Body Countby P.D. Martin
Newly relocated from Australia, Sophie is starting to feel comfortable at Quantico. She is quickly becoming the FBI's star profiler and she has a good friend in Agent Samantha
FBI agent Sophie Anderson has been trained to crawl into the sick minds of serial killers, to understand their depraved impulses and vile cravings--to catch them before the body count rises.
Newly relocated from Australia, Sophie is starting to feel comfortable at Quantico. She is quickly becoming the FBI's star profiler and she has a good friend in Agent Samantha Wright--and there is something more than friendship simmering with Agent Josh Marco.
The only problem is the nightmares.
But these gruesome images are more than dreams. They are intense psychic visions, like those she experienced as a child when her brother was abducted.
When grisly details match recent crime scene photos, she confides in Sam and her visions lead to several breakthroughs in the case. But when Sam is abducted, Sophie must finally trust her visions and learn to use them. She might not have been able to save her brother, but perhaps she can save Sam--and herself.
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By P.D. Martin
MiraCopyright © 2007 P.D. Martin
All right reserved.
Twenty-five years ago
The house is quiet. It's 3:00 a.m.
The sleeping figure of a young girl takes up a small section of a single bed. She's on her side, curled in a ball, with Paddington Bear standing watch from the corner of her bed. A desk lamp lights the room, and light also emanates from the hallway to guide her way to the bathroom during her usual nightly excursion.
She tosses, ending up on her back. A small whimper escapes her lips. She's having one of her nightmares.
"No. Please no."
She moans. Her breathing quickens. She whimpers again. Her heart is racing. She thrashes her legs and the covers become untucked from the sides of the bed.
The boy in her dream is running, but someone's behind him. The man is gaining on the boy. "Watch out," she says, barely audible. She must save the boy.
Her breathing becomes labored. She gasps for air. She sits bolt upright and screams. But not even the sound of her own screams can wake her. The nightmare is too intense, too real.
Down the corridor, her mother wakes up. Immediately she realizes her daughter is screaming. Another nightmare. She grabs her robe and drapes it across herself as she runs down the hall.
She throws her arms around her still-screaming child and rocks her back and forth. The screaming stops and the girl wakes up.
"Mom? John. Where's John?"
"It's all right, sweetie. It's just a dream."
"Where'sJohn?" she shouts.
"Okay, okay, honey." The woman picks up her daughter and walks into the corridor, then into John's room. They stand at his doorway.
"What's up?" John says, more asleep than awake.
"See, sweetie, he's in bed. He's fine."
"Oh, another nightmare," John says, turning on his side and burrowing into his bed.
The woman puts her daughter back into bed. She glances at the bedside table, noticing an Agatha Christie book. "Sweetie, I've told you about reading those books. You're too young. No wonder you've had so many nightmares this week."
Two nights later
The little girl takes one almighty gasp of air and wakes up. She breathes in and out, in and out, trying to get air back into her lungs.
"John's in trouble," she says out aloud even though no one's there. She looks into the hallway. It's dark. Why is it dark? Her mom always leaves the light on for her. She gets out of bed and stands there, trembling. She's cold and frightened. She grabs Padding-ton Bear and steps into the dark hallway, holding him tucked under her arm. She inches her way down the hallway, back against the wall. Another few steps and she'll be at the light switch. There. She switches it on and takes a deep breath in. It's better now. It's not dark. She walks past John's room, frightened to go in. But she must. She holds Paddington tighter and switches on the light in her brother's room. The window's open and John is gone.
Then images hit her hard and fast. She looks down at John-- she's suddenly taller than he is. Her hand reaches out, but it's a big hand. A man's hand. She's someone else. John's crying and she feels the pleasure the man feels at John's pain. Her big hands encircle John's neck and push, harder and harder. John splutters, gasping for air. She feels the killer's feelings. She feels happiness and a surge of adrenaline as John goes limp.
She collapses on the floor.
My breath is shallow and fast and the sound of my beating heart resonates in my ears. This is the first field assignment I've had for a while and I'm a little rusty. I steady my breath. We'll be moving soon.
I study the area, waiting for my cue. I've parked on the right-hand side and have a good view of the street and the apartment building that's our target. The street is quiet. Eerily quiet, as if everyone's hiding in their homes, somehow aware of what's about to go down and waiting for the storm to pass. Then again, it is 2:00 p.m. on a Wednesday. The only sign of movement is a mother pushing her stroller about thirty feet in front of me on the footpath, and a few people waiting at a bus stop sixty feet down the road. I take in my surroundings, counting the people, entering information about them into my memory--I may need it later. For the moment, nothing looks suspicious and Boxley, our target, entered the building about half an hour ago. I take another deep breath. Soon. It will be soon.
I love this feeling; love knowing that finally the hunter has become the hunted. I bet he feels like this when he's stalking a victim, knowing that any minute she'll be his. But he's in the wrong, and we're in the right.
He's probably already selected his next victim. I imagine him closing in on her, just as though she was my sister, best friend or even me. My teeth clench and my hand goes instinctively to the gun in my ankle holster. My fingers tighten around the bulge...it's guys like the creep inside who drew me to law enforcement.
"This is Mad Dog, are you in position...one?" Detective Flynn's voice crackles softly through my earpiece. It's a joint task force--D.C. police and FBI--with Flynn from D.C. Homicide taking the lead.
"Check," says the leader of the first unit.
"Two?" Flynn says.
I listen to the units sound off, ending with the one headed by Agent Josh Marco. We've worked together closely on this case and have become friends. Maybe more than friends.
"Okay, Goldilocks, we're ready to roll," Flynn says.
Flynn is with two other officers to the left of the apartment, covering the fire escape. He looks up and nods at me. From this distance I just make out a smile.
I get out of the car we organized for the operation, a red Ford, and grab the briefcase of samples and my black coat from the passenger seat. I ease one arm into the coat, eager for its warmth, and then slip in the other arm. For the job I've chosen black pants that flare slightly at the ankles but hug my hips, and a tight-fitting red V-neck to show off as much cleavage as I can bring to the party (with some major help from a push-up bra). I am a little vulnerable without my bulletproof vest, but guns don't seem to be this perp's style. Besides, we can't risk arousing his suspicion with added bulk on my upper body. Over the outfit I wear a black scarf and a black coat. The look is completed with black leather gloves.
Here I go. I've been living and breathing this case for the past five months and it feels good to almost have the bastard in our grasp.
The perp lives in a fifteen-story building that's in pretty good condition despite its obvious sixties look. The pathway is concrete, lined with a waist-high box hedge. The sides of the long path are framed by lawn, and a few flowering shrubs add color to the grayness.
I go over the routine one more time...my name is Lauren. Lauren Armstrong. I work for Clean-a-way Living and I'm here to sell our perp...I mean, my client...our effective and environmentally friendly range of cleaning products.
Flashes of the victims lying in pools of their own blood intrude on my thoughts. I push the images away. Focus.
I scan the apartment buzzers on the inside wall. Robert Boxley is written next to apartment 104. I ring the buzzer. A couple of minutes drag by like ten, and finally I hear the hiss of the intercom system.
"Who is it?" a husky male voice asks.
"Hi, it's Lauren from Clean-a-way." I use a richer, throatier version of my natural voice and play on my Australian accent, broadening it slightly.
"Lauren. Yes. Come up."
The buzzer sounds and I walk in through the security door. My stomach does a flip and my "spider sense" tingles. I've got a bad feeling about this. I push it aside and flick the ring on my little finger with my thumbnail. It's just nerves because this is my first field assignment for a while.
"I'm in." Confirmation for Flynn and the rest of the task force. The small inside foyer is decorated with brown speckled tiles and the walls are painted a dull green. A faded safety certificate hangs on the left wall next to a rusty fire extinguisher--probably both from the sixties. Opposite the entrance is a small elevator. I look above it and notice that number eleven is dimly lit. The elevator isn't moving. Our suspect's only one floor up, so I head for the stairs on the right. I grasp the wrought-iron banister, which rattles in my hand. With each step my heart seems to pound even faster, sending vibrations through my body with every beat. It's so loud the guys can probably hear it through my mouthpiece. That's not good. I want to make a strong impression on my first bust.
I knock on apartment 104's door. I hear two locks rattling in the door frame, and then I'm greeted by Robert Boxley. He looks a little different than the picture we got from his employer, but I recognize him nonetheless. Five-ten and stocky, with a paunch. He's clean-shaven and his skin is smooth and translucent, though a few beads of sweat hang above his top lip. Nervousness? His black hair is cut tightly. He wears blue jeans, a loose white T-shirt and sneakers. If I didn't know what a monster he was, I'd think he was good-looking. "Hi, Robert." I immerse myself in my character, shoving my revulsion way down into the pit of my stomach.
"Hi, Lauren," he says, eyeballing me with intense dark green eyes.
"Come in." He steps away from the door and motions me inside.
I walk past him, momentarily turning my back on him. I'm not keen on the physical advantage he has over me for these few seconds, but it can't be helped. Besides, I'm safe. Not only because of the size and skill of my backup, but also because it's unlikely he'll nab me. I'm his type, but he likes to stalk his victims for a couple of weeks. He might mentally enter me into his victim pool for another time, but he's already picked his next girl and he's too orderly to let me jump the queue.
I take in every detail, hyperaware of my surroundings. Even an odor could mean something. But I smell nothing, other than the remnants of last night's curry.
Excerpted from Body Count by P.D. Martin Copyright © 2007 by P.D. Martin. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Body Count - You Don't Know What You're Missing!! For a more in depth review, please visit my blog, Chorley Chronicals! Let me start out by saying, this is my new favorite series and author! I am going to go out on a limb here and say that P.D. Martin ranks right up there with mystery writer great, Lisa Gardner! I am so beyond impressed with P.D. Martin and the Sophie Anderson series! I love the fact that in her writing, Martin goes the extra step to explain things that might be left to the reader's imagination in other books. She makes sure that the reader is aware of the procedures that are happening, to give them a better understanding of how the world of the FBI and a Criminal Profiler works, and I really appreciated that. It didn't add that much more to the book, but added a world of difference in my understanding of what was going on. I thought that the plot was well written with a different twist that you don't find in many other books. The plot was a suspense builder, leaving me clueless as to who the killer was throughout. Many friends of mine said they guessed the killer early on, but I was absolutely in left field and wasn't exactly sure who did it! It certainly kept me on the edge of my seat and frantically turning the pages to get through the book as quickly as I could! The strong sense of needing to know was present, but there were plenty of surprises throughout! There is romance included in Body Count, but it certainly doesn't overpower the mystery or suspense by any means! The characters of Body Count were interesting and diverse and enjoyable to read about! I love that the lead character Sophie, is a strong, independent woman who knows how to take care of herself. I thought that these particular characters were quite unique compared to your regular run of the mill characters! I can't wait to follow Sophie and learn more about her as I go! Overall, I loved Body Count and absolutely will continue with the Sophie Anderson series! The only complaint that I even has is the lack of availability to everyone. It is a book that is relatively hard to find and doesn't seem to be carried in most libraries, which is should!! This is an amazing job for what appears to be P.D. Martin's debut novel, and I can't wait to see what she has in store for us in The Murderers' Club, because it certainly looks like it'll be an awesome book!
Keep me intereseted the entire time
I believe this is P.D. Martin's first book and sets up the storyline for the next two books that follow. For the genre which is more or less cops and robbers (or serial killers), it is one of the better books I've read. It would make a good movie. I read a lot and I actually read this set of books backwards which is saying a lot. Had I not enjoyed the third book, I would never have picked up the first and second. So, if you enjoy FBI/Quantico/Profiler reading, you will enjoy this one.
I read this book on my Nook in one day. I don't like giving away spoilers because then people don't read the book. Anyway Sophie Anderson is an FBI profiler who is originally from Australia. She ends up on a case where the killer always seems to be one step ahead and forensic continously comes up empty. The perp is good at hiding his tracks. Sophie is very intuitive in more ways than one and finally is able to figure out the guys lair. I won't give anymore away except to say the ID of the killer is a huge surprise. The author P.D. Martin does a great job in this book, it is a really great crime thriller and the characters are all interesting. I like the Aussie twist in the main character. Great read and I greatly enjoyed it.(less)
another excellent addition to the series
Two murders with the same MO in Washington DC leads the FBI to believe a serial killer is emerging. Agent Sam Wright leads the investigation as the third victim is found. However this time the crime scene contains a personalized clue from the culprit, who mockingly challenges Sam to do her best apparently the perp knows a lot about Sam, but leaves behind nothing further to help her uncover the identity of the murderer. Australian Sophie Anderson came to the States to join the FBI Behavioral Science Unit as a profiler. She quickly proves to be one of the best, but hides the real reason she is so good at describing perps Sophie has psychic skills that come in the form of disconcerting often ugly nightmares. She is assisting her best friend Samantha on the case. However, Sophie begins to withdraw as her night visions turn even uglier when she assumes the role of the victims as they are being killed, but even worse, at times she becomes the acerbic killer feeling the euphoria and ugliness from inside him. When Sam is abducted, Sophie knows she must use her talent to avoid what happened to her brother when she was a child her only help comes from Agent Josh Marco, who she finds attractive. --- This is a superb police procedural thriller with a paranormal twist to provide freshness to the overly used taunting serial killer cat and mouse contest. The story line is filled with action and tension and contains a psychological spin atypical of the sub-genre as this slant focuses on Sophie¿s struggle not to go over the deep end due to the assaults on her senses. Though more use of the paranormal skill (in your face hint for future Sophie suspense sagas) would have been welcome, P.D. Martin provides an excellent thriller that has the audience on the edge of their seats with what happens next. --- Harriet Klausner