Michael Prescott: In Dark Places

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Michael Prescott In Dark Places
  • Название:
    In Dark Places
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    Триллер / на английском языке
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    Английский
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In Dark Places: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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From Publishers Weekly Those who prefer thrillers packed with psychological complexity, truly demented characters and nonstop, unexpected plot twists will enjoy this terrifying treat from Prescott (Next Victim, etc.). Brilliant psychiatrist Robin Cameron seems on the verge of success with an experimental program that uses a magnetic helmet to trigger, then modify, old angers that cause criminal behavior. Atypical serial killer Justin Gray initially seems a promising subject for rehab since his murders of high school girls involved mixed motivation-she didn't torture them or sexually molest them, and he has to drink to deal with death. Indeed, Gray seems almost cuddly compared to traumatized LAPD Sergeant Alan Brand, who unwittingly admits to a cold-blooded killing while under Robin's care. When Gray escapes and Robin's teenaged daughter is kidnapped, Robin doesn't know who to accuse. The possibly rehabbed killer? The supposed good cop Alan? Or is there a bigger and more sinister conspiracy afoot? The suspense doesn't let up until the last page, and even then, readers will continue to speculate, as Robin does, whether a killer's yearning for blood is learned or innate. Without a doubt, this dark, compulsive read messes with your mind and makes you love it.

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But to him, it would always be the Reptile House. That was how he'd thought of it since his arrival. He remembered emerging from the elevator, flanked by deputy sheriffs, trudging through the PODprisoners on displayarea. To his left, the smoky, tinted windows of the POD control booth; to his right, his new neighborsgang pachucos and syndicate greaseballs and mass killers, all on display in their separate cages. No iron bars here, only sheets of reinforced, soundproofed, impact-resistant glass. Behind each transparent wall a man lay on his rack or paced in his cage or stared at the TV. Every face was blank, every eye glazed.

Seeing those cages from the outside, Gray was reminded of childhood trips to the zoo. His favorite part of those trips had been the submersion in the cool darkness of the reptile house.

Rectangles of glass. Copperheads, rattlers, vipers, each in its private habitat. The cages brightly lit, glowing in the dimness of the exhibit room. Lines of the curious passing by, noses pressed close, hands squeaking on the glass, eyes staring at these dangerous, sequestered things.

That was what he'd thought of, and that was where he now lived. He was a king cobra behind glass.

After a while, the eight-by-ten glass box had started to get to him, so he'd claimed he was sick, even forced himself to puke a few timesthe old finger down the gullet had done the trick. He'd hoped to be transferred to the medical ward. At least it would mean a change of scenery and maybe a shot at some conversation. Privacy was okay, but it got old.

But he'd been disappointed. The doctor had come to him, bearing a panoply of medical gear on a cart. Gray was treated right in his cell, while two deputies looked on. The doctor had given him some pills.

That was when he realized there was no getting out of the Reptile House. No way he could stop being a display behind glass, not even for one day or one hour.

Until the offer from Dr. Robin.

He called her that, sometimesDr. Robin, like that bitchy shrink on the radio, Dr. Laura. He knew she didn't like it, so he kept it up.

Two months ago she had visited him in an interview room here on the eighth floor. Two hackstheir names were Paulie and Roger, better Deputy Dawgs than mosthad escorted him on a rare trip out of his cage and down the hall. She had been waiting, seated at a table.

Despite the presence of the two deputies, she'd been nervous. He could see the fear in her pursed lips and flickering eyes. He had a feel for fear, other people's fear. He might not be a Rhodes scholar or a creative genius or even a good dancer, but he knew about fear, knew things nobody could learn in any school.

Paulie read her apprehension also. "Don't you worry about a thing, Doc. We got this boy covered as per usual."

"He looks at us cross-eyed, we put him on the floor," Roger added.

"I know," she said with a faltering smile. No doubt she appreciated the reassurance, but it was clear she would have felt better if the two deputies had been armed. The guards in the control booth could break out guns and riot gear in a crisis, but the men by her side wore empty holsters.

While Dr. Robin Cameron introduced herself, Gray sat down, facing her across the table. A womana real live woman in the fleshwas a rare thing in his world, and he took the time to appreciate the sweet little titties under her blouse, the long neck and strong, don't-fuck-with-me chin. She was maybe five foot six, a head shorter than Gray himself. Her eyes were brown, like her hair, chestnut hair brushed straight and cut to shoulder length. Nice hair, soft, catching glints of sun through the narrow window of the room.

She was in her late thirties. No wrinkles yet except a few laugh lines around the eyes, a feature he had always found attractive in women.

"You're a psychologist?" he asked her.

"Psychiatrist."

"MD? You look too young to be any kind of doctor."

"I'm thirty-nine. I've been practicing psychiatry for thirteen years."

"Married?"

"That's none of your business."

"No wedding ring. You a dyke?"

"Justin"

"Right, right, I'm outta line. Thing is, locked up in here, I forget how to talk to a lady. Lemme guess. You were married. Now you're divorced. Spent too much time on your work. Hubby got frustrated, started fooling around"

"We're not here to talk about me."

He was pretty sure he'd nailed itmaybe not right on the money, but close enough to get her undies in a twist.

He didn't pay much attention to the early part of her spiel. But when she started talking about the need to treat him at her office, she caught his interest.

"How often would I go there?"

"Two days a week for as long as the program lasts."

"What would you do to me?"

"It's not a question of doing anything to you, Justin. I'm interested in helping people like you."

"What sort of people would that be?"

"Violent criminals. That's what you are, isn't it? Unless you're going to tell me you're innocent."

"Shit, no. I'm guilty as sin. I'm just surprised it took 'em so damn long to nab me. How exactly are you gonna help me?"

"I think criminal tendencies can often be traced to unresolved traumas and the effects of post-traumatic stress."

"Post-what?"

"It's like shell shock, combat fatigue."

"Ain't never been in combat."

"For some people, just growing up is like being in a war zone."

Gray thought about his old man and chuckled. "Got that right."

"And they never get over it."

"Blame it all on Mommy and Daddy, that your angle? I can hack it. Feels better than blaming myself."

"I'm not talking about blame. I'm talking about subtle psychological effects that last for years and influence your adult behavior. Effects that make you more violent than other people, less able to channel your rage, less capable of self-restraint."

"You think that describes me?"

"I think that's why you're locked up. Am I wrong?"

He conceded the point with a lift of his shoulders. "So what can you do about it?"

"There's a new approach to treating the psychological effects of trauma. It involves passing a magnetic current through the two sides of the brain in an alternating rhythm"

"Brain surgery?"

"Nothing invasive. No surgery. It's an outpatient procedure performed in my office. You'll wear an appliance equipped with electromagnetic coils. The coils produce the magnetic field."

"But no cutting me open."

"Correct. The field passes right through your skull. It inhibits certain neuronsbrain cells. Prevents them from firing. By controlling the current, I can control which cells are shut off. I can vary the level of activity in your brain from one area to another."

"You invent this shit?"

"No, it's a technique that's being tried in various procedures around the world. Still experimental in the U.S. A variation of it, called transcranial stimulation, has been used to treat depression with some success. I believe I'm the first to employ transcranial inhibition for therapeutic purposescertainly as a treatment for recidivist tendencies."

"Use smaller words. I'm not a college man."

"The procedure can help you control your anger. It can enable you to resolve old conflicts that are still rendering you dysfunctional. In doing so, it can gradually make you less likely to commit crimes in the future. At least, that's my hope. I've had success in earlier trials."

"I'm not your first guinea pig?"

"There have been three other experimental subjects."

"Cons?"

"Yes."

"Killers?"

"They committed lesser crimes."

"Not like me, then."

"Not as severely afflicted, no."

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