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HE THINKS HE CAN RUN...
Seven years ago, suspense novelist Andrew Thomas's life of fame and luxury was shattered when he was framed for a series of murders. The killers' victims were unearthed on Andrew's lakefront property, and the public attributed the murders to him. Wanted by the FBI, Andrew had no choice but to flee and to create a new identity.
HE THINKS HE CAN HIDE...
He does just that in a wilderness cabin near Haines Junction, Yukon. But just as he finds a sliver of peace, the murders begin again. And this time the victims are people he loved in his former life.
HE'S ABOUT TO DISCOVER HE'S DEAD WRONG...
Culminating in the spooky and secluded Outer Banks of North Carolina, the paths of Andrew Thomas, a psychotic named Luther Kite, and a young female detective collide as Andrew finds himself locked in the depths of the killer's sadistic world...
"This tautly written, very scary thriller grabs readers by the throat...leave the lights on."
"Lurid...the action is nonstop."
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BLAKE CROUCH grew up in Statesville, a small town in the piedmont of North Carolina. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2000, where he studied literature and creative writing. He and his family currently reside in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado, where he is at work on a new thriller.
The headline on the Arts and Leisure page read: Publisher to Reissue Five Thrillers by Alleged Murderer Andrew Z. Thomas.
All it took was seeing his name.
Karen Prescott dropped The New York Times and walked over to the window.
Morning light streamed across the clutter of her cramped office--query letters and sample chapters stacked in two piles on the floor beside the desk, a box of galleys shoved under the credenza. She peered out the window and saw the fog dissolving, the microscopic crawl of traffic now materializing on Broadway through the cloud below.
Leaning against a bookcase that housed many of the hardcovers she'd guided to publication, Karen shivered. The mention of Andrew's name always unglued her.
For two years she'd been romantically involved with the suspense novelist and had even lived with him during the writing of Blue Murder at the same lake house in North Carolina where many of his victims were found.
She considered it a latent character defect that she'd failed to notice anything sinister in Andy beyond a slight reclusive tendency.
My God, I almost married him.
She pictured Andy reading to the crowd in that Boston bookshop the first time they met. In a bathrobe writing in his office as she brought him fresh coffee (French roast, of course). Andy making love to her in a flimsy rowboat in the middle of Lake Norman.
She thought of his dead mother.
The exhumed bodies from his lakefront property.
His face on the FBI website.
They'd used his most recent jacket photo, a black-and-white of Andy in a sports jacket sitting broodingly at the end of his pier.
During the last few years she'd stopped thinking of him as Andy. He was Andrew Thomas now and embodied all the horrible images the cadence of those four syllables invoked.
There was a knock.
Scott Boylin, publisher of Ice Blink Press's literary imprint, stood in the doorway dressed in his best bib and tucker. Karen suspected he was gussied up for the Doubleday party.
He smiled, waved with his fingers.
She crossed her arms, leveled her gaze.
God, he looked streamlined today--very tall, fit, crowned by thick black hair with dignified intimations of silver.
He made her feel little. In a good way. Because Karen stood nearly six feet tall, few men towered over her. She loved having to look up at Scott.
They'd been dating clandestinely for the last four months. She'd even given him a key to her apartment, where they spent countless Sundays in bed reading manuscripts, the coffee-stained pages scattered across the sheets.
But last night she'd seen him at a bar in SoHo with one of the cute interns. Their rendezvous did not look work-related.
"Come to the party with me," he said. "Then we'll go to Il Piazza. Talk this out. It's not what you--"
"I've got tons of reading to catch up--"
"Don't be like that, Karen. Come on."
"I don't think it's appropriate to have this conversation here, so . . ."
He exhaled sharply through his nose and the door closed hard behind him.
Joe Mack was stuffing his pink round face with a gyro when his cell phone started ringing to the tune of "Staying Alive."
He answered, cheeks exploding with food, "This Joe."
"Hi, yes, um, I've got a bit of an interesting problem."
"Well, I'm in my apartment, but I can't get the deadbolt to turn from the inside."
Joe Mack choked down a huge mouthful, said, "So you're locked in."
"Which apartment?" He didn't even try to mask the annoyance in his voice.
"Um . . . I'm not the tenant. I'm Karen Prescott's friend. She's the--"
"Yeah, I get it. You need to leave anytime soon?"
"Well, yeah, I don't want to--"
Joe Mack sighed, closed the cell phone, and devoured the last of the gyro.
Wiping his hands on his shirt, he heaved himself from a debilitated swivel chair and lumbered out of the office, locking the door behind him.
The lobby was quiet for midday and the elevator doors spread as soon as he pressed the button. He rode up wishing he'd bought three gyros for lunch instead of two.
The doors opened again and he walked onto the twenty-second floor, fishing the key ring containing the master from the pocket of his enormous overalls.
It echoed down the empty corridor.
Man, was he hungry.
He stopped at 2211, knocked, yelled through the door, "It's the super!"
No one answered.
Joe Mack inserted the master into the deadbolt. It turned easily enough.
He pushed the door open.
"Hello?" he said, standing in the threshold, admiring the apartment--roomy, flat-screen television, lush deep blue carpet, an antique desk, great view of SoHo, probably loads of food in the fridge.
He turned the deadbolt four times. It worked perfectly.
Another door opened somewhere in the hallway and approaching footsteps reverberated off the hardwood floor. Joe Mack glanced down the corridor at the tall man with black hair in a black overcoat strolling toward him from the stairwell.
"Hey, pal, were you the one who just called me?" Joe Mack asked.
The man with black hair stopped at the open doorway of 2211.
He smelled strange, of Windex and lemons.
"Yes, I was the one."
"Oh. You get the lock to work?"
"I've never been in this apartment."
"What the fuck did you call me for--"
Glint of a blade. The man held an ivory-hilted bowie. He swept its shimmering point across Joe Mack's swollen belly, cleaving denim, cotton, several layers of skin.
"No, wait just a second--"
The man raised his right leg and booted Joe Mack through the threshold.
The super toppled backward as the man followed him into the apartment, slammed the door, and shot the deadbolt home.
Karen left Ice Blink Press at 6:30 p.m. and emerged into a manic Manhattan evening, the sliver of sky between the buildings smoldering with dying sunlight, gilding glass and steel. It was the fourth Friday of October, the terminal brilliance of autumn full blown upon the city, and as she walked the fifteen blocks to her apartment in SoHo, Karen decided that she wouldn't start the manuscript in her leather satchel tonight.
Instead she'd slip into satin pajamas, have a glass of that organic chardonnay she'd purchased at Whole Foods Market, and watch wonderful mindless television.
It had been a bad week.
Pampering was in order.
At 7:55 she walked out of her bedroom in black satin pajamas that rubbed coolly against her skin. Her chaotic blond hair was twisted into a bun and held up by chopsticks from the Chinese food she'd ordered. Two unopened food cartons and a bottle of wine sat on the glass coffee table between the couch and the flat-screen television. Her apartment smelled of spicy-sweet sesame beef.
She plopped down and uncorked the wine.
Ashley Chambliss's CD Nakedsongs had ended and in the perfect stillness of her apartment Karen conceded how alone she was.
But I'm not lonely, she thought, turning on the television and pouring a healthy glass of chardonnay.
I'm just alone.
There is a difference.
After watching Dirty Dancing, Karen treated herself to a soak. She'd closed the bathroom door and a Yankee candle that smelled of cookie dough sat burning in a glass jar on the sink, the projection of its restless flame flickering on the sweaty plaster walls.
Karen rubbed her long muscular legs together, slippery with bath oil. Imagining another pair of legs sliding between her own, she shut her eyes, moved her hands over her breasts, nipples swelling, then up and down her thighs.
The phone was ringing in the living room.
She wondered if Scott Boylin was calling to apologize. Wine encouraged irrational forgiveness in Karen. She even wished Scott were in the bathtub with her. She could feel the memory of his water-softened feet gliding up her smooth shinbones. Maybe she'd call and invite him over. Give him that chance to explain. He'd be back from the Doubleday party.
Now someone was knocking at the front door.
Karen sat up, blew back the bubbles that had amassed around her head.
Lifting her wineglass by the stem, she finished it off. Then she rose out of the water, took her white terrycloth bathrobe that lay draped across the toilet seat, and stepped unsteadily from the tub onto the mosaic tile. She'd nearly polished off the entire bottle of chardonnay and a warm and pleasant gale was raging in her head.
Karen crossed the living room, heading toward the front door.
She failed to notice that the cartons of steamed rice and sesame beef were gone, or that a large gray trashcan now stood between the television and the antique desk she'd inherited from her grandmother.
She peeked through the peephole.
A young man stood in the hallway holding an enormous bouquet of ruby red roses.
She smiled, turned the deadbolt, opened the door.
"I have a delivery for Karen Prescott."
The delivery man handed over the gigantic vase.
"Wait here. I'll get you your tip." She slurred her words a little.
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Book Description St. Martin's Paperbacks, 2006. Mass Market Paperback. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0312991258
Book Description St. Martin's Paperbacks, 2006. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0312991258