From bestselling author John Lutz comes a lightning-paced thriller of a city gripped by a killer's savage reign of terror...
Someone is killing wealthy Manhattanites. One by one, the victims are discovered in luxurious high-rise apartments. Bound, gagged--brutally murdered in the "safety" of their own homes, by someone whose modus operandi is as horrifying as anything NYPD Detectives Ben Stack and Rica Lopez have ever seen.
As Stack and Lopez investigate the cruel deaths, they have no idea that they are being watched from the shadows--observed by a cunning murderer picking up all the clues necessary to stay one step ahead of the police while perfecting a deadly craft. And when a pattern slowly emerges, the detectives realize that the killings aren't the random acts of a maniac, but the personal campaign of someone bent on retribution...someone who's been watching closely and knows their case too well.
Someone whose vengeance will burn forever.
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November 01, 2002
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Excerpt from The Night Watcher by John Lutz
It had been gusty as well as bitterly cold most of the day in New York, but by nightfall the wind no longer blustered and danced through the canyons of Manhattan. The cold remained.
Hugh Danner had decided to stay in tonight. He'd stopped at the deli down the street from his apartment in the Ardmont Arms and bought a dozen eggs. He'd hard-boil a couple of them to eat with some cut vegetables he already had in his refrigerator. That, along with some dietary yogurt dip, would be his dinner. Danner was determined to lose a few pounds so his suits fit better.
Halfway to the Ardmont, he stopped walking and ducked into a doorway, where he removed a straight-stemmed meerschaum pipe from a pocket and stuffed its bowl with tobacco. He tamped the tobacco firmly with his thumb, added a bit more, and repeated the process. Smoking a pipe wasn't all that pleasurable to Danner, who'd quit smoking cigarettes two years ago, but he was trying to get used to it as a career move. Most of the senior partners at Frenzel, Waite and Conners smoked pipes in the firm's air-purified conference room, while associates and lesser employees had to elevator to the lobby and huddle outside the building if they wanted to smoke. Danner much preferred the conference room and concluded a pipe might be a valuable aid to promotion and access.
He decided he liked this latest brand of tobacco, which burned with a somewhat sweet taste. He was already enjoyhag the necessary constant tinkering with a pipe. It brought him attention and could be used to good advantage in a courtroom--provided the pipe was never lit.
He struck a match and stared hypnotized into the flame as it flared and sank, flared and sank, while he held it over the bowl and sucked on the pipe stem. Best not to make too many wheezing, lip-smacking sounds, like old Vickers. An art, Danner decided. There was definitely an art to pipe smoking, and he would master it.
Finally the tobacco was burning well, and he flicked away the paper match and stepped from the shelter of the doorway. Though it was cold, he'd stroll around the block and finish this smoke before going home. He was tightly bundled against the weather, liked to walk, and there was something comforting about the pipe's glowing bowl nestled between his thumb and forefinger, a tiny, tamed, and fiery force he possessed almost as if it were a pet.
After returning to his apartment fifteen minutes later, Danner hung up his coat with the dead pipe in its right side pocket. He'd just started the eggs on the stove when there was a slight sound behind him. Like a sudden intake of breath.
He didn't have time to turn around before an explosion of pain behind his right ear made him bunch his shoulders and bend forward at the waist, almost as if he were taking a bow. When he attempted to straighten up, everything around him suddenly started whirling with dizzying speed. He was vaguely aware of his left leg buckling.
He knew nothing more until he regained consciousness.
Danner lay quietly with his eyes closed, disoriented rather than afraid, trying to put the pieces together. Did I have a stroke? A cerebral hemorrhage like my father?
He couldn't be sure. He did know he couldn't move his body. It felt as if he was tightly bound. His arms were twisted around behind him, and with one exploring fingertip he could feel rough grout and the sharp edge of a kitchen floor tile. And he was wet. His clothes, his entire body. Why was he wet?
He knew he wasn't thinking clearly but could do nothing about it.
Cautious here...be cautious... Do nothing sudden...
Slowly he opened his eyes, and immediately a stinging sensation made him clench them shut. As he did so, his vision registered movement nearby, and he knew he wasn't alone. He realized also that he was bound, tied up and lying on his kitchen floor.
And now he was afraid.
Don 't panic! Oh, God, don "t panic t.
He forced his eyes open narrowly, trying to make out what was happening, trying to make some sense of this. His eyes still stung, bringing tears. Something must have splashed into them. He could see, but barely, blearily.
There was dark movement and a soft sound close above him, like the single unfolding rush of vast wings spreading wide. Against the looming darkness appeared a pinpoint of light. The light grew in size and intensity, then became brilliant.
It was so sudden. Light, pain, time, all converged in and around Danner. Someone was screaming. Einstein was right: time was relative. It could even stop. Time and pain were unending. The dark thing had carried Danner to an unimaginable height and dropped him into the sun.
He was burning on the surface of the sun and it would never end!