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Creighton "Charley" Bondurant drove carefully because his life depended on it. Latigo Canyon was mile after mile of neck-wrenching, hairpin twists. Charley had no use for government meddlers but the 15 mph signs posted along the road were smart.
He lived ten miles up from Kanan Dume Road, on a four-acre remnant of the ranch his grandfather had owned during Coolidge's time. All those Arabians and Tennessee walkers and the mules Grandpa kept around because he liked the creatures' spirit. Charley had grown up with families like his. No-nonsense ranchers, a few rich folk who were still okay when they came up to ride on weekends. Now all you had were rich pretenders.
Diabetic and rheumatoid and depressed, Charley lived in a two-room cabin with a view of oak-covered crests and the ocean beyond. Sixty-eight, never married. Poor excuse for a man, he'd scold himself on nights when the medicines mixed with the beer and his mood sank low.
On happier days, he pretended to be an old cowboy.
This morning, he was somewhere between those extremes. His bunions hurt like hell. Two horses had died last winter and he was down to three skinny white mares and a half-blind sheepdog. Feed and hay bills ate up most of his Social Security. But the nights had been warm for October, and he hadn't dreamed bad and his bones felt okay.
Itwas hay that got him up at seven that morning, rolling out of bed, gulping coffee, chewing on a stale sweet roll, to hell with his blood sugar. A little time-out to get the internal plumbing going and by eight he was dressed and starting up the pickup.
Coasting in neutral down the dirt road that fed to Latigo, he looked both ways a couple of times, cleared the crust from his eyes, shifted into first, and rolled down. The Topanga Feed Bin was a twenty-minute ride south and he figured to stop along the way at the Malibu Stop & Shop for a few six-packs, a tin of Skoal, and some Pringles.
Nice morning, a big old blue sky with just a few clouds from the east, sweet air blowing up from the Pacific. Switching on his eight-track, he listened to Ray Price and drove slow enough to stop for deer. Not too many of the pests before dark but you never knew what to expect up in the mountains.
The naked girl jumped out at him a lot faster than any deer.
Eyes full of terror, mouth stretched so wide Charley swore he could see her tonsils.
She ran across the road, straight in the path of his truck, hair blowing wild, waving her arms.
Stomping the brake pedal hard, Charley felt the pickup lurch, wobble, and sway. Then the sharp skid to the left, straight at the battered guardrail that separated him from a thousand foot of nothing.
Hurtling toward blue sky.
He kept hitting the brake. Kept flying. Said his prayers and opened the door and prepared to bail.
His damn shirt stuck on the door handle. Eternity looked real close. What a stupid way to go!
Hands ripping at his shirt fabric, mouth working in a combination of curses and benedictions, Charley's gnarled body tightened, his legs turned to iron bars, and his sore foot pressed that brake pedal down to the damn floorboard.
The truck kept going, fishtailed, slid, spattered gravel.
Shuddered. Rolled. Bumped the guard.
Charley could hear the rail groan.
The truck stopped.
Charley freed his shirt and got out. His chest was tight and he couldn't suck any breath into his lungs. Wouldn't that be the shits: spared a free fall to oblivion only to drop dead of a damned heart attack.
He gasped and swallowed air, felt his field of vision grow black and braced himself against the truck. The chassis creaked and Charley jumped back, felt himself going down again.
A scream pierced the morning. Charley opened his eyes and straightened and saw the girl. Red marks around her wrists and ankles. Bruises around her neck.
Beautiful young body, those healthy knockers bobbing as she came running toward him-sinful to think like that, she was scared, but with knockers like that what else was there to notice?
She kept coming, arms wide, like she wanted Charley to hold her.
But screaming, those wild eyes, he wasn't sure what to do.
First time in a long time he'd been this close to bare female flesh.
He forgot about the knockers, nothing sexy about this. She was a kid, young enough to be his daughter. Granddaughter.
Those marks on her wrists and ankles, around her neck.
She screamed again.
She was right up to him, now, yellow hair whipping his face. He could smell the fear on her. See the goose bumps on her pretty tan shoulders.
Poor kid was shivering.
Charley held her.
Only son of a moody, hard drinker and a chronic depressive. Nothing to keep me in the flatlands.
Living like a pauper on work-study and occasional guitar gigs in wedding bands, I managed to get educated. Made some money as a psychologist, and a lot more from lucky investments. Got The House In The Hills.
Relationships were another story, but that would've been true no matter where I lived.
Back when I treated children, I routinely took histories from parents and learned what family life could be like in L.A. People packing up and moving every year or two, the surrender to impulse, the death of domestic ritual.
Many of the patients I saw lived in sun-baked tracts with no other kids nearby and spent hours each day being bused to and from beige corrals that claimed to be schools. Long, electronic nights were bleached by cathode and thump-thumped by the current angry music. Bedroom windows looked out to hazy miles of neighborhoods that couldn't really be called that.
Lots of imaginary friends in L.A. That, I supposed, was inevitable. It's a company town and the product is fantasy.
The city kills grass with red carpets, worships fame for its own sake, demolishes landmarks with glee because the high-stakes game is reinvention. Show up at your favorite restaurant and you're likely to find a sign trumpeting failure and the windows covered with brown paper. Phone a friend and get a disconnected number.
No Forwarding. It could be the municipal motto.
You can be gone in L.A. for a long time before anyone considers it a problem.
When Michaela Brand and Dylan Meserve went missing, no one seemed to notice.
Michaela's mother was a former truck-stop cashier living with an oxygen tank in Phoenix. Her father was unknown, probably one of the teamsters Maureen Brand had entertained over the years. Michaela had left Arizona to get away from the smothering heat, gray shrubs, air that never moved, no one caring about The Dream.
She rarely called her mother. The hiss of Maureen's tank, Maureen's sagging body, ragged cough, and emphysemic eyes drove her nuts. No room for any of that in Michaela's L.A. head.
Dylan Meserve's mother was long dead from an undiagnosed degenerative neuromuscular disease. His father was a Brooklyn-based alto sax player who'd never wanted a rug rat in the first place and had died of an overdose five years ago.
Michaela and Dylan were gorgeous and young and thin and had come to L.A. for the obvious reason.
By day, he sold shoes at a Foot Locker in Brentwood. She was a lunch waitress at a pseudo-trattoria on the east end of Beverly Hills.
They'd met at the PlayHouse, taking an Inner Drama seminar from Nora Dowd.
The last time anyone had seen them was on a Monday night, just after ten p.m., leaving the acting workshop together. They'd worked their butts off on a scene from Simpatico. Neither really got what Sam Shepard was aiming for but the play had plenty of juicy parts, all that screaming. Nora Dowd had urged them to inject themselves in the scene, smell the horseshit, open themselves up to the pain and the hopelessness.
Both of them felt they'd delivered. Dylan's Vinnie had been perfectly wild and crazy and dangerous, and Michaela's Rosie was a classy woman of mystery.
Nora Dowd had seemed okay with the performance, especially Dylan's contribution.
That frosted Michaela a bit but she wasn't surprised.
Watching Nora go off on one of those speeches about right brain-left brain. Talking more to herself than to anyone else.
The PlayHouse's front room was set up like a theater, with a stage and folding chairs. The only time it got used was for seminars.
Lots of seminars, no shortage of students. One of Nora's alumni, a former exotic dancer named April Lange, had scored a role on a sitcom on the WB. An autographed picture of April used to hang in the entry before someone took it down. Blond, shiny-eyed, vaguely predatory. Michaela used to think: Why her?
Then again, maybe it was a good sign. If it could happen to April, it could happen to anyone.
Dylan and Michaela lived in single-room studio apartments, his on Overland, in Culver City, hers on Holt Avenue, south of Pico. Both their cribs were tiny, dark, ground-floor units, pretty much dumps. This was L.A., where rent could crush you and day jobs barely covered the basics and it was hard, sometimes, not to get depressed.
After they didn't show up at work for two days running, their respective employers fired them.
And that was the extent of it.
Excerpted from Gone by Jonathan Kellerman Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted April 4, 2006
After having narrated 19 of the incomparable Jonathan Kellerman's chiller/thrillers, actor John Rubinstein has become the Kellerman voice. And for these ears there couldn't be a better one. Whether stage, film or television Rubinstein has headed a cast. He appeared on Broadway in Pippin, Children Of A Lesser God, M. Butterfly, and Ragtime. TV fans saw him starring in Family, and his film credits include Red Dragon, The Boys from Brazil, and Getting Straight. As if that weren't enough he's also a composer and director. He possesses a wealth of talent and brings it all to this can't-stop-listening-to narration of Gone. Gone is an apt title as Dylan Meserve and Michaela Brand have disappeared. That's hardly worth a mention on the evening news as they're a pair of aspiring young actors who are known only to each other? Who will miss them? What does get plenty of press is when Michaela is found naked and hysterical claiming they were kidnaped by a masked gunman. However, it soon turns out to be the worst kind of publicity - authorities find that their abduction was a hoax. Michaela blames it all on Dylan, saying it was his idea to impress Nora Dowd, the owner of a local playhouse who didn't think they had acting ability. Kellerman's hero, criminal psychologist Alex Delaware is called in to interview Michaela. There was to be only one interview as Michaela is found murdered soon after. Dylan is, of course, the logical suspect. Alex and his sidekick, Milo, begin the hunt for Dylan which takes them to Nora and her playhouse. Once there they discover that other actors associated with this troupe have also disappeared. Who is a murderer, Dylan, Nora or an unknown madman? Kellerman fans will be well pleased with the latest Alex Delaware adventure. - Gail Cooke
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Posted March 13, 2012
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Posted June 26, 2008
this book was very hard to put down just kept you going and you kept wanting to read more a very good book and a must read for the mystery book lovers out thereWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 20, 2007
Undownputable is how I discribe this great book. I wont go into details here but like Monster this is a grabber to get. You wont be able to put it down! i could not until I was done with it. It is never disappointing at all. A great book to really enjoy all the way through. You will be greatly happy after youn read it!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 2, 2007
This is a really boring book, and I also figured out very early on who the bad guy was. I kept waiting for something to happen, and halfway through was still waiting... three-quarters of the way through still waiting... ended up skimming to the end to the 'big surprise,' which I'd already suspected from the start, because I didn't want to waste any more time on it. Save your money.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 4, 2007
Alex Delaware & Milo Sturgis to the rescue once more. The story was pretty thrilling. The crime was ugly and disturbing. I enjoyed it alot. The ending was cute too. So I give it 2 thumbs up.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 12, 2007
I found the story to be dull and uninteresting. It was apparent to me who the 'bad guy' was early on. There was no suspense, no tension, and little action. I also wish that Kellerman would learn something about the geography of the L.A. area. Typical of the geographical errors that populate his books, he has Lancaster 70 miles east of L.A. Try due north, Dr. Kellerman.
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Posted December 24, 2006
Posted October 30, 2006
Posted May 22, 2006
I have enjoyed all of the Alex Delaware novels until this one. I stayed with it because I thought it was bound to get better. It didn't get better until more than 2/3 of the way through. Kellerman's a very good story teller - I hope the next novel is a lot better.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 6, 2006
Intense, gripping, and thoroughly entertaining. Kellerman weaves a deep web of deceit, lies, and intrigue set against the backdrop of sinister settings. You can pick it up but you won't be able to put it down.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 13, 2006
Posted April 18, 2006
I was frankly amazed that the ushering into the 21st century would see us with this author coming up with yet ANOTHER great plot. How many great ideas can one person have?!!! The plot revolves around wannabe thespians who are drawn to Hollywood's fantasy world and become victims. It SOOO reminded me of McCrae's 'Katzenjammer' (which I just finished and loved) with its themes of deception and the movies. Great, great read, anytime of the year. How about the beach?Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 9, 2008
Dylan Meserve and Michaela Brand met at the PlayHouse where they were taking an Inner Drama seminar. During the day he sold sneakers and she was a waitresses as both out of towners hoped to take Hollywood by storm. No one would care back home, Brooklyn and Phoenix respectively, if something happened to either of them. The two lovers vanish on the way home from a rehearsal. Three days later, they reappear battered and terrified near Latigo Canyon on a remote windy segment of the Malibu mountainside. Each claims a masked maniac abducted and tortured them. --- Their horrific tale fails to hold up under the slightest police inquiry and rather quickly empathy turns to loathing for perpetrating such a publicity stunted hoax. LAPD arrests Dylan and Michaela for false filing and the court orders psychological evaluations. Psychiatrist Dr. Alex Delaware examines Michaela he concludes she has some emotional issues especially depression and stress, but he also believes that her current overt conditions are caused by her being caught. He also feels there is something deeper, perhaps even a psychosis that he failed to identify in the short e had with her. Not long afterward, someone brutally kills Michaela with the missing Dylan as the prime suspect that is if he is still alive. LAPD homicide detective Milo Sturgis assisted by Delaware begins the investigation. --- The latest Delaware investigative tale is one of the best of this long running award winning series because the two wannabe actors provide a fascinating look at how far someone will go to achieve fame. The story line maintains a high degree of excellence, but is especially at its best when Alex, somewhat frustrated, talks with Michaela. Police procedural fans and those readers who appreciate a powerful psychological thriller will want to read GONE, a strong exciting thriller. --- Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 24, 2006
Kellerman is great at developing these characters, and the story is certainly unique as the reader knows a surprise could be around any corner and what seems the case may not be. I also recommend 'Between Shadow & Light' if you enjoyed this.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 12, 2006
Another great Delaware novel!! Interesting story twist. I've read all of Kellermans books and usually I can pretty much make out who the bad guy is, but this time I was figuring it out along with the characters. I would have to say this is one of his best.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 14, 2006
I've followed this series for years and always enjoyed it (I do wish wife Faye would write more Decker books though!). But as with Cornwell's Scarpetta, have been wondering when the magic will end with this character set. Well, it hasn't yet. This book shows a new side of Alex's personal life, lonely and deciding between two women in his life, and grieving for a pet. The mystery is haunting, I did know who did it early on, but not why or (gulp) how. Excellent representation of the twisted nature of some people in this world. Terrific book, highly recommended.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.