Locked Doorsby Blake Crouch
Seven years ago, suspense novelist Andrew Thomas's life was shattered when he was framed for a series of murders. The killer's victims were unearthed on Andrew's lakefront property, and since he was wanted by the FBI, Andrew had no choice but to flee and to create a new identity. Andrew does just that in a cabin tucked away in the remote wilderness near Haines… See more details below
Seven years ago, suspense novelist Andrew Thomas's life was shattered when he was framed for a series of murders. The killer's victims were unearthed on Andrew's lakefront property, and since he was wanted by the FBI, Andrew had no choice but to flee and to create a new identity. Andrew does just that in a cabin tucked away in the remote wilderness near Haines Junction, Yukon. His only link to society is by e-mail, through which he learns that all the people he ever loved are being stalked and murdered. Culminating in the spooky and secluded Outer Banks of North Carolina, the paths of Andrew Thomas, a psychotic named Luther Kite, and a young female detective collide. LOCKED DOORS is a novel of blistering suspense that will scare you to death.
About the Author:
BLAKE CROUCH was born near the piedmont town of Statesville, North Carolina in 1978. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and graduated in 2000 with degrees in English and Creative Writing. Blake is the author of four novels and numerous short stories. He lives with his family in southwest Colorado, where he is at work on a new book. His website is www.blakecrouch.com.
PRAISE FOR LOCKED DOORS...
Crouch quite simply is a marvel. LOCKED DOORS is as good as anything I've read all year, a stay-up-all-night thriller that will have you chewing your fingers down to the nub even as you're reading its last paragraph. Highest possible recommendation.
Crouch's story has much going for it, as does his considerable skill as an author. The story grips and propels the reader, while Crouch makes the ride hypnotic with beautiful Carolina moons over tide-smoothed beaches. One wonders if a poet turned to horror, would this be the result.
CHARLESTON POST AND COURIER
Fast-paced and scary.
Crouch writes a nicely turned character, puts them front-and-center and then rains holy hell upon them until you think your head is going to explode.
THE AGONY COLUMN
LOCKED DOORS, then, is on a big level a novel of redemption...great stuff, wonderfully written.
THE NEW LONDON DAY
Blake Crouch is a young thriller writer with a talent for creating really spooky characters and plots that take terror to a new level.
Gut wrenching...the writing is tight, the plots exciting, the suspense unending...What Crouch does about as well as anyone is give the reader that sinking feeling in their gut. In LOCKED DOORS, I actually shuddered when certain events unfolded. Crouch tops my list.
Chilling...clever and lightning-paced...Blake Crouch has penned a sequel that will keep you reading long past your bedtime.
Crouch's world will appeal to James Patterson fans...there's blood spattered from Manteo to Murphy by the time Crouch is finished.
Expertly paced and viscerally effective, with many surprises and genuine chills.
Palpable suspense. Non-stop action. Relentless and riveting. Blake Crouch is the most exciting new thriller writer I've read in years.
This tautly written, very scary thriller quickly grabs the reader by the throat. Leave the lights on; Luther may be out there.
When the story moves to the foggy, desolate Outer Banks, Crouch is at his terrifying best. You can feel the cold mist on your skin and see the creepy shadows barely illuminated by a distant cabin's flickering light. A great horror novel takes you to a place so scary and vivid as to make you thankful you are not actually there, and Crouch does this well.
This is a new millennium, and Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates and Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter have to be outdone. Crouch comes close.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS
[LOCKED DOORS] is as suspenseful, chilling and macabre a novel as I've ever read.
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Read an Excerpt
By Crouch, Blake
St. Martin's Paperbacks
Copyright © 2006
All right reserved.
The headline on the Arts and Leisure page read: Publisher to Reissue Five Thrillers by Alleged Murderer Andrew Z. Thomas.
All it took was seeing his name.
Karen Prescott dropped The New York Times and walked over to the window.
Morning light streamed across the clutter of her cramped office--query letters and sample chapters stacked in two piles on the floor beside the desk, a box of galleys shoved under the credenza. She peered out the window and saw the fog dissolving, the microscopic crawl of traffic now materializing on Broadway through the cloud below.
Leaning against a bookcase that housed many of the hardcovers she'd guided to publication, Karen shivered. The mention of Andrew's name always unglued her.
For two years she'd been romantically involved with the suspense novelist and had even lived with him during the writing of Blue Murder at the same lake house in North Carolina where many of his victims were found.
She considered it a latent character defect that she'd failed to notice anything sinister in Andy beyond a slight reclusive tendency.
My God, I almost married him.
She pictured Andy reading to the crowd in that Boston bookshop the first time they met. In a bathrobe writingin his office as she brought him fresh coffee (French roast, of course). Andy making love to her in a flimsy rowboat in the middle of Lake Norman.
She thought of his dead mother.
The exhumed bodies from his lakefront property.
His face on the FBI website.
They'd used his most recent jacket photo, a black-and-white of Andy in a sports jacket sitting broodingly at the end of his pier.
During the last few years she'd stopped thinking of him as Andy. He was Andrew Thomas now and embodied all the horrible images the cadence of those four syllables invoked.
There was a knock.
Scott Boylin, publisher of Ice Blink Press's literary imprint, stood in the doorway dressed in his best bib and tucker. Karen suspected he was gussied up for the Doubleday party.
He smiled, waved with his fingers.
She crossed her arms, leveled her gaze.
God, he looked streamlined today--very tall, fit, crowned by thick black hair with dignified intimations of silver.
He made her feel little. In a good way. Because Karen stood nearly six feet tall, few men towered over her. She loved having to look up at Scott.
They'd been dating clandestinely for the last four months. She'd even given him a key to her apartment, where they spent countless Sundays in bed reading manuscripts, the coffee-stained pages scattered across the sheets.
But last night she'd seen him at a bar in SoHo with one of the cute interns. Their rendezvous did not look work-related.
"Come to the party with me," he said. "Then we'll go to Il Piazza. Talk this out. It's not what you--"
"I've got tons of reading to catch up--"
"Don't be like that, Karen. Come on."
"I don't think it's appropriate to have this conversation here, so . . ."
He exhaled sharply through his nose and the door closed hard behind him.
Joe Mack was stuffing his pink round face with a gyro when his cell phone started ringing to the tune of "Staying Alive."
He answered, cheeks exploding with food, "This Joe."
"Hi, yes, um, I've got a bit of an interesting problem."
"Well, I'm in my apartment, but I can't get the deadbolt to turn from the inside."
Joe Mack choked down a huge mouthful, said, "So you're locked in."
"Which apartment?" He didn't even try to mask the annoyance in his voice.
"Um . . . I'm not the tenant. I'm Karen Prescott's friend. She's the--"
"Yeah, I get it. You need to leave anytime soon?"
"Well, yeah, I don't want to--"
Joe Mack sighed, closed the cell phone, and devoured the last of the gyro.
Wiping his hands on his shirt, he heaved himself from a debilitated swivel chair and lumbered out of the office, locking the door behind him.
The lobby was quiet for midday and the elevator doors spread as soon as he pressed the button. He rode up wishing he'd bought three gyros for lunch instead of two.
The doors opened again and he walked onto the twenty-second floor, fishing the key ring containing the master from the pocket of his enormous overalls.
It echoed down the empty corridor.
Man, was he hungry.
He stopped at 2211, knocked, yelled through the door, "It's the super!"
No one answered.
Joe Mack inserted the master into the deadbolt. It turned easily enough.
He pushed the door open.
"Hello?" he said, standing in the threshold, admiring the apartment--roomy, flat-screen television, lush deep blue carpet, an antique desk, great view of SoHo, probably loads of food in the fridge.
He turned the deadbolt four times. It worked perfectly.
Another door opened somewhere in the hallway and approaching footsteps reverberated off the hardwood floor. Joe Mack glanced down the corridor at the tall man with black hair in a black overcoat strolling toward him from the stairwell.
"Hey, pal, were you the one who just called me?" Joe Mack asked.
The man with black hair stopped at the open doorway of 2211.
He smelled strange, of Windex and lemons.
"Yes, I was the one."
"Oh. You get the lock to work?"
"I've never been in this apartment."
"What the fuck did you call me for--"
Glint of a blade. The man held an ivory-hilted bowie. He swept its shimmering point across Joe Mack's swollen belly, cleaving denim, cotton, several layers of skin.
"No, wait just a second--"
The man raised his right leg and booted Joe Mack through the threshold.
The super toppled backward as the man followed him into the apartment, slammed the door, and shot the deadbolt home.
Karen left Ice Blink Press at 6:30 p.m. and emerged into a manic Manhattan evening, the sliver of sky between the buildings smoldering with dying sunlight, gilding glass and steel. It was the fourth Friday of October, the terminal brilliance of autumn full blown upon the city, and as she walked the fifteen blocks to her apartment in SoHo, Karen decided that she wouldn't start the manuscript in her leather satchel tonight.
Instead she'd slip into satin pajamas, have a glass of that organic chardonnay she'd purchased at Whole Foods Market, and watch wonderful mindless television.
It had been a bad week.
Pampering was in order.
At 7:55 she walked out of her bedroom in black satin pajamas that rubbed coolly against her skin. Her chaotic blond hair was twisted into a bun and held up by chopsticks from the Chinese food she'd ordered. Two unopened food cartons and a bottle of wine sat on the glass coffee table between the couch and the flat-screen television. Her apartment smelled of spicy-sweet sesame beef.
She plopped down and uncorked the wine.
Ashley Chambliss's CD Nakedsongs had ended and in the perfect stillness of her apartment Karen conceded how alone she was.
But I'm not lonely, she thought, turning on the television and pouring a healthy glass of chardonnay.
I'm just alone.
There is a difference.
After watching Dirty Dancing, Karen treated herself to a soak. She'd closed the bathroom door and a Yankee candle that smelled of cookie dough sat burning in a glass jar on the sink, the projection of its restless flame flickering on the sweaty plaster walls.
Karen rubbed her long muscular legs together, slippery with bath oil. Imagining another pair of legs sliding between her own, she shut her eyes, moved her hands over her breasts, nipples swelling, then up and down her thighs.
The phone was ringing in the living room.
She wondered if Scott Boylin was calling to apologize. Wine encouraged irrational forgiveness in Karen. She even wished Scott were in the bathtub with her. She could feel the memory of his water-softened feet gliding up her smooth shinbones. Maybe she'd call and invite him over. Give him that chance to explain. He'd be back from the Doubleday party.
Now someone was knocking at the front door.
Karen sat up, blew back the bubbles that had amassed around her head.
Lifting her wineglass by the stem, she finished it off. Then she rose out of the water, took her white terrycloth bathrobe that lay draped across the toilet seat, and stepped unsteadily from the tub onto the mosaic tile. She'd nearly polished off the entire bottle of chardonnay and a warm and pleasant gale was raging in her head.
Karen crossed the living room, heading toward the front door.
She failed to notice that the cartons of steamed rice and sesame beef were gone, or that a large gray trashcan now stood between the television and the antique desk she'd inherited from her grandmother.
She peeked through the peephole.
A young man stood in the hallway holding an enormous bouquet of ruby red roses.
She smiled, turned the deadbolt, opened the door.
"I have a delivery for Karen Prescott."
The delivery man handed over the gigantic vase.
"Wait here. I'll get you your tip." She slurred her words a little.
"No ma'am, it's been taken care of." He gave her a small salute and left.
She relocked the door and carried the roses over to the kitchen counter. They were magnificent and they burgeoned from the cut-glass vase. She plucked the small card taped to the glass and opened it. The note read simply:
Look in the coat closet
Karen giggled. Scott was one hundred percent forgiven. Maybe she'd even do that thing he always asked for tonight.
She buried her nose in a rose, inhaled the damp sweet perfume. Then she cinched the belt of her bathrobe and walked over to the closet behind the couch, pulling open the door with a big smile that instantly died.
A naked man with black hair and a pale face peered down at her. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and swallowed.
The cartons of leftover Chinese food stood between his feet.
She stared into his black eyes, a coldness spreading through her.
"What do you think you're doing?" she said.
The man grinned, his member rising.
Karen bolted for the front door, but as she reached to unhook the chain he snatched a handful of her wet hair and swung her back into a mirror that shattered on the adjacent wall.
"Please," she whimpered.
He punched her in the face.
Karen sank down onto the floor in bits of glass, anesthetized by wine and fear. Watching his bare feet, she wondered where her body would be found and by whom and in what condition.
He grabbed her hair into a ball with one hand and lifted her face out of the glass, the tiniest shards having already embedded themselves in her cheek.
He swung down.
She felt the dull thud of his knuckles crack her jaw, decided to feign unconsciousness.
He hit her again.
She didn't have to.
Copyright 2005 by Blake Crouch. All rights reserved.
Excerpted from Locked Doors
by Crouch, Blake
Copyright © 2006 by Crouch, Blake.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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