When a strange letter signed "Thanatos" -- the ancient Greek name for death -- lands on Irene Kelly's desk, the intrepid reporter doesn't think much of it; she gets crazy mail all the time. A less cryptic message is sent when a body turns up the next morning. As more letters roll in, the death toll mounts...and Irene fears that her mysterious pen pal has cast her in his own private Greek tragedy as Cassandra, the seer whom others refused to believe. It's the killer's dream to challenge Irene to follow his ancient blueprint for murder. It's his ultimate desire to make her face the inevitable -- that she is the next to die.
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January 02, 2003
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Excerpt from Dear Irene, by Jan Burke
November 28, 1990
Please hand deliver to:
Miss Irene Kelly
Las Piernas News Express
Las Piernas, CA
Dear Miss Kelly,
I am writing to you because those guys who write the Sports Section are a bunch of jerks who won't take me seriously. My dog, Pigskin, can predict the outcome of the Super Bowl. So far, he has a perfect record. Once the playoff teams have been decided, I simply glue the team emblems to the bottoms of two dishes of dog food, put them on the floor, and whichever one Pigskin goes to, that's which team will win. I think this is pretty interesting and thought maybe you should do a story on it...
I crumpled that one into a ball and spiked Pigskin right into the round file -- and did it all left-handed. But after a moment, I pulled the letter back out of the trash. Setting aside my generally rotten mood that day, I decided Pigskin might be of help with this year's office football pool.
Going through my mail that Wednesday afternoon in late November, I had already sorted out the flyers on meetings and the invitations to local political wingdings. That left only the pile of the envelopes which were less easily identified. Some were handwritten, some typed, some bore computer-generated labels. Few had return addresses.
Las Piernas News Express
Dear Bleeding Heart Kelly,
The recent media worship of the Premier of the Soviet Union is disgusting. Presenting Mr. Gorbachev as a reformer is the most insidious communist plot yet. Not that you lily-livered
leftists of the press are hard to fool, but I think it should be obvious that this is all just a charade to get us to drop our guard...
I was unfazed by these unflattering descriptions of my internal organs. I admit that I was a little distracted, not paying much attention to the occasional crank among my readers' correspondence. My mail isn't always as oddball as it was that day, but the approach of certain major holidays seems to make nut cases reach for their stationery.
Most are harmless, lonely people who just need somebody to listen to them. Every now and again, one of them causes some trouble, like the guy who showed up in the newsroom one day with his parrot, claiming the bird was the reincarnation of Sigmund Freud. I don't know what women want, but Sigmund wanted a cracker.