Botulism, anthrax, smallpox, plague. As the medical producer for television's highly rated morning news program Key to America, Annabelle Murphy makes her living explaining horrific conditions to the nation. So when a KEY colleague dies with symptoms terrifyingly similar to those of the latest scourge, she knows the panic spreading through the corridors of the Broadcast Center is justified. As one death follows another, Annabelle's coworkers look to her for assurance, but she finds it hard to give comfort. To her, the circumstances of the infections begin to suggest that they may be diabolical murders. And when the authorities lock down the Broadcast Center with the identity of the killer still unknown, no one can be sure who to trust, and neither the victims nor the murderer can escape. Nowhere to Run is full of Mary Jane Clark's signature intricate plotting and taut psychological suspense.
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St. Martin's Press
August 03, 2003
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Excerpt from Nowhere to Run by Mary Jane Clark
As Mike slid back into their bed, Annabelle got out of it, not bothering to ask him where he'd been or what he'd been doing. Another sleepless night for him, another lonely one for her. It was the rhythm of their lives now.
Closing the bedroom door behind her, she switched on the lamps to brighten the early morning grayness and headed for the kitchen. Two plastic lunch boxes, one red, one blue, lay open on the counter. Annabelle placed a bologna sandwich, a bag of pretzels, and a small box of raisins inside each one and tucked a paper napkin on top. As the kettle whistle began to hiss, she whisked it from the burner, lest its screech wake the kids. She had fifteen minutes before she had to rouse Thomas and Tara to get ready for school. Fifteen minutes of treasured quiet that she was not eager to give up.
She wrapped her fingers around the warmth of the ceramic mug and took a sip of the steaming green tea, wincing as the scalding liquid hit her tongue. The taste did nothing for her, but she took comfort in the idea that it was good for her, that she was doing something to fortify and cleanse herself. She knew she had to take care of Annabelle. No one else was going to now. With Mike the way he was, if she got sick too, the whole house of cards would come tumbling down.
In bare feet, she padded across the living room and switched on the television set, making sure to keep the volume down. Her piece was scheduled to air during the first half hour of KEY to America, and she didn't want to miss it. This one had been a bear. It had entailed doing hours of research on an unfamiliar subject, obtaining the proper permissions to shoot, setting up for interviews and ordering video material, writing the script because her correspondent was too busy and preoccupied to do it himself, and working extra hours to make sure the story was edited on time. Right now, John Lee, M.D., KEY News medical correspondent, would be sitting uptown in the Broadcast Center, having his makeup applied, champing at the bit to go on national television and take all the credit for her hard work.
But that was what it was to be Lee's producer. While Annabelle thought Lee was an ambitious horse's behind, less devoted to the Hippocratic oath than to parlaying his national television visibility into book deals, product endorsements, and an even bigger TV contract the next time around, she accepted her role of making him look good. She wanted to keep this job. She needed it. Mike's disability payments from the city weren't enough to keep their family going.
As the theme music of the morning news program began to play, Annabelle marveled that she was working at KEY News again. When she left after two miscarriages, followed by fertility treatments that led to the birth of the twins, she hadn't expected to return full-time to the Broadcast Center ever again. She had worked too hard to have her babies, and she wanted to enjoy raising them. Mike's salary and overtime from the fire department, her occasional freelance producing or writing assignments, and a precious rent-stabilized apartment had allowed them to get by for the last six years.
It had been a golden time.