Dreams in the Key of Blue

Dreams in the Key of Blue

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by John Philpin

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A serial killer wears many faces, but none more terrifying than this one...

Every serial killer fits a profile, follows a pattern, makes a mistake.  Until now...

Six years ago forensic psychiatrist Lucas Frank "retired" from hunting serial killers. But someone wants him back in the worst way. It begins with a brutal triple homicide in the… See more details below


A serial killer wears many faces, but none more terrifying than this one...

Every serial killer fits a profile, follows a pattern, makes a mistake.  Until now...

Six years ago forensic psychiatrist Lucas Frank "retired" from hunting serial killers. But someone wants him back in the worst way. It begins with a brutal triple homicide in the picturesque Maine town of Ragged Harbor. And it won't stop there. Suddenly Lucas is forced to do what he swore he would never do again: enter the twisted mind of a killer who enjoys murder.  Only this time Lucas must hunt a psychopath whose pattern of behavior defies all logic. A killer who can strike anyone, anywhere, anytime. The FBI is helpless. And even he is baffled at the contradictory clues and taunting hints left behind.
Lucas Frank has met his match. That's why he was called out of retirement.
But does someone want him to catch a killer--or be the ultimate trophy?

From the Paperback edition.

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I drove into Ragged Harbor, Maine, and felt an immediate sense of  deja vu.

The freedom that seemed so illusory to me as a street kid in Boston's  Roxbury section, I discovered south of the city on Nantasket Beach in my teens.  I prowled the bay side of my seven-mile peninsula, explored each inlet and  cove, examined skate eggs, horseshoe crabs, and sand-shark cadavers. Then I  shifted my attention to the ocean's infinite rhythms, and probed seaweed and

driftwood, new treasures that arrived with each tide change. I met the resident  scavengers and predators; I knew the wildly shifting ocean currents, the  indifference of an immense and surging sea.

I drove Ragged Harbor's mile-long causeway between mudflats and  seawalls, and into the village. The inner harbor on my right was a bay, a haven  for water craft. Beyond a cove and a breakwater on the left, the dark  Atlantic--my familiar friend--throbbed.

The smell of dead fish billowed from stacks of crab pots. Great  black-backed gulls bombed the rocks along the breakwater with mussels and  clams, then dropped from the sky to pick at the shattered shells with their  orange beaks. A dory rested upside down on a stony beach.

Gulls screamed; sandpipers minced ahead of low tide's bantam waves;  terns dove at the cracked shells left behind by the gulls; a cormorant's head  and long neck slipped through the harbor's placid surface.

I felt as if I had rediscovered a private paradise, a place where I  could continue my lifelong love affair with the sea.

"Why move to Michigan?" my daughter Lane asked when, years ago, I had  announced my imminent departure from Boston. "That's nearly midway between the  two oceans. You said you couldn't stand the thought of being landlocked."

"Well, that guarantees that I'll be back."

Seven years after that conversation, I drove into Ragged Harbor's  village.

The town lived a divided life. A leaning white church behind an erect  white picket fence, the general store, a hardware store with gas pump in front,  the post office and police station housed in the municipal building--all  indicated an old New England community. "Willy's Twice-Daily Whale  Cruises," guaranteeing sightings, and "Ragged Ts," each shirt sporting a  jagged neck seam, lured summer tourists.

I consulted my map, turned left at the second of the two stoplights, and  drove into the community's third identity, the college town.

Harbor College was small, four hundred women on a hilltop with views of  the Atlantic Ocean and the cove that served as safe harbor for dumpy lobster

and crab boats, fishing trawlers, and sleek cruisers. The fieldstone and wood  college buildings, originally a seminary, dated from the nineteenth century.

With religious fervor fading in the 1940s, the seminary closed its doors.  Progressive educators approached the board of directors and proposed the  creation of a small, student-centered liberal arts college. In 1955, the  board ceded the campus to the college.

Stuart Gilman, my contact at the college, occupied an office in the  administration building, but lacked a title. The short, paunchy, balding man

was power-attired in reds and browns, and deceptively satin-tongued.  Had it not been for his extensive repertoire of nervous gestures, he would have  made a well-oiled public relations drone.

"I've heard that Dr. Lucas Frank is a  recluse," Gilman said, bobbing his head. "I was surprised that you agreed to

come out here."

"The timing of the invitation was right," I said, feeling not the  slightest need to tell him anything more.

During my years as a practicing psychiatrist, I ministered to the ills  of the neurotic and psychotic, the personality disordered, and those who were  just plain confused. I quickly tired of the "same stories, different faces"  routine. Then, when the faces suddenly looked the same, I felt like I was  drowning in a mad scientist's genetic sink. It did not help when  managed-care companies insisted that they would set my fees and grab quick  peeks at my files whenever the spirit moved them.

My work was never interesting or challenging enough, so, on the side, I  developed personality profiles of killers, rapists, and any other purveyors of  mayhem who drifted my way. Charming, no?

Police detectives became my best customers, as they sought new insights  into the crimes and criminals they were charged to investigate. Their  municipalities did not pay well, but the work was far more satisfying. Unlike  HMOs, cops did not demand monthly reports in triplicate, written in a jargon

that sounded like glossolalia emanating from one hell of a Pentecostal bingo


But even that work was not enough. I felt compelled to chase the  bastards down. Whenever I grew impatient with law enforcement's investigative  or interrogative techniques, I developed my own. Most of the time I operated

within the law. Sometimes I considered it necessary  to . . . improvise. A serial killer doesn't recite a Miranda  warning before slitting your throat and disposing of you in six counties. Why  should I bother with the law?

There was never any slowing down for me, not until I said goodbye to  craziness and said hello to my retreat at Lake Albert in upstate Michigan. I

quit the business, took up bass fishing, listened to music cranked loud enough  to crack plaster. I confined my communication with the world to a fax machine  that my daughter, Lane, a homicide detective in New York City, gave me and  insisted I plug in.

In the past few months, I had begun to feel as if my half dozen years of  retirement were years spent on the run. Before I agreed to teach a course on

gender and serial violence in the women's studies program at Harbor College, I  was bogged down in a slough of depression. I had turned my back on the demons  that haunted my professional life, and in retaliation they crept up on me,  nipped at my backside, invaded my dreams. I was restless, not sleeping well,

and suffering from a world-class case of anhedonia--a total loss of  interest in the pursuits that I most enjoyed. Translation? I was bored to the  brink of a vegetative state. The time had come to declare myself unretired.

"Are you on the faculty, Mr. Gilman?"

"It's Stu. I'm the liaison between MI and the college. Harbor is the  primary recipient of the educational grants that MI awards each year. I don't  think it's exaggerating to say that this place would fold without our financial  support. In addition to the cash we provide, we also own several buildings in  town, including the house where you'll be staying. MI is paying your stipend

and expenses, of course."

Gilman was not gloating. His tone and attitude suggested that he  disapproved of the arrangement. I doubted, however, that he objected to his  office, a virtual showplace of the finest leathers and woods, albeit dusty and  appearing unused.

"I'm afraid you're way ahead of me, Stu," I said. "What is MI?"

"You've never heard of Martin International?"

I shook my head.

"Huh," he grunted. "It was Melanie's idea to invite you."

"You may as well tell me who Melanie is while you're at it."

Gilman's head wobbled and his shoulders jerked. "Melanie Martin  is Martin International. She's the company's founder, principal  owner, and CEO. We're a small firm, but easily one of the most successful and  powerful enterprises of its kind in the world. Melanie insists on serving as a  board member here. She monitors the meetings by phone."

From the Paperback edition.

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