Final Victim

Final Victim

4.2 8
by Stephen J. Cannell

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A genius, hairless, seven-foot-tall psychopath, Leonard Land is many people wired into the cyber-subculture of Satanism and Death Metal. He is smart and cunning. He is quick, brutal and deadly. And he is everywhere. A renegade U.S. customs agent, a brilliant and beautiful forensic phychologist and a streetwise convict master hacker are on the trail of the maniac


A genius, hairless, seven-foot-tall psychopath, Leonard Land is many people wired into the cyber-subculture of Satanism and Death Metal. He is smart and cunning. He is quick, brutal and deadly. And he is everywhere. A renegade U.S. customs agent, a brilliant and beautiful forensic phychologist and a streetwise convict master hacker are on the trail of the maniac who is methodically slaughtering innocent women — a hunt that is leading a trio of unlikely heroes across an imperiled nation...and deep into the darkest corridors of cyberspace. But there is no system the maniac cannot infiltrate, no secrets he cannot access. He knows he is being hunted...and by whom. And he's determined to strike first — in ways too terrible to anticipate.

Editorial Reviews

Washington Post Book World
Relentless...Mesmerizing...Stephen J. Cannell is a great entertainer...The Man can write.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The man who dreamed up such TV heroes as Mr. T., Hunter, Jim Rockford and the Commish now introduces maverick U.S. Customs agent John Lockwood. This hero of Cannell's boisterous second novel (after The Plan) is "one of the best pound-for-pound bullshitters on the planet," who totes a gun with a two-inch barrel (although "he'd never been able to hit anything with it, at least it didn't poke him when he sat"). Not unexpectedly, Lockwood's breezy style infuriates some important superiors, but readers will enjoy how he puts together a team (beautiful Ph.D. Karen Dawson and handsome computer whiz/convict Malavida Chacone) to track down Florida-based serial killer Leonard Land, he of the "brilliant, twisted" mind and "fat, gluttonous body." The story rambles at times and includes too many forced, nick-of-time heroics, some jarring noir penses from Lockwood and an anomalous burst of piety from Karen ("Lead me out of this darkness. In the name of your Son, Jesus. Amen"). The bloody climax sees Malavida and Lockwood, both severely damaged, dragging themselves to the rescue of Karen, who's offered herself up as bait. It's a lightweight, generally enjoyable yarn, and if readers have seen it all before, well, they probably will again, sometime between dinner and the 11:00 news. Author tour. (July)
Library Journal
Cannell, the creator of such television series as The Commish and author of The Plan (LJ 5/15/95), shows his TV roots in this thriller about a pair of U.S. Customs employees who stumble upon a serial killer. Leonard Land, a colossal young man who operates from a converted garbage barge in Florida, uses his computer hacking expertise to cover up a series of heinous mutilations. In the time-honored but clichd manner of so many writers in this genre, Cannell imbues his hero, Customs agent John Lockwood, with a healthy sense of disrespect for rules, regulations, and authority. Lockwood is paired with the beautiful egghead Karen "Awesome" Dawson, whose robust IQ is put to the test by her quarry's devilish hacking skills. Cannell plays fast and loose when writing about technology, and his characterizations sometimes stretch credibility, but his story's frenetic pace and the occasional fresh surprise will keep most readers tuned in until the end. For large popular collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/15/96.]Mark Annichiarico, "Library Journal"
Emily Melton
In a sort of "Silence of the Lambs" meets "Seven", Hollywood mogul Cannell offers up a slice-'em-dice-'em thriller that's clearly headed for the big screen. Renegade customs agent John Lockwood has made a general mess of his life. He has deserted his family, infuriated his bosses, and failed repeatedly to make nice with the bureaucracy. Now he has hooked up with Karen Dawson, a brilliant psychologist and criminal profiler, and Malavida Chacone, a brilliant computer hacker, to track down a deranged serial killer whose favorite method of dealing out death is to use scalpels and Stryker saws to slice up his victims. Trying to catch the freak takes the trio on a cross-country trek that climaxes in a nerve-jangling confrontation and has Lockwood, Dawson, and Chacone learning some important truths about themselves in the process. Despite a multilayered plot that sometimes defies credibility, and despite the occasionally tiresome computerese, this is one of those assault-the-senses novels whose energy is guaranteed to hook thrill-seeking readers.
Kirkus Reviews
From veteran TV writer Cannell (The Plan, 1995), an unsuccessful psychothriller that reads like a hodgepodge of recent blockbusters in the genre.

Cannell's TV experience seems both an advantage and a disadvantage here: His dialogue is quick and limber, but his characters are imported directly from central casting. Leonard Land, a multipersonality serial killer, shifts unpredictably between "The Rat," a feckless killer, and "The Wind Minstrel," a pseudo-religious guru. Leonard is a slightly atypical freakazoid evil genius, close to seven feet tall, hairless, sheet-white, and a wizard in cyberspace, where his pals include the lead singer of a Death Metal band. With his copious online talents, Leonard is almost impossible to catch. Unless, that is, you've got a felonious ace up your sleeve, which is what US Customs agent John Lockwood and his inadvertent sidekick, the babe genius criminal shrink Dr. Karen Dawson, have in the person of Malavida Chacone. Imprisoned—by Lockwood—for his illicit computer hacking, Chacone is the only one who can crack through Leonard's cyberspace world, leaving the head games to Karen and the heavy lifting to Lockwood. Leonard's twisted plan involves killing women and sawing off part of their bodies, which he then refrigerates in a salvaged garbage barge. Lockwood, naturally, has screwed up his marriage, and the hunt for Leonard becomes personal when Chacone accidentally clues Leonard in to the whereabouts of Lockwood's estranged wife and daughter. Leonard kills the wife, and Lockwood vows revenge. A series of late-book plot convolutions temporarily disable both Chacone and Lockwood, placing Karen squarely in harm's way and setting up a moderately suspenseful conclusion.

It's hard to believe that Cannell came up with a character as compelling as TV's Jim Rockford. An unrelenting string of cyberbabble does not distract from his second novel's most serious problem: We've seen all this before.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Rat

His mother, Shirley, had transformed him into The Rat. When he was bad or woke up with an erection, she would take him into the basement and light the Trinity candles she got from church.She would hold his hand in the flame until his flesh burned.Fire would cleanse him, she said ... and, for a while, it did.When he was The Rat, he was pitiful and ugly, but he knew everything. The smallest details were vivid and sharp. His skin never irritated him when he was The Rat, except for the last few days before he transformed, when his nipples and skin burned, but he didn't have to wear silk.When he was The Rat he never got erections.

When he was The Wind Minstrel, he was always ready to be erect. The strange thing was, those erections were pure.He would swell with penile holiness.He was glorious, but he was always in pain.He could smell his flesh burning and everything was too bright. He had to wear specially made dark glasses and rub on Vaseline. Sometimes he got a bad rash.... He tried not to think of it, to soar above it, but the stinging sensation on his skin always intensified through Friday, and by Saturday it burned like acid.

The Wind Minstrel was a minister of sorts ... a God of Cleansing who synchronized the period of proclamation with the message of Revelation.He was in his time of Investigative Judgment. First with the dead and second, much later, with the living. Investigative Judgment determined who, of the multitudes, should be sleeping in the dust and who were worthy of transformation. The Wind Minstrel could always tell. He could pick them.

The Wind Minstrel lived at night because he could hidefrom God in the dark. He was a paradox: a God and a Devil. He was Christ and Anti-Christ. He and only he could possess.He walked on a plane of ritual dedication, and when he killed, he was emotionally naked and alone. It was only then that his skin stopped burning.It was only then that he could take off the dark glasses. For a while, perhaps only an hour or two, he would feel as he guessed other men might feel, but then he would transform into The Rat again or sometimes he'd become Leonard and would lose all sense of physical power.

Leonard was a genius and worked in a computer store, but he was also pitiful, awkward and afraid. Leonard almost never spoke to anyone. The Wind Minstrel was god of the planet, but The Rat ruled cyberspace.

The woman The Rat was coveting worked for Cavanaugh and Cunningham in Atlanta. The firm traded on the international currency markets and she monitored foreign currencies, so she came to work at 4:30 p.m. and worked all night. The office building was deserted, except for a withered security guard who rarely got up from behind his black marble desk in the lobby. The Rat had seen pictures of her naked on his computer screen. He downloaded the file, including her application for plastic surgery, which contained her name and both her home and business addresses. He had everything, including the pictures, taped to the metal walls in the rusting, empty garbage barge where he did the human storage and reconstruction. He studied the walls with his heart pounding. Shots of her, naked, standing in profile, facing right and left, staring dully off.It was her arms that drew him. Her arms were perfect, with long muscles and tight skin. The elbows were perfect. Then, as always happened, the coveting began, and The Rat started to withdraw as The Wind Minstrel emerged. During this period, The Rat would go to Computer Land and do Leonard's job.Like Leonard, he never spoke to anyone unless it was absolutely necessary. The coveting increased over the next twenty-four hours, until The Rat couldn't resist it.

She lived in Atlanta and he knew he had to go to her, just like the others. He drove his dark blue Ford pickup there from Tampa, departing on Wednesday night, just as the aura of The Wind Minstrel began to grow. The Rat was leaving, The Wind Minstrel coming. It was always hard to drive when he was not fully transformed, but he knew it was necessary.

He arrived in Atlanta at five a.m. Thursday, and booked a room in the Marriott on Lee Street.He slept all day. He got up at four in the afternoon and went to her apartment building and parked across the street. The Rat immediately knew it would be impossible for The Wind Minstrel to possess there, because it was a huge horseshoe structure built around a pool.It was far too public and open. The Rat knew that he was ugly and would be remembered. He could not ask The Wind Minstrel to possess in such a public place. Then, while he waited, she came out, got into her car, and he followed and coveted her.She worked in a steel-and-glass building in Atlanta's Financial District.The building was called Hoyt Tower, which was something of a misnomer as it was only ten stories tall. He parked across the street and watched with his binoculars as she entered. At six p.m., he went inside the huge marble-floored lobby just before it closed, carrying a box addressed to her employer, Cavanaugh and Cunningham. He walked past the security guard, past the employees hurrying out of the building. He took the elevator up to the fourth floor and Waited, holding the box, as people left for the evening.

He knew he was unusual. He was almost seven feet tall, overweight, and had absolutely no hair on his body. No whiskers, no eyebrows ... no pubic hair. There was...

Meet the Author

Stephen J. Cannell is the bestselling author of the political thriller The Plan and the psychothriller Final Victim, as well as the creator or co-creator of over forty television shows, including The Rockford Files, The A-Team, Wiseguy, andSilk Stalkings. He currently heads the Cannell Studios.

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Final Victim 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Chilling yet couldn't put the book down!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow, this book is messed up but really good. I could not put it down at the end. You never know what will happen next. Definately a great book to read and one to read if you can stand the blade.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I find it hard to read a book unless it is very good and keeps your interest.There are few authors that I like but with reading this book I know that I am going to go get every book this man has even wrote.