David Baldacci: Memory Man

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David Baldacci Memory Man
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    Memory Man
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    Детектив / Триллер / на английском языке
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    New York
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Memory Man: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Amos Decker’s life changed forever — twice. The first time was on the gridiron. A big, towering athlete, he was the only person from his hometown of Burlington ever to go pro. But his career ended before it had a chance to begin. On his very first play, a violent helmet-to-helmet collision knocked him off the field for good, and left him with an improbable side effect — he can never forget anything. The second time was at home nearly two decades later. Now a police detective, Decker returned from a stakeout one evening and entered a nightmare — his wife, young daughter, and brother-in-law had been murdered. His family destroyed, their killer’s identity as mysterious as the motive behind the crime, and unable to forget a single detail from that horrible night, Decker finds his world collapsing around him. He leaves the police force, loses his home, and winds up on the street, taking piecemeal jobs as a private investigator when he can. But over a year later, a man turns himself in to the police and confesses to the murders. At the same time a horrific event nearly brings Burlington to its knees, and Decker is called back in to help with this investigation. Decker also seizes his chance to learn what really happened to his family that night. To uncover the stunning truth, he must use his remarkable gifts and confront the burdens that go along with them. He must endure the memories he would much rather forget. And he may have to make the ultimate sacrifice.

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Memory Man — читать онлайн бесплатно полную книгу (весь текст) целиком

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David Baldacci

Memory Man

To Tom and Patti Maciag:

Go forth and have fun.

You’ve earned it!

Chapter 1

Amos Decker would forever remember all three of their violent deaths in the most paralyzing shade of blue. It would cut into him at unpredictable moments, like a gutting knife made of colored light. He would never be free from it.

The stakeout had been long and ultimately unproductive. Driving home, he had been looking forward to catching a few hours of sleep before hitting the streets once more. He’d pulled into the driveway of the modest two-story vinyl-sider that was twenty-five years old and would take at least that long to pay off. The rain had slicked the pavement, and as his size fourteen boots made contact, he slipped a bit before traction was gained. He closed the car door quietly, certain that all inside would be asleep at this late hour. He trudged to the screen door leading into the kitchen and let himself in.

The quiet was to be expected. But the too quiet nature of the setting was not. He had not sensed that then and later wondered why not. It was one of many failures on his part that night. He had paused in the kitchen to pour a glass of water from the tap. He chugged it, set the glass in the sink, wiped his chin dry, and headed to the next room.

He slipped on the floor and this time his big body tumbled. It was slick herringbone-patterned parquet and he had fallen before. Yet this time would be far different because of what he was about to observe. The moonlight had shafted in through the front window enough that he could see clearly.

When he held up his hand it was a different color.

Red. Blood.

It had come from somewhere. And he picked himself up to find out where.

He discovered the source in the next room. Johnny Sacks. His brother-in-law. A big, burly fellow like him, laid low. He bent closer, got on his knees, his face an inch or so from Johnny’s. His throat had been slit from ear to ear. There was no need to check for a pulse; there could be none. Most of his blood was on the floor.

He should have pulled his phone and hit 911 at that very moment. He knew better. He knew not to stampede around a crime scene, for that was what his home had become by virtue of the dead man, killed by violent means. It was now a museum; you didn’t touch anything. His professional side screamed this at him.

But this was only one body. His gaze jerked to the stairs and his mind suddenly disengaged as total panic seized every bit of him — the gut feeling that life had just robbed Decker of everything he would ever have. So he ran, his boots pushing coagulating pools of blood outward like an incoming tide.

He was destroying vital evidence, royally screwing up what should have been kept pristine. Right now he didn’t give a damn.

He tracked Johnny’s blood right up the stairs, taking the treads three at a time. His breaths were gasps and his heart was pumping so fast and feeling so bloated it was a wonder his chest wall could contain it. His mind seemed paralyzed, but his limbs were somehow still moving of their own accord.

He hit the hallway, bounced off one wall and then its twin as he rocketed down to the first door on the right. He never took out his gun, not even bothering to think that the killer could still be there. Waiting for him to come home.

He smashed open the door with his shoulder and looked wildly around.


No, not true.

He froze in the doorway as the light on the nightstand dimly illuminated the bare foot that protruded above the mattress on the far side.

He knew that foot. He had held it, massaged it, and kissed it on occasion over many years. It was long, narrow, but somehow still dainty, the toe next to the big one slightly longer than it should have been. The veins on the side, the calluses underneath, the nails painted red, it was all as it should be, except it should not be poking above the mattress at this time of night. That meant the rest of her was down on the floor and why would that be, unless...

He edged to that side of the bed and looked down.

Cassandra Decker, Cassie to all including and most importantly him, stared up from her position on the floor. Well, staring was beyond her now. He stumbled forward, stopped next to her, and then slowly knelt, his blue jean knees coming to rest in the patch of blood that had collected next to her.

Her blood.

Her neck was clean, no wound there. That was not the source of the blood. Her forehead was.

Single-entry gunshot. He knew he shouldn’t, but he used his arm to scoop her head off the floor, cradled it next to his heaving chest. Her long dark hair splayed out over his arm like frozen spray from a hard breaker. The dot on her forehead was blackened and blistered from the heat of the bullet.

A contact wound preceded by a muzzle’s kiss, lasting only a second before the projectile ended her life. Had she been asleep? Had she awoken? Would she have endured the terror of seeing her killer standing over her? He wondered all this as he held his wife for what would be the last time.

He put her back where he had found her. Decker stared down at the face that was white and lifeless, the blackened dot in the middle of her forehead to be his final memory of her, a grammatical period at the very end.

Of everything.

He rose, his legs feeling numb as he staggered out of the room and down the hall to the only other bedroom up here.

He did not force this door open. He was in no hurry now. He knew what he was going to find. He just didn’t know what the killer’s method would have been.

First, a knife. Second, a gun.

She wasn’t in the bedroom, which left the adjoining bath.

The overhead light was on in there, burning brightly. The killer had obviously wanted him to see the last one clearly.

There she sat, on the toilet. Held there with the sash from her robe wrapped around the water tank, for otherwise she would have fallen over. He drew close.

His feet didn’t slip. There was no blood. His little girl had no obvious wounds that he could see. But then he drew closer and saw the ligature marks on her neck, ugly and blotchy like someone had burned her there. Maybe the robe sash had been used. Maybe the guy’s hands. Decker didn’t know, didn’t care. Death by strangulation was not painless. It was excruciating. And terrifying. And she would have been staring right up at him while he slowly compressed her life away.

Molly would have been ten in three days. A party had been planned, guests invited, presents bought, and a sheet cake with chocolate inside ordered. He had gotten time off to help Cassie, who worked full-time and also did pretty much everything here because his job was not a nine-to-fiver, not even close. They had joked about it. What did he know about real life? Grocery shopping? Paying the bills? Taking Molly to the doctor?

Nothing, as it turned out. Not a damn thing. Clueless.

He sat down on the floor in front of his dead child, crossing his long legs like his little girl liked to do, so the bottom of each foot was wedged against the inner thigh of the opposite leg. He was flexible for a big man. The lotus position, he dimly thought. Or something like that. He didn’t even know why he was thinking this. He realized he must be in shock.

Her eyes were wide and open, staring back at him, but not seeing him. Like Mom. She would never see him again.

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