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Night Vision (Jane Lawless Series #14)
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Night Vision (Jane Lawless Series #14)

4.0 5
by Ellen Hart

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Joanna Kasimir, an old friend of Jane Lawless's, left town years ago to make it big in Hollywood. She succeeded, but stardom had a price. Early on, Joanna met a man who quickly went from being a dalliance to a stalker. A decade has passed since she sent him to prison, but just as she has returned to Minneapolis to perform at Jane's friend Cordelia Thorn's theater


Joanna Kasimir, an old friend of Jane Lawless's, left town years ago to make it big in Hollywood. She succeeded, but stardom had a price. Early on, Joanna met a man who quickly went from being a dalliance to a stalker. A decade has passed since she sent him to prison, but just as she has returned to Minneapolis to perform at Jane's friend Cordelia Thorn's theater, Joanna receives one of his ominous calling cards.

Joanna refuses to let fear control her life---she can't. Not again. So she goes to Jane, restauranteur and amateur sleuth, for help. But can Jane protect her from a man who refuses to be anyone's one-night stand?

A deadly game of cat and mouse, Night Vision proves to be one of Ellen Hart's best mysteries yet.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Pitting sib against sib in a deadly game, the fourteenth Lawless mystery gets highly dramatic.” —Booklist on Night Vision

“Hart masterfully whips these intrigues together with her sleuths' interesting nonmystery lives . . . to add a fine sauce to a hearty, Minneapolis-flavored mystery dish.” —Rocky Mountain News on The Iron Girl

“Incorporating societal ills torn from the headlines, Hart bares the weaknesses in her well-realized characters as well as their strengths. . . . [A] spunky page-turner.” —Publishers Weekly on An Intimate Ghost

Publishers Weekly
At the start of Hart's entertaining, unpredictable 14th mystery to feature lesbian restaurateur and amateur sleuth Jane Lawless (after 2005's The Iron Girl), movie star Joanna Kasimir returns home to Minnesota to perform in a production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at her friend Cordelia Thorn's St. Paul theater. As it turns out, Joanna has a lot to be afraid of her ex-husband, Gordon, who once served prison time for stalking her, may be back to his old tricks. Joanna enlists her old chum Jane to tail Gordon. Meanwhile, Jane's best friend, David who happens to be Joanna's brother shows up in the Twin Cities carrying secrets that he's afraid to reveal even to Jane. When Gordon turns up dead, David looks like the most plausible suspect. In fact, any number of Joanna's adoring fans might have bumped off her stalker. Hopefully, Jane's long-distance relationship with girlfriend Kenzie, who's mostly offstage, will receive more attention in the next installment. (Dec.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Gay restaurateur/sleuth Jane Lawless wrangles with obsessed fans. Aging but still gorgeous movie star Joanna Kasimir has emerged from her self-imposed Iowa exile to join Cordelia Thorpe's Minneapolis production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? But maybe she should have stayed hidden in the boondocks. Neighbors in the apartment she sublets bombard her with career, romance and makeup advice. They perch outside her door waiting for a glimpse of her. They lie about their journalism credentials to interview her. Worse yet, Gordon, the former gardener/boy-toy who spent eight years in prison for stalking her, is out and obsessing about her again. Jane, a close friend of Joanna's brother David, hooks her up with a p.i. for protection, but the obsessed will not be denied. Gordon seems like the most menacing, but now David is erupting for obscure reasons in nightly bouts of violence. Even Joanna's first husband, now anxious to remarry, may have smarmy motives. Will no one leave poor Joanna in peace? Must she take matters into her own hands to free herself from obsessive threats? Jane's willing to suffer beatings and gunplay before she calls in the cops, but even she can't make everything turn out right this time. Jane's got a new girlfriend, and Cordelia's been snookered by her sister Octavia once again. Otherwise, their 14th tour of duty (An Intimate Ghost, 2004, etc.) finds them little matured in their middle years.

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Jane Lawless Series , #14
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.75(d)

Read an Excerpt



When it came to leaving, Joanna always had to work her way through alternating layers of anxiety and fear and an ever-present hungry itch, one that whispered in her ear that it was time to go back out into the world again and prove she was a survivor. In the past fourteen years, her house overlooking Lake Pend Oreille had become not just a home but a safe haven. She'd never felt comfortable on display in Hollywood. She'd always looked upon her life there as a necessary evil.

Sandpoint was a town of some seven thousand people, situated at the tip of the Idaho Panhandle, just fifty miles from the Canadian border. When Joanna had first come here after the trial, it had seemed like the middle of nowhere, and that's just where she wanted to be.

Even before the trial, Joanna had been looking to get out of L.A. She hated the phoniness, the professional promises so easily made and broken, the casual lies, and the ignorant arrogance that came with power and privilege. Every morning she'd wake in her home in Bel Air with the same sense that something was breaking inside her. She was surrounded by friends, fans, business associates, and an adoring public, and yet she was hugely—cavernously—lonely.

For a time, she toyed with the idea of moving back to the TwinCities, back to her hometown of St. Paul, but that felt too much like failure. She wasn't the young, eager, innocent Jo Carlson any longer—theater major at the U of M, aspiring actress, starry-eyed wannabe. She was Joanna Kasimir, an internationally known film star with dozens of movie credits—and an Academy Award and two Golden Globes resting on her mantel. She could still remember the dreams she'd had as a young woman. She'd lived on little else for years. How could she have known what the flip side of those dreams would be? When she finally left L.A., she knew without a doubt that she was running for her life.

But life had a habit of never traveling in straight lines. It turned out that she wasn't running away so much as she was running toward something better. She'd found her mountain hideaway near Sandpoint two months after leaving L.A., bought it on the spot. She was as much seduced by the cathedral feeling of the big log house as by the tall timbers surrounding it, the view of the lake below, the fresh air, and the sense of peace all around her. She could make a stand here. She would dig in and see what life was really about. Amazing as it seemed, she'd come to love this place with the same passion she felt for acting. She'd never felt lonely here, not even for a day.

Afternoon sunlight flooded the living room as Joanna turned from the deck and walked back inside. She stroked her blond hair behind her ears, glancing down at her grubby jeans and T-shirt. She'd have to get used to wearing presentable clothing again while she was in Minnesota. The limo was scheduled for ten tomorrow morning. It would take her to the airfield where she'd board a private jet. She was pretty much packed, although she wanted to look through her closet one more time.

Heading up to her bedroom, she cringed when she saw the four extralarge suitcases spread open on her bed. Joanna Kasimir, the actress, adored beautiful clothing. It was all part of the split personality thing Joanna had been living with ever since she'd moved to Sandpoint. She was part small-town resident and general recluse, and part actress, a woman who could still command an audience and who still had the fire in her gut to act.

Cordelia Thorn, an old friend and the current creative director atthe Allen Grimby Repertory Theater in St. Paul, had offered her a part she'd been wanting to play for years—Martha in Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? The AGRT was one of the finest regional theaters in the nation, so it was an honor to be asked to join the company for a limited engagement. Joanna relished the challenge of bringing something new and definitive to the role. If nothing else, shrews were fabulous characters to play. At forty-seven, Joanna had long ago faced the fact that the film scripts she was being offered were, to put it bluntly, crap. The legitimate stage had become the refuge of the aging actress.

As she started to close the suitcases, the phone rang. Stepping over to the nightstand, she picked up the receiver. "Hello?" she said, standing with a hand on her hip.

"Joanna? It's Diego Veras."

Diego was her brother's boyfriend. She hadn't heard from either of them in more than a year. She felt a pang of guilt for not keeping in better touch but pushed it away. "Hi," she said. Her first instinct was to assume that something was wrong, but she felt it was best to go with a neutral question. "How are you?"

"Fine. Well, not so fine, actually." Diego had a heavy Spanish accent. He and his family had moved to California from Buenos Aires when Diego was fifteen. Diego and Joanna's brother, David, had met when David was in L.A. visiting her—must have been back in the early eighties. Diego was Joanna's age, a few years older than David, already an established architect at the time. "What's going on?"

"Have you heard from David?"

"No. Why? Is he okay?"

"To be honest, Joanna, I don't know. He ... well, he left me. I thought he'd go off for a few days, think about it, and come back. He's done it before. But he's been gone a long time and I'm worried."

"How long?"

"Almost a month."

Joanna sat down on the edge of the bed. "Are you saying you have no idea where he is?"

"Yeah. No idea."

"Was he angry when he left?"

"Not exactly. I was. I told him things had to change or ..." His voice trailed off.

"Or what? Tell me!"

"Or I was leaving him. Look, I blame myself, okay? I shouldn't have lost it like I did, but you don't know what it's been like living with him this last year. You haven't exactly been the world's greatest sister, Jo, so I don't think you're entitled to a lecture."

If he wanted to make her feel like a total shit, he'd succeeded. "He didn't say anything about where he was headed?"

"After I left for work one morning, he just took off. When I got home that night, his car was gone, and so were a bunch of his clothes. He took maybe five thousand from the wall safe. I had a guy run a check of his credit cards. He's not using them. He obviously doesn't want me to know where he is. I've talked to our friends all over the country, but nobody's seen him. I'm scared, Joanna. In the shape he was in, anything could've happened."

"What's that mean?"

"He's not well. Don't ask me what's wrong, because I don't know. I'm not even sure David knows."

"That doesn't make any sense."

"Welcome to my life."

She pressed her fingers to the bridge of her nose, closed her eyes. "Call the police, Diego."

"I did. He's officially listed as a missing person, but so what? It's not like they go looking for him."

"Then hire someone private."

He sighed. "I thought about that. But I keep hoping he'll come back."

"If you don't hire someone—and I mean today—I will."

"Okay, okay. You're right. But I wanted to check with you first, just in case he headed your way. I didn't really think he had."

Score another point for Joanna. She was a lousy sister.

"Can you think of anyone he might contact?" asked Diego. "I've called all our friends. Nobody's seen or heard from him."

Downstairs, the doorbell rang.

Joanna put her hand over the mouthpiece and shouted, "Annie, will you get that?" Annie Thompson was her live-in housekeeper and cook. Returning to Diego, she said, "I don't know. I'll have to think about it."

"Well, think fast, okay? I'm going crazy here. If you hear from him, you'll call me, yes?"

"Of course I will. You do the same." She explained that she was leaving for Minneapolis in the morning. She gave him the phone number of the loft where she would be staying. He already had her cell.

As she hung up, Annie sailed through the bedroom door carrying a large package wrapped in bright pink paper.

"Flowers, Joanna. I can smell them right through the wrapping." Annie was an energetic, sentimental, soft-bodied woman. Her mother was from Mexico, an illegal until her father, a rancher from Utah, had married her. She set the package on the dresser and stood back, waiting for Joanna to open it.

Joanna's stomach still contracted with dread at the sight of a flower delivery.

Ripping off the paper, her breath caught in her throat. It wasn't precisely like the flowers Gordon used to send, but it was close enough.

"Something wrong?" asked Annie. "Here, you should read the card." She removed a small pink envelope from the center of the arrangement.

With shaking hands, Joanna opened it and read:

Roses are the flowers of love. Can't wait to see you! Did you miss me?

There was no signature, but then, it wasn't necessary.

"Who brought these?" demanded Joanna.

Annie seemed startled. "A delivery guy."

"What did he look like?"

"Tall, I think. Yes, tall. White. Middle-aged."

"Was it a delivery truck or a private car?"

"I didn't notice."

Joanna rushed to a window overlooking the front of the house. In the distance, she could see an SUV kicking up dust as it sped away down the hill.

"Did I do something wrong, Joanna? Please tell me! Are you upset?"

Panicked was more like it. Joanna grabbed the cordless phone off the bed and punched in the number of her lawyer in L.A. She was amazed to realize she still knew it by heart.

When the secretary answered, Joanna announced who she was and demanded to talk to Gershen Blumenthal.

"He's in a meeting. If you give me your number—"

"Get him out of the goddamn meeting! This is an emergency!"

While she waited, she glanced at the flowers. "I'm okay, Annie. But get those out of here. Dump them in the garbage."


"Do what I tell you!"

A moment later, Blumenthal came on the line, his voice as booming and hardy as ever. "Joanna, what a nice surprise—"

She cut him off. "You've got to do something!"

"I do?"

"It's happening again."

"Joanna, if you'd just calm down and—"

"For God's sake, don't patronize me, Gersh! You've got to help me. I can't take this again!"

The lawyer was silent. Then, "What are you saying? Be specific."

"Gordon." She swallowed hard and closed her eyes. "He's back."

NIGHT VISION. Copyright © 2006 by Ellen Hart. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information, address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.

Meet the Author

Ellen Hart, "a top novelist in the cultishly popular gay mystery genre" (Entertainment Weekly) and a Lambda Award winner, is the author of thirteen Jane Lawless mysteries and a series featuring food critic Sophie Greenway. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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Night Vision (Jane Lawless Series #14) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Jane Lawless¿ life is going well. She has a girlfriend, her dog Mouse and a new club that is going great. Her best friend Cordelia Thorn has settled into being `Mom¿ for her niece Hattie and now a long-time friend of Cordelia¿s is coming to town¿to star in a play at the theatre where Cordelia works. Joanna Kasimir is famous, talented and troubled. Just as it seems she may be recovering from a traumatic experience in her past, Joanna learns that the person who caused this trouble is back. Back and hell bent on taking up where they left off. Why? Are they doing it for kicks? Or do they feel that Joanna `owes¿ them something and they want to collect? Along with Joanna¿s arrival in town, Jane gets her own visitor, one she didn¿t know was coming...Joanna¿s brother David. David is a guy Jane knew in college and a person she holds dear to her heart. Trouble seems to run in David and Joanna¿s family however. David is running from something and comes to the one person he knows can help¿Jane. Why didn¿t he run to his sister? Who is he running from? Just as they think they have the answers, someone changes the questions when a man is found murdered. Who did it? The number one suspect is Joanna¿s brother David. Even though Jane knows he couldn¿t have done it, there are several things about David¿s behavior that even she can¿t explain. Then, to complicate things even further, Cordelia¿s sister, Octavia, Hattie¿s mother, reenters the picture stirring other things up. After so long, why is she in town now? Cordelia¿s very much interested in that answer herself. It¿s now a three-way race for Jane and Cordelia ¿ can they solve the mystery about David, discover why Octavia is really back and keep themselves from being the killer¿s next victims? Ellen Hart is one of the truly great fiction writers. From her first book in the Jane Lawless series, Hallowed Murder, all the way through to the current one, readers are locked into a dynamic, suspense-filled journey as our heroines¿ work to discover clues to mysteries, escape from killers and find love.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This continuing line of interesting and thoughtful mystery novels is extended yet again by this author. Author Hart has been writing a long time and she knows the game well. Unlike many genre authors, she shows no evidence here of tiring of either the mystery culture or her principal characters, Jane Lawless and Cordelia Thorn. The relationship between these two women, long time friends, is unusual in that they are quite different. Lawless is bright, quiet, introspective, protective of her personal space and many of her beliefs. One could be in a room for a good while with several people and not even be aware that she was present. Her good friend, Cordelia Thorn is another matter. Thorn is mostly over the top and that¿s where she lives. Loud, flamboyant, caustic and sometimes thoughtless, she dresses with flair and you¿d know when she entered a room, even with fifty people already present. Thorn plays an important part in the novels as a sounding board for Lawless as she puzzles out the mystery, but sometimes you want to throttle her. As is the case with all Hart¿s books, characters and their relationships, kind, warm, angry, distorted and dangerous, are at the heart of this novel. They drive the characters to and fro with passion, with cold calculation, sometimes to disastrous ends. This novel is darker, more convoluted and more complicated than Hart¿s earlier books. The back story alone could be an entire novel, yet such is Hart¿s skill as a writer, the back story of celebrity stalking is the trunk that supports the rest of the novel. The novel is not without its problems. I wanted more examination of parasomnia and its effects on one of the characters, and I was troubled by a few of Cordelia¿s more caustic quips. Still, as with all her later novels, readers will be drawn to the characters. The tensions and suspicious motivations of these well-drawn characters are compelling. This is a strong, novel, with a logical and complete resolution that will keep readers going and waiting eagerly for Jane¿s next adventure. Readers of this review should know that the author is a friend and we frequently tour together. Nonetheless, when you read Night Vision, I¿m confident that you¿ll agree with my assessment.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As always, Hart has written a winner. I gave it four stars because I liked The Iron Girl better, but Jane Lawless and Cordelia Thorne always entertain. I liked how the story was written with flashbacks. Hart does that a lot. Sometimes I think it works better than others, and in this one, it really keeps the tension going. Can't wait for the next in the series. Wish she could write faster.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Academy Award and Global Award winning actress Joanna Kasimir fled Hollywood for the safety of the remote Idaho Panhandle to escape the stalking of her former husband Gordon, who served time for his persecuting her Now several years later she is flying to her hometown Minneapolis to perform of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Allen Grimby Repertory Theatre in St. Paul at the request of her close friend Cordelia Thorn, but fears that Gordon is back with a vengeance. --- Joanna asks another friend restaurateur Jane Lawless to trail Gordon, which she agrees to do so. Jane's friend, Joanna¿s brother David Carson is hiding something from her, his sister, and his lover Diego Veras that worries the trio as that is out of character for him especially when Gordon is found dead with David appearing as the prime suspect. Jane investigates while the cops concentrate on pinning the homicide on the ex brother-in-law. --- This is a fine Twin Cities amateur sleuth tale in which the stalking and subsequent murder investigation takes center stage. The fast-paced story line is cleverly devised so that readers will consider either David or a crazed fan committed the homicide. Though long time fans will be heart-broken that Jane's long-distance lover Kenzie makes almost no appearances, NIGHT VISION is an entertaining whodunit. --- Harriet Klausner
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book is terrible. the women are so stupid, you hope they will end of dead. nnot worth the price of the book.