A Cold Dark Place

( 51 )



In a secluded farm house in the Pacific Northwest, a family has been slaughtered-and a teenage son has disappeared. Single mother and cop, Emily Kenyon spearheads a dark hunt for a killer. But Emily's teenage daughter Jenna is one step ahead of her.


Jenna knows the boy suspected of murdering his family and wants to help him-perhaps too much. Then within days of the first ...

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A Cold Dark Place

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In a secluded farm house in the Pacific Northwest, a family has been slaughtered-and a teenage son has disappeared. Single mother and cop, Emily Kenyon spearheads a dark hunt for a killer. But Emily's teenage daughter Jenna is one step ahead of her.


Jenna knows the boy suspected of murdering his family and wants to help him-perhaps too much. Then within days of the first murder, another family is butchered, this time in Iowa. And on the heels of this brutal slaying, another follows in Salt Lake City. Eerie similarities link the crime scenes. But an even darker connection threatens to claim even more victims.


As Emily fits the puzzle pieces together, she realizes the danger surrounding her daughter is worse than she'd imagined. Now in a desperate race to save Jenna, Emily must match wits with the most cunning, diabolical killer she's faced yet in her career-a killer who's just placed her and her daughter at the top of his list.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

When a powerful twister hits the little town of Cherrystone, Wash., former Seattle homicide detective Emily Kenyon checks in on the Martins: she finds their home demolished by the storm, and three of the four family members murdered by a demented killer. Suspiciously missing from the carnage is older son Nick, but is he a witness or the murderer? And Emily soon finds that her teenage daughter, Jenna, has run off with Nick in order to help him clear his name. What Emily doesn't know is that the Martin family deaths are connected to a series of murders going back two decades, and are linked to a case from her own past whose tragic outcome ultimately drove her out of the Seattle police force. Olsen does a nice job balancing past and present plots and subplots in this intricately layered story, keeping the tension taut and pages turning. (Apr.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786018307
  • Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 4/1/2008
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 574,972
  • Product dimensions: 4.34 (w) x 6.76 (h) x 1.03 (d)

Meet the Author

Gregg Olsen
New York Times bestselling author Gregg Olsen is the author of eight books. As a journalist and true crime author, Olsen has received numerous awards and much critical acclaim for his writing. He's also been a guest on Good Morning, America; CBS Early Show; Entertainment Tonight; CNN; Fox News; 48 Hours; and other national and international TV programs. The Seattle native lives in rural Washington State with his wife and twin daughters. He's now at work on his next thriller.
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Read an Excerpt

A Cold Dark Place

Copyright © 2008 Gregg Olsen
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7860-1830-7

Chapter One
Monday, 5:36 P.M., Cherrystone, Washington

Emily Kenyon was thrashed and she looked it. She pulled herself from her gold Honda Accord, picked up her purse, and walked toward the front door. She turned to view the end of Orchard Avenue. The neighborhood of vintage homes was safe. Unscathed. Not a single fish-scale shingle from the three-story painted lady across the street had been harmed. Not so much as a splinter. Emily could even hear kids playing a couple of doors down. Everything was as it had been. The only hint that the world had turned over was the slight scent of acrid smoke that wafted through the air. It was faint, but enough of a reminder that across town homes and cars had burned.

It had been two days since the tornado pounced on a section of Briar Falls Estates two miles away. It came almost without warning and left a jagged swathe of destruction that stole the hard work of homeowners and gardeners in ten minutes' time. Roofs had been peeled off. Play sets and bicycles hurled into trees. There was no making sense of whose house had been spared and whose hadn't. Destruction reigned on the west side of Hawes Avenue, while the east side remained pristine. Across the street from a home that had been nearly ripped in two, a birdbath stood without a drop spilled over its chipped stone rim.

No one died. It was true that an elderly lady who had holed up in her bathroom was in bad shape and had been hospitalized. Emily expected that the woman, in her eighties, would survive despite her trauma. The lady was a retired junior high social studies teacher with a classroom assignment that indicated she was tougher than most. After all, if she could endure teenagers of the 1960s, she'd survive the tornado, too.

Emily stepped into the foyer. As she set down her purse on an antique walnut console table, its contents shifted. Her detective's badge holder slipped out along with a pink lipstick she wished she'd used up and could toss. But she was thrifty and, despite the fact that it didn't really work with her dark brown hair and eyes, she'd wear it until it was gone. She scooted the badge and lipstick tube back inside the pouch and called out for her daughter.

"Jenna? I'm home."

The scent of cinnamon toast and an empty glass of milk on the counter indicated Jenna was somewhere in the house. Emily didn't wait for a response.

"I'm going to take a shower. Then let's go out and get something to eat."

"Okay, Mom," a voice finally came from down the hall. "I'm on the phone. I'll talk to you when you're out. I'm hungry. Take a fast shower!"

Emily smiled. Jenna was seventeen, but still very much her little girl. It was just the two of them now. David had left for Seattle and become a somewhat shadowy figure since the divorce was final. There had been a few dates with new men-even a kind of serious affair with a local lawyer. Cary McConnell was too possessive and controlling and Emily had enough of that with her first-and only-marriage. Cary still called but she avoided him whenever she could. That wasn't easy. Cherrystone, Washington, was a town of less than 15,000 people. She was in the courthouse two or three times a week. So was he.

Emily snake-hipped out of her black skirt, unbuttoned her blouse, and let it fall to the floor. She was slender, blessed with long legs and a figure that looked more twenty than forty, which she was approaching on her next birthday. She twisted the shower knob with the red H all the way to the left. The ITLITL was moved a quarter turn. The old pipes clanked and steam swirled. Emily liked hot water.

"Pietro's?" she called out before stepping inside the white-and-black tiled interior. "I'm thinking pizza."

Of course she really wasn't. She was thinking of the tornado and its aftermath. Twisters were rare occurrences in Washington state. Only a handful of damaging storms had been recorded there; the worst had been one that killed eleven people near Walla Walla in 1952. The twister that came to Cherrystone on Saturday had howled in the darkness and snatched up all in its wake. Houses and cars were shredded in a giant steel-toothed blender. A dairy near the junction of Wayne Road and U.S. 91 had been so pulverized that a magnifying glass was needed to determine what color the barn paint had been before the storm. The Cherrystone Granary was flattened, which meant already scarce jobs instantly had become even more limited. Five trucks, carefully parked in a row after the shift change, had been tossed to their absolute ruin. Power lines snapped like frayed jute. A semi was lifted more than a hundred yards and slammed into a hillside.

Emily tilted her head backward; hot water beyond a temperature most could endure flowed over her body, sending the stress of the freak storm, and the worries of a long day, down the drain. Stepping from the shower, Emily wrapped a thick cotton towel around her body. She bent over, wrapped a second one around her head, then flipped her hair back. She called once more to Jenna.

"You never answered, honey. Is Pietro's all right?"

Again, silence.

Steam swirled and Emily flipped on the bathroom fan. A moment later, she slipped on a terry robe and padded down the hall to Jenna's room-a space that had been her own bedroom when she was a girl. A rectangle of yellowed glue on the door revealed the spot were she'd once put up a "NO BOYS ALLOWED" sign to keep her little brother, Kevin, at bay. With each step, a memory. Through a knife-slit of light in the doorway, she could see Jenna typing out a message on her silvery Apple iBook computer. Jenna was a little small for her age. Her stature didn't diminish her; it only made her stand out. Long hair like her mother's framed her delicate heart-shaped face. Her eyes were blue, the cool color of the Pacific. She tapped on the keyboard with frosted pink fingernails, chipped and ready for another mother/daughter manicure session in front of one of the Law and Orders on TV.

Emily pushed open the door, startling Jenna, who looked up with a frozen smile.

"Oh, Mom, I didn't hear you." She closed the chat window and swung around to face her mother.

"Are you up to no good?" Emily asked, allowing a smile to come to her lips. Deep down, the very idea of her daughter chatting with anyone was more than she could take. She'd seen the way perverts worked the keyboards of personal computers and stalked their prey-unsuspecting children in seemingly safe and cozy homes all across America.

"Just talking with Shali," she said. "And yes, we were up to no good. There's a nice guy who wants to meet us at the Spokane Valley Mall next weekend. He says he looks like Justin Timberlake and Jude Law. Combined."

Emily sat on the edge of the bed, smoothing out the sateen spread.

"He does, does he?" She knew when her daughter was pulling her leg and she started to play along. "Maybe I could meet him, too?"

Jenna shook her head. "Sorry, Mom, but you're too old for him. Shali and I are probably too old for him. He seemed to lose interest when we said we were old enough to drive."

"That's not funny."

"Sick, I know."

"You know how I worry."

"And you know that you don't have to worry about me. I know the drill. I don't make mistakes. My mom is a cop, you know."

"So I've heard." Emily removed the towel from her head and shook out her hair. "I'm not going to dry this mess. Let's get out of here and eat. I'm beat."

Jenna grinned. "Okay. Jude Timberlake can wait."

With that, Emily returned to her bedroom, where she put on a pair of faded jeans and a cream-colored boatneck sweater. She looked in the mirror and gave herself a once-over.

"Not bad for almost forty," she said, loud enough for Jenna to hear, which, of course, she did. "Maybe this Jude Law look-alike of Jenna's would be interested in an old chick like me."

Jenna appeared in the doorway and put her hands on her hips.

"You're disgusting," she said, a smile widening on her pretty face. "Shali and I had him first."

Monday, 7:16 P.M.

Twenty minutes later they were sitting in a maroon and black vinyl booth at Pietro's, the only place in Cherrystone that made pizza that didn't taste like it came from the frozen-food section of the Food Giant. Emily was grateful that Jenna had outgrown the "cheese-only" topping option for something a little more adventurous-pepperoni and black olives. Emily ordered a beer and Jenna nursed a soda.

"You know, you don't need to order diet cola, honey."

Jenna swirled the crushed ice with a pair of reed-thin plastic straws. "You mean I'm not fat? Yeah, I know. But I'm hedging my bets. I've seen the future. Look at Grandma Anna."

"Jenna! That's not nice." Emily tried to act indignant, but Grandma Anna was her ex-husband's mother and it was true that she had thick thighs. "Besides, your body shape is more from my side of the family."

Jenna drew on her straws and nodded. "Thank God."

The pair sat and ate their pizza, but their mood shifted when the conversation turned to the storm. "We are lucky. All of us. The tornado ravaged those homes on Hawes, but no one was killed." Emily swallowed the last of her beer, regarding the foamy residue coating the rim of the schooner. "I don't use the word lightly, you know, but it was a bit of a miracle, really."

"I know. Shali and I were talking about that," Jenna said. "Now you know that Jude Law Timberlake is not real. Nice fantasy, though."

Emily managed a faint smile. "I'll say."

Emily Kenyon was a homicide detective, not an emergency responder, but Ferry County was so small that when the storm hit she immediately reported to work to do what she could. She had to do something. Anything. She'd grown up in Cherrystone and it was her town. Always would be. The house on Orchard Avenue had been her childhood home. Her parents, who died in a tragic car accident, had left the family home to Emily and her brother. Since only one could live there, Emily bought out Kevin with savings and took a small mortgage. The house, with its bay windows and high-pitched roofline, was the reason she returned to Cherrystone. Not the only reason. Her divorce from David, a surgeon with a quick wit and an even faster fuse, was the other. The divorce made him mad. Emily made him mad. The world was against him. Cherrystone was about as far away as she could go for the safety net of feeling like she belonged somewhere. Leaving a detective's position in Seattle wasn't easy, but the move was never in doubt. It had been the right thing.

Of course, in the middle of it all was Jenna. She loved both her parents, but felt her mother needed her more than her father. At sixteen, the courts allowed her to schedule her own visitation with her father. She saw him once a month, usually in nearby Spokane. And that, she was sure, was enough.

Emily asked for a pizza box to take home the remainder of the pie.

"We can have it for breakfast," she said.

"Only if it lasts that long."

Emily's cell phone rang, its dorky ring tone of Elvis Costello's "Watching the Detectives" chiming from her purse. The number on the LED was dispatch-the sheriff was calling.

"Kenyon," she said.

Her mother's hands full, Jenna picked up the flat carton and they walked toward the door. With her free hand, she fished some Italian ice peppermints from a bowl by the hostess lectern and offered one to her mother.

Emily shook her head, her ear pressed tightly to her flip phone as they walked to the car.

"I see," she said. Her tone was flat, like someone checking a list for which there was no need. "All right. Okay. Got it. I can take a drive out there tomorrow, first thing."

Emily looked irritated as she put away her phone.

"Do you know Nicholas Martin?" she asked.

"Sure. Who doesn't? He's a senior and besides, he's kind of a freak."

Emily turned the ignition and the Accord started. She put it into drive.

"Freak? In what way?"

"You know, one of those country kids who didn't get the memo that the Goth look was so last millennium."

"Black clothes? White face?"

"And eyeliner, Mom, even eyeliner. But what about him?"

Emily sighed, glad she didn't have a son to deal with.

"Did you see him at school today?"

"I don't know. Although, if I did see him, I'd probably remember. He's the memorable type. What's up, Mom?"

"Probably nothing. His aunt in Illinois has called the office a couple times. She's panicking because she hasn't been able to reach anyone from the family since the storm. The big cell tower past Canyon Ridge was knocked out in the twister. Sheriff wants me to drive out to their place tomorrow morning and have a look around."

"I think Nicholas has a brother, Donovan. He's younger. Third grade?"

"Oh, now I remember. Nice family. I'm sure they're fine."

"I could IM Nicholas when I get home. He hangs out in that Goth chat room Shali and I go to all the time."

Emily attempted to suppress a weary smile. "Uh, you're kidding, right?"

"Yeah, I'm kidding."

"No need, honey. I'll handle it."

Emily parked in front of the house. The night air was filled with the scent of white lilacs her mother had planted when she was a girl. They were enormous bushes now, nearly blocking the front windows. Emily didn't have the heart to give them a good pruning, though they desperately needed it. She only thought of the job when springtime rolled around and the tallest tips were snowcapped with blooms. The memory brought a smile to her face that fell like a heavy curtain with the ring of another call.

Sheriff Kiplinger, again.

She glanced at Jenna and flipped open her cellular. "Kenyon, off duty," she said, putting a reminder of her status up-front.

"Emily, you'll need to go out to the Martin place tonight. Jason will meet you there. Neighbors say they think the twister might have touched down that way."

"Jesus," Emily said, waving Jenna inside. "Can't it wait until morning? I'm about half dead right now."

"You know the answer. Once we get a call from a concerned citizen we have to act on it right away. Damned public relations. Damned lawyers."

Sheriff Brian Kiplinger had a point. An adjacent county nearly went bankrupt in the late 1990s when a woman reported that her sister was being abused by her husband. When law enforcement arrived two days later, the woman was paralyzed from a beating that happened after the sister phoned in her concerns.

"All right," Emily said. "I'm going."

"Jason's already on his way."

Emily exhaled. She was needed. She told herself that she'd be back home in bed within a couple of hours. She grabbed one of Jenna's Red Bulls from the fridge, thinking that the energy drink's sugar and caffeine could fuel her for the drive out to the Martin ranch on Canyon Ridge, about fifteen miles out of town. Once there, she knew adrenaline would kick in. So would Jason Howard's bottomless reserve of energy. Jason was only twenty-five, a sheriff 's deputy with a four-year degree in criminology from Washington State University. He was single. Bright. Always up for anything. Youth and enthusiasm counted during the grindingly long hours after the storm.

She glanced at it, but ultimately ignored the red Cyclops of the answering machine light. Whoever had called could wait. She blew a kiss at Jenna, who was now in front of the TV watching some trashy dating show set on a cruise ship. Emily was too tired-and too preoccupied-to say anything about it. She clutched her purse and went for the door. The car radio was playing a B. B. King song, which was like comfort food for her soul. She loved that New Orleans sound-B.B. was her favorite.

This, too, shall pass, came to mind as she drove.

The sky had blackened like a cast-iron pan, pinning her headlights to the roadway. A tumbleweed, a holdout from the previous season, skittered in front of the Accord. The wind that had converged on Cherrystone and obliterated everything in its wake had become gentle, but was still present. Dust and litter swirled over the roadway as she drove into the darkness of a spring night. Lights off the highway revealed the neat ranch homes amid fields of hops and peppermint-the two most important cash crops of the region. Emily felt the buzz of the Red Bull's caffeine as she took a sharp left off the highway.


Excerpted from A Cold Dark Place by GREGG OLSEN Copyright © 2008 by Gregg Olsen. Excerpted by permission.
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.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 51 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 51 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 18, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Great read. Great characters.

    I found A COLD DARK PLACE a very good book. The characters were well developed and likeable. The storyline was very good. I enjoyed it and would recommend it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 7, 2011

    Nook format

    Will this book EVER be available in NOOK FORMAT? thompset

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2008

    Top Suspense/Thriller

    Gregg Olsen hit the bullseye with A Cold Dark Place. Gregg has that unique writing style that puts the reader on edge and has you gasping for air. We have this listed as an editor choice book and made Gregg the May Author of the Month. His true crime experience is seen in the pages of his fiction work, by creating wonderful characters and a fast paced story. A Cold Dark Place and Gregg Olsen should be considered one at the top of theSuspense/Thriller genre for 2008.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    an exciting action-packed investigative thriller

    In Cherrystone, Washington, the tornado touched down on the Marin home. Former Seattle homicide detective Emily Kenyon goes to see if her neighbors are okay besides the storm devastation that razed the house, she finds three brutally murdered corpses. It is who she does not see that concerns her the fourth member of the Martin family, Nick is missing.---------- As Emily wonders whether he could be a vicious mass killer, she learns her teenage daughter Jenna has run away with Nick apparently Jenna plans to help him prove his innocence. Worried for her daughter¿s safety from either Nick as a stone cold killer or an unknown predator, Emily hopes to find them before someone else is hurt. However, she remains clueless that the homicides tie back to two decades of killings and the tragic case that led to her leaving SPD.------------- A COLD DARK PLACE is an exciting action-packed investigative thriller that is much more complicated than the simplified description above. Emily keeps the tale focused as she goes from one horror to another starting with the tornado, the three homicides, the missing son, and culminating with her daughter running off with potentially the killer. Fans will enjoy Greg Olsen¿s fabulous whodunit as he escorts the audience back and forth between the present and twenty years ago in a strong mystery.------------- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2014


    Wow! Great book! Wicked scary stuff! This was a excellent suspenseful thriller! Loved it! Big fan of Olsen!

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  • Posted May 31, 2013


    another exciting Gregg Olsen novel, keep them coming Gregg.

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  • Posted August 19, 2012

    I loved this book. It was dense with great, complex characters

    I loved this book. It was dense with great, complex characters and
    awesome plot twists. It kept me up very late at night turning pages.
    It was an absolute pleasure to read. Emily Kenyon is a tough small town
    Sheriff’s detective and single mother of a teenage girl. When she is
    called upon to investigate the murder of an entire family at a nearby
    farmhouse, she discovers that their adopted teenage son is missing. He
    becomes the prime suspect. Before Emily can get a handle on what went
    down at the farmhouse which was subsequently destroyed by a tornado, her
    daughter Jenna is on the run with the missing teenage murder suspect.
    As Emily’s investigation and desperate search for her daughter
    intensifies, she uncovers a twisted web of lies and past murders, at the
    center of which is a ruthless serial killer. What I loved about this
    novel is that it is well-written and the deftly handled plot twists are
    plenty. Olsen is a master at fleshing out various characters’
    psychology and motivations. He writes women incredibly well—from the
    embittered, haunted but compassionate and likeable Kenyon to the serial
    killer groupies, Bonnie and Tina who show up later in the book. His use
    of the flashback is incredible and I loved how everything came together
    in the end. Olsen puts a new, brilliant and clever twist on the
    murder-suicide story. Things are not at all what they seem. As a long
    time crime thriller reader, I found this novel to be incredibly
    satisfying and I can’t wait to read the rest of Olsen’s fiction.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2012


    Was an awesome book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2012


    Yeah. *smiles* okay. Ive gtg. Cya tomorrow!

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2012

    doll mask

    *says nothig*.........

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2012


    U wouldnt know me well...

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2012

    Peacock-Giraffe Mask to Bird Mask

    I know who you are, but who am I? A tough challenge, huh?

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2012

    Great Read

    Just finished this book, first one by this author. I will look for more titles by him. Great suspense.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2012

    Really enjoyed this book!

    Really like all of his books! Kind of just stumbled on to him but couldn't put him down

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  • Posted January 20, 2012

    Very entertaining... a must read

    You will be drawn in from the start and won't be able to put it down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2011

    great mystery

    This book keeps you interested fromm page one

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  • Posted October 23, 2011

    What a thriller!

    Another great book by Gregg Olsen! Can't wait for the next one! Keep em coming!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2008

    Another Olsen Great

    I have read many of Gregg's books. He really has a way with keeping you glued to his writing. It blows me away how he comes up with indepth character plots. There is an old saying 'always leave them wanting more' Gregg does that exceptionally well.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2008

    Fast Paced Suspense You Can't Put Down

    When you open this book, be prepared for something like pushing your car to the limits on a winding road! Fast-paced twists and turns all the way to the last page! I can feel Gregg's familiarity with real people in real situations in his well developed, interesting characters it's easy to keep track of them and the parts they play. And the true-crime, non-fiction, real-life, no-ending ending is exactly what I'd expect and what we'll probably find to be 'classic Gregg Olsen' style. 'Write on', Gregg!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2008

    You won't be able to put this one down.

    With this latest thriller, Gregg Olsen proves that the transition from writing True Crime to writing Fiction can be done very well. Mr. Olsen has the ability to draw the reader right into the story. From the minute I began reading, I felt a strong connection to Emily, like she was an old friend. I was hooked by this very excellent read from the very first page and could not put it down. Because I don't want to give away any of the story, I will just say that this book is a must read for any lovers of thrillers, mystery, and suspense. If you've never read any, this is a great book to start with and you won't be disappointed.

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