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

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

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by Jeffery Deaver, Jeff Deaver
     
 

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New Year's Eve, 1999. Washington, D.C. is under siege. A grisly machine gun attack in the Dupont Circle Metro station leaves dozens dead. A note delivered to the mayor's office pins the massacre on the Digger, a robotlike assassin. Only a ransom of $20 million will end the terror. FBI agents must find the Digger before he finds them....See more details below

Overview

New Year's Eve, 1999. Washington, D.C. is under siege. A grisly machine gun attack in the Dupont Circle Metro station leaves dozens dead. A note delivered to the mayor's office pins the massacre on the Digger, a robotlike assassin. Only a ransom of $20 million will end the terror. FBI agents must find the Digger before he finds them....

Editorial Reviews

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 They call in retired FBI document specialist Parker Kincaid, who now makes a nice living verifying historical documents and lives with his two young children.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.

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.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780684852928
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
08/10/1999
Pages:
400
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.55(h) x 1.25(d)

Read an Excerpt

The final day of the millennium may also be America's darkest when a methodical, robotlike killer begins to wreak havoc inside the nation's beltway. At 9:00am, 23 men, women, and children are gunned down at a D.C. Metro station. Shortly after, the mayor receives a horrific 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 and single father of two. At the urging of local and federal law officials, Kincaid -- widely regarded 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 note. With time running out, with more innocent people sure to die, the end has never felt more near.

Header - An Excerpt from The Devil's Teardrop by Jeffery Deaver

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. 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.

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 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 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

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