The Devil's Teardrop: A Novel of the Last Night of the Century

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Overview

New Year's Eve, 1999. After an early morning machine-gun attack by a madman man called the Digger leaves dozens dead in the Washington, D.C. subway, the mayor's office receives a message demanding twenty million dollars by midnight or more innocents will die. With the ransom note as the only evidence, Special Agent Margaret Lukas calls upon retired FBI agent and the nation's premiere document examiner Parker Kincaid, to join the manhunt for the Digger ? or for hundreds, the first moments of the new century will ...

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Overview

New Year's Eve, 1999. After an early morning machine-gun attack by a madman man called the Digger leaves dozens dead in the Washington, D.C. subway, the mayor's office receives a message demanding twenty million dollars by midnight or more innocents will die. With the ransom note as the only evidence, Special Agent Margaret Lukas calls upon retired FBI agent and the nation's premiere document examiner Parker Kincaid, to join the manhunt for the Digger — or for hundreds, the first moments of the new century will be their last on earth.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review

The Digger's in Town

A wild, demonic, and relentless ride describes Jeffery Deaver's new thrill machine, The Devil's Teardrop, to its bone-jarring core. Two men have a horrific and bloody plan. One is a robotlike assassin with no remorse, no compassion, no fear. The other is the avaricious, severely demented ringleader, the only man who can call off the other's bloody assault. But when the one falls victim to a freak fatal accident, the other continues, unabatedly, to do what he does best — kill.

The final day of the millennium may also be America's darkest when a methodical killer begins to wreak havoc inside the nation's Beltway. At 9am, 23 men, women, and children are gunned down at a D.C. Metro station. Shortly after, the mayor receives a letter claiming that this madman, known only as the Digger, will strike every four hours unless $20 million is left at a designated location. But when the brains behind this hellish scheme dies in a freak accident, no one remains who can reveal the assassin's identity, let alone call him off.

Enter Parker Kincaid, ex-FBI agent and single father of two. At the urging of local and federal law officials, Kincaid — widely regarded as the top forensic document examiner in the country — attempts to find the rampant madman before he kills again. The only evidence he has is the original letter. With time running out, with more innocent people sure to die, the end has never felt more near.

From the Publisher
San Francisco Examiner A devil of a thriller.

The New York Times Book Review A fiendish suspense thriller....Leaves us weak.

Library Journal A consummate thriller....highly recommended.

BookPage From the very first page...both the reader and the party-hatted residents of Washington, D.C., know they're in for a very wild last night of the century.

The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) Deaver writes the types of thrillers that would challenge the most enthusiastic roller-coaster rider...he crafts provocative opening scenes to draw readers in, send chills down their spines, and force them to turn the pages. Quick, unexpected plot turns are guaranteed to keep that adrenaline pumping right up until the final pages.

San Jose Mercury News A professional, high-quality crime thriller....Deaver is the current master of pure detection — an effervescent Sherlock Holmes-style blend of science and inspiration that makes his books sing and dance.

San Francisco Examiner [A] devil of a thriller....Fascinating....Full of good characters and dialogue.

People Deaver is a master of ticking-bomb suspense.

The Denver Post A fast read, chockablock with twists and turns that pave the way to a satisfying conclusion....Vintage Deaver, a smattering of clues and a race against time.

Booklist Action-packed....Suspense fans everywhere....will appreciate and enjoy this well-crafted tale of mystery and terror....Deaver is at his best here.

Randy Michael Signor
Deaver’s latest thriller opens with a man named Digger calmly using a concealed Uzi to mow down dozens of people on the steep escalator leading to the subway at DuPont Circle in Washington, D.C., on the morning of New Year’s Eve 1999. Another man leaves a note outside the mayor’s office demanding $20 million by noon or Digger will strike again. That’s the setup for a fast-paced tale that unfolds over the course of barely fifteen hours. The man who left the note is soon killed in a hit-and-run, and it is learned that he was merely a messenger; someone else is pulling the strings. The police have no clues other than the note. They call in retired FBI document specialist Parker Kincaid, who now makes a nice living verifying historical documents and lives with his two young children. There are other heroic Federal agents, including the woman who runs the case; the mayor and his ambitious aide; and a corrupt television newsman. The story is compelling and fast-moving enough that you almost don’t catch on to how cliche-ridden it all is.
People Magazine
Deaver is a master of ticking-bomb suspense.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
FYI: Universal Pictures is producing Deaver's The Bone Collector as a film starring Denzel Washington. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
And the last night of the millennium, as fate would have it. One mass murder has already occurred, and as the countdown for New Years begins, the cops try to prevent a second massacre.
School Library Journal
YA-A gripping thriller that grabs readers' interest on page one and doesn't let go until the last exciting word. Parker Kincaid is a retired FBI forensic document examiner who is compelled to put himself and his family at risk in order to help save the lives of hundreds of Washington, DC, residents. It is the last day of 1999 and a grisly machine-gun attack in the Dupont Circle subway station has left dozens dead and wounded. Authorities have been notified that the killing spree will continue every four hours unless the mayor pays $20 million in ransom. When the lead terrorist is killed in a hit-and-run accident on his way to the money drop, the ransom note becomes the FBI's sole piece of evidence. Intricate forensic details are explained in easy terms so that uninitiated readers will understand every clue. With its fast-moving story line, this novel will take teens on a roller-coaster ride of adventure with twists and turns that lead up to the surprising conclusion.-Anita Short, W. T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Mary Cannon
Look to Deaver for originality in his characters, an intricate plot, breathtaking pace, and a shocker of an ending.
Mystery Magazine
Marilyn Stasio
Amazing as it sounds, Deaver makes the intellectual puzzle the most thrilling part of his high-anxiety drama, which twists, turns and leaves us weak.
The New York Times Book Review
Kirkus Reviews
Deaver's betwixt-and-between thriller pits the FBI and all its buddies against a blackmailer who's threatening terrorist attacks on revelers welcoming the millennium in the nation's capital. The blackmail scheme couldn't be simpler: a half-human killer called the Digger, who's already established his murderous credentials in a rush-hour massacre in a Metro station, will attack again at 4:00, 8:00, and midnight of January 1, 2000, unless a $20 million ransom is delivered to his accomplice by noon. Mayor Gerald Kennedy, against all advice, prepares to pay the ransom, but his agonizing and his precautions are both wasted, since the accomplice, Gilbert Havel, won't be picking up the money—he's been run down and killed by a truck. This monkey wrench means that the Digger, who's essentially unreachable by any other human being, is still wandering the streets, waiting for the deadline for his next assault. Enter certified document examiner Parker Kincaid, ex-FBI, who braves the wrath of his ex-wife Joan (she's got both eyes cocked for evidence that his job is putting their children in harm's way), to help the Agency establish a profile of the two conspirators based on the one piece of physical evidence they have: the ransom-demand note. Naturally, Parker strikes up more than a friendship with Margaret Lukas, the agent heading the operation; naturally, Deaver has some nasty twists up his sleeve. This time, though, as if he knows that the case is less surprising and suspenseful than his two similar cases starring paralyzed New York criminalist Lincoln Rhyme (The Bone Polisher, 1997; The Coffin Dancer, 1998), Deaver restricts Rhyme to a telephone cameo. Fans of Rhyme willmiss him, of course; more unfortunately, they'll suss out Deaver's biggest surprise long before they ought to. What's left is sturdy, reliable, ticking-clock thrills—just not as many of them as Deaver serves up at his best.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671038441
  • Publisher: Pocket Books
  • Publication date: 4/1/2000
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 480
  • Product dimensions: 6.78 (w) x 4.22 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeffery  Deaver

Jeffery Deaver is the author of two collections of short stories and twenty-eight suspense novels. He is best known for his Kathryn Dance and Lincoln Rhyme thrillers, most notably The Bone Collector, which was made into a feature starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. His many awards include the Novel of the Year at the International Thriller Writers’ Awards in 2009 for his standalone novel The Bodies Left Behind. The latest entries in the Lincoln Rhyme series are The Cold Moon, The Broken Window, and The Burning Wire.

Deaver has been nominated for seven Edgar Awards by the Mystery Writers of America, an Anthony Award and a Gumshoe Award. He was recently short-listed for the ITV3 Crime Thriller Award for Best International Author. His books are sold in 150 countries and translated into twenty-five languages. He lives in North Carolina.

Biography

Born just outside Chicago in 1950 to an advertising copywriter father and stay-at-home mom, Jeffery Deaver was a writer from the start, penning his first book (a brief tome just two chapters in length) at age 11. He went on to edit his high school literary magazine and serve on the staff of the school newspaper, chasing the dream of becoming a crack reporter.

Upon earning his B.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri, Deaver realized that he lacked the necessary background to become a legal correspondent for the high-profile publications he aspired to, such as The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal, so he enrolled at Fordham Law School. Being a legal eagle soon grew on Deaver, and rather than continue on as a reporter, he took a job as a corporate lawyer at a top Wall Street firm. Deaver's detour from the writing life wasn't to last, however; ironically, it was his substantial commute to the law office that touched off his third -- and current -- career. He'd fill the long hours on the train scribbling his own renditions of the kind of fiction he enjoyed reading most: suspense.

Voodoo, a supernatural thriller, and Always a Thief, an art-theft caper, were Deaver's first published novels. Produced by the now-defunct Paperjacks paperback original house, the books are no longer in print, but they remain hot items on the collector circuit. His first major outing was the Rune series, which followed the adventures of an aspiring female filmmaker in the power trilogy Manhattan Is My Beat (1988), Death of a Blue Movie Star (1990), and Hard News (1991).

Deaver's next series, this one featuring the adventures of ace movie location scout John Pellam, featured the thrillers Shallow Graves (1992), Bloody River Blues (1993), and Hell's Kitchen (2001). Written under the pen name William Jefferies, the series stands out in Deaver's body of work, primarily because it touched off his talent for focusing more on his vivid characters than on their perilous situations.

In fact, it is his series featuring the intrepid and beloved team of Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs that showcases Deaver at the top of his game. Confronting enormous odds (and always under somewhat gruesome circumstances), the embittered detective and his feisty partner and love interest made their debut in 1991's grisly caper The Bone Collector, and hooked fans for four more books: The Coffin Dancer (1998), The Empty Chair (2000), The Stone Monkey (2002), and The Vanishing Man(2003). Of the series, Kirkus Reviews observed, "Deaver marries forensic work that would do Patricia Cornwell proud to turbocharged plots that put Benzedrine to shame."

On the creation of Rhyme, who happens to be a paraplegic, Deaver explained to Shots magazine, "I wanted to create a Sherlock Holmes-ian kind of character that uses his mind rather than his body. He solves crimes by thinking about the crimes, rather than someone who can shoot straight, run faster, or walk into the bar and trick people into giving away the clues."

As for his reputation for conjuring up some of the most unsavory scenes in pop crime fiction, Deaver admits on his web site, "In general, I think, less is more, and that if a reader stops reading because a book is too icky then I've failed in my obligation to the readers."

Good To Know

Deaver revises his manuscripts "at least 20 or 30 times" before his publishers get to even see a version.

Two of his books have been made into major feature films. The first was A Maiden's Grave (the film adaptation was called Dead Silence), which starred James Garner and Marlee Matlin. The Bone Collector came next, starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie.

In addition to being a bestselling novelist, Deaver has also been a folksinger, songwriter, music researcher, and professional poet.

Deaver's younger sister, Julie Reece Deaver, is a fellow author who writes novels for young adults.

In our interview with Deaver, he reveals, "My inspiration for writing is the reader. I want to give readers whatever will excite and please them. It's absolutely vital in this business for authors to know their audience and to write with them in mind."

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    1. Also Known As:
      William Jefferies, Jeffery Wilds Deaver
    2. Hometown:
      Washington, D.C.
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 6, 1950
    2. Place of Birth:
      Chicago, Illinois
    1. Education:
      B.A., University of Missouri; Juris Doctor, cum laude, Fordham University School of Law
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One: The Last Day of the Year

A thorough analysis of an anonymous letter may greatly reduce the number of possible writers and may at once dismiss certain suspected writers. The use of a semicolon or the correct use of an apostrophe may eliminate a whole group of writers.

-Osborn and Osborn,

Questioned Document Problems

The Digger's in town.

The Digger looks like you, the Digger looks like me. He walks down the wintry streets the way anybody would, shoulders drawn together against the damp December air.

He's not tall and not short, he's not heavy and not thin. His fingers in dark gloves might be pudgy but they might not. His feet seem large but maybe that's just the size of his shoes.

If you glanced at his eyes you wouldn't notice the shape or the color but only that they don't seem quite human, and if the Digger glanced at you while you were looking at him, his eyes might be the very last thing you ever saw.

He wears a long, black coat, or a dark blue one, and not a soul on the street notices him pass by though there are many witnesses here — the streets of Washington, D.C., are crowded because it's morning rush hour.

The Digger's in town and it's New Year's Eve.

Carrying a Fresh Fields shopping bag, the Digger dodges around couples and singles and families and keeps on walking. Ahead, he sees the Metro station. He was told to be there at exactly 9 A.M. and he will be. The Digger is never late.

The bag in his maybe-pudgy hand is heavy. It weighs eleven pounds though by the time the Digger returns to his motel room it will weigh considerably less.

A man bumps into him and smiles and says, "Sorry," but the Digger doesn't glance at him. The Digger never looks at anybody and doesn't want anybody to look at him.

"Don't let anybody..." Click. "...let anybody see your face. Look away. Remember?"

I remember.

Click.

Look at the lights, he thinks, look at the...click...at the New Year's Eve decorations. Fat babies in banners, Old Man Time.

Funny decorations. Funny lights. Funny how nice they are.

This is Dupont Circle, home of money, home of art, home of the young and the chic. The Digger knows this but he knows it only because the man who tells him things told him about Dupont Circle.

He arrives at the mouth of the subway tunnel. The morning is overcast and, being winter, there is a dimness over the city.

The Digger thinks of his wife on days like this. Pamela didn't like the dark and the cold so she...click...she...What did she do? That's right. She planted red flowers and yellow flowers.

He looks at the subway and he thinks of a picture he saw once. He and Pamela were at a museum. They saw an old drawing on the wall.

And Pamela said, "Scary. Let's go."

It was a picture of the entrance to hell.

The Metro tunnel disappears sixty feet underground, passengers rising, passengers descending. It looks just like that drawing.

The entrance to hell.

Here are young women with hair cut short and briefcases. Here are young men with their sports bags and cell phones.

And here is the Digger with his shopping bag.

Maybe he's fat, maybe he's thin. Looking like you, looking like me. Nobody ever notices the Digger and that's one of the reasons he's so very good at what he does.

"You're the best," said the man who tells him things last year. You're the...click, click...the best.

At 8:59 the Digger walks to the top of the down escalator, which is filled with people disappearing into the pit.

He reaches into the bag and curls his finger around the comfy grip of the gun, which may be an Uzi or a Mac-10 or an Intertech but definitely weighs eleven pounds and is loaded with a hundred-round clip of .22 long-rifle bullets.

The Digger's hungry for soup but he ignores the sensation.

Because he's the...click...the best.

He looks toward but not at the crowd, waiting their turn to step onto the down escalator, which will take them to hell. He doesn't look at the couples or the men with telephones or women with hair from Supercuts, which is where Pamela went. He doesn't look at the families. He clutches the shopping bag to his chest, the way anybody would if it were full of holiday treats. One hand on the grip of whatever kind of gun it is, his other hand curled — outside the bag — around what somebody might think is a loaf of Fresh Fields bread that would go very nicely with soup but is in fact a heavy sound suppressor, packed with mineral cotton and rubber baffles.

His watch beeps.

Nine A.M.

He pulls the trigger.

There is a hissing sound as the stream of bullets begins working its way down the passengers on the escalator and they pitch forward under the fire. The hush hush hush of the gun is suddenly obscured by the screams.

"Oh God look out Jesus Jesus what's happening I'm hurt I'm falling." And things like that.

Hush hush hush.

And all the terrible clangs of the misses — the bullets striking the metal and the tile. That sound is very loud. The sounds of the hits are much softer.

Everyone looks around, not knowing what's going on.

The Digger looks around too. Everyone frowns. He frowns.

Nobody thinks that they are being shot. They believe that someone has fallen and started a chain reaction of people tumbling down the escalator. Clangs and snaps as phones and briefcases and sports bags fall from the hands of the victims.

The hundred rounds are gone in seconds.

No one notices the Digger as he looks around, like everyone else.

Frowning.

"Call an ambulance the police the police my God this girl needs help she needs help somebody he's dead oh Jesus my Lord her leg look at her leg my baby my baby..."

The Digger lowers the shopping bag, which has one small hole in the bottom where the bullets left. The bag holds all the hot, brass shells.

"Shut it off shut off the escalator oh Jesus look somebody stop it stop the escalator they're being crushed..."

Things like that.

The Digger looks. Because everybody's looking.

pard

But it's hard to see into hell. Below is just a mass of bodies piling up, growing higher, writhing...Some are alive, some dead, some struggling to get out from underneath the crush that's piling up at the base of the escalator.

The Digger is easing backward into the crowd. And then he's gone.

He's very good at disappearing. "When you leave you should act like a chameleon," said the man who tells him things. "Do you know what that is?"

"A lizard."

"Right."

"That changes color. I saw it on TV."

The Digger is moving along the sidewalks, filled with people. Running this way and that way. Funny.

Funny...

Nobody notices the Digger.

Who looks like you and looks like me and looks like the woodwork. Whose face is white as a morning sky. Or dark as the entrance to hell.

As he walks — slowly, slowly — he thinks about his motel. Where he'll reload his gun and repack his silencer with bristly mineral cotton and sit in his comfy chair with a bottle of water and a bowl of soup beside him. He'll sit and relax until this afternoon and then — if the man who tells him things doesn't leave a message to tell him not to — he'll put on his long black or blue coat once more and go outside.

And do this all over again.

It's New Year's Eve. And the Digger's in town.

While ambulances were speeding to Dupont Circle and rescue workers were digging through the ghastly mine of bodies in the Metro station, Gilbert Havel walked toward City Hall, two miles away.

At the corner of Fourth and D, beside a sleeping maple tree, Havel paused and opened the envelope he carried and read the note one last time.

Mayor Kennedy —

The end is night. The Digger is loose and their is no way to stop him. He will kill again — at four, 8 and Midnight if you don't pay.

I am wanting $20 million dollars in cash, which you will put into a bag and leave it two miles south of Rt 66 on the West Side of the Beltway. In the middle of the Field. Pay to me the Money by 1200 hours. Only I am knowing how to stop The Digger. If you apprehend me, he will keep killing. If you kill me, he will keep killing.

If you dont think I'm real, some of the Diggers bullets were painted black. Only I know that.

This was, Havel decided, about as perfect an idea as anybody could've come up with. Months of planning. Every possible response by the police and FBI anticipated. A chess game.

Buoyed by that thought, he replaced the note in the envelope, closed but didn't seal it and continued along the street. Havel walked in a stooped lope, eyes down, a pose meant to diminish his six-two height. It was hard for him, though; he preferred to walk tall and stare people down.

The security at City Hall, One Judiciary Square, was ridiculous. No one noticed as he walked past the entrance to the nondescript stone building and paused at a newspaper vending machine. He slipped the envelope under the stand and turned slowly, walking toward E Street.

Warm for New Year's Eve, Havel was thinking. The air smelled like fall — rotten leaves and humid wood smoke. The scent aroused a pang of undefined nostalgia for his childhood home. He stopped at a pay phone on the corner, dropped in some coins and dialed a number.

A voice answered, "City Hall. Security."

Havel held a tape recorder next to the phone and pressed PLAY. A computer-generated voice said, "Envelope in front of the building. Under the Post vending machine. Read it now. It's about the Metro killings." He hung up and crossed the street, dropping the tape recorder into a paper cup and throwing the cup into a wastebasket.

Havel stepped into a coffee shop and sat down in a window booth, where he had a good view of the vending machine and the side entrance to City Hall. He wanted to make sure the envelope was picked up — it was, before Havel even had his jacket off. He also wanted to see who'd be coming to advise the mayor. And whether reporters showed up.

The waitress stopped by his booth and he ordered coffee and, though it was still breakfast time, a steak sandwich, the most expensive thing on the menu. Why not? He was about to become a very wealthy man.

Copyright © 1999 by Jeffery Deaver

Read More Show Less

First Chapter

Chapter One

The Digger's in town.

The Digger looks like you, the Digger looks like me. He walks down the wintry streets the way anybody would, shoulders drawn together against the damp December air.

He's not tall and not short, he's not heavy and not thin.

His fingers in dark gloves might be pudgy but they might not. His feet seem large but maybe that's just the size of his shoes.

If you glanced at his eyes you wouldn't notice the shape or the color but only that they don't seem quite human, and if the Digger glanced at you while you were looking at him, his eyes might be the very last thing you ever saw.

He wears a long, black coat, or a dark blue one, and not a soul on the street notices him pass by though there are many witnesses here -- the streets of Washington, D.C., are crowded because it's morning rush hour.

The Digger's in town and it's New Year's Eve.

Carrying a Fresh Fields shopping bag, the Digger dodges around couples and singles and families and keeps on walking. Ahead, he sees the Metro station. He was told to be there at exactly 9 A.M. and he will be. The Digger is never late.

The bag in his maybe-pudgy hand is heavy. It weighs eleven pounds though by the time the Digger returns to his motel room it will weigh considerably less.

A man bumps into him and smiles and says, "Sorry," but the Digger doesn't glance at him. The Digger never looks at anybody and doesn't want anybody to look at him.

"Don't let anybody..." Click. "let anybody see your face. Lookaway. Remember?"

I remember.

Click.

Look at the lights, he thinks, look at the...click...at the New Year's Eve decorations. Fat babies in banners, Old Man Time.The Digger's hungry for soup but he ignores the sensation.

Because he's the...click...the best.

He looks toward but not at the crowd, waiting their turn to step onto the down escalator, which will take them to hell. He doesn't look at the couples or the men with telephones or women with hair from Supercuts, which is where Pamela went. He doesn't look at the families. He clutches the shopping bag to his chest, the way anybody would if it were full of holiday treats. One hand on the grip of whatever kind of gun it is, his other hand curled -- outside the bag -- around what somebody might think is a loaf of Fresh Fields bread that would go very nicely with soup but is in fact a heavy sound suppressor, packed with mineral cotton and rubber baffles.

His watch beeps.

Nine A.M.

He pulls the trigger.

There is a hissing sound as the stream of bullets begins working its way down the passengers on the escalator and they pitch forward under the fire. The hush hush hush of the gun is suddenly obscured by the screams.

"Oh God look out Jesus Jesus what's happening I'm hurt I'm falling." And things like that.

Hush hush hush.

And all the terrible clangs of the misses -- the bullets striking the metal and the tile. That sound is very loud. The sounds of the hits are much softer.

Everyone looks around, not knowing what's going on.

The Digger looks around too. Everyone frowns. He frowns.

Nobody thinks that they are being shot. They believe that someone has fallen and started a chain reaction of people tumbling down the escalator. Clangs and snaps as phones and briefcases and sports bags fall from the hands of the victims.

The hundred rounds are gone in seconds.

No one notices the Digger as he looks around, like everyone else.

Frowning.

"Call an ambulance the police the police my God this girl needs help she needs help somebody he's dead oh Jesus my Lord her leg look at her leg my baby my baby..."

The Digger lowers the shopping bag, which has one small hole in the bottom where the bullets left. The bag holds all the hot, brass shells.

"Shut it off shut off the escalator A Jesus look somebody stop it stop the escalator they're being crushed..."

Things like that.

The Digger looks. Because everybody's looking.

But it's hard to see into hell. Below is just a mass of bodies piling up, growing higher, writhing...Some are alive, some dead, some struggling to get out from underneath the crush that's piling up at the base of the escalator.

The Digger is easing backward into the crowd. And then he's gone.

He's very good at disappearing. "When you leave you should act like a chameleon," said the man who tells him things. "Do you know what that is?"

"A lizard."

"Right."

"That changes color. I saw it on TV."

The Digger is moving along the sidewalks, filled with people. Running this way and that way. Funny.

Funny...

Nobody notices the Digger.

Who looks like you and looks like me and looks like the woodwork. Whose face is white as a morning sky. Or dark as the entrance to hell.

As he walks -- slowly, slowly -- he thinks about his motel. Where he'll reload his gun and repack his silencer with bristly mineral cotton and sit in his comfy chair with a bottle of water and a bowl of soup beside him. He'll sit and relax until this afternoon and then -- if the man who tells him things doesn't leave a message to tell him not to -- he'll put on h is long black or blue coat once more and go outside.

And do this all over again.

It's New Year's Eve. And the Digger's in town.


While ambulances were speeding to Dupont Circle and rescue workers were digging through the ghastly mine of bodies in the Metro station, Gilbert Havel walked toward City Hall, two miles away.

At the corner of Fourth and D, beside a sleeping maple tree, Havel paused and opened the envelope he carried and read the note one last time.


Mayor Kennedy --

The end is night. The Digger is loose and their is no way to stop him. He will kill again -- at four, 8 and Midnight if you don't pay.

I am wanting $20 million dollars in cash, which you will put into a bag and leave it two miles south of Rt 66 on the West Side of the Beltway. In the middle of the Field. Pay to me the Money by 1200 hours. Only I am knowing how to stop the Digger. If you apprehend me, he will keep killing. If you kill me, he will keep killing.

If you don't think I'm real, some of the Diggers bullets were painted black. Only I know that.

This was, Havel decided, about as perfect an idea as anybody could've come up with. Months of planning. Every possible response by the police and FBI anticipated. A chess game.

Buoyed by that thought, he replaced the note in the envelope, closed but didn't seal it and continued along the street. Havel walked in a stooped lope, eyes down, a pose meant to diminish his six-two height. It was hard for him, though; he preferred to walk tall and stare people down.

The security at City Hall, One judiciary Square, was ridiculous. No one noticed as he walked past the entrance to the nondescript stone building and paused at a newspaper vend ing machine. He slipped the envelope under the stand and turned slowly, walking toward E Street.

Warm for New Year's Eve, Havel was thinking. The air smelled like fall -- rotten leaves and humid wood smoke. The scent aroused a pang of undefined nostalgia for his childhood home. He stopped at a pay phone on the corner, dropped in some coins and dialed a number.

A voice answered, "City Hall. Security."

Havel held a tape recorder next to the phone and pressed PLAY. A computer-generated voice said, "Envelope in front of the building. Under the Post vending machine. Read it now. It's about the Metro killings." He hung up and crossed the street, dropping the tape recorder into a paper cup and throwing the cup into a wastebasket.

Havel stepped into a coffee shop and sat down in a window booth, where he had a good view of the vending machine and the side entrance to City Hall. He wanted to make sure the envelope was picked up -- it was, before Havel even had his jacket off. He also wanted to see who'd be coming to advise the mayor. And whether reporters showed up.

The waitress stopped by his booth and he ordered coffee and, though it was still breakfast time, a steak sandwich, the most expensive thing on the menu. Why not? He was about to become a very wealthy man.

Copyright © 1999 by Jeffery Deaver

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Interviews & Essays

On Tuesday, August 17th, bn.com welcomed Jeffrey Deaver to discuss his latest thriller, THE DEVIL'S TEARDROP.

Moderator: Welcome back, Jeffery Deaver! Glad to host you again for another online chat. It's been a year since THE COFFIN DANCER, and now you're back with THE DEVIL'S TEARDROP. How are you this evening?

Jeffery Deaver: I am doing very well, thank you.


Katie from San Francisco, CA: I am halfway through THE DEVIL'S TEARDROP -- great so far -- and see that Lincoln Rhyme makes an appearance. Is this the first book that you make Rhyme a secondary character and not the lead investigator? Why not make him the main investigator like in THE COFFIN DANCER?

Jeffery Deaver: Good question, Katie! I intend to write every other book with Lincoln Rhyme as the featured character, and the books appearing in alternate years will have protagonists other than Lincoln and Amelia. I am doing this mostly for my own sanity -- to give me creative freedom to deal with other characters and situations.


J. C. Barmann from New York, NY: Are you happy with the film adaptations that have been made of your books THE BONE COLLECTOR and A MAIDEN'S GRAVE? Would you say you have a cinematic imagination when you're writing?

Jeffery Deaver: Another good question. I have been as influenced by film as I have by other thriller writers and because I believe that the type of book I write should be a compelling emotional experience as most thriller films are, I borrow heavily from cinematic style. With regard to the two adaptations, I have yet to see the final cut of the BONE COLLECTOR, but I have been very pleased with the professionalism of the cast and crew and was very happy with the "Dead Silence" version of my book A MAIDEN'S GRAVE, although every director brings his or her own vision to a book, so of necessity it is different from my vision.


Sherrie from Indiana: I love Lincoln and Amelia. When is their next book coming out? Also I can't wait to see the movie of THE BONE COLLECTOR. Although I know the book is better. What do you think of the movie? Thanks for writing some great books.

Jeffery Deaver: Thank you, Sherrie. THE BONE COLLECTOR film by the way will be out on October 2, 1999. The current book, THE DEVIL'S TEARDROP, featuring Lincoln only in a cameo role but my book for the year 2000, the title is THE EMPTY CHAIR, featured Lincoln and Amelia once again.


Aikta from Hoboken, NJ: Great story line for THE DEVIL'S TEARDROP! Any particular inspiration for this book?

Jeffery Deaver: All of my books can be reduced to a very tense concept, an exciting concept that I then try as successfully as possible to turn into a full-fledged novel. The inspiration for THE DEVIL'S TEARDROP was not a real incident but something that occurred to me out of my quest for this type of excitement, which was this: What if the only clue the hero had to prevent a continuing murderer from committing his crimes was a single piece of paper? How far could I take forensic science in analyzing that and solving the crime before the killer strikes again?


Ron from Wisconsin: I just finished THE DEVIL'S TEARDROP. Great job! I'm curious how much editing you do to accomplish the tone and pace of the book? Thank you.

Jeffery Deaver: As Hemingway said, "There are no great writers. There are only greater rewriters." After I finish the first draft of a book, I rewrite and edit probably 20 drafts before anyone else sees it, and after it goes to the publishing company throughout the entire editorial process I will rewrite it another 10 to 15 times. Each subsequent edit, of course, involves less and less actual writing and more polishing. Finally, my publisher hates to send me page proofs because they know I will be noodling with the manuscript up until the minute the book is sent out for distribution.


Annie Spencer from Newport, RI: What is the best time for you to write, mornings or nights?

Jeffery Deaver: Yes. Actually, because I write full-time as a profession I treat the process as any other job and will put in about ten hours a day writing, researching, and doing various business things that the writing business necessitates. So I write both mornings and afternoons and some evening. Although I have to admit I enjoy sleeping late and often do.


Andrew from Reno, NV: I love the way your plots are so intricate and well thought-out. What is your writing approach? Do you develop the story as you go, or do you know the direction you are headed from the start?

Jeffery Deaver: I know exactly where the story will go before I start to create the prose. However, I spend easily six or seven months working full-time on the outline of the book and end up with approximately a 100-page to 120-page outline. The outline process is by far the hardest and yet the most important part of my books because they are so plot driven and there are so many intricately interwoven subplots. Once the outline is finished writing, the book is the icing on the cake. It is fun and very productive because I simply fill in the blank spaces.


Binkie from Ann Arbor, MI: Does your taste for the bizarre relate back to events in your childhood?

Jeffery Deaver: No, it doesn't. I am very mechanical about trying to come up with a story that I hope will please and excite my readers. I have discovered a type of story, i.e. the crime-oriented thriller that many readers seem to enjoy and that is why I do what I do. I should add that when I teach courses in writing I always tell my students to write what you enjoy reading and I have always been a big fan of the sort of book that I write -- the plot driven commercial thriller. As well as classic murder mysteries, whodunits, and the like.


Anita from New Jersey: Can you give us a little of the story involved with THE EMPTY CHAIR? I am a Lincoln Rhyme fan!

Jeffery Deaver: I can give you a little bit of it. Lincoln, Amelia, and Thom travel to North Carolina to a medical facility in hopes of undergoing treatment to improve his condition. While they are there they reluctantly agree to assist a local police department trying desperately to find a girl who has been kidnapped. The only other thing I will say about the book is that Lincoln ends up as a forensic scientist trying to track down the least likely adversary that one can imagine. I hope I have peaked your interest.


Max from Seattle, WA: Surprised that you killed off the man who tells the Digger things so quickly. Why? But don't give the ending away! Still have a lot left!

Jeffery Deaver: Let me just say that you should keep reading!


Melanie from Richmond, VA: I especially love how your books are so well-researched in terms of the detail you provide, whether it is handwriting examination or bomb decoding. How do you research your books, Mr. Deaver? Do you interview FBI agents and cops or learn it all from books? Do you get positive feedback from these professionals on your accuracy?

Jeffery Deaver: I do most of my research from books and the Internet, although I do have friends in various law enforcement agencies. My experience has been that one can over-research a book and that the technical information should be limited exclusively to facts that are relevant to the story. Nothing irritates me more as a reader then reading an exciting book only to find the author comes screeching to a halt to throw in two or three pages of extraneous detail that slows the story down.


Patricia from Albuquerque, NM: There are so many interesting characters in this new book, especially Parker Kincaid. This is the first book I have read of yours. Are any of these characters from your other books. Will we see Margaret Lukas and Kincaid again?

Jeffery Deaver: THE DEVIL'S TEARDROP seems to being doing well, and because it is my job to give readers what they want I am now considering future books with them. The problem with Parker and Margaret, though, is that his specialty is documenting examination only, and I am not sure how many books one can write with that as the theme.


Scott from Chicago, IL: Are you more like Lincoln Rhyme or Parker Kincaid? How much of you is in these guys? Are there character traits in these men that you wish you had yourself?

Jeffery Deaver: Well, I do sit around a great deal, so in that sense I suppose I am like Lincoln, but most of my characters have nothing to do with me or people I know or have known. I create characters that serve my story as best as they can and at the same time give them characteristics and quirks that make them human. All writing has to come somewhat from each authors experience, but in my case the books are 90% products of my imagination.


SL from St. Louis, MO: Which authors do you enjoy reading?

Jeffery Deaver: I enjoy John le Carré, who is probably the finest living suspense writer. Thomas Harris is extremely talented. I enjoy very much the writing of Barbara Vine, who is Ruth Rendell's alter ego. In truth, I spend most of my reading time doing research for my books, and I also have to guard against the influence of other writers when I am writing. I don't want to pick up other writers style. I have found I am a bit like a sponge and can slip into another author's mind a little too easily.


Ellen from Portland, OR: After the people are killed on the escalator by the Digger, the mayor agrees to meet the killer's demands but the police are on the opposite side of the fence. Do you know how often officials give in to ransom demands? Does the FBI usually stage fake money drops like in your book?

Jeffery Deaver: The general procedure for either a kidnapping or a ransom is to let the family of the kidnap victim or the party being extorted make the decision, specially when lives are on the line. And then try to apprehend the villains later if, in fact, it is decided to pay the money. In most cases because forensic science is now so sophisticated and the ability to trace money through computers and other techniques is quite well-developed, it is extremely hard for criminals to get away with plans like this. Especially if they have Parker Kincaid and Margaret Lukas after them!


Ron from Wisconsin: Does your legal background help in the work of preparing your stories? By that I mean the discipline to be organized and really get the details nailed before you start writing. Thanks

Jeffery Deaver: A very good question. I practiced only corporate law, no criminal law at all, but as you suggest the organizational skills and research skills that the legal profession necessitates were extremely helpful in writing a commercial novel, at least the sort I write, which are rather intricate and require great attention to detail. I was, by the way, a terrible attorney.


Elise from Brooklyn, NY: How did you get your first book published? Is writing a second career for you or something you always planned on doing?

Jeffery Deaver: I always planned on being a writer. I have been writing since I was 11 or 12. As for publishing one's first book, there is no magic formula. You write the best book you can, find an agent, and keep sending the book out until it sells. If it doesn't sell, you write another book and repeat the process, and if you have to do that for ten books, that is what you have to do. The phenomenon of the first-time author who scores the million-dollar advance is extremely rare, whereas the phenomenon of the writer who as a craftsperson keeps his or her head down and writes book after book until they are able to make a living doing it is much more the rule.


Colleen from Pittsford, NY: Have the movie rights been bought for THE COFFIN DANCER? How about your new book? Both would make great flicks.

Jeffery Deaver: Thank you. Universal Pictures, which is producing THE BONE COLLECTOR, owns the rights to THE COFFIN DANCER. THE DEVIL'S TEARDROP has not yet sold, so if there are any producers out there, please send me your phone number.


jgsamuel from Nashville, TN: Where did you go to college? What sources do you use for getting the forensics in your books?

Jeffery Deaver: I went to the University of Missouri journalism school and Fordham Law School. I have no forensic background, but my library downstairs could very well be the library in a forensic library anywhere in the country. Most of my research is from manuals and the Internet.


Mindy from Norwalk, OH: Why is the villain called "The Digger"? Can't wait to read your new book!

Jeffery Deaver: I wish I could explain that, but I think you are going to have to read it to learn that information. Thanks for your comment.


Mark from Delaware: Do you have a favorite among your books? I think mine is THE COFFIN DANCER.

Jeffery Deaver: Thank you. Ask any author what his or her favorite book is and they will invariably tell you the next one because the writing process is so much fun and once a book is finished we turn immediately to our next project. Of my books, I have to say my favorite is PRAYING FOR SLEEP.


Nancy from Scarsdale, NY: Are you touring for this book? Where can we find out your book-signing schedule? Do you have a web site?

Jeffery Deaver: You can go to the Simon and Schuster web site, and the tour information will be given there. I do not personally have my own web site, but I am sure it is coming.


Mary Jamison from Greensburg, PA: Do you think there will be lots of assassinations as the Millenium draws to a close like in your book?

Jeffery Deaver: No, I actually don't. I tend to think that, despite what I write, most people are law abiding and reasonable and that a relative artificial date change from 1999 to 2000 will not galvanize a lot of people into violent activity. My only personal concern is that the computer in the bar where I intend to be doesn't break down so that I won't be able to get more drinks.


Sherri from New Jersey: Just wanted to say that I love your books! I have read THE BONE COLLECTOR, COFFIN DANCER, PRAYING FOR SLEEP, etc. I also love Lincoln Rhyme. I am going to purchase the new one, but I will surely miss him.

Jeffery Deaver: Well, thank you so much, and look for THE EMPTY CHAIR next year, which features both Lincoln and Amelia.


Moderator: What was one of the worst jobs you ever held, and why was it so bad?

Jeffery Deaver: I spent one year working for one dollar an hour in an ice cream parlor. What made it the worst job of my life is that no longer I can even look at an ice cream cone.


Greg from Alexandria, VA: What's next for you? Have you started a new book already?

Jeffery Deaver: THE EMPTY CHAIR, my book for the year 2000, is nearly finished, and I am starting to outline a book for the year 2001.


Moderator: Recommend three books that you have read recently and enjoyed.

Jeffery Deaver: I read CHARMING BILLY by Alice McDermott, THE SHIPPING NEWS by Annie Proulx, and the most recent thriller by John le Carré, SINGLE & SINGLE.


Skippy from Monterey Peninsula, CA: Are there any other writers in your family? Do you have any siblings who also write?

Jeffery Deaver: Hi, Julie! My sister is in fact the literary writer of the family. Her name is Julie Deaver, and despite rumors to the contrary, I am not an only child. [laughs]


Hannah from Rhode Island: Your descriptions of handwriting analysis was really fascinating. How did you learn so much on the topic? Has this been an interest of your for awhile?

Jeffery Deaver: No, I never knew much about the profession until I came up for the idea for THE DEVIL'S TEARDROP. I did the research primarily from police forensic books and document examination course materials.


Peter from Albany, NY: What does the new title, THE DEVIL'S TEARDROP, signify? Congrats on the BONE COLLECTOR movie!

Jeffery Deaver: Thank you so much. The phrase "the devil's teardrop" refers to a distinctive dot above the letter "i" in the extortion note. As in many of my titles, there is a secondary meaning that I won't reveal here.


Moderator: Do you have thick enough skin to be a cop or detective yourself?

Jeffery Deaver: No way! I am essentially a coward and am perfectly happy to write about the things I would never dare do.


Clyde from Naples, FL: If you weren't a successful writer, what do you think you would be doing? Any other career aspirations?

Jeffery Deaver: No, I have always wanted to be a writer and can't really imagine doing anything else.


Julie from Pacific Grove, CA: Do you ever read young adult novels? And if so, who is your favorite YA author?

Jeffery Deaver: Let me think...Hmmmm. Wait! It would be my sister, Julie Reece Deaver, who just like me is not an only child either. [laughs]


Moderator: Thanks for chatting with us tonight, Jeffery. Your new novel is a blast! I'm sure the film version of THE BONE COLLECTOR will be one as well. Do you have any parting comments for our online audience? It's been great having you.

Jeffery Deaver: Thank you all for having me, and I am very pleased to be part of this new computer phenomenon and so pleased it continues to bring my books to fine readers like yourselves.


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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 33 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 33 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2003

    Last Night of the Century

    From the first word to the last, Jeffery Deaver ignites the reader not to put the book down. Set in New York on New Year¿s Eve on December 31, 1999. The Devil¿s Teardrop is not just a novel. This story helps the reader understand and realize that a lot more goes on than just the big picture we see. The Devil¿s Teardrop has many conflicts .One including Man vs. Man. This conflict is between the special agent and ¿The Digger¿ who is the antagonist in this story. ¿The Digger¿ is a crazed man who threatens the entire city of New York that he will bomb a specific location every four hours until midnight unless he gets paid everything he wants. New York City never knew about the terrorist threats. So everyone kept partying. They are all partying because the theme of this story happens to be on New Year¿s Eve. This story is told from the mind of a special agent that got put on this case because he is the best at what he does. Mr. Jeffery Deaver is the best at creating twisters in his stories. For example at the end of the book when the terrorist was on his way to pick up the ransom he was holding the city¿s safety to and was in a car crash and instantly killed. This to me was not expected under any circumstances. He made the characters so realistic that at one time during this book, I found myself jumping to every sound I heard around me thinking it was a bomb going off. I would have to say that this book had one of the best endings I had ever read. The suspense level was off the charts in every chapter. I recommend everyone to read this book, and to go through this roller coaster book so you can realize and understand that there is always something other then the ¿big picture¿ that some people get caught up in. It wont be a disappointment. This page-turner reeled me in from the first paragraph.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2002

    SUPERB READ!!!!!!!!

    This is one you could never put down. This book does not stop till the last word.This is, by far, the BEST book that I have ever read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2000

    BEST THRILLER OF THE YEAR!

    After reading The Bone Collector I knew I had to read The Devil's Teardrop. From the robot-like killer to the devious plan put in motion by 'the man who tells him things', this book will tie you up with its intricate plot, characters that you really care about, and a narative drive that doesn't let up till the final page. Set aside some time for this one. It's well worth the roller coaster ride. This will go on your shelf as one of your favorites, but keep it handy--You may want to read it again.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2013

    Great read

    This thriller was a little different than his others and I found it refreshing. Still lots of twists and unexpected turns, keeps you on your toes and I especially liked the title,

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2012

    Excellent mystery

    excellent mystery, many twists and turns, fascinating tech details about document examination field; only minor down-side: author has an annoying writing habit of using WAY too many contractions, beyond normal writing and speech patterns, esp. double contractions

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  • Posted April 17, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A good story.

    The Devil's Teardrop was a good story. It had decent character development, but was slow in parts. Overall, I enjoyed it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2003

    The Digger is buried by Jeffery Deaver

    Jeffery Deaver is a master at suspense and complicated plots. One must read the book very carefully to pick out all the clues. It should be read in one setting, if possible to keep the flow of the action in his writings. Suspensful to the end and it will leave you, at the end, wanting more.

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

    Posted July 16, 2002

    You tricked me again, Mr. Deaver!

    Although, not my favorite so far, still a very good read. Alittle far-fetched with the time frame but hey, I've never worked for DCPD or the FBI so I don't know how accurate the pace of action is. This time I actually tried to figure out what twist Deaver had in store for me this time. I came real close but he still had another trick up his sleeve, I couldn't predict. This is why it's so important to read a Deaver book from cover to cover, because he'll always sneak up on you at the end!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2002

    Wonderful Twist In the Plot

    THE DEVIL¿S TEARDROP AUTHOR: JEFFERY DEAVER PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster REVIEWED BY: Barbara Rhoades BOOK REVIEW: Once again, Jeffery Deaver writes a great book with an unexpected twist for an ending. It is the Christmas Season and Parker Kincaid only wants to celebrate in peace with his son and daughter. But his ex-wife plans to contest custody of their children and the City of Washington, D.C. is going to need his forensic expertise. As the country¿s top forensic document examiner, Parker will be pulled from retirement against his will to assist in capturing the Digger before he kills again. Unfortunately, the Digger¿s accomplice is killed in an accident before he can pick up the ransom money he demanded to stop the Digger¿s killing. Working with Special Agent Margaret Lukas, with a secret of her own, Parker studies the documents available and begins the task of finding the killer. Deaver writes with great detail regarding the forensic tasks and has the intriguing twists in the plot for which he is known. It is a book that is hard to put down until you know the ending.

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

    Posted June 6, 2001

    GREAT suspense book !

    This book left me on the edge of my seat for the entire duration of time while reading it! It kept me in a state of mind trying to solve the 'puzzles' as the book went along. Kept getting better and better with every turn of the page! Its a MUST!

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

    Posted October 23, 2000

    Thrilling, Nail biting thriller

    You need a glass of water just to read this book, as the dialog makes your throat dry

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2000

    Clever Storyline

    The first Deaver book I've read, and I'll be sure to read more. A little ridiculous at some points and took too much literary license at times, but a very captivating and twisting plot. He also stuck in some good human elements, which help accept the book as being potentially realistic. You're not wasting any time with this book.

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

    Posted June 14, 2000

    What A Book

    I enjoyed this book so much. I just started to read again and this was my second book. I could not put the book down. Deaver kept me in suspense from beginning to end. And at the same time he educated me on the world of the FBI. Great work.

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

    Posted May 12, 2000

    A great read

    Deaver kept you biting your nails throughout the entire book. Fast paced, suspenseful, and well written. Strong, interesting characters and a super plot.

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

    Posted April 14, 2000

    Fascinating right from the start !

    This novel has no slow chapters to be found . Right from the start , the author creates a fascinating and compelling story. Makes the reader want to stay up all night to read on ----- if that were possible. Realistic characters and thrilling plot twists too. Something for everyone . :)

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

    Posted April 24, 2000

    gripping pageturner

    fascinting, gripping. the story grabs you and won't let you put the book down. suspensful and with the touch of heart-warming. great characters.

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

    Posted January 14, 2000

    One of the top ten of the year

    This is one of the best books of the year. I always learn fascinating information when I read Deaver's books and he keeps me on the edge of my seat. It's definitly the best E-book edition I have downloaded this year.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 1999

    Great Exciting Book!

    A great page turner...makes you want to stay home and watch TV on New Year's Eve with the doors locked!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 33 Customer Reviews

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