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.

Michael Prescott: другие книги автора


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Michael Prescott


In Dark Places

Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit,

In dark places, in the deeps.

Psalm 88


Prologue

I know who you are.

That thought beat inside her in time with the steady rhythm of her heart. That thought gripped her with hard, cold fingers and wouldn't let go.

I know who you are. I know who you are.

At first she hadn't known. She'd assumed he was just some random sicko. He would rape her and let her go. Or maybe he wanted money, a ransom. Her parents weren't rich, but they lived the lifestyle of the wealthy, in a house they couldn't afford, in an exclusive neighborhood that was too upscale for them. They were social climbers, joining country clubs and playing golf at charity events, acting like big shots, never letting on that they paid for their fun with a second mortgage and endless loans from both sides of the family.

He might have mistaken image for reality. He might have thought she was rich. But she didn't believe it. She'd thought rape was more likely. She knew she had a hot body, the kind that turned older guys on. She'd seen plenty of men in their thirties or even older stopping to check her out as she walked home from school. Once, a good-looking guy in a Mercedes convertible had tried to pick her up. She'd told him she wasn't legal, and he'd said he hadn't cared. She'd walked away, secretly pleased.

So, yeah, it had seemed pretty likely that the creep who had her now was just another desperate, dirty old man. Except she wasn't sure he was so old. In the glimpse she'd gotten, he hadn't looked much older than Jason, her classmate Sasha's boyfriend, who worked in an accounting firm and was twenty-five.

If all he wanted to do was screw, she could handle it. She'd lost her virginity three years ago, when she was fourteen. She'd been with four boys since, five if she counted Nelson Samovar, who'd been so nervous he hadn't been able to get off. Sex held no mysteries for her. She would let the creep do whatever he wanted. She just hoped he would use a condom. There were diseases to worry about.

But he hadn't raped her. And that was when she'd begun to get scared.

If he didn't want money, and he didn't want sex amp;

Then why had he snatched her off the street at gunpoint, hustling her into the back of his parked van? Why had he taped her wrists and ankles, sealed her mouth with a punctured tennis ball and more tape, driven her out of the city? Why had he left her alone in the rear of the van, long after the engine had stopped and the last daylight had faded behind the flower-patterned curtains over the windows?

She didn't pay much attention to the newsit was all so boring and stupidbut she knew about the other high school girls who'd disappeared in Los Angeles over the past year. None of them had come from her school or her neighborhood. There was no reason for her to connect those crimes with the driver of the van.

But if it was the same guy amp;

There had been four victims, or maybe five; she couldn't remember. Two were still missing. The other twoor three, whateverhad been found. Their bodies, anyway, left in different places in the Mojave Desert. He had kidnapped them and killed them. She didn't recall what method he'd used. A gun, she thought. Probably a gun.

When the thought first occurred to her, she told herself it couldn't be true. Then she admitted it was possiblebut unlikely. It seemed to become more plausible as time passed and she lay on the van's carpeted floor, twisting her ankles and wrists, chuffing against the gag. At some point, imperceptibly, it passed from being just an idea to a certainty.

I know who you are.

And what you're going to do.

Now the world outside the van was fully dark. Must be eight o'clock or later. Her parents would have reported her missing. The police would be looking for her. She might be mentioned on the news. She wondered when her friends would hear about it and what they would say. Were cell phones ringing all over Bel Air even now? Were Sasha and Taylor and Tabitha all relaying the scary news?

Damn, she was afraid. Seventeen was way too young to be dead.

She'd heard no noise from up front for hours. Had he forgotten she was even here? Maybe he was just crazy enough

The van creaked.

She stiffened.

Another creak as the vehicle shifted on its springs. The driver's door opened with a soft snap. She heard a crunch of shoes alighting on sand or gravel.

He was getting out of the front seat. After all this time, sitting in silence, he was making his move.

She twisted onto her side, flexing her wrists against the tape, her breath explosive in her nostrils.

The van's rear door swung open. She craned her neck and saw movement behind her, his shadowy form. Then he was on top of her, and for a moment she thought he really was a rapist, after all.

But he made no move to assault her. He simply peeled the tape away from her mouth.

"Spit it out," he said.

She coughed out the tennis ball and heard it drop on the floor. She kept coughing for a long time.

"What's your name?" he asked when she was through.

"Jessica. Jessica Bender."

"Bender." A chuckle. "You a contortionist?"

She had heard every possible joke about her name, but here and now she couldn't process humor. "What?"

"Never mind. How old are you, Jessie Bender?"

"Seventeen."

"Nice-lookin' piece of ass, ain't you?"

She didn't know how to answer that.

"Yeah, you're a looker." His voice was oddly mellow and slow. "Well, I'm real sorry I had to give you a scare. We're heading home now."

"Home?"

"Your home, I mean. I'm taking you back. Worked out an arrangement with your folks. Just business, is all."

He leaned close when he spoke the last words. She smelled a strong medicinal odor. Liquor. He'd been drinking.

"Oh," she said.

"Get you back to beautiful Bel Air in no time. You'll be bouncing on your daddy's knee and hugging your favorite teddy bear."

Something sharp glinted in the dark. She drew back.

"Don't be a scaredy-cat, Jessie Bender," he said in that slowed-down voice. He cut through the tape around her ankles. "How you supposed to walk if you're all trussed up like a Christmas turkey? Now let's get a move on."

He stood and pulled her to her feet. She had the impression he was strongstrong enough to make any attempt at fighting back a futile exercise, even if her wrists hadn't still been bound behind her back.

"Where are we going?" she asked as he hoisted her out of the van.

"My car. Parked on the other side of the road. Can't take the van. Boys in blue may be looking for it."

Darkness lay all around, huge and silent under a starry sky. They were somewhere in the Mojave where the developers had not yet reached. The air was warm and dry, and as he led her forward, their shoes made soft scuffing noises on the hard-packed soil.

"What kind of arrangement?" she asked.

"With your folks? Let's just say your daddy owed some money to certain people, and I had to hold on to you until he decided to pay up."

"Oh."

"Like I said, business."

"Yes." She let a moment pass. "So how come you didn't know my name?"

"They only tell me what I need to know."

"Uh-huh."

It was a pretty good story, but there were two big holes in it. First, although her father liked to live above his means, he wasn't stupid enough to get involved with the kind of people who would abduct his daughter and hold her as collateral. And second, she had been listening in the van the whole time. There had been no phone conversations, no radio transmissions. So how could any kind of deal have been arranged?

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