Flight (Irene Kelly Series #8) [NOOK Book]

Overview

Hot off the publication of Bones, the winner of the Edgar Award for Best Novel, Jan Burke explodes onto the suspense scene with Flight, featuring the hard-edged Detective Frank Harriman, husband of Jan's beloved series heroine Irene Kelly.
A family is found murdered. In a cruel twist, one of the Las Piernas Police Department's own, Philip Lefebvre, is suspected of killing the only witness. When that detective disappears, a crime boss goes ...
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Flight (Irene Kelly Series #8)

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Overview

Hot off the publication of Bones, the winner of the Edgar Award for Best Novel, Jan Burke explodes onto the suspense scene with Flight, featuring the hard-edged Detective Frank Harriman, husband of Jan's beloved series heroine Irene Kelly.
A family is found murdered. In a cruel twist, one of the Las Piernas Police Department's own, Philip Lefebvre, is suspected of killing the only witness. When that detective disappears, a crime boss goes free. And the LPPD is forever changed.
Called in to investigate the wreckage of the missing detective's plane, Frank Harriman is given a set of cold cases that have suddenly become white hot. Detective Harriman's conviction that the LPPD tagged the wrong murder suspect is wildly unpopular. Alone, his instincts and integrity questioned at every turn, Harriman must stop the killer before hundreds of lives, including Harriman's own, are lost.
Flight is a heart-pounding marriage of Jan Burke's "intricate plotting" (Washington Times), "chilling suspense" (Clive Cussler), and trademark "crisp, crackling prose" (Library Journal) that will thrill newcomers and veteran Burke fans, cover to cover.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Refusing to rest on her laurels after winning an Edgar Award for her seventh novel, the succinctly titled Bones, popular suspense novelist Jan Burke made an effective departure from all her earlier books, all of which featured feisty California journalist Irene Kelly. Flight places Irene in a subordinate role, focusing instead on her husband, veteran homicide detective Frank Harriman.

The story opens with an extended prologue in which Las Piernas homicide investigator Phil Lefebvre, responding to an anonymous phone call, stumbles across the corpses of wealthy industrialist Trent Randolph and his teenage daughter, Amanda. He also discovers Randolph's badly wounded young son, Seth, and saves the boy's life. Lefebvre then mounts an investigation that successfully implicates local crime lord Whitey Dane. Before Dane can be brought to trial, three things happen. Seth Randolph is murdered in his hospital room; virtually all forensic evidence disappears; and Phil Lefebvre flees from the scene in a small private plane. The case against Dane disintegrates, and Lefebvre vanishes without a trace, leaving unanswered questions -- and a shattered reputation -- in his wake.

Ten years later, hikers discover Lefebvre's mummified corpse amid the wreckage of his plane, which had crashed in the San Bernardino Mountains shortly after takeoff. The long-dormant case is reopened, and Frank Harriman begins to reinvestigate. He quickly learns that the downed plane had been sabotaged and comes to believe that Lefebvre -- whose name has become anathema in the Las Piernas Police Department -- may have been a victim, not a murderer-for-hire. Frank's defense of Lefebvre isolates him from his fellow officers and stirs up a proverbial hornet's nest of controversy and residual bitterness. At the same time, his painstaking investigation gradually captures the attention of the Looking Glass Man, a deranged killer who has successfully pursued his own violent agenda for more than a dozen years.

Flight is a gripping, consistently readable novel, but not a perfect one. The prose is occasionally pedestrian and the excessively elaborate plot sometimes strains credibility. The real heart of the novel -- and its primary source of pleasure -- lies in its subtle, cumulatively affecting presentation of two very similar men: Frank Harriman and Phil Lefebvre, decent, intuitive policemen with highly individual standards of ethical behavior. As Harriman follows in a dead man's footsteps, bringing Lefebvre's investigation to a belated -- and satisfying -- conclusion, Flight rises above its generic origins, acquiring an unmistakable emotional power that is all its own. (Bill Sheehan)

Bill Sheehan reviews horror, suspense, and science fiction for Cemetery Dance, The New York Review of Science Fiction, and other publications. His book-length critical study of the fiction of Peter Straub, At the Foot of the Story Tree, has been published by Subterranean Press (www.subterraneanpress.com).

Jill M. Smith
Award-winning author Jan Burke offers readers a new aspect of her marvelous series featuring reporter Irene Kelly and her husband Frank Harriman. Flight is truly Frank’s book and it is remarkable so emotional and gripping you won’t be able to put it down.
Romantic Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Like Burke's Edgar-winning Bones (1999), this ambitious, if overlong, suspense novel focuses on an intense search for a pathological killer. In Las Piernas, Calif., newspaper reporter Irene Kelly, Burke's series heroine, takes backseat to her husband, prickly, tenacious homicide detective Frank Harriman. Ten years earlier, when brilliant police detective Philip Lefebvre disappeared in the middle of a triple homicide investigation, the cops believed he'd sold out to the suspected killer, drug lord Whitey Dane. When Lefebvre's 10-year-old corpse and sabotaged airplane are found in the San Bernadino Mountains, Frank reopens the case, suspecting that both Lefebvre and Dane were wrongly accused. Irene knew Lefebvre, but, except for a clunky plot device that places her in peril at the finale, this is Frank's book, as he exactingly unearths new evidence and uncovers a possible cover-up. Burke delves into the mind of the real murderer, still at large and unsuspected. The reader gradually identifies this frightening individual, but waits in suspense too long for Frank to do likewise. Burke's strength is her understanding of personal relationships and motivation, plus the memorable characters she creates, notably the murderer, who is so crazy he passes for sane. The author's thorough research is praiseworthy but it often slows down the story, and she isn't a great stylist. Unfortunately, that combination produces a book that takes too many pages to come to the point. Agent, Lowenstein-Morel. (Mar. 6) Forecast: The publisher is behind this title in a big way, with a 50,000 first printing and a 17-city author tour, and Burke's shelf-full of awards for previous books will draw many readers to this new one. This isn't the author's strongest outing, though, and in the long run, sales may not meet the publisher's expectations. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Discovery of the wreckage of a Cessna in the mountain underbrush reopens old wounds and a cold case. The pilot's remains are identified as those of Detective Philip Lefebvre of the Las Piernas Police Department, reviled ten years earlier for taking a payoff and killing the sole witness to a family's murder before disappearing, along with the material evidence that would have taken a major crime lord off the streets. As he investigates, Detective Frank Harriman must overcome the hostility of the other detectives and Lefebvre's family, the reluctance of his superiors, and threats from unexpected sources. Gradually convinced of Lefebvre's innocence, Harriman backtracks through the late detective's personal and professional lives to find the true killer, uncovering secrets that will rattle the Las Piernas force as much as Lefebvre's presumed guilt once did. Fans of the Irene Kelly series should know that Flight is told from the perspective of Harriman, Kelly's husband, with Kelly as a supporting player. This book will whet the appetite of those who have never read any of this series. Start at the beginning with Goodnight, Irene. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/00.] Anne C. Tomlin, Auburn Memorial Hosp., NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From The Critics
Trent Randolph and his two children went sailing when a pirate suddenly appeared and killed the father and his daughter, but only wounded the son. Phillip Lefebvre comes on board and rescues the lad, who bonds with his savior. At that time, the police believe they finally have the goods on a local crime boss. The department and Phillip agree until Seth hears a do- rei-me of a watch that terrorizes the youngster. Lefebvre rethinks the case and illegally takes evidence out of the precinct. He goes flying, but his plane crashes leaving everyone to believe that he killed Seth and absconded with the evidence before vanishing. Ten years later, the plane is found and the case reopened with Detective Frank Harriman in charge. He does a paradigm shift assuming Lefebvre is innocent. His efforts bring him to the attention of someone who prefers the cop dead than having the law enforcement official learn the truth of what happened over a decade ago. There have been seven previous books in this series starring Irene Kelly, but this one is different as she plays a minor role and Frank tells the narrative. Flight takes some adjustments for those familiar with Jan Burke's works, but once the reader adapts, the novel gracefully soars. The tale is loaded with suspense, red herrings, and false leads that turn this who-done-it into a powerful reading experience while Ms. Burke deserves kudos for successfully trying something different.
From the Publisher
Sue Grafton Will keep you clinging to your armrests from beginning to end.

Mystery News Flight is outstanding — perhaps Jan Burke's best book yet...Wonderful, surprising....incredibly well-conceived and expertly written.

Los Angeles Times Explosive.

St. Petersburg Times (FL) Positively compelling....A novel of police intrigue and suspense that doesn't flag.

The Washington Times Totally satisfying....Jan Burke and Irene Kelly always delight. Burke is a craftsman, using care and imagination to craft a plot that unites disparate parts of two crimes spanning decades into a totally satisfying whole. Irene Kelly and Frank Harriman are as real as your next-door neighbors.

Sue Grafton Buckle up, my friend! Flight is fueled by suspense....

St. Petersburg Times (FL) One of the better thrillers of the year.

The San Diego Union-Tribune A suspenseful plot that melds past and present, complex characters, and surprises galore.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette A thrilling story.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743255851
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 4/21/2003
  • Series: Irene Kelly Series , #8
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 150,928
  • File size: 939 KB

Meet the Author

National bestseller Jan Burke is the author of a dozen novels and a collection of short stories. Among the awards her work has garnered are Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar® for Best Novel, Malice Domestic’s Agatha Award, Mystery Readers International’s Macavity, and the RT Book Club’s Best Contemporary Mystery. She is the founder of the Crime Lab Project (CrimeLabProject.com) and is a member of the board of the California Forensic Science Institute. She lives in Southern California with her husband and two dogs. Learn more about her at JanBurke.com.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Sunday, June 3, 11:35 P.M.

Las Piernas Marina South

Blissfully unaware that the moment everything would change was near, they were bickering.

"You should have to do the kitchen, Seth," Mandy said, drying a tumbler. "I shouldn't have to do it just because I'm a female."

"Female," Seth scoffed, securing the latch on a compartment beneath a berth. "Not like anyone could tell you are. You're still an 'it.'"

"An it!" Mandy snapped the towel at the seat of his pants. She hit her mark, then squealed in dismay as he turned and easily grabbed her weapon away from her.

He grinned as he saw the belated realization dawn on her face -- it had been a mistake to attack him within the confines of the yacht. She cowered, waiting for his retribution. He laughed and tossed the towel in her face. "Half the other girls in ninth grade have bigger boobs than you do, Pancake."

She shoved at him, and as he fell back in mock surrender, he knocked over a set of cookware she had not yet put away. In the silence after the crash and clatter, they each covered their mouths and repressed laughter.

"Quit the horseplay down there!" their father's voice called.

Seth glanced at the companionway, but their dad was too busy with his own work above to continue scolding. Seth looked at his watch. They probably wouldn't be at their dad's house until almost one o'clock in the morning -- they had a lot to do before they could even take their dad's new boat back to number 414, its own slip.

Seth knew that some boat owners would have taken their yachts into the slip at any hour and cleaned up there, but his father never showed such disregard for others. Whenever he got into the marina after nine or ten o'clock at night, Trent Randolph, in consideration of the live-aboards whose boats occupied the slips nearest his own, always docked here first, next to a bait shop at an isolated point on the far end of the marina. "You wouldn't turn on bright lights and wash and vacuum a car at midnight on your driveway at home," he would tell friends who asked about this habit. "People live even closer together here."

They hadn't taken friends with them this time. This weekend's sailing trip to Catalina Island had been fun -- especially, Seth thought, because it had just been the three of them. Trent Randolph had finally dumped Tessa, his lowlife girlfriend, not long ago. Seth hated her. She was the one who had split his folks up two years earlier, but that wasn't the only reason he didn't like her. She bitched about Seth and Amanda constantly, and Seth was almost positive she was playing his dad. He had no proof, but once or twice when his dad wasn't around, Seth had overheard her talking on her cell phone in kind of a lovey-dovey voice, all sexy and everything. And he knew she hadn't been talking to his dad. So maybe his dad had caught her at it, too -- or just finally wised up.

He knew his dad wouldn't get back together with his mom. He knew they weren't happy together. And he wished he could stop wishing they would get back together anyway.

Better to think of good times. Like this weekend. Seth, Mandy, and their dad even spent a night camping on the island, something they had not done since the divorce. "It was like he could be a dad again," Mandy confided to Seth when they left Avalon. He had rolled his eyes, not willing to agree openly with her. One reason he liked the new boat was that he figured his dad had used it to get rid of Tessa -- Seth recalled that she had been just about as pissed as his sister had been pleased with the yacht's name -- Amanda.

"I still say you should help with the kitchen," Mandy whispered now as they picked up the fallen pots and pans.

"It's a galley, not a kitchen," Seth corrected. "You always say it wrong."

"Whatever. You should have to do it."

"Quit whining or I'll make you clean the head."

"The bathroom?"

He nodded.

"Why call it 'the head' and not, you know, something like 'the ass'?"

"Don't be a trash-mouth, Mandy," he said, turning away so she wouldn't see him laugh.

"It's not trashy. Even donkeys are called asses."

He wouldn't take the bait, and so they worked quietly for a few minutes. They heard their father's footsteps as he moved overhead, heard the thumps and thuds and other sounds of gear and life vests being stowed, rigging secured, decks hosed and scrubbed. Seth carried two duffel bags filled with camping gear toward the hatch, setting them near the companionway to be carried up later.

He was athletic; broad-shouldered and tall for sixteen. Dark-haired and green-eyed and a little shy. Mandy could make him blush furiously by using one of her nicknames for him: Mr. Babe-Magnet. "Every girl who becomes my friend develops a major crush on you," she once complained to him, "unless she already had one on you and became my friend just so she could get next to you."

"No, they like you for yourself."

She shook her head and said, "Right. Try to catch the next flight back to planet Earth."

He still thought she was wrong. At fourteen, she was slender but gawky, more bookish than he. The only reason he had started lifting weights was because he worried that without his father in the house, the duty of fighting off her unworthy would-be boyfriends would fall to him. He expected them to arrive by the busload once his redheaded little sister filled out a little. The only after-school fight he had ever been in -- the one their mother chalked up to "Seth adjusting to the divorce" -- had actually started when the other kid made a "see what develops" crack about Mandy. Seth had pummeled him.

"Where does this go?" Mandy asked, startling him out of his reverie. She was biting on her lower lip as she held up an oven mitt. Fretting over exactly where everything belonged. He didn't blame her. No use shoving things any-old-where they would fit. Their dad was a neat freak. Seth showed her the compartment where such things were stored and went back to work cleaning the head.

"Mom's probably called Dad's house," she said as Seth started polishing the mirror. When he didn't respond, she added, "She's going to be mad."

"Mom's always mad," he said, not pausing in his work. "He'll take us to school on time tomorrow, don't worry. She doesn't need to know we're up this late on a school night -- right?"

"Right," Mandy agreed. "But if she calls -- "

"Even if she finds out, she'll still have to let Dad take us every other weekend."

Mandy gave a little sigh of relief, a sound not lost on her brother.

A noisy boat pulled up nearby. They could hear the loud thrumming of its engines. A little later, above them, mixed in with the engine noise, they heard voices. Male voices. Their father and another man.

"Who could that be?" Mandy asked, moving toward the companionway.

Seth shrugged. "The guy from the other boat, probably."

The voices grew louder. They heard snatches of conversation, their father's voice as he strode angrily past the hatch: "...trouble...get up...not what police should...you think I'm going to...then..."

"I'm going to see who it is!" Mandy whispered.

"Some politico," he said, using a term they applied to most of their father's newest associates. "Can't you tell? Dad's making a speech to him."

"At midnight?"

"They bug him at all hours. Stay put."

They both listened, but the men seemed to have stopped talking.

"I'm going to go see," she said. She was up the companionway before he could stop her. The men were still quiet, so he thought Mandy was too late anyway -- the other man had probably left. He squirted some toilet bowl cleaner into the bowl and began to scrub -- let Mandy get in trouble for not working.

He heard a loud thud and wondered if his dumb sister had tripped. He listened and could hear quick footsteps -- too heavy to be Amanda's. His dad running? He thought he heard her yelp. He stepped out of the head, listened. Hell, maybe she did fall.

He started toward the companionway just as she came stumbling down the ladder. Her face was white, and she was clutching her throat. A bright red wash of blood covered her hands, her arms, the entire front of her body.

"Mandy!"

Her eyes were wide and terrified, pleading with him. Her mouth formed some unspoken word just before she collapsed in a heap at the foot of the ladder. As she fell, her hand came away from her throat, and he was sprayed with her warm blood.

"Mandy!" he screamed.

There was a cut on her neck -- blood continued to spray from it in smaller and smaller spurts.

"Dad!" he yelled. "Dad! Help!"

He heard hurried steps and looked up, expecting to see his father.

A pirate stood at the top of the ladder.

The man who looked down at him was wearing a black eye patch over his left eye and carried a glinting piece of steel -- though it was a small knife, not a cutlass -- and the man's dark clothes were modern.

Seth turned and ran in blind panic toward the bow. But there was no escape except through the hatch, and no shelter -- except the small head. He dodged into it, turning to close the door on his attacker just as the knife came slashing. He raised his hands in defense, and the knife cut across his fingers. Screaming in pain, he whirled and threw his back against the door, catching the attacker's arm. The attacker shoved hard, moving one step in. Seth ground his heel into the man's foot. The man gave a grunt of pain and pulled the foot back even as he slashed with the knife, cutting across the front of Seth's neck. Only as he reached up with bloodied hands to cover the wound did Seth catch his own reflection in the mirror. Realizing that this was how the man had aimed the blow, Seth jammed his shoulder against the man's arm, pinning it to the wall, then hit the light switch. He felt dizzy, but forced himself to stay on his feet. With a fumbling grasp, he used his less injured left hand to pick up the open plastic bottle of toilet bowl cleaner on the sink counter. He put it up to where the man's good eye was peering in -- and squeezed the plastic bottle between the wall and his palm.

He didn't think any of the chemical had hit the man -- who must have seen it coming, because he jerked back, cutting Seth's shoulder as he pulled the knife arm from beneath him. Free of this obstruction, the door slammed shut and Seth's weight held it closed. Seth dropped the cleaner even as he struggled with the lock, his fingers slippery and barely functioning. He managed to grab a towel, to hold it against his neck, but soon he could not stand. The pain was intense, and he felt himself weakening, his own blood warm and sticky and dampening his shirt. He wedged himself between the hull and the door, even as the attacker began slamming against it.

The door shook beneath the blows. It would give, Seth thought. He tried to yell, but found he couldn't make a sound.

The pounding stopped. The small room swam before him. Seth bent forward, trying to fight the feeling of faintness. No sooner had he moved than the wood where he had rested his head splintered inward with a bang -- split by a small ax. The attacker must have taken it from their camping gear. The man yanked the ax from the wood. Seth tried to drag himself away from the door before the second blow came, but found he could not. He brought his hands back to the towel at his throat, wondering if the ax's third blow would slice into his back.

Suddenly, he heard music -- not music, really, but a short series of tones, a repetitive, insistent, three-note call -- the sound of a pager or of an alarm on an electronic watch.

Do-re-mi-do-re-mi-do-re --

Seth heard the sound cut off. He waited, every muscle tense, for the ax to strike again -- but the third blow never came.

Over the next few minutes, Seth drifted in and out of awareness, but a low rumbling made him open his eyes. The other boat was leaving.

He began to feel cold and sleepy. He must get up and help Mandy now, he thought, but in his pain and light-headed confusion, he could not locate the door latch. Still holding the towel against his neck, he groped along the wall with one hand and managed to turn on the light. He found the latch just as he lost consciousness.

Copyright © 2001 by Jan Burke
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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

Chapter One

Sunday, June 3, 11:35 P.M.
Las Piernas Marina South


Blissfully unaware that the moment everything would change was near, they were bickering.

"You should have to do the kitchen, Seth," Mandy said, drying a tumbler. "I shouldn't have to do it just because I'm a female."

"Female," Seth scoffed, securing the latch on a compartment beneath a berth. "Not like anyone could tell you are. You're still an 'it.'"

"An it!" Mandy snapped the towel at the seat of his pants. She hit her mark, then squealed in dismay as he turned and easily grabbed her weapon away from her.

He grinned as he saw the belated realization dawn on her face — it had been a mistake to attack him within the confines of the yacht. She cowered, waiting for his retribution. He laughed and tossed the towel in her face. "Half the other girls in ninth grade have bigger boobs than you do, Pancake."

She shoved at him, and as he fell back in mock surrender, he knocked over a set of cookware she had not yet put away. In the silence after the crash and clatter, they each covered their mouths and repressed laughter.

"Quit the horseplay down there!" their father's voice called.

Seth glanced at the companionway, but their dad was too busy with his own work above to continue scolding. Seth looked at his watch. They probably wouldn't be at their dad's house until almost one o'clock in the morning — they had a lot to do before they could even take their dad's new boat back to number 414, its own slip.

Seth knew that some boat owners would have taken their yachts into the slip at any hour and cleaned up there, but his father never showed such disregard for others. Whenever he got into the marina after nine or ten o'clock at night, Trent Randolph, in consideration of the live-aboards whose boats occupied the slips nearest his own, always docked here first, next to a bait shop at an isolated point on the far end of the marina. "You wouldn't turn on bright lights and wash and vacuum a car at midnight on your driveway at home," he would tell friends who asked about this habit. "People live even closer together here."

They hadn't taken friends with them this time. This weekend's sailing trip to Catalina Island had been fun — especially, Seth thought, because it had just been the three of them. Trent Randolph had finally dumped Tessa, his lowlife girlfriend, not long ago. Seth hated her. She was the one who had split his folks up two years earlier, but that wasn't the only reason he didn't like her. She bitched about Seth and Amanda constantly, and Seth was almost positive she was playing his dad. He had no proof, but once or twice when his dad wasn't around, Seth had overheard her talking on her cell phone in kind of a lovey-dovey voice, all sexy and everything. And he knew she hadn't been talking to his dad. So maybe his dad had caught her at it, too — or just finally wised up.

He knew his dad wouldn't get back together with his mom. He knew they weren't happy together. And he wished he could stop wishing they would get back together anyway.

Better to think of good times. Like this weekend. Seth, Mandy, and their dad even spent a night camping on the island, something they had not done since the divorce. "It was like he could be a dad again," Mandy confided to Seth when they left Avalon. He had rolled his eyes, not willing to agree openly with her. One reason he liked the new boat was that he figured his dad had used it to get rid of Tessa — Seth recalled that she had been just about as pissed as his sister had been pleased with the yacht's name — Amanda.

"I still say you should help with the kitchen," Mandy whispered now as they picked up the fallen pots and pans.

"It's a galley, not a kitchen," Seth corrected. "You always say it wrong."

"Whatever. You should have to do it."

"Quit whining or I'll make you clean the head."

"The bathroom?"

He nodded.

"Why call it 'the head' and not, you know, something like 'the ass'?"

"Don't be a trash-mouth, Mandy," he said, turning away so she wouldn't see him laugh.

"It's not trashy. Even donkeys are called asses."

He wouldn't take the bait, and so they worked quietly for a few minutes. They heard their father's footsteps as he moved overhead, heard the thumps and thuds and other sounds of gear and life vests being stowed, rigging secured, decks hosed and scrubbed. Seth carried two duffel bags filled with camping gear toward the hatch, setting them near the companionway to be carried up later.

He was athletic; broad-shouldered and tall for sixteen. Dark-haired and green-eyed and a little shy. Mandy could make him blush furiously by using one of her nicknames for him: Mr. Babe-Magnet. "Every girl who becomes my friend develops a major crush on you," she once complained to him, "unless she already had one on you and became my friend just so she could get next to you."

"No, they like you for yourself."

She shook her head and said, "Right. Try to catch the next flight back to planet Earth."

He still thought she was wrong. At fourteen, she was slender but gawky, more bookish than he. The only reason he had started lifting weights was because he worried that without his father in the house, the duty of fighting off her unworthy would-be boyfriends would fall to him. He expected them to arrive by the busload once his redheaded little sister filled out a little. The only after-school fight he had ever been in — the one their mother chalked up to "Seth adjusting to the divorce" — had actually started when the other kid made a "see what develops" crack about Mandy. Seth had pummeled him.

"Where does this go?" Mandy asked, startling him out of his reverie. She was biting on her lower lip as she held up an oven mitt. Fretting over exactly where everything belonged. He didn't blame her. No use shoving things any-old-where they would fit. Their dad was a neat freak. Seth showed her the compartment where such things were stored and went back to work cleaning the head.

"Mom's probably called Dad's house," she said as Seth started polishing the mirror. When he didn't respond, she added, "She's going to be mad."

"Mom's always mad," he said, not pausing in his work. "He'll take us to school on time tomorrow, don't worry. She doesn't need to know we're up this late on a school night — right?"

"Right," Mandy agreed. "But if she calls — "

"Even if she finds out, she'll still have to let Dad take us every other weekend."

Mandy gave a little sigh of relief, a sound not lost on her brother.

A noisy boat pulled up nearby. They could hear the loud thrumming of its engines. A little later, above them, mixed in with the engine noise, they heard voices. Male voices. Their father and another man.

"Who could that be?" Mandy asked, moving toward the companionway.

Seth shrugged. "The guy from the other boat, probably."

The voices grew louder. They heard snatches of conversation, their father's voice as he strode angrily past the hatch: "...trouble...get up...not what police should...you think I'm going to...then..."

"I'm going to see who it is!" Mandy whispered.

"Some politico," he said, using a term they applied to most of their father's newest associates. "Can't you tell? Dad's making a speech to him."

"At midnight?"

"They bug him at all hours. Stay put."

They both listened, but the men seemed to have stopped talking.

"I'm going to go see," she said. She was up the companionway before he could stop her. The men were still quiet, so he thought Mandy was too late anyway — the other man had probably left. He squirted some toilet bowl cleaner into the bowl and began to scrub — let Mandy get in trouble for not working.

He heard a loud thud and wondered if his dumb sister had tripped. He listened and could hear quick footsteps — too heavy to be Amanda's. His dad running? He thought he heard her yelp. He stepped out of the head, listened. Hell, maybe she did fall.

He started toward the companionway just as she came stumbling down the ladder. Her face was white, and she was clutching her throat. A bright red wash of blood covered her hands, her arms, the entire front of her body.

"Mandy!"

Her eyes were wide and terrified, pleading with him. Her mouth formed some unspoken word just before she collapsed in a heap at the foot of the ladder. As she fell, her hand came away from her throat, and he was sprayed with her warm blood.

"Mandy!" he screamed.

There was a cut on her neck — blood continued to spray from it in smaller and smaller spurts.

"Dad!" he yelled. "Dad! Help!"

He heard hurried steps and looked up, expecting to see his father.

A pirate stood at the top of the ladder.

The man who looked down at him was wearing a black eye patch over his left eye and carried a glinting piece of steel — though it was a small knife, not a cutlass — and the man's dark clothes were modern.

Seth turned and ran in blind panic toward the bow. But there was no escape except through the hatch, and no shelter — except the small head. He dodged into it, turning to close the door on his attacker just as the knife came slashing. He raised his hands in defense, and the knife cut across his fingers. Screaming in pain, he whirled and threw his back against the door, catching the attacker's arm. The attacker shoved hard, moving one step in. Seth ground his heel into the man's foot. The man gave a grunt of pain and pulled the foot back even as he slashed with the knife, cutting across the front of Seth's neck. Only as he reached up with bloodied hands to cover the wound did Seth catch his own reflection in the mirror. Realizing that this was how the man had aimed the blow, Seth jammed his shoulder against the man's arm, pinning it to the wall, then hit the light switch. He felt dizzy, but forced himself to stay on his feet. With a fumbling grasp, he used his less injured left hand to pick up the open plastic bottle of toilet bowl cleaner on the sink counter. He put it up to where the man's good eye was peering in — and squeezed the plastic bottle between the wall and his palm.

He didn't think any of the chemical had hit the man — who must have seen it coming, because he jerked back, cutting Seth's shoulder as he pulled the knife arm from beneath him. Free of this obstruction, the door slammed shut and Seth's weight held it closed. Seth dropped the cleaner even as he struggled with the lock, his fingers slippery and barely functioning. He managed to grab a towel, to hold it against his neck, but soon he could not stand. The pain was intense, and he felt himself weakening, his own blood warm and sticky and dampening his shirt. He wedged himself between the hull and the door, even as the attacker began slamming against it.

The door shook beneath the blows. It would give, Seth thought. He tried to yell, but found he couldn't make a sound.

The pounding stopped. The small room swam before him. Seth bent forward, trying to fight the feeling of faintness. No sooner had he moved than the wood where he had rested his head splintered inward with a bang — split by a small ax. The attacker must have taken it from their camping gear. The man yanked the ax from the wood. Seth tried to drag himself away from the door before the second blow came, but found he could not. He brought his hands back to the towel at his throat, wondering if the ax's third blow would slice into his back.

Suddenly, he heard music — not music, really, but a short series of tones, a repetitive, insistent, three-note call — the sound of a pager or of an alarm on an electronic watch.

Do-re-mi-do-re-mi-do-re —

Seth heard the sound cut off. He waited, every muscle tense, for the ax to strike again — but the third blow never came.

Over the next few minutes, Seth drifted in and out of awareness, but a low rumbling made him open his eyes. The other boat was leaving.

He began to feel cold and sleepy. He must get up and help Mandy now, he thought, but in his pain and light-headed confusion, he could not locate the door latch. Still holding the towel against his neck, he groped along the wall with one hand and managed to turn on the light. He found the latch just as he lost consciousness.

Copyright © 2001 by Jan Burke

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 12 )
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(9)

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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Definetely a book worth reading!

    This was the first book I've read by Jan Burke, and I must say it was so great that I had a hard time putting it down! To say the least that she is a terrific writer. When you read the book, the storyline makes you feel as if the characters are real and you can picture yourself as part of the storyline. I will definetely be reading more books by Jan Burke, she can count me as one of her fans!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2007

    One of the Best

    An Innocent Man condemned to death! A guilty man walked free! ------------------------ When Detective Frank Harriman was assigned the cold case of Phillip Lafavre's (Sp?) death, he was told about the legendary cop who took a payoff from a mob boss and stole incriminating evidence, killed a witness, and disappeared. But as he starts to investigate, he's more and more convinced that Lafavre wasn't a dirty cop, but that he was framed, and then murdered to keep his nose away from the real killer. Now, Frank thinks that somebody in his own department is the killer, and the killer wants him dead! -------------------------- I must admit that the first 80 pages of the book were rather slow, but then the book picked up and didn't let go. It was mysterious, and the plot was well developed like a true mystery. But unlike a typical mystery, the story was rather moving. In the end, I felt sorry for many of the characters. I felt bad that Lafavre was killed and then shamed when people believed that he was guilty. I felt bad for Seth, that after surviving a murder that left his sister and father dead, he was killed afterward too, just when he was recovering. I felt bad for the other Seth, and that he never got to meet his father. And I even felt bad for the killer (but I was also glad to see him in jail, with all those germs!). ---------------------- The characters were entertaining, and I would love to see more of all of them. This book was great and I highly recommend it (even though I was disappointed that Lafavre didn't come back from the dead, that would have been great to see).

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2003

    A powerful mystery!

    I've been a fan of the Irene Kelly books for years but I must say that Flight is by far the best. Frank Harriman makes a great main character and Jan Burke does an excellent job of weaving a gripping tale throughout. If you've never read a Jan Burke book, pick up this one without hesitation.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2001

    Finally...a book worth reading!

    After having read so many books, lately, that were a waste of time and money, along comes a novel by an author who won an Edgar with her first book, and who, in her second effort, does not lower her standards in any way. What a terrific writer...my only disappointment was that I eventually had to finish it...I did try to drag it out as long as possible, though! Ms Burke is a genius at making her characters seem real, and the suspense she generates with her plots is almost unbearable...it was all I could do not to turn to the back of the book! I wish Ms Burke a long and productive career....I am sure she is going to have quite a following.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2013

    ZvR 24 $&3#5 fmvx

    xdvTwt zbwtzt arfdtwcz

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2012

    Great read

    Awlsome book

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  • Posted October 12, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    Irene Kelly is one women I wouldn't want to mess with!

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent, but dramatically different than the previous books

    Trent Randolph and his two children went sailing when a pirate suddenly appeared and killed the father and his daughter, but only wounded the son. Phillip Lefebvre comes on board and rescues the lad, who bonds with his savior. At that time, the police believe they finally have the goods on a local crime boss. The department and Phillip agree until Seth hears a do-rei-me of a watch that terorizes the youngster. Lefebvre rethinks the case and illegally takes evidence out of the precinct. He goes flying, but his plane crashes leaving everyone to believe that he killed Seth and absconded with the evidence before vanishing. <P>Ten years later, the plane is found and the case reopened with Detective Frank Harriman in charge. He does a paradigm shift assuming Lefebvre is innocent. His efforts bring him to the attention of someone who prefers the cop dead than having the law enforcement official learn the truth of what happened over a decade ago. <P>There have been seven previous books in this series starring Irene Kelly, but this one is different as she plays a minor role and Frank tells the narrative. FLIGHT takes some adjustments for those familiar with Jan Burke¿s works, but once the reader adapts, the novel gracefully soars. The tale is loaded with suspense, red herrings, and false leads that turn this who-done-it into a powerful reading experience while Ms. Burke deserves kudos for successfully trying something different. <P>Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2011

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