Killer Dreams

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Overview

#1 New York Times bestselling author Iris Johansen returns with a new suspense thriller guaranteed to keep readers turning pages all night long -- an adrenaline-laced shocker that pits a mother and son against a killer who?s the stuff of nightmares.

If you close your eyes, he?ll get you. Sophie Dunston knows all too well how dreams can kill. As one of the nation?s top sleep therapists, she specializes in the life-threatening night terrors that her ten-year-old son, Michael, suffers from. But she is also an expert...

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Overview

#1 New York Times bestselling author Iris Johansen returns with a new suspense thriller guaranteed to keep readers turning pages all night long -- an adrenaline-laced shocker that pits a mother and son against a killer who’s the stuff of nightmares.

If you close your eyes, he’ll get you. Sophie Dunston knows all too well how dreams can kill. As one of the nation’s top sleep therapists, she specializes in the life-threatening night terrors that her ten-year-old son, Michael, suffers from. But she is also an expert in another kind of terror --the kind that can turn a dream life into a living nightmare in the blink of an eye.

Someone is watching. He’s a shadowy figure from out of her darkest fears and he hasn’t forgotten her. In one shocking moment of violence, he’d shattered Sophie’s world forever and left her with only one thing to live for: her son. But the nightmare isn’t over for Sophie Dunston. It’s just begun. He’s been waiting. Sophie was supposed to die the first time around, but fate intervened. This time he’ll make sure that not even a miracle will save her.

It wasn’t a miracle that saved Jock Gavin, but it was pretty close. A semiretired hit man, commando, and jack-of-all-deadly-trades, he knows what Sophie is up against -- and that she’ll need help. But the man he’s chosen for the job is as unpredictable as he is dangerous. Matt Royd is a wild card-hard, cool, merciless -- and putting him into play changes the game completely. But to whose advantage?

Sophie will soon find out. She will have to trust Royd because she has no choices left. Because the bogeyman haunting her dreams is all too real and he’s on the hunt again. Because the nightmare he’s got planned for Sophie won’t end when she wakes up screaming. It won’t end. Ever.

About the Author
Award-winning IRIS JOHANSEN has more than twenty-seven million copies of her bestselling books in print, including On the Run, Countdown, Blind Alley, Firestorm, Fatal Tide, Dead Aim, No One to Trust, and many others. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia, where she is currently working on a new thriller.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bestseller Johansen (On the Run), in her latest thriller full of heavy-breathing romance, turns to mind-control of the Manchurian candidate variety, a state induced by the chemical REM-4 and mysterious sleep-manipulation methods guaranteed to turn regular folk into killer zombies. It promises to be a lucrative technology, as one of the heroes in the novel predicts: "Mind control is just too tempting not to attract the scumbags of the world." The head scumbag is Robert Sanborne of Sanborne Pharmaceuticals, whose goal is to perfect the REM-4 program so he can sell it to the world's evildoers. The heroine, Sophie Dunston, a leading sleep researcher and the original inventor of REM-4, falls hard for Matt Royd, a former zombie who has come to his senses and is trying to kill Sanborne. Royd and Sophie, forced by circumstances to be allies, begin by hating each other and then-no surprise-fall wildly in lust and love. Johansen offers nothing new, but her many fans will overlook a rather improbable premise and be happy with a familiar cast of characters (many from the author's other novels), familiar situations and familiar outcomes. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Sleep therapist Sophie Dunston is about to have a really big nightmare. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"A fast-paced, riveting, suspenseful read, with an underlying sense of romance between the two main characters."—State, Columbia, SC

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781415930465
  • Publisher: Books on Tape, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/28/2006
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged

Meet the Author

Iris Johansen

Iris Johansen, who has more than twenty-five million copies of her books in print, has won many awards for her achievements in writing. The bestselling author of Firestorm, Fatal Tide, Dead Aim, No One to Trust, Body of Lies, The Search, Final Target, and many other novels, she lives near Atlanta, Georgia, where she is currently at work on a new novel.

Biography

After her two children left home for college, Iris Johansen decided to devote her new found free time to writing. Since she loved reading romance novels, she penned a love story, and found to her surprise that "I was just as voracious a writer as I was a reader." During the 1980s, her name was emblazoned on dozens of slender volumes featuring spirited adventuresses, passionate mystery men, and smoldering love scenes. These days, Johansen is one of a posse of former romance writers dominating the New York Times bestseller lists.

Early on in her career, Johansen developed the habit of following characters from book to book, sometimes introducing minor characters in one novel who then become major figures in another. She developed families, relationships, and even fictional countries in her romance novels, which "stretched the boundaries of the standard formulas," according to Barbara E. Kemp in Twentieth-Century Romance and Historical Writers. In 1991, Johansen broke out of category romance (a term for short books written to conform to the length, style and subject matter guidelines for a publisher's series) with The Wind Dancer, a romantic-suspense novel set in 16th-century Italy. She followed it with two sequels, Storm Winds and Reap the Wind, to form a trilogy, then wrote several more stand-alone romance novels before The Ugly Duckling was published in 1996.

The Ugly Duckling was her first book to be released in hardcover -- and the first to significantly broaden her readership beyond her romance fan base. Since then, Johansen's plots have gotten tighter and more suspense-driven; critics have praised her "flesh-and-blood characters, crackling dialogue and lean, suspenseful plotting" (Publishers Weekly). Some of her most popular books feature forensic sculptor Eve Duncan, who first appeared in The Face of Deception in 1998. But Johansen seems equally comfortable with male protagonists, and her books have crossed the gender division that often characterizes popular fiction. Indeed, Publishers Weekly called The Search "that rarity: a woman's novel for men."

Good To Know

Johansen rewrote the ending of Reap the Wind for its reissue in 2002. "I couldn't resist tightening and changing the climax to correspond with my changed ideas on plot structure but the story is basically the same," she explained in a Q&A on her publisher's web site.

Many of her early novels were written for the Loveswept series from Bantam Books; bestselling authors Sandra Brown and Kay Hooper also wrote for the series.

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Read an Excerpt

Killer Dreams


By Iris Johansen

Random House

Iris Johansen
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0553803441


Chapter One

1

Two years later
Fentway University Hospital
Baltimore, Maryland


What's going on? You're not supposed to be here."

Sophie Dunston looked up from the chart to see Kathy VanBoskirk, the head night nurse, standing in the doorway. "An overnight apnea study."

"You worked all day and now you're monitoring an overnighter?" Kathy came into the room and glanced at the bed on the other side of the double glass panel. "Ah, an infant. The light dawns."

"Not so much an infant any longer. Elspeth's fourteen months," Sophie said. "She'd stopped having incidents three months ago and now they're back. She just stops breathing in the middle of the night and her doctor can't find any reason for it. Her mother is worried sick."

"Then where is she?"

"She works nights."

"So do you. Days and nights." Kathy gazed at the sleeping baby. "Lord, she's beautiful. Makes my biological clock start ticking. My kid is fifteen now and there's nothing lovable about him. I'm hoping he'll turn back into a human being in another six years. Think I have a chance?"

"Don is just your typical teenager. He'll get there." Sophie rubbed her eyes. They felt as if they had sand in them. It was almost five and the sleep study would be over soon. Then she'd run the errand that was on the top of her list before getting tobed and grabbing a few hours of shut-eye before she had to get back for her first one o'clock session with the Cartwright child. "And he offered to clean my car last week when you had him at the office."

"He probably wanted a chance to swipe it." Kathy grimaced. "Or maybe he wanted the chance to score with an older woman. He thinks you're cool-looking."

"Yeah, sure." Right now, Sophie felt older than her years, frumpy, and ugly as sin. She turned back the chart and checked Elspeth's case history. She'd had an apnea episode about 1:00 a.m. and nothing since. There might be something there that would help her pin down--

"There's a message for you at the nurses' station," Kathy said.

Sophie stiffened. "Home?"

Kathy quickly shook her head. "No. God, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to panic you. I didn't think. The message came in during the shift change at seven and they forgot to give it to you." She paused. "How is Michael?"

"Sometimes terrible. Sometimes okay." She tried to smile. "But all the time wonderful."

Kathy nodded. "Yes, he is."

"But in five years I'll probably be pulling my hair out like you're doing." She changed the subject. "So who left the message?"

"It's from Gerald Kennett again. Aren't you going to call him back?"

"No." She checked Elspeth's meds. Allergies?

"Sophie, it wouldn't hurt to talk to him. He offered you a job that will pay you more in a month than you make in a year here at the university. And he might even up the salary since he keeps after you. I'd jump at it."
"Then you call him back. I like my work here and the people I work with. I don't want to have to answer to any pharmaceutical company."

"You worked for one before."

"When I first got out of medical school. It was a big mistake. I thought they'd free me up to do research full time. It didn't happen. I'm better off doing the research in my spare time." She circled one of the medications on Elspeth's chart. "And I learned more dealing with people here than I'd ever learn in a lab."

"Like Elspeth." Kathy's gaze was on the baby. "She's stirring."

"Yes, she's been in NREM for the last five minutes. She's almost there." She put down the chart and headed for the adjoining door to the test room. "I've got to get in there and remove those wires before she's fully awake. She'll be scared if she wakes up alone."

"When's her mother supposed to get here?"

"Six."

"Against the rules. Parents are to pick up their children promptly at the end of the session and this one ends at five-thirty."

"Screw the rules. At least she cares enough about the kid to have the tests. I don't mind staying."

"I know," Kathy said. "You're the one who's going to have the night terrors if you don't stop exhausting yourself."

Sophie made the sign to ward off demons. "Don't even talk about it. Send Elspeth's mom in as soon as she gets here, will you?"

Kathy chuckled. "Scared you."

"Yes, you did. There's nothing scarier than night terrors. Believe me, I know." She went into Elspeth's room and went over to the crib. It took only a few minutes to remove the wires. The little girl had dark hair like her mother and her skin was a silky olive now flushed with sleep. Sophie felt a familiar melting as she gazed at her. "Elspeth," she called softly. "Come back to us, sweetheart. You won't be sorry. We'll talk and I'll read you a story and we'll wait for your mama. . . ."

She should get back to work, Kathy thought as she looked through the glass at Elspeth and Sophie. Sophie had picked the baby up, wrapped her in a blanket, and was sitting down in the rocking chair with the baby on her lap. She was talking and rocking the child and her expression was soft and glowing and loving.

Kathy had heard other doctors describe Sophie as brilliant and intuitive. She had a double doctorate in medicine and chemistry and was one of the best sleep therapists in the country. But Kathy liked this Sophie best. The one who effortlessly seemed to be able to reach out and touch her patients. Even Kathy's son had responded to that warmth the one time he'd met her. And Don was definitely a hard sell. Of course, the fact that Sophie was blond, tall, and slim and bore a vague resemblance to Kate Hudson probably had a lot to do with her son's admiration. He wasn't into the maternal types. Unless Madonna was the one on the album covers.

But Sophie didn't look like Madonna any more than she did the statue of the Holy Virgin. In this moment she was very human and full of love.

And strength. Sophie would have had to be strong to be able to endure the hell she had gone through in the last few years. She deserved a break. Kathy wished she'd take the Kennett job, scoop up the big bucks, and forget about responsibility.
Then she shook her head as she glanced at Sophie's expression again. Sophie couldn't shun responsibility, not with this baby, and not with Michael. It wasn't in her nature.

Hell, maybe Sophie was right. Maybe the money wasn't as important as the payback she was getting in there with that kid.


"Bye, Kathy." Sophie waved as she headed for the elevator. "See you."
"Not if you have any sense. I'm on night duty all this month. Did you find any cause for the increase in apnea?"
"I'm changing one of the meds. It's mostly trial and error at Elspeth's age." She stepped inside the elevator as the doors opened. "We just have to monitor her until she grows out of it."

She leaned back against the wall of the elevator as the doors shut and closed her eyes. She was too tired. She should go home and forget about Sanborne.

Stop being a coward. She wasn't going home yet.

A few minutes later she was unlocking the door of the van. She avoided looking at the gun case with the Springfield rifle in the back of the Toyota. She'd checked it earlier to make sure it was in order. Not that she really had to do it. Jock always took care of the weapons and he wouldn't let her go with a faulty rifle. He was too much the professional.

She wished she could say the same for herself. She'd blocked the thought of Sanborne all night but she was trembling now. She leaned her head on the steering wheel for a few minutes. Get over it. It was natural that she'd feel like this. Taking a life was a terrible thing. Even vermin like Sanborne.

She drew a deep breath, raised her head, and started the van.

Sanborne would be arriving at the facility at 7:00 a.m.

She had to be there waiting for him.

Run.

She heard a shout behind her.

She skidded down the slope of the hill, fell, picked herself up, and flew down the bank of the creek.
A bullet whistled by her head.

"Stop!"

Run. Keep on running.

She could hear a crashing in the brush at the top of the hill.
How many were there?


Duck into the bushes. The van was parked on the road a quarter of a mile from here. She had to lose them before she reached the van.
The branches were whipping her face as she tore through the shrubbery.

She couldn't hear them anymore.

Yes, she could. But they sounded farther away. Maybe they'd gone in another direction.
She'd reached the van.

She jumped in the driver's seat and threw the rifle into the back before she peeled out onto the road.
Her foot stomped on the accelerator.

Get away. It could still be okay. If they hadn't gotten a good look at her.
If they weren't close enough to put a bullet through her head. . . .


Excerpted from Killer Dreams by Iris Johansen 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.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 38 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(14)

4 Star

(9)

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(3)

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(7)

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(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 39 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2006

    Disappointing!

    I've read all of this author's thrillers and really think she should go back to what she does best...ie Eve Duncan forensic sculptor series was excellent but this book and several before it are really not good reading. The plots are way over the top and childish..even the romance subjects don't click! Go back to Ugly Duckling, Then You Die,Face of Deception etc!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    An adrenaline pumping thriller

    Sophie Dunston is close to her parents so she and her son Michael are spending time with them. Out of the blue her dad kills the wife he loves and cherishes and points the gun at his grandson. Sophie gets shot when she steps in between her two men. Later she learns that the sleep therapist her father was seeing was a minion of her first employer, Sanborne. She invented Rem-4, a drug that allowed people to be influenced into doing things while they sleep. When Sophie realized that Sanborne plans to sell the dangerous product to the highest bidder, she left him.-------------- Sanborne believes that Sophie is a loose end that he intends to get rid of starting with what happened to her dad. She proves difficult to kill ever since Royd entered her life as he was once one of Sanborne¿s brainwashed killers who broke through the conditioning. Like Sophie he plans to bring Sanborne down and destroy Rem-4. Sophie and Royd are attracted to one another, but they have a mission that needs to be finished before they can consider exploring a future together.--------------- Once again Iris Johansen writes a thriller that will grip readers so much that they will ignore any other nearby activity. The story-line contains so much action fans will believe they are on a looping roller coaster unable to catch their breath before plunging into the next spin. KILLER DREAMS is filled with adventure, but the romantic subplot between the two protagonists feels right as a natural outcome of what they have suffered, enhancing an adrenaline pumping thriller.------------ Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2008

    A reviewer

    Killer Dreams was the first Iris Johansen book for me. It was very entertaining with all the crazy action and running-around. I would have pereferred a little more romance and epilogue. All in all, it kept me interested. I will definitely pick up another Johansen book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2008

    Very light weight.

    Well kind readers, all I can say is that this book by Iris Johansen starts out with a good plot, then is a very thin read the rest of the way. To be truthful after the first too chapters the story was dull and boring.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2007

    Huge Disappointment!

    This book was dull, predictable and I can not comprehend how this author is even semi- famous. The first book I've read by her and never again. It is written on a 5th grade level with a weak plot. The author is unable to paint a picture of the scene or keep you intrigued. Killer dreams was more like a day dream.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2007

    A reviewer

    After my last Iris Johansen novel I vowed that I wouldn't waste my time reading another...and I should have followed my own advice. The characters in Killer Dreams were predictable and the same genre of her other novels. The headstrong and stubborn heroine also just happens to harbor extreme guilt to the point of being ineffective and unconvincing. The unrealistic heroes who have resources and connections to the point where Johansen doesn't even bother finishing story lines she doesn't have to because they magically get get resolved! Never again will I waste my life minutes reading an Iris Johansen book- and this time I'm sticking to it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2007

    Another Cookie Cutter 'Heroine'

    In the beginning, I really enjoyed Johansen's books and anxiously awaited the newest ones, but before long I literally started getting angry with the 'heroines'. Although her plot lines are good and the stories themselves are entertaining, she cuts all her 'heroines' with the same cookie cutter personality. They are unreasonable, stubborn, foolish, know-it-alls that don't have the common sense to think before they speak. Everything must be on THEIR terms or else. They put all the other characters in jeopardy with their control issues. I was really hoping a new personality would begin to emerge as time passes and Johansen hones her skills as a writer.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2006

    A Must Read

    This was the first book I read from this author. I was very impressed. I thought the book was very spell binding. It was hard to put it down. The story, and plot were surprising. It left me wanting more!!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2006

    Disappointing

    Sophie Dunston is an idealistic researcher who gets caught up in mayhem and murder when her research in sleep therapy and REM4 sleep is used for military mind-control purposes. Wanting to help her father who suffers from insomnia she developed a wonder drug which has been subverted by Sandborne, her previous boss. Sandborne has applied her discovery to ex-military types, turning them into docile living zombies. He now intends to sell the drug to the highest bidder. Running for her life, helped by former patients of Sandbornes' Sophie battles her guilt and her nightmares, hoping to put an end to the experiments.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2006

    Favorite Iris book

    I havent read too many of this authors book. This book is one of my favorites of hers. Its never boring. You cant put it down. Theres a lot of action with a romantic flare to it which makes it even better. The ending is the best part.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2006

    Disappointing... but maybe Johansen is not for me

    I¿ve never read a Johansen book before, but I saw a lot of good reviews and the plot sounded interesting, so I got this book, but it was alright. I liked the whole REM-4 thing, but she didn¿t go into much detail with that or dreams. I love mystery and thrillers but I didn¿t like like the way she wrote it. So if you are a Johansen fan, you will probably like it, otherwise, pass on it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2006

    Extremely disappointing

    She used to be my favorite writer. Her Eve Duncan stories were great. I could never put her books down. Now I have a difficult time making it through the first few chapters.

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  • Posted February 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    SUSPENSE, ROMANCE, AND SURPRISING PLOT TWISTS

    New York Times bestselling author Iris Johansen is back bringing all her trademark suspense, romance, and surprising plot twists. With Killer Dreams she blends fear exacerbated by terrifying nightmares plus a psychotic killer on the loose and on the prowl. Sophie Dunston is one of the nations best known sleep therapists. Her specialty? Night terrors, the fears that ravage her ten-year-old son Michael. Perhaps rightly so because Michael has witnessed a horror that most of us cannot even imagine. He saw his grandfather kill his grandmother with a single shot in the head and then try to kill him. This behavior, so unlike Sophie's father was due to REM-4, a chemical originally invented by Sophie who had no knowledge that it would turn normal people into zombie-like killers. Now, after all the tragedy she has endured one of these killers is after her. She will do anything to protect Michael, even accepting the help of Matt Royd, a recovered REM-4 victim. It will come as no surprise to Johansen readers that at first Sophie detests Matt but soon has a change of heart. The real question is how to stop the diabolical killer who is after Sophie for her research and her life. There's plenty of action and tension galore as Sophie and Matt try to outwit one of the scariest characters in thrillerdom. - Gail Cooke

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2006

    Great, Great, Great :)

    Iris Johansen rarely disappoints me. This was a great, well writen book. I read it over the course of 8 hours. Could not put it down. Kept you on the edge of your seat. If you're a fan of hers, be sure to read this one, you'll be glad you did.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2006

    Synopsis

    #1 New York Times bestselling author Iris Johansen returns with a new suspense thriller guaranteed to keep readers turning pages all night long¿an adrenaline-laced shocker that pits a mother and son against a killer who¿s the stuff of nightmares. If you close your eyes, he¿ll get you. Sophie Dunston knows all too well how dreams can kill. As one of the nation¿s top sleep therapists, she specializes in the life-threatening night terrors that her ten-year-old son, Michael, suffers from. But she is also an expert in another kind of terror¿the kind that can turn a dream life into a living nightmare in the blink of an eye. Someone is watching. He¿s a shadowy figure from out of her darkest fears and he hasn¿t forgotten her. In one shocking moment of violence, he¿d shattered Sophie¿s world forever and left her with only one thing to live for: her son. But the nightmare isn¿t over for Sophie Dunston. It¿s just begun. He¿s been waiting. Sophie was supposed to die the first time around, but fate intervened. This time he¿ll make sure that not even a miracle will save her. It wasn¿t a miracle that saved Jock Gavin, but it was pretty close. A semiretired hit man, commando, and jack-of-all-deadly-trades, he knows what Sophie is up against¿and that she¿ll need help. But the man he¿s chosen for the job is as unpredictable as he is dangerous. Matt Royd is a wild card¿hard, cool, merciless¿and putting him into play changes the game completely. But to whose advantage? Sophie will soon find out. She will have to trust Royd because she has no choices left. Because the bogeyman haunting her dreams is all too real and he¿s on the hunt again. Because the nightmare he¿s got planned for Sophie won¿t end when she wakes up screaming. It won¿t end. Ever.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted September 13, 2010

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    Posted April 29, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted April 30, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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