Blind Faithby C. J. Lyons
Sarah Durandt knows the killer is dead. She watched him die from a lethal injection in the execution chamber. But Sarah finds little comfort in knowing that the deranged psychopath who murdered her husband and son will never kill again. Since he never revealed the location of their bodies, she never found a sense of closure. So now, Sarah has decided to return to
Sarah Durandt knows the killer is dead. She watched him die from a lethal injection in the execution chamber. But Sarah finds little comfort in knowing that the deranged psychopath who murdered her husband and son will never kill again. Since he never revealed the location of their bodies, she never found a sense of closure. So now, Sarah has decided to return to her home in the Adirondacks, to search for whatever remains of her loved ones. An unmarked grave. An article of clothing. Anything to make this terrible dream seem real. But what Sarah uncovers is far more unnerving—and much too horrifying—to even consider…
Maybe they executed the wrong man. Maybe the killer is still out there.
Maybe, for Sarah, the nightmare is just beginning.
“This story is so fast paced with so many mesmerizing characters, "fantastic" is not high enough praise. Lyons proves once again that she is a master of suspense.” RT Book Reviews
Read an Excerpt
By CJ Lyons
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2012 CJ Lyons
All rights reserved.
Sarah Durandt flinched as faded blue-checked gingham curtains rattled open to reveal the prisoner strapped to a gurney.
One of the women behind her gasped. Sarah leaned forward, one hand flattened against the glass that separated them from a monster. She breathed through her mouth. It was the only way to choke down the heavy air trapped inside the tiny cement-walled room.
She and the other witnesses were gathered behind glass so thick halos circled the objects in the white-tiled execution chamber on the other side. Bulletproof glass. Who did they think would be doing the shooting? The condemned man already woozy from sedatives or those who came to watch him die?
Sarah curled her hands one into the other and held them still on her lap, shivering as the air-conditioning blew a frosty stream down on her. Eleven others were crowded into the room with her, families representing the other victims. She barely noticed them. They were here for closure. She needed answers.
Her gaze narrowed to a laser-sharp focus aimed at the prisoner beyond the glass. His arms were extended, needles inserted into veins on both sides of his body. Seven leather straps crossed his body and limbs, holding him in a position eerily reminiscent of a crucifixion. But this man was no Messiah.
This man was the devil incarnate.
Damian Wright was medium sized, someone who would not stand out in a crowd with his bland face, blander features.
Sarah knew better. She knew his cunning. Hidden behind his façade of normalcy smoldered a sick desire to torture and maim. Even here, on his deathbed, he persisted in tormenting her. Denying her the slightest measure of comfort or peace.
She wasn't sure why, of all the victims, Damian had focused his sick power plays on her. She wasn't anyone special, just a schoolteacher from upstate New York who lived in a village of less than five hundred souls. Her brown hair was usually pulled back into a ponytail and forgotten about, leaving it free to fall around her shoulders on special occasions like today — the execution of a serial killer.
Damian's sweat-beaded skin glistened as he lay beneath a large, round surgical light. His eyes were squeezed shut against its unflinching illumination. The warden nodded to a black-suited man with a small silver cross on his lapel. The man stretched out his hand, his wedding ring shimmering as it passed through the beam of light, and pulled a black microphone down. Sarah rubbed her own ring finger, tracing the plain band Sam placed there six years ago.
Uncoiling like a cobra, the microphone bobbed hypnotically above Damian's lips. A click, like a muffled gunshot, echoed through the witness room as the warden switched on the intercom. The scratchy sound of Damian's breathing filled the room.
Sarah found herself inhaling in time with Damian, could almost smell the antiseptic and surgical tape and the stench of sweat and nerves emanating from beyond the window. Alan Easton, who sat beside her, gave her hand a comforting squeeze.
"You okay?" he asked, his tone that of a friend rather than her lawyer. She was the only family here to bear witness for Sam and Josh. The only family Sam had left. And Josh, how could she not be here for her son?
She nodded, her attention focused on the events in front of her. The execution chamber held only three men: the warden in his navy suit, bleached white shirt, and narrow tie; the black-suited minister; and Damian Wright, the man who had destroyed her life.
If Sarah were to describe the Death House to her sixth-grade students back home, she would have said the theme of the room, of the entire building set far apart from normal prison housing, was containment.
Nothing was meant to ever escape this tiny building with its cement walls painted an institutional green. The utilitarian execution chamber beyond the viewing window made no efforts to soften or hide its purpose. A flat surgical table, arms splayed wide, bolted to the floor was its only piece of furniture.
"Any last words?" the warden asked the condemned man.
Sarah came to attention. A fly trespassed into the profane proceedings and beat its wings against the cage shielding two flickering fluorescent lightbulbs, its buzzing deafening. Damian Wright, convicted murderer and child rapist, opened his rheumy eyes and stared directly at her. She pulled her hand free from Alan's, fisted it tight.
Tell me. Say something. Give me a clue.
Her prayers went unheard. Damian remained silent, muscles slack, not fighting his restraints. Only his chest moved, rising and falling as he counted down to his last breath. Sarah's lungs squeezed tight, ready to burst from pressure. Damian stared at her, a smile creasing his eyes.
She blinked first, not ashamed to surrender; she'd do anything if it helped her to find Sam and Josh.
Damian's smile widened. But he remained silent.
Fury knotted her gut. Did he torment her, refuse her the closure she so desperately yearned for, because she'd been away at that damn mandatory in-service on the day he took Josh? Or was it because of all the boys he'd killed, only Josh had a father willing to fight, to die for him?
Alan said it was probably because Sam interrupted his ritual with Josh. Forced him to deviate from his sick, twisted fantasy to kill Sam before he could return to Josh.
The minister intoned from his Bible, his eyes never rising from the written word to gaze upon the lost soul he prayed over.
The words of the Psalm, words that twenty-two months ago would have brought Sarah comfort and solace, were now reduced to meaningless noise with less significance than the buzzing of the fly. She pressed her palm flat against the cold glass, more intent on gleaning the answers she needed from Damian than listening to the word of God.
She'd spent her entire life listening. Where was God when she'd needed him most? Where was he when her husband and son needed him?
"I'm sorry we couldn't stay the execution," Alan whispered. "I know how much you hoped —"
She shrugged his words away, her entire universe consisting of the gaze of a killer. The man who had confessed to killing Sam and Josh — but who refused to tell her where they were buried.
For a year and a half she had fought. Fought Damian Wright's silence, his refusal to see her. Fought the new Texas law that allowed executions to be "fast-tracked" with an unprecedented efficiency. Fought her own desire to see Damian die. A desire superseded only by her need to find her husband and son.
The warden strode forward, reading from a document in a monotone that floated just beyond the periphery of Sarah's awareness.
Where are they, you sonofabitch? Sarah tried to broadcast all her loathing and hatred into her glare, hoping to loosen Damian's tongue in these, his last seconds on this Earth. Her fist pounded against the thick glass, creating only the smallest of muffled thuds.
The killer didn't flinch or look away from her. Nor did he speak. Instead his expression turned to one approaching pity. As if she were the one condemned, not him.
The warden finished and removed his glasses, aiming a small nod in the direction of the executioner's booth. Sarah had researched the procedure. Behind the one-way mirrored glass, an unseen man flipped a switch. Medication flowed into Damian's veins. First more sedatives, then a paralytic, finally the potassium chloride to stop his heart.
Time stopped. Sarah didn't blink. Damian didn't blink.
Three minutes later, the minister stood aside as a man clad in a white coat stepped forward and listened with a stethoscope. He straightened, reached a hand out to Damian's face, and closed the killer's eyes.
The blinds snapped shut.
A collective sigh swirled through the room as the other witnesses shifted in their seats. Through the haze filling Sarah's vision she heard several women and a man sobbing, felt the rustle of their movements as the room emptied. She remained frozen, not blinking, eyes burning.
Alan touched her elbow, pulled her fist away from the glass, and drew her up onto unsteady feet. "We have to go now," he murmured.
She kept her face craned toward the darkened window until the last possible moment. Finally, Alan led her out into bright sunshine, Texas heat and humidity bearing down on her with the intensity of a ten-ton truck.
For a moment she was the one suffocating under the weight of paralyzed lungs. Her chest tightened. For an instant it was her heart that stopped.
She blinked and pain returned. An ice-pick stabbing behind her eyes, her constant companion for twenty-two months, unmitigated by any sedatives or hope of release. Unlike Damian Wright's pain.
And she knew she was alive. At least her body was. Her mind was. Her soul — that was buried in some unmarked grave back home, up on Snakehead Mountain.
Alongside Sam and Josh.
* * *
It's over, it's over, it's over ... The words threaded themselves through Sarah's mind, spinning a cocoon that blocked out all feeling, providing a soft, safe place to hide. A place where there was no need to think, to do, to react. To be. It's over, it's over, it's over ...
Sarah hugged herself tighter and leaned against the car window, her back to Alan as he drove them away from the prison. She'd promised herself no matter what, she wouldn't break down, at least not in front of anyone.
But Alan wasn't anyone. Alan understood — he'd been through it himself. His wife had been killed by a drug addict who stormed their house looking for cash. That was why he'd left his corporate law practice to focus on victims' rights, to help people like Sarah.
How could she have survived the past two years without Alan?
The tires spinning against the highway carried her away from Damian Wright, away from her last chance to find Sam and Josh. It's over, it's over, it's over ...
Her body sagged against the door frame, her right hand automatically reaching for the single ring on her left. She had no engagement ring. Instead, Sam had given her his most valuable possession, a guitar pick used by the legendary Stevie Ray Vaughan, and promised that when he sold his first song he'd replace it with a diamond. Seven years later, the pick still sat in its black velvet jewelry case on her dresser.
Her hand felt cold, but her wedding band radiated warmth, as if she touched Sam. She spun the ring in time with the words weaving their way into her soul, inviting her to surrender. It's over, it's over, it's over ...
No! It can't be. Not like this.
Tears pressed against her closed eyelids, burned as they fought to escape. Sarah's grip on the plain gold band tightened. Her last link to Sam and, through him, Josh. She was tired, so very tired. She should give up. What more could she do?
After all, she had a life to live. Sam would want her to be happy. Someday. A ragged breath tore through her and she felt Alan stir beside her. Alan — could she imagine a future with a man like him? A man who'd devoted almost two years of his life to guiding her through this morass of pain and grief, who'd brought her back into the light, had given her this one last chance.
Last chance, last hope, last rites.
It's over, it's over, it's over.
Sarah straightened, opened her eyes, and blinked against the harsh Texas sun. She uncurled her legs, smoothed out the soft cotton of her navy blue dress. She refused to wear black, not until Josh and Sam were laid to rest. The dark highway stretched hypnotically into the future.
"You all right?" Alan's gaze left the road to stare at her for a long moment.
A sad smile curled Sarah's lips. "Yes. I'm fine."
It's over, it's over, it's over ... the words sang through her mind, pounding insistently like a toddler throwing a tantrum, banging his head against the floor when he didn't get what he wanted. Josh had thrown a few of those in his day. Until he learned that when he did, he never got what he wanted.
It's over, it's over, it's over!
Sarah gave a small shake of her head — the only warning Josh needed now. She'd shake her head, smile, and he'd leave his whining behind, take her hand, and snuggle against her. Sorry, Mommy. I forgot.
But I haven't.
It's over, it's over, it's over ... No. It's not.
It's just begun.CHAPTER 2
Supervisory Special Agent Caitlyn Tierney didn't look up at the tentative knock on her open door. Instead she raised a hand in the universal palm forward gesture of "wait" and kept reading the report on her computer screen. Her latest group of New Agents in Training was in their final week of training before graduating from Quantico. Nerves were frayed as they waited to learn their field assignments, so this hadn't been the first interruption of Caitlyn's morning.
She finished reading her NAT's scores on their critical incident projects and nodded with satisfaction. They'd done as well as she'd hoped. Even Santos, the diffident, intense twenty-six-year-old with a background in particle physics, had managed to integrate himself as part of the team. Caitlyn shut the lid to her laptop and looked up at her visitor, half-expecting to see Santos himself.
Instead, it was one of the lab geeks. Ah, man, she knew his name; he worked in DNA. Not Rogers, no, something close. She smiled, keeping her face blandly genial as she forced her brain along its circuitous route to match the face of the man before her with his name.
Finally, it clicked. But it took at least twice as long as it would have two years ago, before her accident. Something she'd never admit to anyone.
"Hi, Clemens," she said heartily, gesturing the tech to one of the two wooden chairs beside her overflowing bookcase. "What brings you over here to Jefferson? Teaching a class?"
He shook his head. "Thought it would be easier than asking you to make the trip to the lab building." He was right; the forensic analysis center had more security than Fort Knox. Even FBI staff like Caitlyn needed a special invite and authorization for a pass to enter. Clemens glanced at the open door and shifted his weight in his chair.
She might not be as good with names as she used to be, but Caitlyn was still a pro when it came to nonverbal communication. She rose to her feet, folded her reading glasses, and nonchalantly closed the door as she crossed over to sit beside him.
"What's up?" she asked, leaning forward and engaging him in direct eye contact.
He fumbled a file folder from his briefcase. It wasn't marked "top secret" or even "sensitive," so she wondered what all the cloak-and-dagger was about. Then she saw the name on the file. Damian Wright.
Her first assignment two years ago after she'd returned to work. She'd hated everything about that case: the crimes, the travel, the blinding migraines that blurred her thoughts and almost crippled her with their unrelenting pain and nausea, and most of all she'd hated her fatuous asshole of a boss, Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jack Logan. Logan had swooped in and taken over the case without any warnings or explanations, something unheard of. ASACs led from behind their desks via memos and directives; they never ventured into the field.
"You know Damian Wright's dead?" she asked the lab tech. "Executed in Texas." She glanced at the calendar. "Two weeks ago."
"I know." Clemens' voice was mournful. "I'm sorry."
Caitlyn's spine went rigid. Bright flashes of light sparked at the periphery of her vision. "Sorry? You can't be saying you found anything exculpatory?"
Caitlyn agreed with most law enforcement officers that death was too good for a lot of these sickos — but it was the best punishment they had. That didn't mean that she, like other LEOs, didn't also live in fear of putting an innocent man on death row.
Which was why she'd reviewed the Texas evidence against Wright herself, even though by the time Texas took over she was off the case. Their case had been rock solid. Not only had he been caught with the still-warm body of his last victim, butchering the boy, but Wright confessed to everything, refused to allow any appeals on his behalf, and became the first person under Texas' new law to be fast-tracked to execution. Twenty-one months from arrest to death, a new record.
Clemens shook his head. "No, Wright killed those boys in Texas, Vermont, Tennessee, and Oklahoma." He paused. Caitlyn took a deep breath, forcing the flashing lights to fade into the distance. "It's the ones in New York I'm not too sure about."
"Hopewell, New York. Josh Durandt and his father. Right before Katrina hit." Caitlyn remembered. No bodies recovered in that one. The crime scene had been halfway up a mountain; she'd been wearing a skirt after being whisked away from a memorial service for the second Vermont boy. Logan had laughed, giving her no time to change into more appropriate attire and cutting her no slack when her migraine made her sick during the drive down. After she puked her guts out on the side of the road, he'd joked, asked if she was pregnant, adding that was the problem with "today's FBI." He never had to worry about any of the guys letting him down because they went "hormonal" on him.
Excerpted from Blind Faith by CJ Lyons. Copyright © 2012 CJ Lyons. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
CJ LYONS is a pediatric ER doctor and New York Times bestselling author. Among other adventures, she has assisted police and prosecutors in criminal investigations, worked as a crisis counselor, victim advocate, and flight physician, and drawn from her life experiences to write acclaimed novels of medical suspense. She is the author of several cutting-edge series including Angels of Mercy, Hart and Drake, and most recently, Rock Bottom with Erin Brockovich. Her books have earned her numerous awards including the Golden Gateway, National Readers' Choice, and Daphne du Maurier Awards.
As a pediatric ER doctor, CJ LYONS has lived the life she writes about. In addition to being an award-winning medical suspense author, CJ is a nationally known presenter and keynote speaker. Her first novel, Lifelines (Berkley Books, March 2008), received praise as a “breathtakingly fast-paced medical thriller” from Publishers Weekly, was reviewed favorably by the Baltimore Sun and Newsday, named a Top Pick by RT Book Review, and became a national bestseller. Her second novel, Warning Signs, was released January 2009, and the third, Urgent Care, followed in October 2009.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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This book was excellent. It was a shorter read at only 163 pages. However, it was action packed like nothing I have read before. CJ Lyons proved herself once again in this thriller novel. Following the life and grief of Sarah Durandt, you are taken on a roller coaster ride through a small mountain town with twists and turns you don't expect, not knowing who to trust, and who's gonna walk out in the end. This a highly recommended read from a highly recommended author!
This is the first book I've read by CJ Lyons- I loved it- and can't wait to try her other books.
I did enjoy this book. But it is miscatigorized as romantic-suspense. It is a suspense-filled thriller with a dash of lackluster romance. So it's worth a read but i wouldn't pay a lot for it. I paid 99 cents, so it was a good read for that price!
Sarah Durandt had gone to Texas to watch a man die, but she did so in the hope that he would - at the end - tell her where he had buried her husband and son two years before. But in that, as with quite a few things and people in her life, things are not quite as they seem. Not Alan Easton, a lawyer pretending to be her friend and admirer, but doing so under very false pretenses. Not Samuel Durandt, the husband she still loves, thinks is dead, but is more than he seems. Not Hal Waverly, the Hopewell, NY sheriff who she thought she knew. And not Jack Logan, FBI Special Agent in Charge, who was in charge of the Damian Wright - the man Sarah had gone to see executed for killing boys - case. As things come to light and seeming ghosts reappear, not knowing who to trust can leave both Sarah and Sam dead. This is my first read of Ms. Lyons' works and my initial reaction to the story was (and continues) to be a little speechlessly star-struck. Sarah is grieving what she believes to be a double tragedy, but has a spine of steel that lets her carry on in spite of it. She knows when to bend instead of breaking, but is, at the same time, stubborn. Hal Waverly has also known loss, and carries on as well, but differently. In a lot of ways, he is still the man Sarah has known for a lot of years, but has a secret that he doesn't want known. Sam Durandt tries to do things to the best of his ability, but they don't always work out exactly as he planned them. He knows his own shortcomings, but keeps on going. Aside from the story's tempo, action, and timing, I really enjoyed the characterization. All of the characters - the good, the bad, and the ugly - are people that the reader may know, may want to know, or (as in the case of someone like Damian Wright) may hope to never come across in any capacity. This is the kind of story I like to read and look forward to reading more of CJ Lyons' books.
Thanks to rude plot spoilers here is another book ruined. Oh well, another sale lost for bn.
Blech. Stupid, irritating protagonist, for whom I felt no sympathy whatsoever, despite her constant breast-beating.
It was OK. I found it too predictable, and a bit boring. I would not recommend. It was readable though and I could tell the author was trying to get you to emotionally attach to a few of the characters but they lacked depth so it was hard to do. I read it, but wont pick up another by this author.
Good book. Was able to put it down many times but still wanted to see where it went. A bit over the top. Still, I did want to finish .
Fast pace great read brilliant author
Oh my gosh, was it ever good! I love to try and figure out how it is going to end long before I finish a book and this one blew me away. Wow. CJ Lyons can sure spin a tale, and keep you at the edge of your seat throughout the book. I just love this book and can't wait to start the next one I have of hers. She is blistering! Want a great read? Blind Faith will not let you down! On to the next one I have of hers, will let you know how this one goes! I am positive it will be as good as Blind Faith was though. What a story spinner CJ Lyons is!
This book was amazing. It was sad at times and it made me cry. It pulled at my heart strings. CJ Lyons is a wonderful writer. This is the first book by her I have read and I plan to read as many as I can get my hands on. I would recommend it to anyone!
A bit slow and drawn out. First CJ Lyons I've read and not sure I'll be reading another right away.
I cannot say anything else
I highly recommend this book. It's a great read.
This was an intense book, a little slow at first but then it captures you.
I usually do not read books of this type because they are a little too suspenseful for this 71 year old but I started it & couldn't put it down. Very good book and when I'm ready for a little more excitment in my life, will buy another from this author. JudyE