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Kill and Tell (John Medina Series #1)

Kill and Tell (John Medina Series #1)

4.2 78
by Linda Howard

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Romantic suspense superstar Linda Howard’s seductive New York Times bestseller “meshes hot sex, emotional impact, and gripping tension” (Publishers Weekly) into a sizzling, heart-pounding thriller!

Still reeling from her mother’s recent death, Karen Whitlaw is stunned when she receives a package containing a mysterious


Romantic suspense superstar Linda Howard’s seductive New York Times bestseller “meshes hot sex, emotional impact, and gripping tension” (Publishers Weekly) into a sizzling, heart-pounding thriller!

Still reeling from her mother’s recent death, Karen Whitlaw is stunned when she receives a package containing a mysterious notebook from her estranged father, whom she has barely seen since his return from the Vietnam War decades ago. Then, a shocking phone call: Karen’s father has been murdered on the gritty streets of New Orleans.

For homicide detective Marc Chastain, something about the case of a murdered homeless man just doesn’t add up—especially after he meets the victim’s daughter. Far from the cold woman he expected, Karen Whitlaw is warm and passionate. She is also in serious danger. A string of “accidents” have shaken Karen to the core and forced her into the protective embrace of the charming detective she vowed to resist. Together they unravel a disturbing story of politics, power, and murder—and face a killer who will stop at nothing to get his hands on her father’s secrets.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Publishers Weekly starred review Linda Howard meshes hot sex, emotional impact, and gripping tension.
The Barnes & Noble Review
Linda Howard, bestselling romance writer of such wonderful tales as "Son of the Morning", "Angel Creek" and "Dream Man," now turns her pen to the romantic-suspense genre with "Kill & Tell." Fans of her romances will find plenty to enjoy here, for her heroine, Karen Whitlaw, and hero, Marc Chastain, still find the mysteries of love at least as intriguing as the murder story that fuels "Kill & Tell".

Dexter Whitlaw, a Vietnam vet, has a book of secrets that he carefully packages up and mails from Washington, D.C., to his estranged wife, Jeannette, in Ohio. Whitlaw hasn't seen his wife for years, nor his daughter, both of whom he abandoned nearly 20 years before. But Dexter Whitlaw has some game afoot, a same that is as real and dangerous as the life-and-death struggle he experienced in the jungles of Vietnam. A few days later, Karen, his daughter, receives the package with a very special notebook enclosed. Memories of her father—none of them happy—come rushing back to her.

Now a nurse, Karen is nearly 30 and has not thought about her absentee father for many years. Her mother recently died, and Karen is still grieving. She takes the package and binds it up among some of her mother's possessions. Karen has no interest in opening the door to the mystery of her father, nor of the life he currently leads.

And that life he's currently leading has plenty of complications of its own. When next we see her father, he is in New Orleans, and a game of cat and mouse is afoot. Someone is after him, and Whitlaw has barely managed to stay one foot ahead of hispursuers. A CIA agent, Rick Medina, is also on his trail, and both he and Whitlaw are killed on the streets of the French Quarter. The corpse with the bullet in the head is believed to be a homeless vagrant, until Police Detective Marc Chastain arrives to investigate the case.

This is where Linda Howard's novel flies, and shows her considerable strength as a storyteller—in the characterization of the hero. "'Chastain,' one detective had said, 'is the type of guy who carries a blade.'" He is the dark stranger of all good romantic fiction, both a threat and a lust object. Marc Chastain is part-Creole, part-dangerous, a ladies' man who loses sleep over the death of the as-yet-unidentified vagrant. When Chastain goes to the morgue to find out the true identity of this John Doe, he's surprised to find that Whitlaw is a veteran and has a family in Ohio.

Karen, despite her mixed feelings about her father's death, flies to New Orleans when Chastain contacts her with the unhappy news. In the city of light, color, sound, and fury, she will find intrigue, mystery, thrills, and of course, romance. The dark story of her father's past and the blackmail of higher-ups moves from the Vietnam War to the halls of the United States Senate. Now someone wants Karen dead so they can have the notebook her father had sent her—a notebook with extremely valuable and dangerous information within its pages.

As Karen's life is threatened, she and Marc Chastain learn the secrets of politics and power and killing.Linda Howard is fairly new to romantic suspense, and it shows. While her story has all the bells and whistles of a suspense thriller, she occasionally dwells too long on unnecessary point-of-view shifts that slow down the suspense. However, her characters are strong and vibrant, and once we spend time with Chastain, the novel soars.

In fact, the chemistry between Chastain and Karen is palpable and believable. I wish she'd introduced Chastain earlier in the story—he's a fascinating human being.

For entertainment value, "Kill & Tell" is one of those reads to while away a delicious afternoon with. A genuine treat, and the last 50 pages will leave you breathless.—Jessi Rose Lucas

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Bestselling author Howard (Son of the Morning) meshes hot sex, emotional impact and gripping tension in this perfect example of what romantic suspense ought to be. Shortly after her mother's death, nurse Karen Whitlaw receives a package from her long-estranged father and, unable to bring herself to explore it, she packs it away. Unknown to her, the package contains information that could destroy a U.S. senator, who would kill to get it. Six months later, police detective Marc Chastain summons her to New Orleans to identify the body of her murdered father. As the repressed Karen falls for the sexy detective, she finds herself being targeted by killers intent on recovering something she doesn't realize she has. Karen is a strong, likable heroine, and Marc manages the often-tried and rarely accomplished trick of being both tough and vulnerable. Minor characters are believable and fleshed-out, and the narrative is never bogged down by subplots or ill-advised red herrings. Howard, a gifted writer who has not always been in full control of her material, pulls it together in this one. (Jan.)

Product Details

Pocket Star
Publication date:
John Medina Series , #1
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

February 13, Washington, D.C.

Dexter Whitlaw carefully sealed the box, securing every seam with a roll of masking tape he had stolen from WalMart the day before. While he was at it, he had also stolen a black marker, and he used it now to print an address neatly on the box. Leaving the marker and roll of tape on the ground, he tucked the box under his arm and walked to the nearest post office. It was only a block, and the weather wasn't all that cold for D.C. in February, mid-forties maybe.

If he were a congressman, he thought sourly, he wouldn't have to pay any freaking postage.

Thin winter sunshine washed the sidewalks. Earnest-looking government workers hurried by, black or gray overcoats flapping, certain of their importance. If anyone asked their occupation, they never said, "I'm an accountant," or "I'm an office manager," though they might be exactly that. No, in this town, where status was everything, people said, "I work for State," or "I work for Treasury," or, if they were really full of themselves, they used initials, as in "DOD," and everyone was expected to know that meant Department of Defense. Personally, Dexter thought they should all have IDs stating they worked for the DOB, the Department of Bullshit.

Ah, the nation's capital! Power was in the air here, perfuming it like the bouquet of some rare wine, and all these fools were giddy with it. Dexter studied them with a cold, distant eye. They thought they knew everything, but they didn't know anything.

They didn't know what real power was, distilled down to its purest form. The man in the White House could give orders that would cause a war, he could fiddle with the football, the locked briefcase carried by an aide who was always close by, and cause bombs to be dropped and millions killed, but he would view those deaths with the detachment of distance. Dexter had known real power, back in Nam, had felt it in his finger as he slowly tightened the slack on a trigger. He had tracked his prey for days, lying motionless in mud or stinging weeds, ignoring bugs and snakes and rain and hunger, waiting for that perfect moment when his target loomed huge in his scope and the crosshairs delicately settled just where Dexter wanted them, and all the power was his, the ability to give life or end it, pull the trigger or not, with all the world narrowed down to only two people, himself and his target.

The biggest thrill of his life had been the day his spotter had directed him to a certain patch of leaves in a certain tree. When his scope had settled, he had found himself looking at another sniper, Russian from the looks of him, rifle to his shoulder and scope to his eye as he tried to acquire them. Dexter was ahead of him by about a second, and he got his shot squeezed off first. One second, a heartbeat longer, and the Russian would have gotten off the first shot, and old Dexter Whitlaw wouldn't be here admiring the scenery in Washington, D.C.

He wondered if the Russian had ever seen him, if there had been a split second of knowledge before the bullet blasted out all awareness. No way he could have seen the bullet, despite all the fancy special effects Hollywood put in the movies showing just that. No one ever saw the bullet.

Dexter entered the warm post office and connected to the end of the line waiting for service at the counter. He had chosen lunch hour, the busiest time, to cut down on the chance of any harried postal clerks remembering him. Not that there was anything particularly memorable about him, except for the cold eyes, but he didn't like taking chances. Being careful had kept him alive in Nam and had worked for the twenty-five years since he had returned to the real world and left the green hell behind.

He didn't look prosperous, but neither did he look like a street bum. His coat was reversible. One side, which he now wore on the outside, was a sturdy brown tweed, slightly shabby. The other side, which he wore when he was out on the street, was patched and torn, a typical street bum's coat. The coat was good, simple camouflage. Snipers learned how to blend with their surroundings.

When his turn came, he placed the box on the counter to be weighed and fished some loose bills out of his pocket. The box was addressed to Jeanette Whitlaw, Columbus, Ohio. His wife.

He wondered why she hadn't divorced him. Hell, maybe she had; he hadn't called her in a couple of years now, maybe longer. He tried to think when was the last time —

"Dollar forty-three," the clerk said, not even glancing at him, and Dexter laid two ones on the counter. Pocketing the change, he left the post office as unobtrusively as he had entered it.

When had he last talked to Jeanette? Maybe three years. Maybe five. He didn't pay much attention to calendars. He tried to think how old the kid would be now. Twenty? She'd been born the year of the Tet offensive, he thought, but maybe not. 'Sixty-eight or 'sixty-nine, somewhere along through there. That made her...damn, she was twenty-nine! His little girl was pushing thirty! She was probably married, with a couple of kids, which made him a grandpa.

He couldn't imagine her grown. He hadn't seen her for at least fifteen years, maybe longer, and in his mind he always pictured her as she had been at seven or eight, skinny and shy, with big brown eyes and a habit of biting her bottom lip. She had spoken to him only in whispers, and then only when he asked her a direct question.

He should've been a better daddy to her, a better husband to Jeanette. He should have done a lot of things in his life, but looking back and seeing them didn't give a man the chance to go back and change any of them. It just let him regret not doing them.

But Jeanette had kept on loving him, even when he came back from Nam so cold and distant, forever changed. In her eyes, he had remained the edgy, sharp-eyed West Virginia boy she had loved and married, never mind that the boy had died in a bug-infested jungle and the man who returned home to her was a stranger in all but face and form.

The only time he felt alive since then was when he had a rifle in his hands, sighting through the scope and feeling that rush of adrenaline, the heightening of all his senses. Funny that the thing that had killed him was the only thing that could make him feel alive. Not the rifle; the rifle, as true and faithful a tool as had ever been fashioned by man, was still just a tool. No, what made him feel alive was the skill, the hunt, the power. He'd been a sniper, a damn good one. He could have come back to Jeanette if it had been only that, he sometimes thought, though he was years past trying to analyze things.

He'd killed a lot of men, and murdered one.

The distinction was clear in his mind. War was war. Murder was something else.

He stopped at a pay phone and fished some change out of his pocket. He had already memorized the number. He fed in the change and listened to the ring. When the call was answered on the other end, he said clearly, "My name is Dexter Whitlaw."

He had wasted his life paying for the crime he had committed. Now it was someone else's turn to pick up the tab.

Copyright © 1998 by Linda Howington

What People are Saying About This

Iris Johansen
A riveting masterpiece of suspense. Linda Howard is a superbly original storyteller.

Meet the Author

Linda Howard is an award-winning author whose novels include the recent New York Times bestsellers Shadow Woman, Up Close and Dangerous, and Drop Dead Gorgeous, as well as the Pocket Books releases Kill and Tell, Now You See Her, All the Queen’s Men, Mr. Perfect, and Open Season. She lives in Alabama with her husband and two golden retrievers.

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Kill and Tell 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 77 reviews.
XXXOOOBookwormOOOXXX More than 1 year ago
Many romances are not like our actual lives, okay? I mean, the cops I've been ticketed by were in no way similar to our favorite Chief of Police in "Open Season." More's the pity. And I CAN believe that Karen fell for Marc Chastain so quickly. With her mother's recent death, then having to travel to New Orleans to deal with identifying her estranged father's body, and THIS MOUTHWATERING SOUTHERNER takes charge to assist her with making Dad's funeral arrangements? Heck, I'm not under any of that stress and Marc hasn't given me a shoulder to cry on and I'm already in love with the guy. I had a friend in college who met and married her husband within a week. They were in their late 20s/early 30s and had two kids when she went back to University to get her degree and I almost had to wear a flame-retardant suit whenever I was in the same room with 'em. No icky PDA, but just that much chemistry between them. So yes, you and I may not have experienced what Karen and Marc do but it DOES happen. This drama and romance includes some education about snipers, Viet Nam, nursing, first aid, and survival. It was exciting and heart rending and very real.  
afriendofallbooks More than 1 year ago
I fell in love with both the hero and the heroine. I just liked who they are. how they relate to each other and how they THINK. This is a book I have owned for a long time. I put it on my nook to have when i am in the mood. I have never read a Linda Howard I did not like, most are on the shelf and when I just need a laugh or a cry I grab one. Happy reading!!.
Blur_E_Iz More than 1 year ago
I don't like it when a book is re-published with a "new" published date, and nowhere does it give you that warning in the descriptions, but this book is a few years. Good book, love reading Linda Howard, but people are being misled by the 2010 publish date. Can't remember the orig pub date. I want to say in the late 90's, not sure. I'm sure someone out there knows the orig date. The "John Medina Series, book 1" is new though, looking forward to reading more about this character. Just hope the series has never been published before lol.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you like suspense and romance, this book is a must read. The storyline is good and the attraction between the two main characters is electric. I could not put it down. The plot twists made it a real page turner.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was my first book by Linda Howard. She is great. I couldn't put the book down because I couldn't stand not knowing what would happen next.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As usual, Linda Howard does not disappoint.
becca.woods More than 1 year ago
This is one of the first Linda Howard books I ever read and just got me hooked!! When I see a new book out by Linda, I just automatically pick it up without knowing what it's about! Very good characters and good story line.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Linda Howard is great. This story has a wonderful plot with likable characters. Once I start it, I can't put it down. A must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very, very good story.  Such a shame he is so concerned with firm breasts but as she ages, she can always get implants to keep his interest.
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LTB88 More than 1 year ago
I love most of Linda Howard's stories. This one doesn't disappoint. She introduces John Medina, the main character in All The Queen's Men, but the plot in this book catches your attention quickly and holds it. While neither Karen nor Marc are "warm and fuzzy" characters, I really did like them. This is one of L.H's older stories, so make sure you don't already have it before purchasing it. But it is worth a reread!
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Hard to put down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
10/16/12 A pretty good book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
OK. This is a problem I havr had with Linda Howard before. The love story moves so fast that it is LITERALLY unbelievabke. Marc met her the first day, didn't like her, thought he misread her and decides he is going to have a long distance serious relationship with her in only a few hours. The next day, he is upset bc he could not hold her when she cried the night before, was completely sure of her, and vowed to always be there to holdnher in the future. Seriously? It is page 90 and I am not surenif I want to continue. Some of her books are so awesome I wantnto re-read. And some make me want to laugh at the romance part.
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AvidReader68TX More than 1 year ago
enjoyed this one by one of my favorite authors. Plot was twisted and intricate, romance was well done (consistent with my views on love at first sight) and ending was well done. Will read the next books in the Medina Series.