Called "a page-turner of the highest caliber" by bestselling author Michael Connelly, this mesmerizing, original, and shocking debut unleashes a story about a police lieutenant who relives his worst nightmare when two girls go missing. Martin's Press.
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June 01, 2006
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Excerpt from Immoral by Ally O'Brien
Jonathan Stride felt like a ghost, bathed in the white spotlights that illuminated the bridge. Below him, muddy brown swells flooded into the canal, spewing waves over the concrete piers and swallowing the spray in eight-foot troughs. The water tumbled over itself, squeezing from the violent lake to the placid inner harbor. At the end of the piers, where ships navigated the canal as delicately as thread through a needle, twin lighthouses flashed revolving beams of green and red. The bridge felt like a living thing. As cars sped onto the platform, a whine filled the air, like the buzz of hornets. The honeycomb sidewalk vibrated, quivering under his feet. Stride glanced upward, as he imagined Rachel would have done, at the crisscross scissors of steel towering above his head. The barely perceptible sway unsettled him and made him dizzy. He was doing what he always did--putting himself inside the mind of the victim, seeing the world through her eyes. Rachel had been here on Friday night, alone on the bridge. After that, no one knew. Stride turned his attention to the two teenagers who stood with him, impatiently stamping their feet against the cold. “Where was she when you first saw her?” he asked. The boy, Kevin Lowry, extracted a beefy hand from his pocket. His third finger sported an oversized onyx high school ring. He tapped the three inches of wet steel railing. “Right here, Lieutenant. She was balanced on top of the railing. Arms stretched out. Sort of like Christ.” He closed his eyes, tilted his chin toward heaven, and extended his arms with his palms upward. “Like this.” Stride frowned. It had been a bleak October, with angry swoops of wind and sleet raining like bullets from the night sky. He couldn't imagine anyone climbing on top of the railing that night without falling. Kevin seemed to read his mind. “She was really graceful. Like a dancer.” Stride peered over the railing. The narrow canal was deep enough to grant passage to giant freighters weighted down with bellies of iron ore. It could suck a body down in its wicked undertow and not let go. “What the hell was she doing up there?” Stride asked. The other teenager, Sally Lindner, spoke for the first time. Her voice was crabbed. “It was a stunt, like everything else she did. She wanted attention.” Kevin opened his mouth to complain but closed it again. Stride got the feeling this was an old argument between them. He noticed that Sally had her arm slung through Kevin's, and she tugged the boy a little closer when she talked. “So what did you do?” Stride asked. “I ran up here on the bridge,” Kevin said. “I helped her down.” Stride watched Sally's mouth pucker unhappily as Kevin described the rescue. “Tell me about Rachel,” Stride said to Kevin. “We grew up together. Next-door neighbors. Then her mom married Mr. Stoner and they moved uptown.” “What does she look like?” “Well, uh, pretty,” Kevin said nervously, shooting a quick glance at Sally. Sally rolled her eyes. “She was beautiful, okay? Long black hair. Slim, tall. The whole package. And a bigger slut you're not likely to find.” “Sally!” Kevin protested. “It's true, and you know it. After Friday? You know it.” Sally turned her face away from Kevin, although she didn't let go of his arm. Stride watched the girl's jaw set in an angry line, her lips pinched together. Sally had a rounded face, with a messy pile of chestnut curls tumbling to her shoulders and blowing across her flushed cheeks. In her tight blue jeans and red parka, she was a pretty young girl. But no one would describe her as beautiful. Not a stunner. Not like Rac