Metropolitan newspaper writer Zack Walker has a knack for stumbling onto deadly stories. But it's one that his good friend Trixie Snelling doesn't want told that's about to unleash a storm of trouble. As a professional dominatrix in the suburbs, Trixie has her share of secrets, but Zack has no idea what she's really hiding when a local newspaperman threatens to do an expose on her...not until Zack finds a dead body strapped to the bondage cross in her basement dungeon.
Now Zack is implicated in a murder, Trixie is missing, and everything he thought he knew about his friend, his town, even his own marriage, reveals a darker side. Zack's twisted trail to the truth will lead to a long-unsolved triple homicide, bikers, drug wars, and a stone-cold killer hell-bent on revenge. It's a story that's already cost him his job and possibly his wife, and, if Zack's not very lucky, it will cost him his life.
From the Paperback edition.
No good deed goes unpunished in the fourth Zack Walker mystery thriller from Barclay, which finds the newspaper reporter, family man and very reluctant hero just settling back into a semblance of middle-class normalcy after his last adventure (2006's Lone Wolf). That all changes when Zack tries to help good friend, former neighbor and professional dominatrix Trixie Snelling dissuade local tabloid reporter Martin Benson from running a story on her and her business. Not long after Zack tries, unsuccessfully, to persuade Martin to pull the story, Martin turns up dead, tied to a rack with his throat slit, in Trixie's bondage basement--and Trixie, the prime suspect, has disappeared. Zack sets off in search of answers, following a path deep into Trixie's troubled, violent past that could cost him his job, his family and his life. Barclay has a fine ear for dialogue, especially in scenes with Zack and his family, and his expert blend of humor and suspense make this a well-constructed, often witty mystery that's sure to please. (May)
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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April 30, 2007
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Excerpt from Stone Rain by Linwood Barclay
"YOU HAVE TO EMPTY all the change out of your pockets," the uniformed woman told me. "And I need your wallet."
For a second, I thought about making a joke. Maybe, under less stressful circumstances, I might have. A visit to a prison under normal conditions--does anyone visit a prison under normal conditions?--would have been stressful enough. But my reasons for being here were far from normal. And there wasn't anything normal about the guy sitting in the pickup truck, out in the prison parking lot, waiting for me to do what I'd come here to do.
If I'd just been here doing a story for the Metropolitan, when the female guard asked for my wallet I might have said, What is this, a stickup? They don't pay you enough? And then I would have laughed. Ha-ha.
But there was nothing to suggest that this woman, black, mid-forties, built like a safe, wearing a shiny black belt with a riot stick attached, was feeling all that jocular herself. Maybe working in a prison does that to you. You didn't have to be an inmate to feel the oppressiveness of the place.
I'd already put my cell phone in the plastic tray she'd given me. "Okay, I can see how change would set off this thing," I said, nodding at the security portal, like those ones they have at the airport, that I'd have to walk through to get any further into the prison. "But why do I have to give you my wallet?"
"You can't take any money into the prison," the woman said sternly. "You're not allowed to give money to the inmates." For just a moment, her hand rested on her riot stick. Honestly, I think it was an unconscious gesture, not intended to send a message, but I got one just the same. Don't give me a hard time. That was the message I got.
I am not a big fan of getting whacked in the head with a riot stick. But at that moment, honestly, it's hard to imagine how it could have made things any worse than they already were.
I'd never been in a prison before, let alone a women's prison, and I'd only been at this one for about five minutes, and already I was pretty certain it was not a nice place to be. I got that impression as I approached the main entrance. I walked up to a ten-foot chain-link fence looped at the top with barbed wire, and pressed a button on a small speaker mounted next to the gate.
A voice, no doubt coming from the building fifty feet beyond the gate, crackled, "Name?"
"Uh, Walker?" Like I wasn't really sure. "Zack Walker?"
Then, nothing. I stood by the gate a good ten seconds, wondering whether I wasn't on the list even though I'd phoned the lawyer--he was supposed to have pulled some strings, called in favors, name your cliche, to get me in here. But then there was a buzzing sound, which was my signal to push the gate wide. I glanced up at the surveillance cameras as I walked up to the main building, which, without the fencing and barbed wire, might have passed for a community college. Once inside, I approached the counter, where I encountered the humorless guard with the riot stick.
"So," I said, trying to make conversation and forget how grave the situation was while I fumbled around for my wallet, seemingly forgetting that it was in my right back pocket, where it has been since I was fifteen, "is this where Martha Stewart did her time?"
Wallet out, I glanced into it, counted seven dollars, before dropping it into the tray with my cell phone. Seven dollars. Then, from the front pockets of my jeans, I dug out fifty-seven cents. How much would $7.57 buy in prison? How many smokes? Wasn't that what everyone wanted money for in prison? Smokes?