The Dollmaker
  • The Dollmaker
  • The Dollmaker

The Dollmaker

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by Amanda Stevens

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In Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, a terrible secret is about to be uncovered by a woman whose daughter vanished seven years ago without a trace…

And now a new clue has surfaced…a doll that is the spitting image of Claire Doucett's missing child, right down to the tiny birthmark on the girl's left arm. A chance sighting of the eerily

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In Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, a terrible secret is about to be uncovered by a woman whose daughter vanished seven years ago without a trace…

And now a new clue has surfaced…a doll that is the spitting image of Claire Doucett's missing child, right down to the tiny birthmark on the girl's left arm. A chance sighting of the eerily lifelike doll in a French Quarter collectibles shop leaves Claire shaken to her core…and more determined than ever to find out what happened to her beloved Ruby.

When the doll is snatched and the store's owner turns up dead, Claire knows the only person she can turn to is ex-husband Dave Creasy, a former cop who has spent the past seven years imprisoned by his own guilt and despair. He let Claire down once when she needed him the most. Can she make him believe the doll really exists? She'll have to if they're to survive an encounter with a brutal psychopath—the dollmaker—who stole their future to feed an obsession that will never die.

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Twilight always fell anxiously over the Big Easy, es-pecially when it rained. That's when the ghosts came out. A wisp of steam rising from the wet pavement. The murmur of voices from a hidden courtyard. Something dark and stealthy moving in the shadows, and sud-denly you were reminded of a past that wouldn't stay buried.

New Orleans was like that. A city of memories, Dave Creasy always called it. A city of secrets and whispers and the kind of regret that could eat a man up inside. Like the wrong woman, she'd get in a man's blood, destroy his soul, make him feel alive and dead at the same time. And on a hot, rainy night—when the ghosts came out—it could be the loneliest place on earth.

Welcome back, a voice whispered in Dave's head as he lifted his face, eyes closed, and listened to the rus-tle of rain through the white oleanders that drooped over a crumbling brick wall along St. Peters.

It was strange how the city could still seduce him.

He'd been born and raised in New Orleans, and like everyone else he knew, there'd been a time when he couldn't wait to get out. Now he couldn't seem to stay away. The ghosts wouldn't let him.

A car slowed on the street in front of him, and a child stared out at him from a rain-streaked window. She looked a little like Ruby, and Dave watched her until the car was out of sight, the pain in his chest as familiar now as his heartbeat. Then he started walking.

Around the next corner, a neon half-moon sputtered in the gathering darkness. He wanted to think of the light as a beacon, but he knew better. The Crescent City Bar could never in a million years be considered a haven. Not for him, at least.

As heentered the room, an infinitesimal chill slid over him. Welcome back, that taunting voice whispered again.

The bar was nearly empty. A handful of zombielike patrons sat with heads bowed over drinks, the only ac-knowledgment of their coexistence a mingling of ciga-rette smoke that drifted up from the tables. The old wood blades of the ceiling fans rotated overhead, barely stir-ring warm air that reeked of sweat, booze and despair.

Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back. Dave took a seat at the end of the bar, where he could watch the door. He hadn't been a cop for nearly seven years, but old habits died hard.

From the other end, the hulk of a bartender watched him with open suspicion. He was tall and tough, with skin the texture of leather. Jubal Roach had to be at least sixty, but the forearms underneath his rolled-up shirtsleeves bulged with muscle, and his sullen expres-sion reflected, as Dave knew only too well, a still-mur-derous disposition.

Dave's old partner had once warned him about Jubal's temper. They'd stopped in for a beer after their watch one night and the surly bartender had copped an attitude from the get-go. Back in the day, Dave hadn't been one to turn the other cheek.

"Man, let it go," Titus had said in a nervous whis-per. "You don't want to tangle with that S.O.B. Once he start in whaling on you, he like a big 'ol loggerhead. He ain't gonna let you go till it thunders. Or till you dead."

It was good advice. Too bad Dave hadn't had the sense to heed it.

He and Jubal played the staring game for several more seconds, then, with a hardening of his features, the older man ambled down to Dave's end of the bar.

"Jubal." Dave greeted him warily, mindful of the nightstick and brass knuckles the bartender kept under the counter. "How's it going?"

"Dave Creasy. Been a while since I saw your ugly mug in here. Kinda thought you might be dead."

Kinda hoped was the inference. "I bought a place in St. Mary Parish awhile back."

"Same difference, you ask me." Jubal got down a glass and a bottle of whiskey. "The usual?"

"Nah, I'm on the wagon these days."

"Since when?"

Eight months, four days, nine hours and counting.

"Since the last time I got thrown in jail for disorderly conduct."

Jubal's gold tooth flashed in the light from the Abita Purple Haze sign over the bar.

Dave touched the area over his left eye. His memo-ries of that night had faded, but the scar hadn't. It had taken him two days to get out of the drunk tank, an-other five before he'd stumbled into the nearest emer-gency room with a raging fever. The infection had laid him flat for nearly two weeks, and by the time he got out of the hospital, fifteen pounds lighter, a jagged scar was the least of his worries.

"You're lucky you didn't lose your eye," the young intern had scolded him. "However, at the moment, I'm more concerned about your liver. You have what is known as alcohol hepatitis, which can be treated but only if alcohol consumption is stopped. Otherwise, this condition is likely to cause cirrhosis, Mr. Creasy," he'd stated bluntly. "If you don't stop drinking, there's a good chance you won't make it to your fortieth birth-day."

Dave wasn't particularly worried about dying, but he would prefer not to go out the way his old man had. So he'd stopped drinking, again, started going back to AA, and he'd moved down to Morgan City to work part-time for his uncle while reopening Creasy Investi-gations. Marsilius had found him a little house on the bayou where he could live and set up shop until he was able to afford office space in town. The only problem with that arrangement was that his uncle now consid-ered it his moral duty to keep Dave on the straight and narrow.

As if testing Dave's resolve, Jubal poured a shot of Jack Daniel's and slid the tumbler across the bar. "First one's on the house. For old times' sake."

"No thanks, but I'll take a cup of that coffee I smell brewing."

"Suit yourself." Jubal filled a cup and passed it to Dave. "If you're not drinking, what brings you in here?" "I'm meeting someone." Dave lifted the cup and took a sip of the strong chicory blend. The coffee was hot. It scalded his tongue and he swore as the front door swung open. And in walked Angelette Lapierre.

She stood in the doorway taking stock of the room just as she always did. That was Dave's first memory of her, the way she'd planted herself on the threshold of the captain's office, her gaze sweeping the room as the group of homicide detectives huddled over a map had looked up with a collective indrawn breath.

Dave had been married back then and in love with his wife, but he couldn't help noticing Angelette. Dark-haired, dark-eyed, she'd had that dog-in-heat quality that drew men to her side and made any woman unfor-tunate enough to be in the same room dislike her on sight.

Dave had tried to ignore her, but later in the crowded squad room, he'd glanced up to find her watching him, and her slow smile had sent a shiver down his back-bone. Something that might have been a warning glinted in her sultry eyes that day, and Dave would later wish that he'd taken heed of it.

But instead, he'd told himself there was no harm in looking. What Claire didn't know wouldn't hurt her.


Dave winced at the memory. He didn't want to think about her at that moment. He didn't want to think about her ever. She was a part of his past. One of the ghosts that came out to haunt him on rainy summer nights.

But he couldn't help himself. He closed his eyes briefly as an image of his ex-wife appeared in his head. She wasn't as curvy or as beautiful as Angelette, but her appeal was far more dangerous because she was the kind of woman you could never get out of your sys-tem. No matter how much you drank.

As if she was reading his mind, Angelette's expres-sion hardened. Her gaze seemed to pierce right through him, and then she blinked and the daggers were gone. The familiar smile flashed, dazzled, even as her chin lifted in defiance.

Same old Angelette.

She wore a blue dress, transparent from where she stood in the doorway. Jubal leaned an elbow on the bar and swore under his breath. Together he and Dave watched her walk with fluid grace to the stool next to Dave's, a whiff of something seductive preceding her.

Still smiling, she placed her purse on the bar and crossed her legs, letting that blue dress skate up her slender thighs.

"I don't want no trouble," Jubal warned.

She tossed back her dark hair and laughed. "I don't want any trouble, either."

"You start throwing beer bottles like you did last time, I'm calling the law on both of you."

"I am the law, remember?" She laughed again, but her amusement didn't quite reach her eyes. "Just relax, okay? Dave and I kissed and made up a long time ago. Didn't we, Dave?"

"If you say so." He was all for letting bygones be bygones, but when Angelette leaned over to brush her lips against his, he couldn't help tensing.

Her gaze lit on the scar above his eye. "Wow. Did I do that?"

"Better than a tattoo."

"Speaking of tattoos, I got myself a new one. Re-mind me to show it to you sometime."

Dave let that one go. He might not be the sharpest tool in the shed, as Marsilius frequently pointed out, but he'd learned his lesson with Angelette.

Not getting the response she wanted, she turned to Jubal. "Double whiskey."

There was something about Angelette that Dave hadn't remembered from before. She'd always had an edge. Had always been able to give as good as she got. An ambitious female detective had to know how to handle herself in a man's world. But it wasn't that. It wasn't her years as a cop that had given her face a brit-tle veneer. It was selling out. Being on the take for too long had chipped away at her sensuality and left in its wake something hard and unpleasant and faintly dec-adent.

Dave cradled his cup, gratified to note that his hands no longer trembled. He hadn't felt this steady in years. "So how did the anger management classes go?" He knew the question was likely to set her off. Angelette didn't like being called on her bullshit—by him or by the judge who'd ordered her into the classes—but Dave couldn't resist goading her a little.

She surprised him. Instead of rising to the bait, she gave an airy wave with one hand as she lifted her drink with the other. "Oh, I finished up months ago. You're looking at the new and improved Angelette. What do you think?"

"Not bad."

One brow lifted as her eyes seemed to challenge him. Not bad? There was a time when you couldn't keep your hands off me, you bastard. "You're not far-ing too badly yourself. You've put on a little weight, but it suits you. I was never all that partial to scrawny guys. A girl has to have something to hang on to, right, Jubal?" She gave the bartender a wink.

The older man glared at her with open suspicion. "You want another drink?"

"Oui, bien sûr." She waited for him to pour the whiskey, then picked up her glass. "Let's move over to a booth." She slid off the stool, and as she turned, her full breasts brushed up against Dave's arm for a split second before she moved away.

He got up and, taking his coffee with him, followed her to a back booth. By the time he sat down, she'd al-ready finished her second drink.

"Maybe you ought to ease up on the hooch."

"What is that? A friendly piece of advice from one drunk to another?" Her face was flushed and her voice sounded strained as she folded her arms on the table.

Something was wrong. Dave could feel it. Her eyes wouldn't quite meet his. Instead, she watched the steam rising from his cup that drifted up between them.

"What did you want to see me about?"

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What People are saying about this

Karen Rose
Spine-chilling suspense that will keep you guessing until the very last page is turned. (USA TODAY bestselling author Karen Rose)
Christina Dodd
The sinister world of Amanda Stevens will feed the dark side of your soul...and leave you hungry for more. (New York Times bestselling author, Christina Dodd)

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Dollmaker 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm an avid reader... I read daily, especially horror or suspense novels. Amanda Stevens was a new author for me. I hadn't ever read anything written by her before, and later learned that before venturing her skills with The Dollmaker, she wrote mostly 'romantic suspense'... not my cup of tea. I came across Ms. Stevens through the wonderful world of myspace, and her novel caught my attention immediately. The Dollmaker is set in the bayous of south Louisiana in Terrebonne Parish, a place I myself call 'home'. I live in a Houma, Louisiana which is in Terrebonne Parish, and referred to a few times in this book. I read Ms. Stevens' synopsis and instantly couldn't wait for the book to be released. My eagerness for this book was justified as soon as I opened the cover and began to read the first page. The story of Claire Doucett and her heart wrenching search for her daughter that has been missing for seven years draws you in never lets go. I wish I would have had the time to sit down and read it straight through cover to cover. I hated to have to put this book down. The characters are well developed, her settings wonderfully described, and her story fantastically told. Being a resident of the places she describes, and a frequent visitor of New Orleans, I could picture exactly where she was describing, as though I was an overseer standing across the street watching the plot unfold. For me personally, a creepy tale of obsession and need, covet and longing, desire and attraction was raised a notch when I could look outside my own window and see the settings she describes in this novel. Makes you want to check the lock on your door just one more time when turning in for the night.... Ms. Stevens did a wonderful job of making me feel conflicting emotions about the villain, the Dollmaker. I found myself feeling emotions of both outrage and pity. By the end of this novel, I found myself wanting more, wishing there was already a sequel waiting for me to now pick up and begin reading. I am thrilled Ms. Stevens made a jump to this genera of fiction and will personally continue to read future novels she will publish. Amanda Stevens has launched herself into the category of great storytellers of horror and suspense, such as Steven King, Dean Koontz, James Patterson, Jack Ketchum, and John Saul... my personal favorites. I hope you will do your own self a favor, and give Amanda Steven's The Dollmaker a try.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to keep reminding myself to breath while reading this book! This was an amazing story. Exciting from beguning to end!
Lunalin More than 1 year ago
Betrayal, loss and longing define this exciting and, at times, heartbreaking novel. I always enjoy a story set in New Orleans and this was no disappointment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like murder mysteries you will like this book. It has some disturbing material, i.e. child abductions, that I found sad but it was a well written mystery that kept me interested and involved. Good read. I recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The storyline was too choppy, as if three books about three different subjects only marginally related were spliced together. I am, however, glad i read it AFTER I read the Cemetery Queen series because I can understand and appreciate how this author has truly grown.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This was an amazing read I had a VERY hard time putting it down once I started reading it. I did find it a little creepy at times but it was still really awesome to read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has all the ingredients of a suspenseful story ¿ family secrets, marriages, divorces, adultery, cops ¿ good and corrupt and mysterious deaths. So many authors today depend solely on blood, gore and sex to sell their books without knowing how to build the suspense. This novel is pure suspense in its best form. The reader becomes caught up in the plots and the suspense builds until it seems that the pages cannot be turned fast enough. This is definitely an author to keep on your TBR (to be read) list.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was not familiar with the writing of this author but became aware of her on MySpace. Once I ordered the book, I couldn't wait to read it and I wasn't disappointed. The setting of Louisiana was perfect for this book and the author savored every last detail for the reader. Very atmospheric descriptions with all the senses of the reader put to the test. The characters were vivid and compelling, especially as they dealt with something as tragic as the unresolved kidnapping of a child. The book is a quick read and enthralling. I couldn't put it down. I would recommend it highly. A must read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
An absolutely engrossing and entertaining book, no doubt. Characters are well developed, the sotry is engrossing and the plot and atmosphere are creepy. However, i felt that this book ended a little too quickly. I wish the story could've continued for another 30 pages or so. I finished it in only ten hours overall....
Guest More than 1 year ago
Story didn't 'kick in' till around Page 173, so hold on till you get there. Absolutely loved the explicits of Claire and Dave's love scene. Enjoyed reading this, except Claire seemed too 'dainty' for all that went on. Sometimes absence of specifics works...and it did in this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Claire Doucett¿s life hasn¿t been the same since her daughter, Ruby, was abducted seven years earlier in New Orleans. Neither Claire nor her ex-husband, Dave, ever really got over the kidnapping of their daughter. But without ever knowing for sure what had happened to their child, how could they ever be the same? br While Claire spent the intervening years making an attempt to put her life back together by remarrying, Dave tried to numb his pain and guilt in a bottle. Neither was very successful. At the opening of the story, Claire is once again in the middle of a divorce and attempting to get her own life together. Her soon-to-be-ex-husband believes she¿s obsessed with finding her daughter alive and well, but Claire knows she could never walk away from the possibility of finding out what happened to Ruby. When she spies a doll in the window of a New Orleans shop, she is struck by the uncanny likeness the doll bears to her daughter ¿ down to the pink, frilly dress Ruby was wearing the day she disappeared. Claire approaches Dave to help her get some answers that she¿s certain will give her some closure, and he agrees, even though he¿s already been drawn into another investigation tied to the one he was working on when their daughter disappeared. He sifts through the shattered and sometimes murky world of a post-Katrina New Orleans, disturbing more than a few old ghosts along the way. Amanda Stevens takes the reader on a journey that is, at turns, heart-breaking, bone-chilling, and hopeful. The Dollmaker is a psychological thriller that will stay with you long after you finish the book.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Since he left the New Orleans Police Department seven years ago, Dave Creasy has worked as a private investigator. He meets at her request his former police peer Detective Angelette Lapierre who was once his lover that indiscretion on top of his drinking and the abudction of their child led to his wife Claire divorcing him and ultimately remarrying someone else.---------------- Angelette says that Graydon Losier wants to hire a PI with connections to help find his missing daughter Nina. She further insists the case parallels the Renee Savarin investigation that proved futile and led to Dave¿s resignation after he abetted the criminal who kidnapped his seven years old daughter Ruby she was never returned as promised. Dave agrees to talk with Graydon, but will probably reject the case as it will bring back memories he wants buried. However, upon meeting the distraught Graydon, Dave cannot walk though he knows he returns to the nightmares that haunt him espcially after Claire informs him of the haunting doll with topaz eyes she had seen in a shop window.--------------- The tension in THE DOLLMAKER hits the audience from the opening sequence when a thief steals a doll that looks real except for the topaz eyes and never slows down until the final confrontation. The cast is key to this exciting suspense thriller as readers will feel Grayon¿s anguish, Dave¿s guilt, Claire¿s doubts, and the Dollmaker¿s insane skills inside a New Orleans that feels anything but the Big Easy. Not for everyone as depicted events can turn quite vivid, readers will appreciate this taut private investigative thriller.----------------- Harriet Klausner
Guest More than 1 year ago
Excellent story--very creepy
Guest More than 1 year ago
Okay, i got an advance copy of this book (not saying how) but this is the scariest thing i've ever read. i stayed up all night reading it and then i couldn't get the characters outta my head. if you want to get yourself completely freaked, this is the book to do it with. the bad guy made my skin crawl and what he's doing with those dolls is something else... I really felt sorry for Claire, the main character who lost her little girl, and I loved her ex-husband who sounds hot. This is a book that sounds like a story you might read in the newspaper only it's worse because you know all the details of what the bad guy is thinking and doing. you should definitely buy this book because everyone's going to be talking about it as soon as it comes out. i sure hope somebody turns it into a movie.
Guest More than 1 year ago
4.5 out of 5 stars The cover of The Dollmaker was what first drew me, its shadowy blue and green tones, and the doll¿s face, particularly the eye. I found it mesmerizing and was drawn to it many times before I bought it. And when I did, I wasn¿t disappointed. It¿s a story about tragic loss--the abduction of a child and the resulting destruction of a marriage. Claire Doucett¿s life spins out of control from the moment she glimpses a doll that looks exactly like her missing daughter Ruby, right down to an identical birthmark on the doll¿s arm. To complicate matters, no one believes her and the doll mysteriously disappears. Then Claire¿s ex-husband Dave, a former cop and alcoholic who is investigating the murder of a stripper, comes back to town. He¿s looking for answers in the stripper¿s death, but also searching for resolution in a cold case--one that has haunted him because it is linked to his daughter¿s disappearance. The plot lines are woven meticulously, connecting then separating, making for a very interesting read. The New Orleans setting is perfect (especially with the Katrina references and haunting visuals), the characters are compelling and flawed, and the pacing is dead on, until the end where I felt that the resolution was a bit rushed. Everything happened so fast, I lost a bit of the emotional connection, which is why I didn¿t give this book 5 stars. Regardless, Amanda Stevens has penned a spine-tingling story about love, loss, lies, guilt and family secrets. This is a great read for that cold winter night. I highly recommend it! And I¿ll never look at a doll the same way again. --Bestselling author Cheryl Kaye Tardif