The first victim is found floating in a creek--naked, beautiful, brutally garroted. Lily Slocum was a college student with everything to live for and nothing to fear. . .until a madman made her his obsession. . .
At first glance, a quiet campus town like Wickfield seems like the ideal place for Kate Corbin to start over after a traumatic attack. But when another young girl disappears on her way to class, Kate's fear resurfaces in earnest. She's right to be afraid. Behind Wickfield's picture-perfect façade, a nightmare is unfolding. . .and it's about to strike chillingly close to home. . .
A serial killer is on the loose. . .ruthless, twisted, and lethally smart. Now, locked in a desperate race against time, Kate's only chance of stopping a madman's grisly game is to venture deeper into a diabolical web where no one is who they seem to be. . .and the smallest mistake could be her last. . .
"Compulsively readable." --Mystery Lovers Book Shop News
"Read this alone, late at night, and you won't be afraid--you'll be terrified." --Wendy Corsi Staub, New York Times bestselling author
Rebecca Drake is a former journalist, freelance copywriter, and technical writer. A native New Yorker, she's lived in Indiana, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, and New Jersey and currently lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.
After a brutal assault, New York artist Kate Corbin attempts to make a new life for herself and her family in the small town of Wickfield in this suspenseful but ultimately unsatisfying mystery. After she voices her suspicions that their strange, doll-collecting neighbor is to blame for a series of abductions and murders, Kate's sanity is called into question by her frustrated husband, rebellious teenage daughter, Grace, and even the local police. Then Grace goes missing, and Kate knows that she can rely on no one but herself. Drake (The Next Killing) heightens this thriller with depictions of the perverse, sadistic killer, who leaves a nude photo of each victim as a signature memento. The conclusion leaves too many questions unanswered and plotlines unresolved, and the killer's motivations make little sense, but readers will enjoy Kate's passionate and intelligent sleuthing. (Sept.)
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August 31, 2008
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Excerpt from The Dead Place by Rebecca Drake
The Next Victim
Elizabeth broke into a run. The car was coming. The engine noise grew stronger, and she imagined she could feel the heat of the motor. It approached in darkness, no headlights.
No longer caring how it would look, Elizabeth punched 911 on her cell phone and continued to run while holding it to her ear. Only it didn't ring. She looked at the screen and saw zero coverage. She was in a dead zone.
The car rumbled closer. The edge of the park was coming. All she had to do was get past it and there'd probably be reception.
The car was at her back; then it pulled alongside her, moving so slowly that she knew the driver wanted her to know that she was being watched. She kept her focus ahead of her, blinking back tears and clutching the phone like a lifeline.
The car moved past, pausing at the corner before turning left and slipping away into the night. A half block. A quarter. The perimeter of the park was a stand of soaring pine trees. All she had to do was get past them and she'd probably have coverage. But getting past them meant landing on the street where the car had turned.
Something was wrong with the streetlight on that corner. It flickered on and off, on and off. As she approached it, the light went out again. She glanced at her phone. No coverage yet.
She didn't see the gloved hand come out of the darkness until it settled on her wrist. The phone dropped, forgotten, onto the street. She screamed once before the other hand closed over her mouth...
No one thinks of death on a sunny day. The sky was the rich, translucent blue of the Caribbean Sea, and Lily Slocum looked up into its warmth and closed her eyes for a moment, thinking how great it would be to go to the beach. She was four blocks from the university and six blocks from home and the messenger bag filled with textbooks was digging into her shoulder and rubbing against her hip.
She didn't notice the car idling at the stop sign up ahead. She couldn't see the driver looking in the rearview mirror and even if she could, she wouldn't have thought it meant anything more than an admiring glance from a stranger.
Lily Slocum will be described as pretty. Reporters will list the description her roommate gave the police: white, medium height, wheat-blond hair worn long and pulled back in a ponytail, brown eyes. Last seen walking just past midday on Bates Street, brown T-shirt and tan shorts, orange messenger bag slung over her right shoulder, green flip-flops slapping the concrete under her feet.
No one will mention the car that drove slowly past before circling back to follow her. No one will be able to give a description of its make or model or speculate as to the identity of the driver. No one will notice.
Certainly not Lily, who thought she might actually tan on such a sunny day and checked her arms to see if they were getting any color, the tiny bells on her silver bracelet tinkling. A bracelet will be mentioned and her roommate will say, yes, yes, she always wore a silver bracelet. She will also provide a description of her earrings and the small turquoise ring Lily wears on the third finger of her right hand.
A cell phone will also be mentioned. This one small detail will make it all the more remarkable. She had a cell phone. She was talking on a cell phone. So how did she disappear somewhere between Bates and McPherson, the street with the rundown student apartments where her boyfriend waited to celebrate an end-of-year lunch?
He called her as she traipsed along and she had to pause to dig the cell phone out of her bag. "Hey," she said. "I'm on my way. You got lunch ready?" She walked a little more slowly as she talked and if she felt something at her back, she didn't mention it. They were living together and their parents didn't know.
He will rerun their conversation many times in his head. He will be forced to replay it for their parents and the police. He will repeat her last words to hundreds of strangers watching on TV, the camera zooming in so they can see tears overwhelming him: "See you in a minute, babe."
He will describe her as a sweet, friendly girl. Her parents will add kind. Lily was so kind. When the car pulled up to the curb, Lily smiled at the man who asked for her help. "Sure," she said, stepping closer to the car, shielding her eyes so she could see the map he was holding.
The weather will be talked about. It was a hot day. Unseasonably warm for May, the town overflowing with people because graduation was only a few days away. Lily had told her roommate she wished she were graduating now instead of a year from now. She wanted to be free of this small town. She didn't know that the man smiling up at her from the car lived to grant her wish.
People don't just vanish. They aren't there one minute, walking along a sidewalk in the sunshine, whole and sentient, only to disappear the next. Only sometimes they do. Ask Lily.