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Damnation Street
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Damnation Street

3.6 3
by Andrew Klavan

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They are two sworn enemies with a single obsession: a woman on the run from them both. Scott Weiss is a private detective. John Foy is a professional killer. The woman is Julie Wyant, a hooker with the face of an angel. There’s only one man who can find her: Weiss, the best locate operative in the business. Now, from a town called Paradise, through a


They are two sworn enemies with a single obsession: a woman on the run from them both. Scott Weiss is a private detective. John Foy is a professional killer. The woman is Julie Wyant, a hooker with the face of an angel. There’s only one man who can find her: Weiss, the best locate operative in the business. Now, from a town called Paradise, through a wilderness that feels like hell, Weiss searches for Julie—and the killer follows, waiting for his chance. They are two expert hunters matching move for move—until it ends on Damnation Street.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher


"A taut, tense noir leavened with rollicking mayhem and romantic yearning. A-."—Entertainment Weekly

"Klavan’s confidently wry style keeps things punched up throughout . . . If having this much fun with a tale of assassination and romantic melancholy is wrong, who wants to be right?"—The Atlantic Monthly

Publishers Weekly
A select group of authors have the skills needed to read their own works for audio and Klavan can be counted as a member of that club. Damnation Street tells a dark tale of two men's obsession. Middle-aged ex-cop Scott Wiess, now running a private detective agency in San Francisco, has pursued a psychotic, professional killer known as the Shadowman for years. The killer is stalking a beautiful prostitute named Julie Wyatt in an attempt to fulfill his own perverse version of love. Wyatt becomes the focal point for both men, leading to a final heart-stopping confrontation between the two adversaries. In his "author's note," Klavan states that this book, like the two proceeding it, is a "fictionalized memoir" of his time working for a real detective agency. Based on truth or not, this is a well-written, suspenseful book, and the author proves the perfect choice to bring his words to life on audio. Klavan has a surprisingly pleasant voice and handles the numerous characterizations, shifting points of view and gritty dialogue like an old pro. Simultaneous release with the Harcourt hardcover (Reviews, June 26). (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A private eye obsessed with rescuing a beautiful prostitute from a contract killer feels the hitman's breath over his shoulder as he tracks her down. When you take money for sex, you can't pick your lovers, and Julie Wyant is reminded of that after an encounter with John Foy, aka the Shadowman. After a single night as blissful for him as it is excruciating for her, he promises to return and make her his forever. So she hightails it out of San Francisco, pausing only long enough to beg Scott Weiss, peerless finder of lost souls, not to find her. Weiss soon learns that Julie's been unlucky with men since childhood. When she was 13, her father beat her mother to death and hid so successfully that the cops are still looking for him. Despite her plea, Weiss is certain that the only way he can protect her from the Shadowman is to find her first, even though he's equally certain the killer will be dogging his every move. Klavan counterpoints this game of cat-and-cat with the tales of Weiss operative Jim Bishop, a loose cannon who just can't stay out of trouble, and the anonymous narrator, a Weiss menial who's hired by a clueless Berkeley professor to spy on his daughter, Emma McNair, the girl the narrator left behind. Klavan's tenth (Man and Wife, 2001, etc.) is a violent, sentimental comic book without the drawings.
Entertainment Weekly

"A taut, tense noir leavened with rollicking mayhem and romantic yearning. A-"
Atlantic Monthly

"If having this much fun with a tale of assassination and romantic melancholy is wrong, who wants to be right?"

"Klavan’s writing is masterful, and his characters superbly drawn."
New York Daily News

"A hardboiled noir mystery that will please old-style mystery lovers and modern crime novel fans alike."
author of Troubleshooter and Last Shot Gregg Hurwitz

"Damnation Street reminds me again why Klavan is one of my drop-everything-and-read authors."

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Weiss and Bishop Novels Series
Edition description:
First Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)

Read an Excerpt


Paradise was a crap town. With the summer tourists gone, the main street was deserted after nightfall. Trash rattled along the gutters, blown by the harbor wind. Darkened storefronts stared into the emptiness beyond the far sidewalk. Somewhere in that emptiness, the ocean waves crashed down and whispered away.

Scott Weiss walked past the shops, heading for his hotel. He was a man in his fifties, a big man with a paunch. He had a sad, ugly face. Deep bags under world-weary eyes. A bulbous nose. Sagging cheeks. Unkempt salt-and-pepper hair. He wore a gray overcoat. He kept his hands in the pockets, his broad shoulders hunched. The shop windows reflected him as he went past them leaning into the wind.

His hotel was the only hotel on the street. It was two stories, clapboard, yellow with white trim. It had white pillars holding up a balcony with a white rail. Weiss moved under the balcony to the front door. The door was glass. His reflection was there too. He looked into his own mournful eyes as he approached it. He pushed inside.

The hotel lobby was paneled in oak, stained a deep brown. There was a fire in the large fireplace. There was a heavy oak reception counter in front of the manager’s office. There was no one behind the counter, no one anywhere in the lobby. The door to the office was closed.

Weiss stood at the counter and rapped his knuckles on the wood. He waited. The office door opened and a woman came out. She was about forty, short and chesty, frazzled, blond. She was wearing yellow slacks and a purple turtleneck, a cheerfully loud combination. She hesitated when she saw Weiss. Something flickered in the look she gave him. Whatever it was, it passed. She came ahead to the counter, stood across from him.

“Chilly out there tonight, isn’t it?” she said. Her voice was toneless. She didn’t look up at him. “Two thirteen,” she said, and turned to the cubbyholes on the wall behind her to fetch his key.

Weiss had a knack for reading people. He could tell what they were thinking. He could often guess what they would do. Sometimes the smallest gesture could give him what he needed.

Now, for instance, he could see that the woman behind the counter was scared.
He took the room key from her pale fingers. The woman pressed her lips together. It looked like she wanted to say something, to tell him something, to warn him maybe about what was waiting for him upstairs. But how could she? How could she know who the good guys and bad guys were, what was safe, what wasn’t? It was smarter for her to just keep her mouth shut. So that’s what she did.

Weiss smiled at her with one corner of his mouth. He wanted her to know it was all right. “Good night,” he said.

The woman tried to answer, but it didn’t come off.

Weiss moved away from her. He walked to the wooden stairs. He felt the woman watching him as he went. The hotel windows knocked and rattled in the wind. He climbed heavily up to the second floor.

He trudged along the second-floor gallery. He shifted the room key into his left hand. His right hand slipped inside his overcoat, inside his tweed jacket, to his shoulder holster. He wriggled out his old snub-nosed .38. It wasn’t much of a gun, a real antique at this point. A relic from his days on the SFPD, back before they shifted over to the Berettas. Slow and inaccurate, it wouldn’t be much use against the man who was after him. The man who was after him was a professional, a genuine whack specialist. If he wanted Weiss dead, he would make Weiss dead, ancient .38 or no. Still, Weiss liked the feel of the gun in his hand. Better than nothing. He kept it pressed against his middle as he went down the gallery.

He reached the room, two thirteen. He tried the knob, but the door was locked, just the way he’d left it. He unlocked it. He pushed it in.

The room was dark. He stood where he was, on the threshold. He reached in and felt along the wall for the light switch. He found it, flicked it up. Nothing. The light did not come on.

Weiss felt his heart beat harder. He cursed silently. Maybe that’s all the specialist wanted. Maybe he was watching from somewhere, spying on him, playing with him, cat and mouse. Maybe he just wanted to see Weiss pale and sweating and scared.

Well, congratulations, he thought. You sick schmuck.

He stepped into the room. He shut the door behind him. An act of defiance: to hell with the dark. The dark got thicker. The curtains were closed, only a pale beam from a streetlamp fell through the crack between them. Weiss moved in that light from shadow to shadow. He made his way to the bathroom, reached inside. When he flicked the switch, the bulb worked, the light came on in there, glinting off the white tile walls. That lit his way back to the main room, to the desk lamp and the bedside lamp. He turned those on as well.

The room was empty. A small wood-paneled room, crowded with a bed and a weathered writing table.

Weiss holstered his gun. He moved to the bed, sat down on the edge of it, letting out a sigh. His heart beat hard for a few more seconds, then it eased. The back of his neck felt damp against his overcoat collar.

Might’ve been nothing. Nerves. The hotel clerk might really not have been afraid at all. He might’ve imagined it. The lightbulb might have blown out on its own. The killer might never have been in the room at all.
Didn’t matter. He was here, sure enough. Somewhere. Somewhere close. Watching him. Listening to him. Dogging every step.

Weiss’s bottle of scotch, his Macallan, was on the writing desk, beside the blotter. After a while he got up, stripped off his overcoat, dumped it on the bed. He fetched a water glass from the bathroom. He sat at the desk and poured himself a measure of whiskey. He lifted the glass to his mouth with his left hand. Held it there and let the scent sting his nostrils. With his right hand, he reached into the pocket of his jacket and drew out his picture of the whore.

He laid the photograph on the desk, on the blotter, framed against the green felt. He sipped his scotch and looked down at her.

She was one goddamned beautiful whore, all right. Julie Wyant, her name was. She had red-gold hair and blue eyes. She had an ivory-and-rose complexion. She had a dreamy gaze. Weiss liked that about her especially: her dreamy, faraway gaze.

Weiss didn’t know much about her, but he knew what there was to know. She had worked out of San Francisco. She was especially popular with middle-aged men. Some guys reach a certain stage of life, and they get all syrupy and nostalgic. She appealed to guys like that. She was gentle and a little spacey, and she had a face like an angel. Her face seemed to remind these men of girls they used to imagine when they were young, girls they made up before they knew real girls. She reminded Weiss of that kind of girl too.

Anyway, she had caught the attention of a professional killer, a whack specialist the newspapers liked to call the Shadowman. Weiss knew this guy. He’d been after him since his cop days. The specialist spent one night with Julie. He hurt her—a lot—that was love’s sweet song to this sick piece of shit. He hurt her, then he told her he wanted to keep her with him forever.

Julie believed him. That’s why she vanished.
Copyright © 2006 by Amalgamated Metaphor, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording,
or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be submitted online at www.harcourt.com/contact or mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc.,
6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

What People are Saying About This

Gregg Hurwitz
"Damnation Street reminds me again why Klavan is one of my drop-everything-and-read authors."--(Gregg Hurwitz, author of Troubleshooter and Last Shot)

Meet the Author

ANDREW KLAVAN is the author of the best-selling novels True Crime, filmed by Clint Eastwood, and Don’t Say a Word, a film starring Michael Douglas. His work has been nominated for the Edgar Award five times and has won twice. He is a contributing editor at City Journal and his articles have appeared, among other places, in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times. He lives in Southern California with his wife Ellen. They have a daughter, Faith, and a son, Spencer.

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Damnation Street 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
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shirlbell More than 1 year ago
Very entertaining, I would read another of his books