Tami Hoag Cold Cold Heart (Kovac & Liska)

ISBN 13: 9781409151968

Cold Cold Heart (Kovac & Liska)

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9781409151968: Cold Cold Heart (Kovac & Liska)

A thrilling novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Tami Hoag, “one of the most intense suspense writers around” (Chicago Tribune).

Dana Nolan was a promising young TV reporter until a notorious serial killer tried to add her to his list of victims. Nearly a year has passed since she survived her ordeal, but the physical, emotional, and psychological scars run deep. Struggling with the torment of post-traumatic stress syndrome, plagued by flashbacks and nightmares, Dana returns to her hometown in an attempt to begin to put her life back together. But home doesn’t provide the comfort she expects.

Dana’s harrowing story and her return to small-town life have rekindled police and media interest in the unsolved case of her childhood best friend, Casey Grant, who disappeared without a trace the summer after their graduation from high school. Terrified of truths long buried, Dana reluctantly begins to look back at her past. Viewed through the dark filter of PTSD, old friends and loved ones become suspects and enemies. Questioning everything she knows, refusing to be defined by the traumas of her past, Dana seeks out a truth that may prove too terrible to be believed....

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About the Author:

Tami Hoag is the #1 international bestselling author of more than thirty books. There are more than forty million copies of her books in print in more than thirty languages. Renowned for combining thrilling plots with character-driven suspense, Hoag first hit the New York Times bestseller list with Night Sins, and each of her books since has been a bestseller. She lives in Florida.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Prologue

She should have been dead. After everything he had put her through, she should have died hours before. There had been many moments during the ordeal when she wished she would die, when she wished he would just end the unimaginable suffering he was inflicting on her.

He had done things to her she could never have imagined, would never have wanted to know one human being could be capable of doing to another. He had abused her physically, sexually, and psychologically. He had abducted her, beaten her, tortured her, raped her. Hour after hour after hour.

She didn’t really know how much time had passed. Hours? Days? A week? The concept of time had ceased to have any meaning.

She had tried to resist physically, but she had learned resistance was rewarded only with pain. The pain had surpassed anything in her most terrible nightmares. It had surpassed adjectives and gone into a realm of blinding white light and high-­pitched sound. Eventually, she had ceased to fight and had found that in seemingly giving up her life, she was able to keep her life.

Where there is life, there is hope.

She couldn’t remember where she had heard that. Somewhere, long ago. Childhood.

At one point during the attack she had called for her mother, for her father. She had been overwhelmed with the kind of pure fear and helplessness that stripped away maturity and logic and self-­control, reducing her to a screaming mass of raw emotion. Now she couldn’t remember ever being a child. She couldn’t remember having parents. She could remember only the sharp pain of a knife carving into her flesh, the explosion of pain as a hammer struck her.

She had tried to resist the overwhelming desire to break down mentally, to give herself over and drown in the depths of hopelessness. It would have been so much easier to just let go. But he hadn’t killed her. Yet. And she wouldn’t do the job for him. She continued to choose life.

Where there is life, there is hope.

The words floated through her fractured mind like a ribbon of smoke as she lay on the floor of the van.

Her tormentor was driving. She lay directly behind his seat. He was happily singing along with the radio, as if he didn’t have a care in the world, as if there wasn’t a beaten, bloody, half-­dead woman in the back of his van.

She was more alive than he knew. In giving up fighting, she had reserved strength. In giving up fighting, she had stopped him short of rendering her completely incapacitated. She could still move, though there was something wrong with her coordination and every effort set off nauseating explosions of pain. Her head was pounding. It felt like her brain might burst out of her skull—­or maybe it already had.

She faded in and out of consciousness, but she could still form thoughts. Many were incomplete or incoherent, but then she would muster as much will and focus as she could, and something would make sense for a second or two.

The cold floor beneath her was numbing some of the pain that racked her body. The blanket he had thrown over her to hide her offered a cocoon, a place to be invisible. Her wrists were only loosely bound together in front of her with a long, wide red ribbon. He had positioned her with her elbows bent, her hands tucked beneath her chin as if in prayer.

Prayer. She had prayed and prayed and prayed, but no one had come to save her.

He had all the power, all the control. He had killed before, many times, and gotten away with it. He believed he was invincible. He believed he was a genius. He believed he was an artist.

He said she was to be his masterpiece.

She didn’t know what that meant. She didn’t want to find out.

The van hit a pothole in the road, jarring and rocking. She wanted to brace herself, to lessen the movement of her broken body, but the ribbon tied around her wrists prevented her. She strained against it for a few seconds, then stopped trying. The effort made her nauseous. As she rode the wave of the nausea, nonsensical words and images tumbled through her battered brain like the colored glass pieces in a kaleidoscope. As her consciousness dimmed, the glass shards of thought settled in a heap in her mind. The seductive voice of death whispered to her. She could just let go. She could go before she found out what he had in store. It would be so much easier.

The tension started to seep out of her body. Her hands relaxed . . . and she felt the satin ribbon loosen around her wrists. . . . She put her concentration to the task of working a hand free.

Where there is life, there is hope. Where there is life, there is hope . . .

“You’re gonna be a star, Dana,” he called back to her. “That’s what you always wanted, right? Network news. Your face on televisions all across America? You’ll have that now, thanks to me. It won’t be the way you imagined it, but you’re gonna be famous.”

He cursed as the van hit another deep pothole. Dana’s body bounced painfully on the van’s floor. The pain rolled through her like a violent wave. She turned to her left side, curling into the fetal position, and tried not to cry out, not to make a sound, not to call attention to herself.

Next to her, the collection of tools he had brought along bounced and rattled in their open tote. Not considering her any threat to him at all in her semiconscious, beaten, broken state, he hadn’t bothered to put the tote out of reach. His ego allowed him to disregard her. She was little more than an inanimate object to him now. Her purpose was as a prop to prove his point: that he was smarter than any of the many law enforcement officers who were looking for him.

They had offended him, crediting him with a murder that was sloppy; a careless crime, supposedly his ninth victim. He would show them his true ninth victim. He would present her to them as a work of art, tied up with a bright red ribbon.

He was a serial killer. The police and the media called him Doc Holiday. These were facts Dana had known before he had abducted her. She didn’t fully grasp any of the details now. The story had been boiled down to this: He was a predator and she was prey. And if she couldn’t pull herself together and make one valiant effort, she would soon be dead.

She had to do something.

She had to summon as much will and life as she had left. She had to form a coherent thought and be able to hang on to it for just a moment. She had to fight through the pain to find the physical strength to execute that thought.

It all seemed so hard. But she wanted to live. The fire of life had burned down to an ember inside her, but she wouldn’t let it go out without a fight.

Her brain ached at the effort to form and hold the thought.

Her body protested and resisted the signals to move.

Under the blanket, her right hand trembled uncontrollably as she reached toward the tote.

In the front seat, he was still talking out loud. He was a genius. He was an artist. She would be his masterpiece. The media wanted to credit him with a victim who looked like a zombie? He would give them a zombie.

Dana pulled her legs up toward her chest and shifted her weight, turning onto her knees.

Where there is life, there is hope.

Her head swam; her thoughts tumbled. She had to fight so hard to stay in the moment.

She would have only one chance.

He laughed at his own joke. He glanced in the rearview mirror as if to see if she had heard him.

His smile died as his eyes met the eyes of his zombie.

With all the strength she had left in her body, Dana swung her arm and buried the screwdriver to the hilt in his temple.

Then everything went black, and she was falling and falling and falling into a darkness that swallowed her whole.


1

January

Hennepin County Medical Center

Minneapolis, Minnesota
 

She woke screaming. Screaming and screaming and screaming. Loud, long, terrible screams that tore up her throat from the depths of her soul.

She didn’t know why she was screaming. There was no emotion attached to it, not pain, not fear. She seemed completely detached from the noise coming out of her.

She had no awareness of her body. It was as if the essence of her being had taken up residence inside an empty shell. She couldn’t feel. She couldn’t move. She couldn’t see. She didn’t know if her eyes were open or closed or gone.

She could hear the commotion of people rushing around her. She didn’t know who they were. She didn’t know where she was or why she was there. The people were shouting. She couldn’t really understand what they were saying. Only one frantic voice penetrated as it shouted: Dana! Dana! Dana!

The word meant nothing to her. It was just a sound.

Like the screams coming from her own throat, these words were just sounds. She continued to scream and scream and scream.

Then a sinuous sensation of warmth spread through her, and the screaming stopped, and she ceased to be aware of anything at all.

“I know this was upsetting for you, Mommy.”

Lynda Mercer was still shaken and shocked by the sound of her daughter’s screams, screams that had come from Dana’s unconscious body lying perfectly still on the bed.

Dr. Rutten motioned for her to take one of the two seats in front of his desk. He took the other, choosing not to put a professional distance between them.

In his midfifties, Rutten was Dutch, fit, and bald, with large, kind, liquid brown eyes. It was his habit to be close when he spoke to the anxious parents and spouses of patients, to reach out and touch with a large, reassuring hand. While the tactic could have seemed a phony, contrived intimacy, his kindness was genuine and very much appreciated. He was a rock for his patients and their families. He took her hand and gave it a squeeze.

“After all the years I’ve spent studying the human brain, and with all the technology we’ve developed to help us in our study of the human brain, the one thing I can tell you with certainty is that there is no certainty with a brain injury,” he said.

“We can define the specific type of injury Dana has sustained. Based on our experience, we can attempt to predict some of the effects the injury might produce, some of the changes we might see in her personality, in her memory, in possible physical impairments. But there are no hard-­and-­fast rules about how her brain will react to the trauma.”

“She was screaming and screaming,” Lynda murmured, her trembling voice barely more than a whisper. “Was she in pain? Was she having a nightmare? All the machines were going crazy.”

She could still hear her daughter’s screams. She could still hear the shrill beeping and shrieking of the alarms on the monitors. Dana’s heart rate had gone from a normal rhythm to a pounding pace. They had recently taken her off the ventilator, and she gulped air like a fish out of water.

“The screaming is extremely disconcerting to hear, but not an uncommon occurrence for people with brain injuries at this stage of their recovery as they begin to climb their way out of their unconscious state,” Rutten assured her. “Sometimes they moan or cry hysterically. Sometimes they scream.

“Why does this happen? We believe this is caused by a misfiring of signals within the midbrain as it tries to cope and reroute itself. Neurons are firing, but the impulses are landing in strange places. Also, there can be heightened fight-­or-­flight responses caused by external or internal stressors, resulting in panic or combativeness.”

“People scream when they’re in pain,” Lynda murmured.

Regardless of the neurologist’s explanation, she couldn’t escape the idea that her daughter was locked in a deep, unending nightmare, reliving the things a monster had done to her. Not just the skull fracture that had led to brain surgery to remove bone fragments, but also facial fractures, broken fingers, broken ribs, a fractured kneecap. Contusions and abrasions colored her body and her face. The killer the press called Doc Holiday had literally carved into her flesh with a knife.

Imagined scenes from the nightmare flashed through Lynda’s mind like clips from a horror movie. Ligature marks burned into Dana’s wrists and ankles indicated she had been tied down. She had been tortured. She had been raped.

“We immediately upped the amount of pain medication Dana is receiving,” Rutten said. “Just in case some of that was the result of pain, but that may not be the case at all.”

“I shouldn’t have left her,” Lynda whispered, a wave of mother’s guilt washing over her.

She had left Dana’s room for just a moment, needing to stretch her legs. Just a walk to the end of the hall, to the family lounge to get a cup of coffee. As she walked back, the first scream split the air and pierced her heart.

She had dropped the coffee and run to the room, flinging herself into the melee of scurrying hospital staff. She had shouted her daughter’s name over and over—­Dana! Dana! Dana!—­until someone had taken hold of her shoulders from behind and pulled her out of the way.

Dr. Rutten squeezed her hand again, pulling her out of the memory to focus once more on him. The corners of his mouth curved subtly in the gentlest smile of understanding and commiseration.

“I’m a father myself. I have two daughters. I know how it tears at a parent’s heart to think their child is suffering.”

“She suffered so much already,” she said. “All the things that animal did to her . . .”

Dr. Rutten frowned. “If it gives you any comfort, she probably won’t have any memory of what happened to her.”

“I hope not,” Lynda said. If there were a God, Dana would remember nothing of her ordeal. But then, if there were a God, none of this should have happened at all.

“Will it happen again?” she asked. “The screaming?”

“It might. Or it might not. She could drift in and out like this for a long time, or she may become fully conscious tomorrow. She has been saying words these last few days. She’s been responsive to vocal commands. These are positive signs, but every brain is different.

“The kinds of injuries Dana sustained can mean she may have difficulty organizing her thoughts or performing routine tasks. She may become impulsive, have trouble controlling her emotions or empathizing with other people. She may have difficulty speaking, or she may speak perfectly but not always be able to grab the right words from her brain.

“Damage to the temporal lobe of the brain may affect her memory, but how much? I can’t tell you. She may have no memory of what happened to her. She may have no memory of the last ten years. She may not recognize her friends. She may not recognize herself. You may not recognize her,” he said, unable to hide his sadness at a truth he had seen again and again.

“She’s my daughter,” Lynda said, offended. “She’s my child. Of course I’ll recognize her.”

“Physically, yes, but she will never be exactly the girl you’ve known all her life,” he said gently. “One thing I know is true in every case: The person you love will be changed from this, and that will be the hardest thing of all to accept.

“In a way, the daughter you had is gone. Even though she may look the same, she will behave d...

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Book Description Orion Publishing Co, United Kingdom, 2015. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. In COLD COLD HEART, Tami Hoag - the Sunday Times bestselling author of A THIN DARK LINE - with the gripping follow-up to THE 9TH GIRL. Dana Nolan has escaped from notorious serial killer Doc Holliday. But can she ever be safe?She was the only one to make it out alive.Dana Nolan was a promising young TV reporter until she was kidnapped by a notorious serial killer. A year has passed since she survived the ordeal, but Dana is still physically, emotionally, and psychologically scarred.She thought it was over. In an attempt to put herself back together, Dana returns to her hometown. But it doesn t provide the comfort she expects: she struggles to recognize family and childhood friends and begins experiencing dark flashbacks. But she s not sure if they re truly memories or side effects of her brain injury.She was wrong.Dana decides to use her investigative skills to piece together her past and the event that made her become a reporter in the first place: the disappearance of her best friend, Casey Grant, the summer after high school graduation.But now, old friends seem to be suspects, authority figures part of a cover-up. Dana begins to question everything she knows. And is the truth really something too terrible to be believed?. Bookseller Inventory # AWC9781409151968

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Book Description Book Condition: New. Publisher/Verlag: Orion Publishing Group | A gripping thriller from Sunday Times bestselling author Tami Hoag | In COLD COLD HEART, Tami Hoag - the Sunday Times bestselling author of A THIN DARK LINE - with the gripping follow-up to THE 9TH GIRL. Dana Nolan has escaped from notorious serial killer Doc Holliday. But can she ever be safe?She was the only one to make it out alive.Dana Nolan was a promising young TV reporter until she was kidnapped by a notorious serial killer. A year has passed since she survived the ordeal, but Dana is still physically, emotionally, and psychologically scarred.She thought it was over. In an attempt to put herself back together, Dana returns to her hometown. But it doesn't provide the comfort she expects: she struggles to recognize family and childhood friends and begins experiencing dark flashbacks. But she's not sure if they're truly memories or side effects of her brain injury.She was wrong.Dana decides to use her investigative skills to piece together her past and the event that made her become a reporter in the first place: the disappearance of her best friend, Casey Grant, the summer after high school graduation.But now, old friends seem to be suspects, authority figures part of a cover-up. Dana begins to question everything she knows. And is the truth really something too terrible to be believed? | Format: Paperback | Language/Sprache: english | 270 gr | 198x128x25 mm | 400 pp. Bookseller Inventory # K9781409151968

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