Lisa Gardner, the New York Times bestselling author of Hide and Gone, draws us into the venomous mind games of her most terrifying killer yet.
Come into my parlor . . .
For Kimberly Quincy, FBI Special Agent, it all starts with a pregnant hooker. The story Delilah Rose tells Kimberly about her johns is too horrifying to be true—but prostitutes are disappearing, one by one, with no explanation, and no one but Kimberly seems to care.
Said the spider to the fly . . .
As a member of the Evidence Response Team, dead hookers aren’t exactly Kimberly’s specialty. The young agent is five months pregnant—she has other things to worry about than an alleged lunatic who uses spiders to do his dirty work. But Kimberly’s own mother and sister were victims of a serial killer. And now, without any bodies and with precious few clues, it’s all too clear that a serial killer has found the key to the perfect murder . . . or Kimberly is chasing a crime that never happened.
Kimberly’s caught in a web more lethal than any spider’s, and the more she fights for answers, the more tightly she’s trapped. What she doesn’t know is that she’s close—too close—to a psychopath who makes women’s nightmares come alive, and if he has his twisted way, it won’t be long before it’s time for Kimberly to . . .
From the Hardcover edition.
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Lisa Gardner is the New York Times bestselling author of Hide, Gone, Alone, The Killing Hour, The Survivors Club, The Next Accident, The Other Daughter, The Third Victim, and The Perfect Husband. She lives with her family in New England, where she is at work on her next suspense novel. Visit the author at www.lisagardner.com.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. :
THESE ARE THE THINGS THAT NO ONE TELLS YOU, THAT YOU must experience in order to learn:
It only hurts the first few times. You scream. You scream and you scream and you scream until your throat is raw and your eyes swollen and you taste a curious substance in the back of your throat that is like bile and vomit and tears all rolled into one. You cry for your mother. You beg for God. You don't understand what is happening. You can't believe it is happening.
And yet, it is happening.
And so, bit by bit, you fall silent.
Terror doesn't last forever. It can't. It takes too much energy to sustain. And in truth, terror occurs when you are confronted with the unknown. But once it has happened enough, you have been systematically violated, beaten, cowed, it's not unknown, is it? The same act that once shocked you, hurt you, shamed you with its perversity, becomes the norm. This is your day now. This is the life you lead. This is who you have become.
A specimen in the collection.
"Spiders are always on the lookout for prey, but predators are also on the lookout for spiders. Clever disguises and quick getaways help keep spiders out of trouble."
FROM Spiders and Their Kin,
BY HERBERT W. AND LORNA R. LEVI, A GOLDEN GUIDE FROM ST. MARTIN'S PRESS, 2002
"WE GOT A PROBLEM."
"No kidding. Widespread production of methamphetamines, a middle class that keeps falling further and further behind, not to mention all the ruckus over global warming . . ."
"No, no, no. A real problem."
Kimberly sighed. They'd been working this crime scene for three days now. Long enough that she no longer noticed the smell of burning jet fuel and charcoaled bodies. She was cold, dehydrated, and had a stitch in her side. It would take a lot, in her opinion, to qualify as a real problem at this point.
She finished up the last swig of bottled water, then turned away from the tent city that currently comprised command central, and faced her teammate. "All right, Harold. What's the problem?"
"Uh-uh. Gotta see it to believe it."
Harold didn't wait for her answer, but set off at a half-jog, leaving Kimberly no choice but to follow. He trotted along the outside of the crime scene perimeter that surrounded what had once been a bucolic green field, bordered by thick woodlands. Now, half the treetops had been sheared off, while the pasture contained a deep, jagged scar of earth that ended in a blackened fuselage, crumpled John Deere tractor, and twisted right wing.
As crime scenes went, plane crashes were particularly messy. Sprawling in size, contaminated with biohazards, booby-trapped with jagged bits of metal and shattered glass. The kind of scene that threatened to overwhelm even the most seasoned evidence collector. Mid afternoon of day three, Kimberly's team had finally passed the holy-crap-where-to-begin stage and was now cruising into the job-well-done-be-home-tomorrow-night-for-dinner phase of the documenting process. Everyone was popping less Advil, enjoying longer lunch breaks.
None of which explained why Harold was currently leading Kimberly away from command central, the hum of the generator, the bustle of dozens of investigators simultaneously working a scene . . .
Harold continued to lope along a straight line. Fifty yards, a hundred yards. Half a mile down . . .
"Harold, what the hell?"
"Five more minutes. You can do it."
Harold increased his pace. Kimberly, never one to cry uncle, gritted her teeth and followed. They hit the end of the crime scene perimeter, and Harold turned right into the small grove of trees that had started the whole mess, the taller ones forming jagged white spikes pricking the overcast winter sky.
"Better be good, Harold."
"If this is to show me some kind of rare moss or endangered grass species, I will kill you."
"I don't doubt it."
Harold dashed and ducked around shattered trees. Bobbed and weaved through the thick underbrush. When he finally stopped, Kimberly nearly ran into his back.
"Look up," Harold ordered.
Kimberly looked up. "Ah shit. We have a problem."
* * *
FBI Special Agent Kimberly Quincy was the total package—beautiful, brainy, and pedigreed, right down to a legendary former FBI profiler father whose name was linked to the likes of Douglas and Ressler in Academy halls. She had shoulder-length dusky blond hair, bright blue eyes, and fine patrician features—a gift from her dead mother, who was the source of the second set of rumors that would follow Kimberly for the rest of her career.
At five foot six, with a thin, athletic build, Kimberly was known for her physical endurance, proficiency with firearms, and intense dislike of personal touch. She was not one of those teammates who inspired love at first sight, but she certainly commanded respect.
Now entering her fourth year at the Atlanta Field Office of the FBI, finally assigned to Violent Crimes (VC) and team leader to one of Atlanta's three Evidence Response Teams (ERTs), her career was firmly on track—or at least had been until five months ago. Though that wasn't entirely true, either. She no longer participated in firearms training, but other than that, it was business as usual. After all, today's Bureau considered itself to be an enlightened government organization. All about equity and fairness and gender rights. Or, as the agents liked to quip, it wasn't your father's FBI anymore.
At the moment, Kimberly had larger problems to consider. Starting with the severed leg dangling in a giant rhododendron bush ten feet outside their crime scene perimeter.
"How the hell did you even see that?" Kimberly asked now, as she and Harold Foster hustled back to command central.
"Birds," Harold said. "Kept seeing a flock of them startle from that grove. Which made me think a predator had to be around. Which made me think, what would attract a predator to such an area? And then . . ." He shrugged. "You know how it goes."
Kimberly nodded, though being a city girl herself, she didn't really know how it went. Harold, on the other hand, had grown up in a log cabin and used to work for the Forestry Service. He could track a bobcat, skin a deer, and forecast the weather based on the moss patterns on a tree. At six one and one hundred seventy pounds, he resembled a telephone pole more than a lumberjack, but he considered twenty miles a day-hike, and when the Atlanta ERTs had worked the Rudolph crime scene—the Atlanta Olympic Park bomber—Harold had made it to the remote campsite an hour ahead of the rest of the crew, which had still been struggling up the densely wooded, forty-five-degree incline.
"You gonna tell Rachel?" Harold was asking now. "Or do I have to?"
"Oh, I think you should take all the credit."
"No, no, really, you're the team leader. Besides, she won't hurt you."
He stressed the last sentence more than he needed to. Kimberly understood what he meant. And of course he was right.
She rubbed her side, and pretended she didn't resent it.
The problem had started on Saturday, when a 727 had taken off from the Charlotte, North Carolina, airport at 6:05 a.m. With three crew members and a belly full of mail, it was due to arrive in Atlanta at 7:20 a.m. Conditions were damp and foggy, with potential for ice.
What exactly had gone wrong was left for the NTSB to sort out. But shortly after 7:15 a.m., during the initial approach to the runway, the 727 had descended, clipped the right wing on the top of a dense grove of trees, and careened into a farmer's field, where it did an aviator's version of a cartwheel, nailing one combine, two trucks, and a tractor, while raining metallic debris down a half-mile-long skid that ended with the fuselage bursting into flame.
By the time emergency vehicles had arrived, the crew members had perished and all that was left was the minor detail of processing a mile-long debris field that involved three human remains, one plane, four pieces of farming equipment, and a blizzard's worth of U.S. mail. The NTSB moved in to manage the scene. And per the "Memorandum of Understanding" between the NTSB and the FBI, Atlanta's three ERTs were mobilized to assist with evidence collection.
First thing FBI Senior Team Leader Rachel Childs had done was establish the perimeter. Rule of thumb for explosions and airline crashes—perimeter is set up fifty percent of the distance from the scene of the primary explosion to the farthest piece of evidence. So if the final piece of evidence is a hundred yards out, the perimeter is one hundred and fifty yards out. Or, in this case, the perimeter stretched two and a half miles long and half a mile wide. Not your normal the-butler-did-it-in-the-library-with-a-candlestick-leaving-behind-one-chalk-outline crime scene.
And absolutely perfect for the FBI's latest and greatest toy, the Total Station.
Modified from the standard surveyor's tool used by road crews, the Total Station was a laser-sighted gun, linked to special crime scene software. It turned data collection into literally a pull of a trigger, while spitting out up-to-the-minute 3-D models for death investigators to pore over at the end of each shift.
The process was relatively simple, but labor intensive. First, dozens of crime scene technicians worked the scene, flagging each piece of evidence, then classifying it—plane part, human remain, personal effect. Next, a designated "rod man" placed a glass reflector on each piece of tagged evidence. Finally, the "gun operator" homed in on the reflector and pulled the trigger, entering the evidence into the software's database from distances up...
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Description du livre État : New. Depending on your location, this item may ship from the US or UK. N° de réf. du libraire 97805538413500000000