New York Times bestselling author Jeffery Deaver has famously thrilled and chilled fans with tales of masterful villains and the brilliant minds who bring them to justice. Now the author of the Lincoln Rhyme series (The Cold Moon and The Bone Collector, among others) has compiled a second volume of his award-winning, spine-tingling short stories of suspense.
While best known for his twenty-four novels, Jeffery Deaver is also a short story master -- he is a three-time recipient of the Ellery Queen Reader's Award for Best Short Story, and he won the Short Story Dagger from the Crime Writers Association for a piece that appeared in his first short story collection, Twisted. The New York Times said of that book: "A mystery hit for those who like their intrigue short and sweet . . . [The stories] feature tight, bare-bones plotting and the sneaky tricks that Mr. Deaver's title promises." The sneaky tricks are here in spades, and Deaver even gives his fans a new Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs story.
Deaver is back with sixteen stories in the tradition of O. Henry and Edgar Allan Poe. His subjects range from a Westchester commuter to a brilliant Victorian England caper. With these intricately plotted, bone-chilling stories, Jeffery Deaver is at the top of his crime-writing game.
Bestseller Deaver's second story collection (after 2003's Twisted) is best enjoyed in small doses, since, as the author states in his preface, each of the 16 suspense tales contains a "gut-wrenching twist," a formulaic final reversal that loses its punch with too much repetition. That said, readers will find a number of clever and concise thrillers. The standout, "Born Bad," about a mother waiting in fear for her estranged daughter to kill her, does a superb job of matching up the clues at the beginning with the tale's resolution. Sherlockians will get a kick from a pastiche narrated in third person, "The Westphalian Ring," pitting Holmes against a crafty jewel thief. In an afterword to the tale "Afraid," Deaver (The Bone Collector) explains how he works the concept of fear into his fiction. (Jan.)
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Simon & Schuster
December 25, 2006
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Excerpt from More Twisted by Jeffery Deaver
Reverend . . . can I call you 'Reverend'?"
The round, middle-aged man in the clerical collar smiled. "That works for me."
"I'm Detective Mike Silverman with the County Sheriff's Department."
Reverend Stanley Lansing nodded and examined the ID and badge that the nervously slim, salt-and-pepper-haired detective offered.
"Is something wrong?"
"Nothing involving you, sir. Not directly, I mean. Just hoping you might be able to help us with a situation we have."
"Situation. Hmm. Well, come on inside, please, Officer . . ."
The men walked into the office connected to the First Presbyterian Church of Bedford, a quaint, white house of worship that Silverman had passed a thousand times on his route between office and home and never really thought about.
That is, not until the murder this morning.
Reverend Lansing's office was musty and a gauze of dust covered most of the furniture. He seemed embarrassed. "Have to apologize. My wife and I've been away on vacation for the past week. She's still up at the lake. I came back to write my sermon -- and to deliver it to my flock this Sunday, of course." He gave a wry laugh. "If there's anybody in the pews. Funny how religious commitment seems to go up around Christmas and then dip around vacation time." Then the man of the cloth looked around the office with a frown. "And I'm afraid I don't have anything to offer you. The church secretary's off too. Although between you and me, you're better off not sampling her coffee."
"No, I'm fine," Silverman said.
"So, what can I do for you, Officer?"
"I won't keep you long. I need some religious expertise on a case we're running. I would've gone to my father's rabbi but my question's got to do with the New Testament. That's your bailiwick, right? More than ours."
"Well," the friendly, gray-haired reverend said, wiping his glasses on his jacket lapel and replacing them, "I'm just a small-town pastor, hardly an expert. But I probably know Matthew, Mark, Luke and John better than your average rabbi, I suspect. Now, tell me how I can help."
"You've heard about the witness protection program, right?"
"Like Goodfellas, that sort of thing? The Sopranos."
"More or less, yep. The U.S. Marshals run the federal program but we have our own state witness protection system."
"Really? I didn't know that. But I guess it makes sense."
"I'm in charge of the program in the county here and one of the people we're protecting is about to appear as a witness in a trial in Hamilton. It's our job to keep him safe through the trial and after we get a conviction -- we hope -- then we'll get him a new identity and move him out of the state."
"A Mafia trial?"
"Something like that."
Silverman couldn't go into the exact details of the case -- how the witness, Randall Pease, a minder for drug dealer Tommy Doyle, had seen his boss put a bullet into the brain of a rival. Despite Doyle's reputation for ruthlessly murdering anyone who was a threat to him, Pease agreed to testify for a reduced sentence on assault, drug and gun charges. The state prosecutor shipped Pease off to Silverman's jurisdiction, a hundred miles from Hamilton, to keep him safe; rumor was that Doyle would do anything, pay any money, to kill his former underling -- since Pease's testimony could get him the death penalty or put him away for life. Silverman had stashed the witness in a safe house near the Sheriff's Department and put a round-the-clock guard on him. The detective gave the reverend a generic description of what had happened, not mentioning names, and then said, "But there's been a setback. We had a CI -- a confidential informant -- "
"That's a snitch, right?"
"I learned that from Law and Order. I watch it every chance I get. CSI too. I love cop shows." He frowned. "You mind if I say 'cop'?"
"Works for me. . . . Anyway, the informant got solid information that a professional killer's been hired to murder our witness before the trial next week."
"A hit man?"
"Oh, my." The reverend frowned as he touched his neck and rubbed it near the stiff white clerical collar, where it seemed to chafe.
"But the bad guys made the snitch -- found out about him, I mean -- and had him killed before he could give us the details about who the hit man is and how he planned to kill my witness."
"Oh, I'm so sorry," the reverend said sympathetically. "I'll say a prayer for the man."