Solving Cadence Moore is a suspenseful hometown Mystery / Crime Thriller novel by Gregory Sterner.
“A deftly crafted and compelling read from cover to cover … an extraordinary and unfailingly engaging read by a novelist with a genuine flair for narrative driven fiction and one that is unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists and community library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections.”–Midwest Book Review
How much will one man risk to solve the unsolvable?
Ten years ago, famous young singer Cadence Moore disappeared without a trace on a remote highway in western Pennsylvania. To this day her fate remains unknown. Was she kidnapped or murdered? Or did she simply run away in search of a new life, leaving behind the abuse and heartbreak that haunted her?
Charlie Marx, host of the popular conspiracy radio show “Underground Broadcast,” is obsessed with Cadence. Desperate to find her after deceiving his boss to save his job, he launches an investigation of his own, digging deep into the missing woman’s past and uncovering her darkest secrets. Working feverishly for weeks, he claims to have solved the mystery and promises to reveal Cadence’s fate at the end of a groundbreaking podcast series and live radio special.
But is it all a lie? As years of twisted details slowly unravel, Charlie races to solve the biggest mystery of the decade. If he succeeds, it will mean closure for Cadence. If he fails, his entire world will come crashing down live on air—and the truth may be lost forever.
Excerpt from Solving Cadence Moore:
Chapter 1 – The Pitch
Charlie Marx sat with his arms crossed, refusing to visually sell his reaction to the sales pitch he was getting. As a successful conspiracy radio show host, Charlie had learned to trust nothing but consider everything, qualities which had made him very effective throughout his career.
His boss (as well as his mentor and friend), Tyler Reubens, had been in the public radio game for fifteen years, becoming a national celebrity by hosting a hugely successful syndicated show covering everything from intimate personal stories to murder mysteries called United Way of Life. Tyler, while still sitting at the helm of United Way of Life, was also now a big player at the executive level as a senior producer for WHHW (his home station) and programming liaison to UPR (the public radio juggernaut of which WHHW was an affiliate).
Tyler’s superiors were looking for on-demand content for various multimedia outlets (a trend the entire entertainment world had already been moving strongly toward for five years and public radio had been one of the first to plant a flag in podcast land, but had never had a smash hit). Tyler was reaching out to the one person who in his mind had the one show he was almost positive would connect with a large audience for the podcast mini-series UPR was prepared to push to the moon (or so went Tyler’s initial sales pitch).
The one man with the one show also happened to be a personal protégé of Tyler Reubens himself, Charlie Marx. Charlie was a former college DJ and conspiracy newsletter writer. Tyler had plucked him from obscurity and offered him an assistant producer job for United Way of Life, simply because he liked his work and was impressed by the buzz Charlie had managed to drum up for his conspiracy rag. Charlie produced a few conspiracy oriented segments for United Way of Life during anniversary years of the Kennedy Assassination and the Apollo Moon Landing. These segments had garnered such positive reviews that Tyler lobbied for Marx to be granted his own time slot on WHHW with a conspiracy-themed show called Underground Broadcast. Underground Broadcast eventually became one of the most popular programs on WHHW and had been considered at least on two occasions for national syndication over UPR stations, although that had never actually come to fruition.
All of that had taken place three years before and now Tyler wanted Charlie to captain a new vessel, one which would sail into the on-demand islands and, if all went as planned, land Tyler a fat new contract when his re-up period went into effect a few months later.
Tyler knew Charlie wouldn’t argue with him or refuse the offer. But at the same time, he’d been around a long time and he knew how to get what he wanted. You could force a man to walk the plank at the point of a sword or you could gently take his hand and lead him there. You could train a soldier to take orders or you could gain his respect and have him willing to die for you on the battlefield out of loyalty alone. Tyler knew good sales pitches needed emotional buy in. He had to sell the concept, sell the logic of the concept, and sell the benefit of the concept.
Tyler was very good at this approach and he knew Charlie was stone facing him across the desk, trying not to show any cards at all. Tyler liked that. He’d trained this man well. But just because he taught Charlie everything Charlie knew, that didn’t mean he’d taught him everything Tyler Reubens knew.
Tyler looked straight ahead and leaned forward, his smile never wavering. He said, “Charlie, this is an opportunity. Now before you say anything else, rest assured… I read your email. I understand you think this case is a bottomless pit. But listen buddy, your credibility and your show’s credibility is not at risk here. It’s all in how we play it. I’ve been doing this a lot longer than you my friend and the story is what it’s all about. If the story is there, the ending is inconsequential… if not completely, then at least secondary to the journey. Even if this thing is the ultimate cold case… even if we’re barking up a dying tree, if we carve out the right story we will succeed. We will accomplish what I’ve promised my bosses we can accomplish.
“I stuck my neck way out for you guys. For me too… I’m not trying to bullshit you. But I did that because I believe in you and I think your show is going to be the one that breaks through. They could have had Artie Rothstein do a podcast, they could have had Barry Shearing do a podcast, hell… half of the national guys already have podcasts, but this isn’t just a podcast Charlie… it’s a series and it’s a live radio special to conclude it. UPR’s never done anything like this before.
“The big bosses aren’t sold on it either, you can bet your last long dollar on that one. I’ve had to tread very lightly every time I’ve pushed an angle on it. At this point, every UPR show which also airs as a podcast has been barely a mild success as far as downloads go. The bigwigs have no reason to think a special is going to be any different. But these guys are fossils Marx. They haven’t seen the trend that’s been creeping up on their asses for half a decade now. But I see it. I know you see it, too. You’ve been water coolering the podcast angle for at least a year… I hear everything my friend.”
Charlie continued to sit with a stoic expression on his face, nodding every few moments and sitting slightly forward to express that he was paying attention. But he did not facially sell a single word of this. Not yet. He loved the idea, he loved the potential, but he hated the case. He’d personally been obsessed with Cadence Moore for years but he didn’t think there was anything he could do with it that hadn’t already been done and he feared this program would be a disaster and a letdown if they went in the Cadence direction.
Tyler kept rolling, “So, of course you know the reason none of them have been runaway hits as podcasts is because ninety percent of the fucking audience listens on the radio. Listeners are creatures of habit, we all know that. They might tune into a podcast here and there if they’re at the gym or they miss a week but usually when they discover something on the radio, they’re likely to keep listening on the radio. But if we sell it as something new… something different… c’mon Charles, you see where I’m going here.
“And besides all that, the reason I know you and your show are the way to go with this thing is because Rothstein and Shearing… just to name two, their formats won’t work to generate a mass audience of new listeners… I’m confident about that. Shearing’s a commentator… a satirist. Rothstein’s a writer, a sketch guy… a brilliant one sure, I mean they’re both great at what they do, but their shows don’t lend themselves to breaking new ground.
“In your case, I’m confident that your format is exactly what the doctor ordered for this particular story, and I also truly believe people will like the idea of a local radio guy, someone who’s not a national name, breaking into the mainstream with a special about an unsolved case which just recently became hot news again. I’m not talking out my ass here pal, I have good instincts and I know there is a right and wrong way to do this thing. The big bosses aren’t sold, but I guarantee you, once I’m through with them, I can get spots, I can get the air time… we will push this to the moon!”
Tyler noticed the very subtle grin that had permeated Charlie’s face. Charlie hadn’t intended it to be visible but his facial muscles betrayed him. Tyler drove in a little harder, “I’m not fucking around here man, I believe in it! And… I appreciate you guys, I really do Charlie. You’ve brought a damn big audience to WHHW. You guys aren’t a huge deal yet but you’re a big deal. I think this is exactly what is needed to make you bigger… to make you national names. If this works out the way I envision it working out, it could make your career and hammer out a giant hit for us.
“The Cadence case is truly one of the classics… never been solved! It’s a favorite of yours, that’s no secret… and I agree with almost everything I’ve ever heard you say about it. This is one of those deals where once you get into it, you can’t get out. How many of these things, these legendary cases, are actually still floating around without a conclusion?
“Cadence Moore has hooked people from the start and she will hook them again, Charlie. The Moore to the Story film got the public ramped up about wanting to know what happened to that girl. Jesus, half the people who saw the film didn’t agree with the answer those guys came up with. They still want closure and they’ve never gotten it. Those people are the ones I’m counting on to be the new listening audience once we start popping out the podcasts.
“I think, if nothing else, you guys can do a better job than those dicks Barnes and Angstat did with the movie and if you can’t solve anything, you can at least offer something fresh. Your mission, your crew’s mission, is to get this as close to solved as possible so when the finale airs people believe the answer is coming. Close is the operative word here Charlie. You have to run a completely different angle than the film ran. And if the real answer doesn’t come, which, let’s be honest, we both know it won’t… people need to feel like they got something… something better than they got with that shitty movie.”
Charlie Marx knew where his bread was buttered and he respected Tyler Reubens more than he respected just about any man in the world. This man was his boss but also the person who’d given him his one and only break in professional life, but Charlie was diametrically opposed to Tyler’s take on this particular program.
He felt if they tackled Cadence, they’d wind up with nothing. There were reasons a case stayed cold for a decade. They’d hit brick walls and the whole thing would be considered a grand failure that would damage Charlie’s credibility and cost him a good portion of his dedicated listeners (If only he knew the position he’d be in in a few weeks, losing a few listeners would have seemed like a pleasant dream). Charlie had things to say but dutifully waited until he knew it was his turn to talk. Once he was sure Tyler was finished, he began his own pitch.
He responded honestly, “So, if I understand correctly, you’re telling me Tyler… even if we don’t solve it… which as you said, we won’t… this thing will be produced like one of your United Way of Life stories… no matter what the ending, the audience will stick with us if they think something is coming?”
Tyler smiled a little bit wider, knowing his pitch had just been caught. He said, “Precisely! You got the picture Marx. I knew you would, that is why we’re talking right now.”
Charlie continued, “Okay then. So, when the thing everyone thinks is coming doesn’t come, this is my concern. I have never lied to my audience, Tyler. When we haven’t been able to deliver an answer to a mystery or a theory, I’ve always told them that up front and usually why the thing will never be answered. When something is a bottomless pit, which I’ve told you Cadence Moore is, I tell my listeners it’s a bottomless pit so they know what they’re getting.
“Credibility for us is life blood and if we lose it on this podcast series experiment, we lose it for the radio, too. I’m just trying to make you understand the biggest reason why your short-term goal may not be worth the long-term consequences. What makes you so sure when they realize they’ve been hoodwinked like a gang of sorry chumps, they won’t say fuck you to us, fuck you to WHHW, and fuck you to UPR?”
Tyler considered this sincerely. The time between Charlie’s question and Tyler’s response was a solid thirty seconds, which in the room and in the moment felt like an hour. Tyler finally said, “Because… fuck… because, Marx. Because I believe in you and I know we can do this. For Christ’s sake, Charlie, this shit is the difference between the men and boys. We take a risk, we make history, we grab a big audience, and we get a chance to do much bigger things on much bigger stages on much bigger days! That’s what we do! That’s what people who are successful do! So, let’s stop being pussies and just fucking do it!”
Charlie had to be careful how he proceeded. Tyler was a friend but he also held the strings, the marionette strings as well as the purse strings. Charlie said, “Tyler, I hear you… every word. But I need you to hear me too right now. I am not questioning your judgment… I’m just questioning your approach. What if we looked at some alternatives? You want an unsolved case?
I’ve got plenty… and those plenty have lots of loose leads dangling that me and my team could sink our teeth into and actually solve. It damn sure wouldn’t be the first time.”
Tyler would indulge him for a moment, even though in his mind it was going to go down his way and this special was Cadence or nothing. When Tyler was set on something, that something was going to happen. He said, “Okay, Charlie, tell me what unsolved cases you have in mind.”
Charlie let out a sigh of relief and smiled slightly. He was about to start talking when Tyler held up a finger. Tyler added, “Oh… but before you do that, my time is short and so is yours, so, I hate to waste any of it for either of us. As you list off these unsolved cases, make sure you only mention the ones that a massively successful film has recently been made about. That way, I can make sure the attention we need for our special will be the same whether we focus on Cadence or not.”
Charlie visibly sank in his chair. He said, “Tyler, you know I can’t do that. Nothing I’d be able to solve in time for a podcast series is going to have the national prominence of Cadence Moore. But, you said it yourself; Barnes and Angstat fucked up the movie and didn’t solve anything. Do you want us painted with the same stain those two idiots are currently being painted with?”
Tyler smiled. He said, “Charlie, they can stain me any color they want as long as the eventual color it all turns into is green. Barnes and Angstat may be a couple of jerks but they’re rich jerks, Marx, and they’re jerks who currently have a bigger audience for their product than either of us have for ours. So, if you’re gonna sit there and tell me it’s a better idea to dig up Katie Marsh or Herman Jackson (two missing children whose parents had alleged ties to occult activity in New Mexico), then be prepared to tell me how we’re going to monetize that. If you want to sell me on another conspiracy theory… like a podcast about deadly vaccines or a podcast about mass shootings being orchestrated by the government to create a police state… well again pal… tell me how we turn the crap into cash. If you can’t do that Charlie… then stop wasting my time and let’s get back to talking about how you’re gonna produce the Cadence Moore special.”
Tyler was studying Charlie’s face and knew he had nothing to say. Tyler had simultaneously stumped him and sold him, using cold hard logic as his weapon. He could now reel him back in a little and get some more buy in. He said, “Look Marx, I’m not trying to be a douche. But, you have to check the naiveté at the door if you want to be part of something this potentially big. It needs to be a hit, Charlie. It needs to connect with an audience. If you want to stay true to your art form and die with every shred of your credibility intact, then that’s fine. But if you make that decision, you’re not going to make this journey with me, and WHHW is as high as Underground Broadcast is ever gonna get. I’m not threatening and I’m not bullshitting. I’m being honest. It’s Cadence or bust pal… Cadence… or… bust. You got it?”
What could Charlie possibly say? He had his marching orders and he had to move ahead. He didn’t like it at all and he thought it would fail, but as someone who understood loyalty as well as logic, Charlie wasn’t going to say no to Tyler Reubens. He owed this man his career and if Tyler wanted to take a huge risk and was asking Charlie to climb aboard, he had no choice but to go along. He shook his head and said, “You’re the boss, boss. Lets fucking do it then. I’ve said what I had to say and you said what you had to say. At the end of the day, you sign the checks and you gave me my name… I won’t say no, even if I think it’s a terrible idea. If we both lose our shit on this, you’ll owe me a shot… every night… for eternity.”
Charlie really didn’t like it. He really didn’t like it at all. He knew the odds of solving the Cadence case were next to impossible and his credibility was definitely on the line. (If Charlie only knew in this moment how severely he was about to risk his own credibility and his career, he likely would have choked).
Tyler slapped him on the shoulder and said, “Shots, every night forever… you got it Marx. But I have a feeling, you’ll be the one buying drinks when all of this is over. I wouldn’t lead you to the cliffs, Charlie… I’m leading you to the tippy top. Believe that!”
Charlie didn’t respond. He just extended his hand and sealed the deal. What the hell had he just agreed to?
Charlie Marx’s Underground Podcast: Episode 1 (Intro). Original Drop Date: November 1, 2013. (Brought to you by United Way of Life, courtesy of Tyler Reubens, this program is funded and sponsored by WHHW, a subsidiary of Universal Public Radio)
(Narration by Charlie Marx) Welcome friends to the Underground Podcast. I am your host, Charlie Marx. The late-night hour is upon us weary travelers. Mysteries abound and the truth alarms sound… bringing out the seekers in every single town. Rest easy good friends… you have reached the final end… of your desired destination.
This is the place where we lift the curtain of accepted reality, and look deeper… down into the depths of the stories that permeate our consciousness. Yes, weary travelers, you can now take a rest, put your feet up, and plug in your minds. The investigation has begun, and it’s gonna be damn good fun!
This series is the most important program in the history of our show which you have up until now known as Underground Broadcast, but here we are now… arriving up to date with the rest of society, and we find ourselves in podcast world. This podcast tonight is in fact the most important program of my career. Those of you just stumbling across this by accident may be asking yourselves why that is.
Well travelers, we will begin our quest to answer one of the most perplexing and legendary unsolved riddles in the annals of modern crime. We will finally dig up the answer to the question that has haunted the masses for years.
We will reveal the specifics of how one Cadence Moore, a beautiful young college circuit-singing sensation, just on the brink it seemed, of breaking out into mainstream American mega stardom, on one tragic night just disappeared without a trace, never to be seen or heard from again.
Seekers of knowledge, sailors of the dark information seas, my listeners one and all, that all comes to an end. During this series, we will definitively answer the question: Whatever happened to young Cadence Moore? Legally, I must state a disclaimer, so I will state it now. Anyone listening to this should be of legal age and younger downloaders may find the violent subject matter, mature content, and strong language of this program offensive. We will be running on a several second delay during our live special and the worst language will be edited, but the podcasts will air in their entirety. You have been warned.
Okay, then… with our disclaimer out of the way, let’s get started. Like any momentous occasion, the theme of our show tonight must fit within the appropriate boundaries of weight and substance, and truly be worthy of discussion on our biggest program. What better subject to focus on than a story which has never offered a satisfying conclusion… a true mystery of our time?
The Cadence Moore story captivated mass audiences when it first came to national prominence on the weekend of Cinco de Mayo in 2002, and recently the story was plastered right back onto the speeding wind- screen of the world with the release of a fascinating, albeit flawed, documentary made by a Mr. Barnes and a Mr. Angstat, who will both be heard from during this series.
But, in spite of all the media coverage and a movie about this case, there has still never been a true end-of-the-story answer to all the speculation, evidence, and shreds of footage.
Todd Barnes and Michael Angstat tried during the making of their film to come up with indisputable proof that they’d found their man, but they failed. Some may disagree with that statement and to those people I will say this. Their film, which is highly entertaining, never accomplishes its true goal of solving the case. It simply succeeds in publicly accusing one man and presenting sensational images to support that accusation.
So, it is that we find ourselves here, with four podcasts and a live radio special to burn, in which we will pick up every clue, film strip, blood trail, and eyewitness statement, turn them all sideways, and see what no one has ever been able to see before.
When it’s over, I want you all to leave this series feeling like pioneers who finally came upon the smell of golden roses on the cliffs of El Dorado with enough sense left in your minds to call this a mystery solved.
With those words my good men and women, we begin our descent, down into the depths of pure adventure, skulking through caves and digging out trenches, to arrive on the other side with provable findings, and some real facts about the greatest mystery we’ve ever seen since Dallas in ’63. We shall answer the question… and arrive on the knowledge shore with glistening waves, pounding and pure, and we will know where it ends, and open the door to see what indeed ever happened to young Cadence Moore.
About the Author:
Gregory Sterner is inspired by the great storytelling presentations of National Public Radio, including This American Life and Wiretap, as well as novels by Stephen King, Elmore Leonard, and many others. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Albright College and is currently completing his Master’s in Philosophy at West Chester University while working as a supervisor for Penske Truck Leasing. He lives with his wife Abigail in Reading, Pennsylvania, and has four children: Jordan, Austin, Alexis, and Jack. His debut novel Solving Cadence Moore was released on November 7th, 2017. It is available for sale on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers. Readers can connect with Gregory on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook,and Goodreads. To learn more, go to http://www.aperturepress.net/books/solving-cadence-moore/
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