Second Sight: A Novel of Psychic Suspense

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9781416599791: Second Sight: A Novel of Psychic Suspense
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From deviant subcultures to human trafficking, George D. Shuman always brings to life a terrifying aspect lurking just beneath the surface of our everyday lives. now he delves into the darkest corners of the pharmaceutical trade and blends riveting fact with captivating fiction.

· A heroine like no other: George D. Shuman has established blind psychic Sherry moore as one of the most engaging protagonists in the realm of suspense, the perfect character around which to build a perennial franchise. “Sherry’s unique talent opens doors for her,” writes Publishers Weekly, “but it’s her determination and grit when things get rough that makes her such an appealing hero.”

· Engrossing and dark: Shuman doesn’t pull any punches. As evident in the depraved predators that haunt his readers long past the final page, he not only has “the talent to put evil on the page and make it specific and real” (The Washington Post), but also the ability to deliver “fascinating characters, nonstop storytelling, and an explosive ending” (Robert Crais).

· A compelling story rooted in today’s headlines: In Second Sight, the fourth installment of Shuman’s acclaimed Sherry Moore series, Sherry faces off against a fiendish villain bent on her destruction. Set against the backdrop of heinous crimes perpetrated by Big Pharma run amok, Sherry fights for her life while confronting a question born of a miraculous medical innovation: Should she reclaim her sight or remain in the darkness that allows her to save so many lives?

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About the Author:

George D. Shuman is the author of four thrillers featuring Sherry Moore. A retired, twenty-year veteran of the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department, he now lives in Pennsylvania, where he writes full time.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

1

New York State Hospital for the Insane
New York, Catskill Mountains
1950


Rain pounded Mount Tamathy, melting snow into white patches that dappled the sopping brown leaves. Men formed lines along the ridges, wearing winter coats and fedoras, carrying shotguns that poked the brush behind the misty fog of their breath.

An eerie siren wailed faintly in the distance, warning residents of nearby Stockton that an inmate was still at large and that they should lock their doors before they turned in for the night.

"Jack?" a voice crackled loudly over the radio. "Jack, you trying to raise me?"

Jack McCullough put the cold device to his ear and raised the yard-long antenna on his radio.

"Emmet." The big man removed his hat to shake off the water.

"I'm under Chimney Rock. I need you up here."

Static hissed over the radio waves, finally broken by the words "...copy...help...all right?"

"Yeah, I'm all right," McCullough growled. "It's the boy Emmet, he's going to need a backboard. You copy?"

McCullough listened, but there was nothing more to hear, nothing but the steady rain, and now and then a chunk of ice falling from the boughs of the evergreens. He let the radio fall carelessly on its sling and cursed.

McCullough didn't much care for the army's gift of surplus radios, thought them cumbersome and unreliable in the mountains. He cared even less for the army itself or at least for Alpha Company, which had taken up residence on the mountain last year.

It wasn't enough that he had to deal with an insane asylum and all the problems that came with it. Now he was chasing soldier boys around the mountains.

The radio crackled after a minute and he heard Emmet say, "Backboard, Jack, I got it."

McCullough leaned with his back to the trunk of a tall pine, the long needles shielding him from the rain as he looked down at the body lying at his feet.

He'd thought they'd been tracking a mental patient all day. They all had. You just didn't see people running around these parts of the mountain on foot. Not unless they'd gone over the wall of the asylum.

He slid to a squat and leaned over the boy. The kid's eyes might be looking at him, but with so much blood streaming out of the sockets it was impossible to tell.

"Can you hear me, son?" McCullough leaned over and put an ear to the boy's lips.

"Can't...on," the boy whispered. "Can't...on."

"You understand me, boy?"

"Can't...on," the boy said, "Can't...on."

McCullough tugged the canvas hunting jacket up to cove the boy's eyes. Then he stood.

Mount Tamathy parted clouds at forty-two hundred feet, visibility good enough to make out the jagged black line of the Delaware River Gorge to the east. Elsewhere the sky was growing dark and closing in around him. The kid wouldn't have made it a night on the mountain alone. The temperature would drop again tonight and rain would turn to sleet before snow. Then the coyotes and wolves would have come in for the smell of blood.

McCullough had never looked upon the Catskills without wonder. The mountains never looked the same way twice to him and few men had laid eyes upon them so often. He chopped wood here in the fall and tapped maples in the spring. He hunted for the family's meat and gathered roots and herbs for his grandmother's medicines. He was, as all generations of McCulloughs and Groesbecks, Ver Dooks, and Van Dycks before him, dependent upon the mountain's bounty.

But Jack was hardly a country bumpkin. He had experienced the sordid nightlife around military bases south of Washington, D.C., and had seen action in France and Belgium during the Second World War. Jack had met boys from every corner of the continent, and in 1946, when he was discharged from Fort McPherson in Atlanta, he was left with fifty dollars to make his way home. Instead he drove west to visit a buddy from the Twenty-eighth Infantry who lived in Arizona, and then north to Wyoming before he crossed the Badlands on his way back home to New York. In a mere twenty years, Jack had seen more of the world than all of his American ancestors put together.

The urban world held little fascination for McCullough. He was a country boy at heart, so he returned to the farm of his ancestors and married Carla Woodruff, the first girl in his high school ever to matriculate to a university. Two years later she joined the Stockton public school system and Jack applied as a security guard at the New York State Hospital for the Insane.

The locals still referred to it as "the asylum," originally named Van Buren for the first president to have been born a citizen of the newly formed United States. Van Buren's father had once been a popular tavern owner in the upstate village of Kinderhook, and memories in the Catskills ran long.

A mammoth institution, the asylum was built at the end of the Civil War and consisted of a half-million-square-foot main building with six annexes on 338 acres of land. Seventy of thoseacres had been cleared for farming so the asylum could supply its own beef, grain, and dairy products. Thirty were devoted to hospital wards, and the remaining stand of timber provided a buffer to the world beyond Mount Tamathy. It currently housed 4,300 inmates and employed a staff of 264.

Escapes weren't uncommon; the thousand doors or windows were sure to be left unlocked at one time or another, and inmates sometimes came into possession of tools left behind by maintenance workers.

Not that there was anywhere to run. Dogs patrolled the only road in and out. Which left only the mountains to hide in, and while many went in, fewer were known to return. The Catskills were as inclined to swallow a man as spit him back out, the oldtimers said.

This of course must have been the reason the asylum had been built in this remote region of the state following the Civil War. Tens of thousands of soldiers had lost eyes and limbs on the battlefields, suffered ball and shrapnel wounds to the brain; endured disfiguring burns from black powder explosions. Thousands more had been pinned down in no-man's-lands between enemy lines, covered by body parts and the dying who cried out for water or their mothers. And then there were witnesses to the carnage, all the nurses and sawbones and civilians who had to pick up all those body parts and put them into graves.

The psychological toll was overwhelming.

The government needed some place where the hopeless could live out their lives in peace and segregation. And the Catskills were no less secluded a century later when the United States Army came looking for a place to conduct secret activities.

McCullough shook a Chesterfield from a pack, caught it on his lower lip, and lit it with a silver Zippo.

He looked at his watch. The search had entered its seventh hour.

He blew smoke through a heavy beard that matched terracotta freckles on his wrists and big hands. He looked down at the boy's body again: the polished black boots that had been badly scarred by the fall to the rocks; the army shirt punctured by bones where a compound fracture splintered his elbow.

McCullough kept wondering what in the hell would have possessed the kid to go out on the edge of Chimney Rock. The formation was little more than a sixty-foot spire and there was hardly doubt in daylight up above that you were stepping out into space.

McCullough had a feeling it had something to do with Area 17. The locals never doubted that there were strange things going on in that place. They'd seen the heavy trucks passing through Stockton on their way to Mount Tamathy. They knew the military was putting sophisticated equipment on the base and they knew that three-star generals and barbwire outer perimeters around heavy-gauge security fencing meant but one thing. That whatever was inside was important enough to kill for. Not even the usually cocky teens demonstrated bravado by sneaking around the perimeter of the base.

Some thought Continental Air Command chose Mount Tamathy as one of the four strategic radar installations that would make up the new North American defense initiative. Some thought the government was concerned about things far scarier than Soviet aircraft. Just two years earlier, a farmer in Roswell, New Mexico, found the remains of an unidentified flying object in his field and there had been speculation ever since that the government had an alien body inside Area 51.

Whatever was going on inside the compound on Mount Tamathy, the cows were the first to disapprove. Within a year of the facility's construction, the large dairy herd at the mental asylum stopped giving milk. Then one of the Luxors' prized steers was found dead in a pasture six miles away off Fox Ridge Road. Two different vets who came to look at it could not explain its demise, although one later told a preacher that its eyes had been burned from their sockets.

Rumors of diseased cattle, however, were bad for business; even a hint of healthy animals collapsing in fields affected market profits for hundreds of miles. So a grave was dug and the steer and story were quickly laid to rest.

One night in June there was an inexplicable earth tremor shattering windows on two fire towers on Kawahita Ridge. The town's elders proclaimed they had never even heard of a quake in the history of the Catskills and the only agency that documented such things in those days, the New York State Police, concluded it was an act of vandalism, most likely teens playing with dynamite.

Then night lights started appearing over Mount Tamathy, yellow and green bands that shimmered like the Aurora Borealis. A small group of Native Americans said it was the Algonquin Indians' Manitou, whose spirit had been awakened by the earth tremors in June. Others were convinced that UFOs were conducting surveillance of Area 17. Everyone agreed it was the last time in twenty years they had been able to get AM radio reception near Mount Tamathy.

Then there were suicides. An orderly leaped from the water tower on a sunny af...

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