To Catch A Twisted Killer
At first, they look like suicides. Two bodies within a week--one found floating in New York's East River, another electrocuted in the bathtub. But forensics show that the victims were drugged, then killed. As the death toll grows, so does the brutality of the murders--and the killer dubbed the Flesh Collector continues to prey.
Put Yourself In His Path
NYPD profiler Lee Campbell joins the frantic pursuit of a murderous madman who delights in taunting police with gruesome messages. Somewhere in the killer's terrifying handiwork lie the clues to his twisted psyche. But the case is growing disturbingly personal. Getting close enough to stop the monster means getting close enough--to die...
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
December 01, 2010
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from Silent Victim by C.E. Lawrence
The phone call was unexpected--unbidden and out of the blue. It took him so much by surprise that Lee Campbell found himself stumbling for words. The last thing he expected on a Friday night was a call from a former patient-- and certainly not this former patient.
"Is this Dr. Lee Campbell?" The voice was high and breathy, petulance lurking underneath the seductiveness, like a bad Marilyn Monroe impersonator. He recognized it at once.
"Uh--yes." Yes, Ana, he wanted to say, but some part of him still hoped that it wasn't her.
But of course it was.
"This is Ana Watkins."
"Oh, yes--hello, Ana. How are you?" His professionalism clicked in automatically, keeping his tone steady and objective-- or so he hoped.
"I'm downstairs--can I come up and see you?"
"At McSorley's, actually."
How did she know where he lived?
As if reading his mind, she said, "You're in the directory."
Not true, but never mind. His explanation that he wasn't in private practice anymore didn't seem to put her off. She insisted that she wouldn't take up much of his time, but that it was very important to her.
"Please? I wouldn't ask, but--"
But what? he thought irritably. You didn't cause enough trouble the first time around?
"I'll come down and meet you at McSorley's."
"It's too loud in here," she said, and he could hear the din of clanking glasses and boisterous laughter in the background. McSorley's was always loud on a Friday night.
He glanced at the clock. It was just after six.
"I have a dinner meeting at seven."
"I won't take long--I promise."
He peered out the window down at the street. It was August, but as evening drew in a cold rain whipped the naked branches of the trees on East Seventh Street. They shivered in the chilly gusts, shaking like frightened skeletons. He caught a glimpse of his own ghostly image staring back at him--curly black hair, angular face, intense, deep-set eyes. He knew it was a face many women considered handsome, and wished that Ana Watkins weren't one of them.
Lee had an impulse to pour himself a Scotch, but decided against it--he needed his mind clear for the encounter. When the downstairs bell rang he took a deep breath and buzzed her into the building.
Her footsteps on the carpeted stairs were light and quick, the tread of a young person. He opened the door and fixed a smile on his face. She entered in a cloud of lilac perfume, and as soon as he breathed the aroma, he inhaled the memories of that time in his life along with it. It all felt so long ago.
She had changed very little--tall and thin and so pale that she always reminded him of an albino. She wasn't an albino, she had told him in their first session together, but her pallid skin lacked the shade and depth of ordinary skin; it looked two dimensional, like paper. She wasn't exactly pretty--her nose was too big and her lips were too thin--but she was striking, and she knew it.
She took in the apartment with one nervous glance, probably noticing more than she appeared to. Lee remembered her IQ was 160, or so she had claimed. That could have been a fiction, of course--much of what she had told him was. She was one of his earliest patients, and he had not yet acquired the skill of seeing through the myriad lies and obfuscations of the narcissistic personality. Still, there was no doubt that Ana was bright--very bright. Her sessions may have been frustrating, but at least they were never dull.
She slipped off her gray raincoat and dangled it from her outstretched arm, as though she expected Lee to take it from her. That was so like her--her helplessness always had an aggressive quality, and she could turn even a small gesture like removing her coat into a demand. Evidently years of therapy had failed to change this. He suppressed a sigh and took the coat, hanging it on the antique bentwood coatrack his mother had found at an estate sale in Bucks County.
"Do you have any coffee?" she asked, rubbing her thin hands together and blowing on them.
Another demand. Lee was flooded with relief that they would not be continuing their sessions together. He had always done his best to disguise one of the uglier truths of the therapeutic relationship: there were some patients he just didn't like. If his enmity toward a patient ever threatened to compromise his effectiveness, he would find an excuse to suggest they seek out another therapist, but in the case of Ana Watkins, his dislike of her didn't become entirely apparent to him until after their last session together.
"I can make some coffee," he said in response to her question, though from the way her fingers twitched and her eyes roamed restlessly around the room, he thought coffee was the last thing she needed.
"Never mind--I'll be all right," she replied, the familiar tone of self-dramatization in her voice, as if instead of coffee, she were speaking of a rare and lifesaving drug.
"It's no trouble at all," Lee insisted. He wasn't going to let her win this first stab at manipulation--she had requested coffee, and coffee she would have.
Instead of thanking him, she tossed her tiny red leather knapsack on the nearest chair and flopped down on it as though this were her apartment, not his. It was, of course, his favorite chair--but that was probably why she had instinctively chosen it.
"Make yourself at home," he said, knowing she couldn't miss the sarcasm in his voice. He turned and went into the kitchen, glad for the opportunity to collect his thoughts and steel himself for what could be a very sticky conversation. Ana Watkins was, he felt, his first major failure as a therapist.
She was also the first patient who tried to seduce him.
And she had tried hard--very hard--and very nearly succeeded. And now she was sprawled out in his living room, in his favorite armchair, with God knows what in mind. He wasn't normally afraid of his patients--even the violent ones--but he was afraid of Ana Watkins. There was something about her, an undercurrent of needy malice, which had made it very difficult to be her therapist. Even her attempted seduction had been more of a conquest, like a declaration of war.
As the coffee beans rattled around in the Krups grinder, he wondered what had brought her here, and whether she would tell him the truth or only her version of it. When the coffee grinder stopped, the silence made him wonder what she was up to in the living room. He shoved the filter into the coffeemaker, dumped some water in, jabbed at the ON switch, and ducked back into the living room.
Sure enough, she was standing in front of his bookshelf, a thick volume of poetry in her hands. Like a lot of narcissists, she had boundary issues: what was yours was hers, as far as she was concerned. As he entered, she turned and smiled at him, one lock of blond hair falling artfully over her pale blue eyes. He wouldn't have put it past her to have planned that moment the whole time she was standing there. If she inclined her head just so, the hair would fall over her eyes, and then all she needed was to cap it with that sultry, come- hither smile.
"You have a lot of poetry here," she commented, still smiling.
"I like poetry." He tried to keep his voice neutral, to avoid showing his irritation.
"I guess so," she said, slipping the book back into its place on the shelf. Lee recognized the jacket--it was his Anthology of English Verse, from his days at Princeton. He knew its contents well: Wordsworth, Coleridge, Maxwell, William Blake, Songs of Innocence and Experience. The young woman before him could have been cast as Oothoon herself, with her wispy, waspish body--except that she was only pretending to be innocent. Experience had hardened her into something else entirely.
He poured them both generous mugs of steaming coffee and brought them out on a tray, along with the lead crystal cream pitcher and sugar bowl--more of his mother's estate sale coups.
"Nice crystal," Ana commented, helping herself to a heaping spoon of sugar and following it up with a lavish amount of cream.
"Thanks," Lee answered. To another guest, he might have mentioned the amusing anecdote of his mother's triumphal purchase, but with Ana he instinctively played his cards close. He sat on the couch opposite her and sipped his coffee.
Sticking her long nose deep into the mug, Ana slurped up the coffee greedily, and to his surprise, it did seem to calm her. Her bony shoulders relaxed, and her thin body seemed to soften. He realized only then how stiffly she had been holding herself. She shook herself, like a dog flinging excess water from its coat. Clutching the mug between her long fingers, she looked at him through lank blond bangs.
"You're probably dying to know why I'm here."
Lee noted the familiar, overly dramatic phrasing of the chronically narcissistic, but all he said was, "Yes, I am curious."
She looked around, gulped down some more coffee, and leaned in toward him.
"I've recently recovered memories of--being sexually abused."
A dozen questions darted through his mind, but all he said was, "Really?"
"At first I wasn't sure. It was just this one dream that kept repeating itself, you know, so I found a specialist in buried memories, and I've been working with him for about a year--and then one day I woke up sure of it."
Lee wasn't sure how to respond. He didn't entirely trust so-called recovered memories. Though repressed memory was a real, documented response to trauma, there was a subset of "specialists" in this field who, through a combination of subtle suggestion and hypnosis, could convince patients that they were the victims of anything from ritual satanic abuse to alien abduction.
In Ana's case, of course, it would explain a lot: her belligerent girlishness, her passive-aggressive attitude toward men, her childlike affect. But there were other things that would explain these traits as well--and the subject of abuse had never come up in their sessions together.
"When was this?" Lee said.
"I don't have all the details yet. I think it happened when I was a child, and that it was someone I knew."
"But you're not sure?"
She shook her head. "I haven't been able to make out his face. But Dr. Perkins--he's my therapist--says it's only a matter of time."
"Why did you come to me? It sounds like Dr. Perkins knows what he's doing." What exactly he was doing was another matter, but Lee wasn't going to dive headlong into that particular tar baby. Professional etiquette aside, he had no wish to challenge a colleague's competence or motives based upon so little information.
Ana tightened her fingers around the handle of her mug.
"Of everything. I just have this feeling that something's going to happen."
"Is there any particular reason you should feel this way? Could it be a response to"--he hesitated--"the memory of your abuse?"
She frowned at her mug, as though it contained vinegar instead of coffee.
"That's what Dr. Perkins thinks."
"And what do you think?"
She got up and began pacing the room, restlessness running through her like an electrical current.