The author of Twenty-Seven Bones and The Girls He Adored delivers another nailbiting thriller featuring former FBI agent E. L. Pender. Breathtaking and suspenseful, yet leavened with a perverse and quirky humor, When She Was Bad examines the terrifying relationship between two hot young lovers who also happen to be coldblooded killers.
"Multiples in love: imagine the possibilities," said one of the twisted couple's earlier victims. Lily DeVries and Ulysses Maxwell have quite a few things in common. Both were horrifically abused as children, then diagnosed with multiple personality disorder, and eventually incarcerated in the same Oregon mental institution. There, they fell into the hands of the well-meaning, genially sinister director, Dr. Al.
When the ingenious lovers engineer a bloody escape, the only people who have a chance of stopping them are the rumpled, endearingly flawed E. L. Pender and Dr. Irene Cogan, a brilliant psychiatrist who loves Lily almost as much as she fears Maxwell. With the aid of a private investigator, Pender and Cogan take on a pair of killers who win hearts as easily as they slit throats.
A sexually charged thriller of undeniable originality and page-turning suspense, When She Was Bad moves at a rapid clip from the inner recesses of two twisted psyches to a terrifying climax and brilliantly realized finale.
Emotionally taut and difficult to put down, this tale of sex, romance, madness, and murder will not disappoint.
While novels featuring a love affair between the multiple personalities of two psychopathic serial killers are certainly rare, any points Nasaw might have earned for originality are canceled out by the improbable plot of this fourth E.L. Pender adventure (after 2004's Twenty-Seven Bones). British psychiatrist Alan Corder has spent years trying to cure Ulysses Maxwell, an in-patient at a prestigious Oregon treatment facility, of his murderous alternate identities. Maxwell, who's obviously clever enough to game the system, gets an unexpected ally when the attractive and deranged Lily DeVries arrives at the center. After Corder hosts the two killers at his house, they butcher him, his wife and their psychiatric attendants and make their escape. Soon ex-FBI series hero E.L. Pender and Dr. Irene Cogan, a psychiatrist who was kidnapped and tortured by Maxwell, take up the pursuit. Though Nasaw raises interesting questions about identity and sanity, his superficial answers leave this blood-soaked action yarn lacking genuine thrills or chills. (Sept.)
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1 . A Great Read!
Posted June 03, 2010 by Darcia , New Port RicheyUlysses and Lilly, two people suffering with multiple personality disorder, fall in love. This story starts there and goes full tilt until the very end. One personality is a serial killer, another a hard-edged biker babe unafraid to kill. Then there's the sweet, naive man-child and the trusting, hopeful young woman. Personalities fight for dominance and the good and bad guy are all wrapped up in one package.
Nasaw is an excellent writer. He tackles a fascinating subject with sizzling suspense that kept me on the edge throughout the book. If you enjoy psychological suspense, this is one book you shouldn't miss.
September 03, 2007
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Excerpt from When She Was Bad by Jonathan Nasaw
"Are you sure you're going to be all right now?"
"I'll be fine, Grandma."
"I hate to go off and leave you."
Lily rolls her eyes. "Grandma, I'm seventeen years old, I can take care of myself for two days."
"Of course you can, dear. It's just..." No need to complete the sentence -- they both know how it ends.
"Dody, she'll be fine," chimes in Lily's grandfather. "Now can we please get this show on the road -- I want to be off the highway before dark." His night vision isn't what it used to be -- but then, as he's fond of saying, what is?
In the circular driveway at the bottom of the wide marble steps waits a gleaming black Mercedes SUV loaded with enough provisions to have seen Napoleon's army safely home from Moscow. Dark-haired, dark-eyed Lily hugs her roly-poly grandmother, who smells like stale baby powder. When her grandfather stoops to give Lily a peck on the cheek, the overpowering scent of his aftershave brings tears to her eyes -- apparently his sense of smell ain't what it used to be, either.
Lily waves from the top of the steps until the SUV is out of sight, then heads back inside the two-story, Mission-style Pebble Beach mansion where she's lived with her grandparents since she was almost five. To celebrate being alone, she sneaks up to her grandmother's bedroom, steals a cigarette from the pack of Dorals Grandma hides in a bureau drawer, and smokes it out on the balcony, waving it around languidly, wrist bent like some old movie actress.
But the reality of being home alone never lives up to the expectation for long. After a few puffs the cigarette tastes hot and stale, and when she stubs it out and goes back inside, the mansion is so empty and echoey that she can hear the tick-tock of the grandfather clock down in the parlor from her second-floor bedroom.
Flopping onto her bed, Lily switches on the television and clicks through the channels. MTV is showing one of its beach parties, college kids dancing on the sand, the boys in their baggy shorts and scraggly wanna-be goatees, the heavy-breasted girls in skimpy bikinis that barely cover their nipples. Lily is both disturbed and fascinated by the overt sexuality. Scaredy cat, she chides herself -- don't you even want a normal life someday?
Just to see what it would feel like, she strips down to her bra and panties, tries on a few moves in front of the floor-length mirror mounted on the closet door. Oh yeah, she thinks happily, blushing like a pomegranate at sunset, I could do this.
But after only a few seconds of modest abandon, an image from Lily's past fills her mind. Strong, sharp-scented male hands, large enough to palm her head like a softball, pry her jaws apart; an impossibly swollen, purple-headed penis forces itself into her mouth, choking her; a flashbulb explodes into white glare.
She reels away from the mirror, fighting for breath as if she were still that baby, and sits on the edge of the bed, head between her knees, breathing iiiin and ouuut, niiice and caaalm. A commercial for acne cream is playing; she feels around for the remote and blindly switches off the television, then guides herself through an exercise she's learned from her psychiatrist, Dr. Irene Cogan. That was then, this -- she raises her head, glances around the familiar bedroom -- is now. That was a memory, this is the reality. You're not that helpless baby anymore -- no one can touch you without your consent.
And gradually the panic subsides. Lily turns on the bedroom light, slips on a bathrobe and a pair of slippers, and is halfway down the wide, curving staircase when the phone starts ringing. She charges back up the stairs, throws herself across the bed, fumbles the receiver off the hook just before the downstairs answering machine kicks in. "Hello?"
"Is this the home of...Lyman and Dorothy DeVries?"
"Who's calling, please?" Lily is well-versed in telephone safety.
"This is Sergeant Mapes, California Highway Patrol."
Everything's gone quiet, like just before an earthquake. "Yes, this is the DeVries residence."
"Who am I speaking to?"
"This is Lily. Lily DeVries -- I'm their granddaughter. Is something wrong?"
"Is there an adult around I can speak to?"
"Yes -- me." It isn't the first time Lily has been mistaken for a child over the phone. "Has something happened to them?"
"There's been an accident. A bad one." A pause. "A very bad one." Another pause, as if he wanted Lily to ask him a question. She couldn't think of one, though -- all she could think of was how tired she had suddenly become. "I'm sorry to have to be the one to break the news, Miss DeVries. From what we've been able to ascertain, your grandfather seems to have lost control of the vehicle on Highway One, a few miles south of Big Sur. It went through the guardrail, over the cliff, and landed on the rocks sixty feet below. Both bodies were still in the car. If it's any comfort, they were almost certainly killed outright."
Lily had to put the receiver under her pillow to muffle the squeaky, unintelligible sounds coming out of it. Too tired, she thought, rolling onto her stomach and closing her eyes -- I'm too tired to deal with this.
Copyright (c) 2007 by Jonathan Nasaw