark that they may as well be shut. It is not nighttime, but a storm is brewing over Hell's Kitchen, black and bruised and heavy.

The clock by her bed tells her that it is one minute past nine.

Her head tells her that she had her last drink about four hours ago.

She drags herself from her bed and listens to the first distant rumbles of thunder, coming from somewhere far away from the city.

Coffee. Black, strong, burned. A bowl of Cheerios with ice-cold milk from the fridge. The storm moves closer, the sky turns electric-white, and Jessica jumps—slopping milk from the bowl onto the floor—as a clap of thunder splits the universe in half. For a moment she wonders about a thunderstorm this early in the day, but then she thinks, why not? The whole world has felt so dramatic lately, people seem so riled up all the time, always looking for fights and division. Things move so fast, theories come and go, superstars are born and get canceled, technology, fashions, politics all spin in dizzying, insane cycles, and meanwhile the planet is set to burn to cinders, and, yes, why not a brooding, sinister morning storm over Hell's Kitchen on a cool October morning, why not?

Her neighbor Julius just adopted a cat, then three days later had to go away to visit a sick relative. She owed Julius a favor and said she'd feed it for him. It's named Speckles.

She has a 9:45 in her calendar and it is now 9:20. She needs a shower and another coffee, but first she thinks she'll go down the hall and deal with Speckles.

She grabs the key to Julius's apartment and walks barefoot down the hall, leaving her door on the latch behind her. She wears a T-shirt that still smells of last night's chicken wings where she'd rubbed her greasy fingertips, but also smells of Luke's laundry detergent. Luke is her not-quite-boyfriend. Actually, her not-at-all-boyfriend, but boyfriend enough for her to have ended up at some point or other with one of his T-shirts in her apartment. And he really does do magic things with his laundry, she doesn't know what or how, but everything he wears smells so good.

Julius has painted the inside of his apartment into something decent; the walls are midnight blue and velvet gray. He favors mid-century furniture, teak and oak and pointy legs. He likes table lamps. They are everywhere, six in the living room alone. There is a tall, thin clock against a wall that tick-tocks self-importantly as Jessica walks toward the kitchen, and then there is another flash-bang of whiteness and she counts to twelve, and as the next thunderstrike arrives as loud as a dropped saucepan on a stone floor, she enters the kitchen to find the cat sitting terrified in a corner, all bulging eyes and flat ears. She gets closer and can see that Speckles is quivering, vibrating, that Speckles is overloaded with adrenaline.

Jessica doesn't know what to make of cats. She feels she should like them and certainly she feels bad right now for this one in its current state of mortal terror, but she doesn't know how to approach them, touch them, make them like you. She puts out a hand and says, "Listen. It's okay, all right? This is just some crazy shit that the people up there do from time to time, to remind us how small and pointless we all are. Just hang tight, kitty. Hang tight."

Speckles squeezes himself farther into the corner and Jessica reaches into the cupboard above him for the bag of cat food. Then she leans down to lift the bowl from the floor, and as she does so another thunderclap hits and the cat startles and dashes, and Jessica turns and remembers that she left Julius's front door open.

"Shit!" She drops the bowl on the kitchen counter. "Shit!" She chases the cat through the door and out into the hallway. "Speckles!" she calls out louder than she'd like to. "Speckles! Stop!"

But he doesn't stop, he thinks he can outrun the thunder and he helter-skelters away from her, his paws skidding over the shiny marble flooring, and suddenly he is at the other side of the building, the bit that Jessica never sees, where the doors are the same as the doors on her side of the building but are so alien to her that they may as well be in another country. And down there is a window and it is open and who knows where it leads. Jessica has never seen the window before and she lets out a small husk of a scream, her hands clamped to her face, as she sees Speckles leap six feet and disappear into the dark, granite sky filled with clouds like rolling boulders.


THE CAT HAS run down two flights of the fire escape and now sits on a narrow stone ledge that joins Jessica's building to the flat roof of the next building along. On either side of the stone ledge is oblivion. Jessica sticks her head through the window and assesses the situation. If the cat doesn't want to die, it needs to jump back onto the fire escape. But the cat is too scared to work this out for itself and sits in stasis.

Jessica sighs. It's too early for this bullshit. All she has is Cheerios and coffee to work with. But she cannot tell Julius that she let his cat die, so she allows the sickening transfusion to occur, the blood, the water, the mucus in her body to warp and distort, to become something closer to diesel and paraffin, to lighter fuel and tarmac, and she can almost smell it, taste it at the back of her throat. It makes her want to gag as she stands out on the windowsill, high above the streets below, but she swallows it down, crouches slightly, her eyes shut hard—

. . . but

. . . the clouds split apart, and the rain falls hard and quick, and the cat changes its stance, sashays back toward Jessica's building, its tail a spiky brush of panic and fury, jumps onto the fire escape and then straight into Jessica's arms.

Carrying a wet, freaked-out cat through a window and down a hallway is not easy. It scratches her arms, it scratches her face. A door opens as she passes by with the cat rolling and squirming in her arms. A woman with a baby in a stroller eyes her up and down three times, a glint of disgust followed quickly by wry amusement. The baby stares at her and the cat with wide eyes. Jessica keeps walking.

As she turns the corner toward Julius's apartment, she stops.

A small girl stands by his open door. She has dark eyes, and her hair is tied in puffballs on either side of her head. She wears a metallic fur-trimmed coat and stripy tights. Jessica narrows her eyes at the girl. "You okay, little girl?"

The girl nods, her gaze held firmly on Jessica, oblivious to the angry wet cat in her arms.

"Where's your mom?"

The girl stares. She says nothing.

The sky cracks with thunder again and hard rain lands like thrown gravel against the walls of the building. The cat jumps out of her arms and runs into the apartment.

Jessica feels something burn her from the inside out. Her head rolls back, and she closes her eyes. When she opens them again, the girl is gone.

# # #

Jessica is in her grimy T-shirt and underwear, having failed to have a shower or brush her teeth, when her intercom buzzes five minutes later.

"Yeah," she says. "Come up."

She hits the button, then throws on a black jacket over her stale shirt, pulls on blue jeans and a pair of boots. She can still smell the chicken grease and the old beer on her breath, but it is too late to do anything about that now as the sound of heels clacking against marble echoes down the hallway outside her apartment.

She runs her hands over her hair and makes some kind of a smile with her face as she opens the door.

In front of her is a thin woman in an ankle-length shearling coat. Her hair is the color of butterscotch, and she has a tan that looks like it came from the sort of place that Jessica could never afford to go to.

"Hi," says the woman, visibly recoiling at the sight of Jessica, her stained clothing, her damp hair and scratched-up arms and face, the broken-down-looking room behind her. "Amber Randall." The woman looks at the door sign reading ALIAS INVESTIGATIONS, then back at her. "Are you Jessica Jones?"

Jessica nods. "Sure," she says. "Yes. Come in. Sorry."

The woman looks about forty but could be fifty. It's hard to tell with rich ladies.

Amber Randall shakes out her umbrella in the hallway and leaves it leaning against the wall. Entering, she takes off her shearling and folds it in three with the arms turned inward, hangs it neatly on the arm of Jessica's leather sofa, and sits down. She is wearing a black knitted dress with a white lace collar and black leather boots with rubber soles.

Her eyes roam around the walls of Jessica's office, searching, Jessica suspects, for one pretty thing. When her eyes fail to find anything pleasing, they come to rest on her.

"You're not what I was expecting," Amber Randall says. "I thought you'd be . . ." Her hands flutter around aimlessly for a moment before coming to rest on her lap. "Never mind. I know you have . . . I know you are . . ." Her hands flutter again. "But really, I don't need that from you. None of that. I need your . . . contacts. Your insight. You know. Because I think there's something happening, and I think it's something to do with your people."

Jessica blinks. Your people. She doesn't have "your people." She only has herself.

"Listen," she says. "I really don't think—"

"Hear me out," the small woman says harshly before softening. "Hear me out. Please. I need you, Jessica. I really do."

Jessica tilts her head and appraises the woman sitting in front of her. Her bones are so fine her hands are like tiny claws. The big, incongruous boots give her the air of a child, while her mouth sags at the sides where gravity—and life—has come to play.

"Try me," Jessica says.

Amber Randall smooths down her dress. "My ex-husband, Sebastian, is British. I met him when I was studying Classical Dance in London many moons ago. We got married and he came to live with me here in New York, and we had our twins sixteen years ago. A girl and a boy. Lark and Fox."

"Lark and . . . ?"

"Fox. Yes."

"Okay then."

"After we divorced Sebastian moved back to England, and every summer since then the twins have flown over to London for four weeks to stay with him. He has a mews house in Pimlico."

"Pim . . . ?"

"—lico. A posh area in London. And he has recently bought a big house in Essex." Looking at Jessica, she adds, "In the countryside. So, every year the twins fly over for a month and usually they spend time in London. They see their cousins. Sometimes Sebastian takes them to France, or to the Spanish islands. Then they come back to me and go back to school and, look—anyway—this year, they spent the entire time at his new house in Essex, just with him, nobody else, and I just feel very strongly that something happened."

"Something happened?"

"Yes. They've been home for four weeks and the thing is—and I don't really know how to explain this—but ever since they got back, I've grown more and more convinced that it's not them. That they are not them."

Jessica feels a rush of energy spike through her, and her posture changes a degree. "How do you mean?"

"Like I say, it's hard to explain. They look basically the same, they sound the same, for all intents and purposes it is them. But"—Amber leans forward, her pale toffee hair swinging as she moves—"I don't think it is them. I think something happened over there this summer. I think someone got to them. Someone did something to them." She leans forward a little more. "Replaced them."

Breaking the Dark, the first book in the brand-new Marvel Crime series, introduces fans to a grittier, street-level side of the Marvel Universe, and will continue with original novels featuring fan-favorite characters like Luke Cage, written by S.A. Cosby, and Daredevil, written by Alex Segura.

Breaking the Dark: A Jessica Jones Marvel Crime Novel by Lisa Jewell will be available in the United States from Hyperion Avenue on July 2, 2024 and Penguin Random House UK in the United Kingdom on July 4, 2024. Available wherever books are sold!


'Breaking the Dark: A Jessica Jones Marvel Crime Novel' UK Cover (Penguin Random House UK)

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