Gericke knows how to tighten the screws and keep the fear and tension building. --Tess Gerritsen
A teenage girl, brutalized and discarded. A rural sheriff, gunned down and left to die. A beloved landmark, destroyed in an instant. A tidal wave of violence is rushing full-speed toward the quiet Chicago suburb of Naperville, Illinois. Detective Emily Thompson is locked and loaded--ready to stop the bloody crime spree in its tracks. But she's up against a deadly countdown that threatens everyone she knows and loves. . . Her partner. Her best friend. Her whole world. In these final desperate hours, Emily will bring down the most diabolical killer she has ever faced--or die trying. . .
"A no-nonsense thriller, action-packed and explosive." --Erica Spindler
"Gericke's writing is a blistering rush of sheer artistry." --Ken Bruen
"Gericke's power is unforgettable." --Gayle Lynds
"Cross James Patterson with Joseph Wambaugh and you get Shane Gericke." --American Cop
"Gericke is the real deal." --Lee Child
"A high-rev, page-turning thriller." --Jeffery Deaver
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July 06, 2010
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Excerpt from Torn Apart by Shane Gericke
MIDNIGHT, NOVEMBER 18 BLACK RIVER FALLS, WISCONSIN
Thunderbolts attacked from the rioting sky.
Most zigged. Some zagged. One ripped a spectacular Z-for-Zorro that stained the storm clouds mildew green. Homes ignited on each side of Interstate 94. Cyclonic wind punched the worn cargo van dangerously close to the flooded-out median.
"Could be worse!" Cancer shouted from the back.
"How's that?" Gemini said from the wheel.
"Could be snow."
A gasoline tanker roared by in the fast lane, throwing a hurricane of water. The van's wipers sputtered across the windshield like a failing heart, trying to keep up. A wolf pack of semis pursued the gas man, throwing their own hurricanes. The van jittered and jigged, then skittered and slid.
The teenager screamed from the back.
"Shut up," Gemini snapped, feeling his nuts tighten as he white-knuckled the van through the exploding water.
"Please," she whimpered. "Let me out. I won't tell, I swear, just don't hurt me any more--"
Vicious slaps from Aquarius, Cancer, and Virgo. Yips and cries from the girl. A rat-a-tat of thunder, followed by rain so intense it felt like the inside of a fire hose.
"Could be snow," Gemini muttered.
An earsplitting ka-blam jerked the van sideways, banging Gemini's triangular head off the window. He blinked away stars as he wrestled the Ford Econoline straight, muttering every curse he'd learned collecting debts on the shrimp docks in the Easy. He'd give anything to wait out this monster at an off-ramp honky-tonk, with a bartender asking no questions except, "Nuther, brother?"
Wasn't gonna happen. They were hours behind schedule, thanks to the dickhead narcotics supplier in Minneapolis who'd rope-a-doped them on the handoff, whining that he needed more money because Katrina was so hot it smoked. Six bloody rips with a can opener convinced the screaming maggot that money really wasn't the most important thing in his life, was it? But the convincing slowed them, and Gemini was acutely aware that Maxximus would be, um, displeased if they were late--
Ah, Christ. Now she's blubbering. Gemini snapped his eyes at the rearview.
The crew beat her to mumbles, went back to splitting her logs.
The booty call started east of Minneapolis, where they'd spotted the teenager thumbing a ride on eastbound I-94. She'd hopped in, putting extra wiggle in her hips because there's no such thing as a free lunch. The crew kidded with her awhile, sharing their Pepsi and Fritos, asking her what was up with the midnight run. She said she was hitching to Chicago, gonna find a fancy job to pay for her big dreams. They blew her some smoke about being a Hustler video crew and did she want to make ten Ben Franklins then and there.
"A video crew?" she'd said, eyeing the paint cans, brushes, plastic, and drop cloths littering the cargo area of the extended-length van. "You're, like, kidding, right?"
Gemini, like, wasn't, and held up the cash to prove it. Virgo worked the videocam as she expressed her appreciation. Gemini loaded the first three minutes into his cell phone.
Video-texted it to Freddie-Boy.
"Are you a moron?" Freddie-Boy yelled. "I said young. This one looks fifteen for chrissakes. Throw her back and grab up baby sister." Since Freddie-Boy paid five figures per child delivered, Gemini said he'd find what he wanted.
"You damn well better," Freddie-Boy warned. "By close of business today. See what happens if you don't."
Gemini protested the ridiculous deadline, but heard only dead air--the child trafficker had already disconnected. Scowling, he told the boys to have some real fun.
Sometimes you eat the bear, he thought as the teeny shrieked from the frenzied rape and mauling. Sometimes the bear eats you.
Something dear old dad liked to pound into Gemini growing up, that bit about the bear, not realizing his firstborn would someday grow mean enough for grizzly-sized payback. After ruining Gemini's fourteenth birthday with a foul, drunken rant--the old man hated anyone but him getting attention-- he chased Gemini into the basement then stomped down himself, swinging the orange electrical cord he used to whip his kid's back into streamers.
The moment the fat bastard hit the last step, he was scrabbling the cold concrete floor like a stepped-on roach. When the pain of the broken legs finally broke through the shock of Gemini's blitz attack with the galvanized pipe, he shrieked.
Just like the drug maggot had during his can-opener scraping-- girly high, a wheeze almost, hairball strangling a cat, not understanding what just happened, yet there it was, all over the floor. The can opener in Gemini's hand, with its rusty steel head and Drink Blatz Beer on the handle, flayed twenty-seven strips off dear old dad, ending only when mom said, "Don't kill him, boy, he'll haunt us like them Dracula vampires...."
He checked the rearview, saw nothing but rain and bouncing asses. He pinched out a smile. The runaway, who'd introduced herself as "Kandy, with a K," was a pleasant way to kill the eight-hour drive from Minneapolis to Naperville, the Chicago suburb where they'd drop their load of drugs and collect their suitcase of dead presidents. Gemini checked his watch. Not bad. Even with the storm they were moving all right: Naperville by six, rich by seven--
Another wail erupted from the back.
Gemini sighed. What the hell should he do with her? The teenager was more appealing than he'd expected from a hitchhiker. Polo-shirted, blue-jeaned, and knob-kneed. Loose swingy hair, legs up to her armpits, narrow hips, grapefruit boobs. Creamy face with a smile to make a corpse stiff. Exactly the kind of girl Freddie-Boy should wet himself to own, the picky goddamn pervert . . .
"Enough," Gemini said.
A moment later he heard the distinctive clack of a forearm breaking a windpipe. It wasn't loud like in the movies. More like a dry stick across a knee.
"Women," Cancer said, wagging his finger in mock dismay as she thrashed like a gaffed marlin, trying to suck air.
"Can't live with 'em," Gemini said.
She turned blue.
Virgo spread her dancer legs. "One for the road?" he asked.
"Thanks, baby, you're great too."
Five minutes later he was done.
So was Kandy, with a K.
"Onward and upward," Gemini said, tapping the GPS map suctioned to the dash.
Cancer crawled up to the shotgun seat to find a place to dump the body. Aquarius and Virgo bundled her into a paint- spattered drop cloth, tied it neat with clothesline.
The van roared sideways through the rain.