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In downtown Manhattan, in courtroom thirty-seven of the Supreme Court Criminal Term building at 180 Centre Street, the trial of Anthony (Tony) Altieri was in session. The large, venerable courtroom was filled to capacity with press and spectators.
At the defendant's table sat Anthony Altieri, slouched in a wheelchair, looking like a pale, fat frog folding in on itself. Only his eyes were alive, and every time he looked at Diane Stevens in the witness chair, she could literally feel the pulse of his hatred.
Next to Altieri sat Jake Rubenstein, Altieri's defense attorney. Rubenstein was famous for two things: his high-profile clientele, consisting mostly of mobsters, and the fact that nearly all of his clients were acquitted.
Rubenstein was a small, dapper man with a quick mind and a vivid imagination. He was never the same in his courtroom appearances. Courtroom histrionics were his stock-in-trade, and he was highly skilled. He was brilliant at sizing up his opponents, with a feral instinct for finding their weaknesses. Sometimes Rubenstein imagined he was a lion, slowly closing in on his unsuspecting prey, ready to pounce ... or a cunning spider, spinning a web that would eventually entrap them and leave them helpless ... Sometimes he was a patient fisherman, gently tossing a line into the water and slowly moving it back and forth until the gullible witness took the bait.
The lawyer was carefully studying the witness on the stand. Diane Stevens was in her early thirties. An aura of elegance. Patrician features. Soft, flowing blonde hair. Green eyes. Lovely figure. A girlnext- door kind of wholesomeness. She was dressed in a chic, tailored black suit. Jake Rubenstein knew that the day before she had made a favorable impression on the jury. He had to be careful how he handled her. Fisherman, he decided.
Rubenstein took his time approaching the witness box, and when he spoke, his voice was gentle. "Mrs. Stevens, yesterday you testified that on the date in question, October fourteenth, you were driving south on the Henry Hudson Parkway when you got a flat tire and pulled off the highway at the One Hundred and Fifty-eighth Street exit, onto a service road into Fort Washington Park?"
"Yes." Her voice was soft and cultured.
"What made you stop at that particular place?"
"Because of the flat tire, I knew I had to get off the main road and I could see the roof of a cabin through the trees. I thought there might be someone there who could help me. I didn't have a spare."
"Do you belong to an auto club?"
"And do you have a phone in your car?"
"Then why didn't you call the auto club?"
"I thought that might have taken too long."
Rubenstein said sympathetically, "Of course. And the cabin was right there."
"So, you approached the cabin to get help?"
"Was it still light outside?"
"Yes. It was about five o'clock in the afternoon."
"And so, you could see clearly?"
"What did you see, Mrs. Stevens?"
"I saw Anthony Altieri -- "
"Oh. You had met him before?"
"What made you sure it was Anthony Altieri?"
"I had seen his picture in the newspaper and -- "
"So, you had seen pictures that resembled the defendant?"
"Well, it -- "
"What did you see in that cabin?"
Diane Stevens took a shuddering breath. She spoke slowly, visualizing the scene in her mind. "There were four men in the room. One of them was in a chair, tied up. Mr. Altieri seemed to be questioning him while the two other men stood next to him." Her voice shook. "Mr. Altieri pulled out a gun, yelled something, and -- and shot the man in the back of the head."
Jake Rubenstein cast a sidelong glance at the jury. They were absorbed in her testimony.
"What did you do then, Mrs. Stevens?"
"I ran back to my car and dialed 911 on my cell phone."
"I drove away."
"With a flat tire?"
Time for a little ripple in the water. "Why didn't you wait for the police?"
Diane glanced toward the defense table. Altieri was watching her with naked malevolence.
She looked away. "I couldn't stay there because I -- I was afraid that the men might come out of the cabin and see me."
"That's very understandable." Rubenstein's voice hardened. "What is not understandable is that when the police responded to your 911 call, they went into the cabin, and not only was no one there, Mrs. Stevens, but they could find no sign that anyone had been there, let alone been murdered there."
"I can't help that. I -- "
"You're an artist, aren't you?"
She was taken aback by the question. "Yes, I -- "
"Are you successful?"
"I suppose so, but what does -- ?"
It was time to yank the hook.
"A little extra publicity never hurts, does it? The whole country watches you on the nightly news report on television, and on the front pages of -- "
Diane looked at him, furious. "I didn't do this for publicity. I would never send an innocent man to -- "
"The key word is innocent, Mrs. Stevens. And I will prove to you and the ladies and gentlemen of the jury that Mr. Altieri is innocent. Thank you. You're finished."
Diane Stevens ignored the double entendre. When she stepped down to return to her seat, she was seething. She whispered to the prosecuting attorney, "Am I free to go?"
"Yes. I'll send someone with you."
"That won't be necessary. Thank you."
She headed for the door and walked out to the parking garage, the words of the defense attorney ringing in her ears.
You're an artist, aren't you? ... A little extra publicity never hurts, does it? It was degrading. Still, all in all, she was satisfied with the way her testimony had gone. She had told the jury exactly what she had seen, and they had no reason to doubt her. Anthony Altieri was going to be convicted and sent to prison for the rest of his life. Yet Diane could not help thinking of the venomous looks he had given her, and she felt a little shiver.
She handed the parking attendant her ticket and he went to get her car.
Two minutes later, Diane was driving onto the street, heading north, on her way home.Are You Afraid of the Dark? LP. Copyright © by Sidney Sheldon. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Posted March 7, 2007
I can't believe the number of good reviews because this book was hugely disappointing! The writing style was so simple with the author finding ways to 'tell' the read what was going on instead of the story developing, there was no mystery, and the things happening were not realistic. This is one of the worst books I have ever read!!
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 4, 2012
i was surprised by the twist of the story. thought its predictable at first, but it turns out to have surprising twists at the end. disclaimer: dont read it backwards.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 16, 2009
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Posted March 24, 2006
I am a Sidney Sheldon fan. But this book was very very dissappointing. It's short, very predictable, contains un necessary vulgarities and obscenities and the plot looks interesting at first but in the end when the main story unfolds, its not anything new or shocking at all. If you are thinking of reading Sheldon for the first time, completely avoid this, try his previous masterpieces, they were great. It looks like he wrote this book in a hurry because he was short on money and just wanted to use his good reputation to make some bucks with this un interesting read. That's just how I felt, not worth the money at all.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 31, 2005
i chose to read this book on sunday, that should tell something! this book keeps reader interested and guessing and also has bits of romace that did not botter me at all... thumbs up!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 8, 2005
Four deaths in four locations - the link is that the victims work for the same agency -- KIG a 'think tank' institution. Global 'problem solvers' is a great premise for a plot but Sheldon does not deliver in depth. Are You Afraid of the Dark is a shallow writing. The author renders a 'script' that delivers a screenplay. The dialog exchanges are weak in content and relevance. The story would catch more attention as a lightweight, two-hour TV film. Sidney Sheldon's name attracts readers because of the reputation he has established with award-winning screenplays, and such¿ The story picks up momentum of promised intrigue but stops dead¿ off and on¿ describing character's clothing, how he/she dressed for a date, how many Armani suits hang in the closet, where they went on dates, and other trivial thinking, so that, if those aspects were removed from the story, it would not harm the writing at all. Sheldon doesn't fail on all counts¿ favorable are the technology aspects, such as business cards with microdot for tracing, the voice recording and voice impression units the two protagonists, Diane and Kelly kick butt with their brainpower to outwit the antagonists -- often, but alas all ladies are 'lovely oval face¿ lovely figures¿ etc.' -- a definite turnoff to what COULD HAVE BEEN a deeper read and a page turner. Positive is the interesting plot, albeit faltering. Is this a romance or mystery¿ I say hmm? -- The suspense and dialog are weak. The ending is strangely farcical, but you will cheer much for disabled brother Andrew Kingsley. Recommended for readers who want a lightweight read. (Based on the paperback printing)Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 6, 2005
This book throws so many twists at you. You never know what is going to happen next. I recommend this book to high school readers and anyone above. If you like a good thriller, and a book that catches you off guard, Are You Afraid of the Dark is the book for you. This book teaches you to trust noone.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 22, 2005
Sidney is THE BEST and there is nobody that will deny that -- this book is no exception to his long line of great novels. We wish he would writer faster! He is about 87 now though and I guess hes slowing down? Check out his website if you haven't.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 5, 2005
Posted February 3, 2005
I bought this book at the bookstore. Remind me to pay attention to reviews! Simple. Predictable. I'm selling my used copy to the first person who offers enough for a cup of coffee.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 26, 2005
The best I can say is that it approached being mildly entertaining... and that only because I didn't have any other fiction available at the time. I had a hard time getting to the suspension of disbelief. The characters and story seem to have been formulae driven and were not fully convincing. Since the story didn't quite represent istself as fantasy or sci-fi, the unbelievable way the heroines continued to escape danger and the absurdity of the maniacal villians just didn't work for me. It came across as kinda corny... or maybe just something a junior high school student who was only beginning the adventure of reading might enjoy. The intended suspense was predictable, the dialogue was sometimes trite, and the characters seem to be stereotypical. I don't recommend it to my reader friends.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 17, 2004
I was waiting for Sidney Sheldon to write a new book. When I found out his new one was coming out, I put myself on the reserve list at the library. It took a month to get to my turn on the list. What intrigued me was the way Sheldon wove the tale -- and he faced a deteriorating planet at the hands of one man. What is so compelling is that this can actually happen -- what with the polar ice caps melting and the greenhouse effect. The revelation of what Prima actually was was enough to make my heart beat faster. Sheldon is an author you can't put down.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 14, 2004
This fast paced story begins with the death of three men in seperate parts of the world. How do their deaths relate? It is up to two young widows to discover the connection. Their plight takes them on a wild chase while the enemy tries to thart them at every turn. Who is the enemy? I found this to be a fun and exciting book...easy reading and hard to put down.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 15, 2004
Better keep the lights on (and it wouldn't hurt to make sure the doors are locked) when you listen to the latest thriller by that master of suspense, Sidney Sheldon. Actually, I'm doing him a bit of a disservice by calling him a 'master of suspense' when, in actuality, he's a master of much - from creating hit television programs to winning an Oscar to being the most translated author in the world. But, there's not room to list all of his awards and accolades, so to 'Are You Afraid of the Dark?' on audio CDs by HarperAudio. This scary story of two young women fighting for their lives is ably read by Kit Flanagan. She gives each woman equal emphasis, clearly projecting their fears and strengths. Four mysterious happenings occur - miles apart. Surely there can't be a connection. A woman disappears while on a street in Berlin; the Eiffel Tower is a take-off platform for a man; a small plane goes down in Denver; and the East River yields a body in New York. It doesn't take authorities long to discover that there can be and is a connection - the four people in question are all connected to an enormous think tank. The widows of two of the victims, Kelly Harris and Diane Stevens, are young and bereaved. They meet in New York where the head of the think tank convinces them that he's stopping at nothing to find out how and why their husbands died. Those questions almost become moot when Kelly and Diane discover that their lives are at stake. Who wants to destroy them and why? They do not know. Sheldon always delivers shivers, and he does it again. - Gail CookeWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 14, 2004
ive read all books written by sidney sheldon and i was amazed to see how sheldon has stooped to such a low level of work. I only hope that his art revives and hes able to write as good as he used to before.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 30, 2004
should have read the reviews before I bought this one. very amaturish and totally disappointing and that is being nice. can't believe sidney sheldon wrote this. no one with sidney sheldon's talent should even think this was a good story. shame on him...susanWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 30, 2004
I was really disappointed with this book. I am a huge fan of Sheldon's other books, but this one was so slow--boring at times and the dialogue between the characters was unrealistic. Its a stinker.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 21, 2004
I can't believe I actually waited for this book and even finished it! Plot was preditable and slow, characters were one dimensional, and writing style was choppy and simplicitic. Not what I expected from Sheldon.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.