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Night Visions

Night Visions

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by Thomas Fahy
     
 

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Samantha Ranvali can't sleep. Haunted by nightmares and the memory of a man who attacked her years ago, she seeks a cure for her insomnia through an experimental study called "Endymion's Circle." The treatment seems to be a success, but after her first full night of sleep in months, Samantha learns that one of the other participants in the study has been murdered.

Overview

Samantha Ranvali can't sleep. Haunted by nightmares and the memory of a man who attacked her years ago, she seeks a cure for her insomnia through an experimental study called "Endymion's Circle." The treatment seems to be a success, but after her first full night of sleep in months, Samantha learns that one of the other participants in the study has been murdered. The body is found crucified upside down, and a recording of J. S. Bach's "Goldberg Variations" plays at the scene. As an old lover investigates the crime, he draws Samantha into a mystery that spans over two hundred years and suggests something far more sinister than the police expect. And with each night of Samantha's newfound sleep, she awakens to another ritualistic crime. Every clue takes her deeper into her own past, her own history of loss, pain, and desperation. Every murder reveals that a dark curse has taken hold of her world. And every clue brings her closer to the revelation that she is the next victim. Here is stunning suspense that plays masterfully with the conventions of the genre and perfectly blends historical richness with modern-day terror.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Fahy's debut novel hovers uncertainly on the borders of the horror and suspense genres, much like his insomniac characters hover on the edge of sleep, yearning for unconsciousness but fearing the visions and nightmares they know they will find there. In present-day San Francisco, lawyer Samantha Ranvali's ex-lover Frank Bennett shows up asking her for help locating a missing woman for his employers, the Palici Corporation, a high-priced private investigative firm. Samantha, a severe insomniac, has just begun experimental treatment at a sleep disorder clinic. She's worried about the treatment and worried about Frank, but agrees to help him. Their investigation leads to a body, the first of many, that has been slashed and crucified. Meanwhile, flashbacks to the court of the historical German Count Hermann Carl von Keyserlingk-also an insomniac, and the man who hired Johann Sebastian Bach to write what will become known as the Goldberg Variations-prove crucial to the solution of the puzzle. The problematic finish of the book aims for stylish intrigue, but ends up as simply unclear and unsatisfying. Perhaps this is because the novel is intended as the first in a projected series of five using the same characters, but unless Fahy finds some way to put a little zip into the sleepy Samantha, readers will be disinclined to pick up the next installment. Agent, Elaine Markson. (Nov.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Insomniac Samatha Ranvali finds relief through an experimental study, but it seems that with each night of newfound sleep, another person must die. A psychological debut thriller by Fahy, who lives in California. Regional author appearances. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061750793
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/13/2009
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
426,354
File size:
642 KB

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

Night Visions
A Novel of Suspense

Chapter One

Night Terrors

Thursday

Her eyes open suddenly in the darkness. At first there is only panicked breathing and the tympani of a pounding heart. She struggles to lift her arms and legs but can't move. Car tires screech on the street below, and she turns her head toward the window. Moisture beads on the inside of the pane. She tries again to move, straining until her body rises like an anchor from deep waters. One at a time, her feet touch the floor, and she begins to feel safe. Sweat bleeds through both sides of her T-shirt.

The bedside clock reads 3:20.


That night, she isn't focused on the match. Her opponent, a beginner, hopes to win by brute force, but fencing is about refinement, strategy, precision. En garde. Relying on strength slows him down, and his body telegraphs each move. Once again, he overcommits to the attack, lunging too hard with little sense of timing or distance. Her right arm feels heavy, slow. She blinks twice, trying to ease the sting of her tired eyes. Foils clash around them, and she glances at a nearby duel. Each movement there seems choreographed, almost rhythmic.

Suddenly, she sees the metallic masks as cold and tortured. The fencers look like the faceless men who come for her in dreams. Coal-black eyes and bodies without shape. Her arm stiffens and her rhythm falters. A brute force punches through.

He scores a point.

"Gotcha, Sam." He smiles arrogantly through the wire mesh.

The masks return to normal.

Other than giving her a few bruises, he hasn't accomplished much in the last five minutes. Now, with this point, he can feel less embarrassed about losing to a woman. En garde. It's time to finish the match and go home. She attacks on his preparation, lunges, and parries for a quick point. Match.

"Damn!" He yanks off his mask and glares.

"Maybe next time, Jim." Samantha tries to sound encouraging but is too exhausted from her sleepless nights to really care.

"Yeah, yeah ... " He hesitates, and Samantha wonders if he is going to ask her out for a drink. Again. She has used a string of unimaginative excuses to dodge his advances in the last few months, and she senses his growing resentment about her lack of interest.

They shake hands, and instead of speaking, he turns abruptly.

She can't be bothered with his bruised ego, she thinks. He's a poor fencer and a sore loser. She walks to the locker room with her head down.

Samantha undresses slowly. Her white cotton T-shirt is damp and heavy with sweat. Standing before a full-length mirror, she notices the way the light seems to reflect off the crescent-shaped scar on her abdomen. Its pallor disrupts the brown planes of her skin.

An image suddenly appears. A blade slicing through her yellow shirt into the skin. Her attacker's hand steady, the motion even and smooth.

She blinks, moving her head quickly from side to side.

She pulls a loose gray sweatshirt over her head, then frees the back of her shoulder-length hair from the collar. She grabs the gym bag at her feet and looks again in the mirror. Her thin body seems frail in the reflection. Dark circles have formed underneath her deep brown eyes.

She leaves the club without saying good-bye to anyone.


A cold, steady wind pours honey-thick fog over the hills of San Francisco. Samantha wraps a thin coat around her body and hurries past the vacant shops and dark office buildings. Even in a city this large, the streets can feel empty. Shadows from trees and parking signs quiver under the yellow streetlights, and her footsteps ricochet against the brick and plaster walls. At times she changes the rhythm of her steps to hear the sounds shift. It makes her feel less alone.

Samantha parked near her favorite church in the city. It's a few blocks out of the way, but she likes listening to the choir that rehearses on Thursday evenings. In the vestibule, she picks up the program for Sunday Mass, then steps into the nave. Dozens of candles glow peacefully in front of an altar to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Some of her white toes have turned flesh-colored from the hands and lips of the faithful. Her outstretched arms point downward.

Samantha has often considered lighting candles in a gesture of prayer but can't bring herself to worship. Instead, she sits in one of the back pews. It smells like dry leather and incense.

Inhaling deeply, she thinks about the long-ago Sunday mornings with her family. While Father slept, Mother would get her and Rachel ready for church. Then after dressing in their nicest outfits -- faces shiny with makeup and hair brushed back and clipped -- the sisters sprang into action. They pulled hair and tugged at clothes. They yelped and screeched while chasing each other through the house, dodging precariously close to end tables and floor lamps. Invariably someone fell. Invariably someone cried for Mother. A few scratches and quickly forgotten tears later, they were out the door at 8:40. Mother in the middle. One girl clinging to her right hand, the other to her left.

All of this while Father slept.

The brisk walk in the cool air never failed to restore peace. Mother smelled like orange blossoms and lilacs, and her long, soft dress moved in waves as she walked. Samantha remembers thinking she wanted to smell that way when she grew up. She wanted to take long strides and wink while smiling. A few minutes before Mass, they climbed up the wide marble stairs, dipped their fingers into a bowl of holy water, and slid into a hard wooden pew. They fidgeted and half-listened as the priest started muttering in Latin that couldn't drown out a chorus of crying babies. The mixture of colognes, perfumes, and sweat made her dizzy ...

Night Visions
A Novel of Suspense
. Copyright © by Thomas Fahy. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Thomas Fahy grew up in Los Angeles. His childhood bedroom was furnished with a mattress and box spring, a record player, two shelves lined with his father’s classical records, and a monolithic upright piano. Not surprisingly, music has remained an important part of his life. He received a Ph.D. in literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and currently lives on the California central coast, where he is working on the sequel to Night Visions.

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