On Borrowed Time

( 30 )


On Borrowed Time

David Rosenfelt

Everything is going right for magazine writer Richard Kilmer. His girlfriend, the beautiful Jennifer Ryan, has agreed to marry him. The happy couple celebrates with a romantic drive up to Kendrick Falls. Even as dark clouds begin to gather, Jen and Richard press on.

The freak storm sends Richard careening off the road and throws Jen from the vehicle. Richard seems to be fine, ...

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On Borrowed Time

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On Borrowed Time

David Rosenfelt

Everything is going right for magazine writer Richard Kilmer. His girlfriend, the beautiful Jennifer Ryan, has agreed to marry him. The happy couple celebrates with a romantic drive up to Kendrick Falls. Even as dark clouds begin to gather, Jen and Richard press on.

The freak storm sends Richard careening off the road and throws Jen from the vehicle. Richard seems to be fine, but he can't find Jen anywhere--neither can the town's police. The storm has disappeared and with it every trace of the future Mrs. Kilmer.

Richard remembers her so vividly, but no one he knows can confirm that Jen ever existed. Could he be crazy? Did he dream her up? After weeks of nightmares, therapy, and unanswered questions, his life is still in pieces. But just as Richard begins to completely unravel, so do the secrets behind Jen's disappearance…

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher


Rosenfelt's Andy Carpenter novels are known for their breezy storytelling and humor...This one eschews humor to focus on the actions of ordinary people faced with extraordinary trials. It also employs a whiplash plot turn…an engaging suspense tale.
The Toronto Sun

A terrific plot and a gripping narrative.
Deadly Pleasure

I am raving about this book…a page-turning thriller.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

This fast-paced and brightly written tale spins along…Don't Tell a Soul is a humdinger.
Booklist (starred)

High-voltage entertainment from an author who plots and writes with verve and wit…Rosenfelt ratchets up tension with the precision of a skilled auto mechanic wielding a torque wrench.
Entertainment Weekly

Rosenfelt has earned his crime-novelist pedigree.
Minneapolis Star Tribune

[Rosenfelt] has pulled together a cynical political thriller that rings true in this age of terrorism, media hype and Washington scandals…it's an enjoyable tale.
Publishers Weekly
At the start of this excellent stand-alone from Rosenfelt (Down to the Wire), 29-year-old journalist Richard Kilmer is planning to ask the love of his life, Jennifer Ryan, to marry him. But on a drive from Manhattan's Upper West Side, where they share an apartment, to Jen's hometown two hours outside the city, they have an accident and Jen disappears. After Richard discovers to his astonishment that Jen's family, her friends—even his friends—claim never to have known her, he begins a series of magazine articles about his unsettling experience (a nice variation on the frequent but unconvincing hush-hush imperative of many thrillers). Meanwhile, it becomes clear that some nefarious memory experiment involving Richard is underway. The arrival from Wisconsin of Allison Tynes, who says she's Jen's identical twin sister, may strike some as contrived, but all will marvel at the way Rosenfelt builds suspense while keeping the plot line from veering too far into the kooky and hokey. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Is freelance journalist Richard Kilmer losing his mind? How else can he explain the disappearance of his fiancée, Jennifer, after a roll-over accident with Richard at the wheel? His friends in New York seem to think she never existed, claiming that events he clearly remembers never took place. When he publishes an article about his experience, illustrated with an artist's re-creation of Jennifer's appearance, a woman named Allison telephones to say Jennifer looks like her twin sister, Julie, now gone missing. With Allison's help and that of trusted friends, Richard sets out to track down his past as an investigative journalist and the powerful individuals now manipulating not only every aspect of his life but also the state of his mind itself. VERDICT This bald plot summary fails to do justice to Rosenfelt's skill at throwing one baffling curve ball after another in a gripping thriller driven by questions of identity, the reliability of memory, and the difficulty of distinguishing between reality and fantasy. The author of seven Andy Carpenter novels (Dog Tags) offers yet another outstanding stand-alone novel (after Down to the Wire), sure to please his many fans. Anyone who enjoyed Dennis Lehane's Shutter Island will love this mind-boggling tale.—Ron Terpening, Univ. of Arizona, Tuscon
Kirkus Reviews

The creator of dog-loving attorney Andy Carpenter (Dog Tags, 2010, etc.) serves up another stand-alone with an absolutely irresistible hook.

Hours after freelance journalist Richard Kilmer proposes to his girlfriend Jennifer Ryan in her parents' home in Ardmore, N.Y., a freak storm on the road throws her out of his wrecked car and into thin air. It's bad enough that the local cops can find no trace of his fiancée. Worse, there's no sign that she ever existed. The Ardmore house looks completely different; Jen's mother, who maintains that her husband and daughter died 20 years ago, denies ever having met Richard; even his Manhattan buddies tell him he must have imagined the woman he's certain he introduced to them. "What you're doing is remembering stuff that never happened," one of them tells him. A series of magazine articles that make Richard, if not exactly a hero, certainly a well-known crackpot, underwrite his inquiries into Sean Lassiter, the biochemical manufacturer he gradually becomes convinced is behind his troubles. With the help of a bulldog private eye, a sympathetic psychotherapist and a young woman who announces that she's the twin sister of his vanished fiancée, Richard follows the trail from his own travails to a shady neurological clinic and an international conspiracy.

As in Down to the Wire (2010), the explanation behind the hero's ordeal is both less interesting and less plausible than the nightmare itself. But no one who picks up this greased-lightning account will rest till it's finished.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781250002174
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 1/31/2012
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 332,857
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.80 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

David Rosenfelt

David Rosenfelt is the Edgar and Shamus Award--nominated author of eight Andy Carpenter novels and two stand-alone thrillers, Don't Tell a Soul and Down to the Wire. He and his wife live in California with the twenty-seven golden retrievers they've rescued.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The moment we met is burned into my mind, and even now I replay it over and over. It’s somehow vaguely comforting, and thinking about Jennifer gives her a presence. I’ve wanted to give her a presence for so very long.

It’s not outright denial, but it’s almost as good.

It was at a political rally for a candidate Jen was supporting. It’s funny, but I can’t remember who the candidate was, and I can’t venture a guess, based on what I learned later about Jen’s politics. In that area, she was always a contradiction: a social liberal who was fiercely in favor of the death penalty, and a ?scal conservative who never met a homeless shelter she didn’t want the government to support. But whatever it was she was advocating at that or any other moment, that advocacy was fierce.

I’m a writer, so I had the political “get out of jail free” card; it was a violation of my alleged journalist credentials to even hint at my leanings. I wrote mainly magazine articles, most of them political or business- oriented, but I wasn’t there for anything having to do with work. The truth is, I had just been wandering by and stopped to see what was going on.

So on that day we were who we are, or at least as I have always seen us: Jen as a participant in life, and myself as an observer of it.

It didn’t take a particularly keen observer to notice her. She was light-up-the-room beautiful, even though she was wearing a New York Yankees cap. I hate the Yankees, always have, always will, but I quickly rationalized that I’d never really felt any animosity for their caps. So I went over to her and introduced myself.

“Hi. I’m Richard Kilmer. I’m a journalist.”

“How nice for you,” she deadpanned. Journalists were not necessarily her favorite people.

“Yes . . .  I wanted to ask you a few questions. About the rally . . .  the candidate . . .”

She smiled, and it was the first time I had ever seen a smile that had nothing whatsoever to do with the mouth or lips. This smile was wholly in her eyes, and I later came to realize that this was part of her ability as a smile ventriloquist. Just by being in the vicinity, Jen could make everything and everyone smile, without letting on that she was doing so.

“I really don’t know that much about him,” she said. “But if you want your questions answered . . . Carl, come here a second?”

She called over a young man standing a few yards away. Carl was unshaven, balding, and maybe twenty pounds overweight. Not a horrible-looking guy, but not really my type.

“Hey,” Carl said, proving that if nothing else he was a charming conversationalist.

“This is Richard Kilmer . . .  a journalist. He’s looking for some information.” She went on to tell me that Carl knew far more about this particular candidate than she did.

“What do you want to know?” Carl asked.

“Well, to be perfectly honest,” I said, “I was more interested in the female point of view.”

Carl frowned his disdain at me and walked away.

“You should have said so,” Jen said, scanning the crowd. “Then let’s see what we can find for you.”

She was playing with me, no doubt looking for some female shot putter to stick me with. “I was interested in your point of view,” I said.

“Let me guess,” she said. “You’re particularly interested in my point of view coupled with coffee, drinks, or dinner.”

“That’s uncanny,” I said.

“Why didn’t you say so in the first place?”

“I only use honesty as a last resort.”

She thought about it for a few moments, as if weighing it. Then, “Coffee.”

I hated that look.

It was a look that said, You’re full of shit, Richard. You know it and I know it, so let’s move on, shall we?

My problem with the look, and with Jen, for that matter, was that it and she were always right. In that case, I had just tried to tell her that we should drive to her parents’ house in upstate New York on Monday, rather than Sunday. I had lamely claimed that we’d hit less traffic that way, but she knew it was really because I wanted to watch the pro football games. When it comes to football, I’m somewhere between a fanatic and a lunatic.

“You want to watch football tomorrow,” she said. It wasn’t a question, but rather a statement of fact.

“Football?” I asked. “Tomorrow? God, the week flew by; it never entered my mind. Where do the days go?”

She laughed, and asked, “What time are the Giants playing?”

“The Giants? The Giants? The name sounds familiar. . . .”

“Richard . . .”

“One o’clock. They’re playing the Redskins at home.”

She shook her head in amazement. “Redskins. How can a team have a name like that in the twenty-first century?”

I nodded vigorously. “Exactly. They are politically incorrect pigs. Which is the main reason I want them to be defeated tomorrow. Somebody has to take a stand on the side of decency, and they will leave Giants Stadium tomorrow having learned a moral lesson. And it’s about time.”

There was that look again. It was time to come clean.

“The winner makes the playoffs. The playoffs, Jen. That’s three wins from the Super Bowl. I really want to see it.”

“Then why didn’t you just say so in the first place?”

I shrugged. “Honesty? Last resort? Remember?”

She smiled. “Tell me about it.” That was sort of a catchphrase she used whenever someone told her something she already knew, which was pretty often.

Jen agreed that the game was not to be missed, so she called her mother and told her we’d be there on Monday. It wasn’t a big deal, since we’d been invited for Christmas, which was Friday. Her parents lived in Ardmore, a small town about two hours from our apartment in Manhattan on the Upper West Side. We had a two-bedroom on the thirty-third floor of a building called the Montana, on Eighty-seventh and Broadway. If there is a piece of real estate in the world that should not be called Montana, it is that one.

Jen had told me a couple of weeks before that her parents were excited to meet me, that I was the first boyfriend she had ever brought home. As always, it was jarring to hear her call me a “boyfriend”; we seemed to be so much more than that. I think on some level that’s why I bought a ring and planned to ask her to marry me the following week. If she accepted, and I anticipated that she would, I would instantly make the quantum leap from “boyfriend” to “?ancé.”

In a matter of hours after first meeting Jen I had regressed from independent twenty-nine-year-old male, unwilling (or afraid, if some of my dates were to be believed) to make a commitment, to pathetic twenty-nine-year-old puppy, panicked that she wouldn’t like me. My amazement that she did, that in fact she grew to love me, was not modesty, false or otherwise. The simple truth was that Jen could have had absolutely anyone she wanted, and she chose me. It was the kind of situation for which the word “hallelujah!” was coined.

Jen moved into my apartment four months after we met. We chose mine because it was bigger, and because I owned it, while she was just renting. In a matter of hours, the apartment went from a place completely devoid of personality to a real home. When Jen got finished with it, my impersonal group of rooms had become the kind of home the Waltons would beg to spend Thanksgiving in.

Jen even liked my friends, few in number as they were. Don’t misunderstand, for the most part my friends are intelligent, successful people. They may have their faults, but there’s not a terrorist in the bunch, and the world would be a better place if their level of goodness prevailed everywhere. But as a group, we have one ?aw; we argue about everything. They are heated, sometimes stimulating, sometimes childish debates about a wide range of topics from sports to politics to people, and the truth is, most outsiders find it a little off-putting.

Since I had only arrived in town three months before meeting Jen, I had only had time to develop two close friendships. I had met both John Sucich and Willie Citrin playing basketball at the Y, and discovered we all had a love of politics, sports, and women. Not necessarily in that order.

Jen was an insider from day one, and one particular night was a perfect example as to why. We went out to the Legends Sports Bar to have dinner and watch the Knicks-76ers game. John and Willie brought along dates, who in my mind were named Somebody and Whoever. For both John and Willie, two dates was a long-term relationship, so I didn’t spend too much time memorizing the women’s names. I knew it was dehumanizing, but I figured that if they didn’t want to be dehumanized, what the hell were they doing with John and Willie?

That night we were arguing about the death penalty, a frequent topic. John and Willie were for it; I am so strongly against it that I once wrote a series of articles advocating my position. As always, they told me that if my sister were murdered I’d feel differently. I don’t have a sister, but they’d probably killed her off fifty times. Jen was on their side; this was a woman who quite literally wouldn’t harm a ?y, but would apparently toast a convicted murderer or rapist without thinking twice.

I neither won nor lost the argument—in fact, the one common thread through all our arguments was that no one ever won or lost. Not a single time in my memory had anyone been convinced to change a position, no matter how stupid that position might be. But I could always tell when Willie and John were unhappy with how things  were going, because they would say that they were fed up with my “Ivy League bullshit,” as if my having gone to the University of Pennsylvania disqualified me from having a legitimate point of view.

Our second argument this night was about third basemen. It was and is my opinion that Mike Schmidt is the best all-around third baseman ever to play the game. John went with Brooks Robinson, while Willie picked Pie Traynor. Now, I’m sure Pie was great, but he was sucking dirt for about fifty years before Willie was born, so Willie’s position was inherently uninformed. You could always tell the guy with the inherently uninformed position; he was the one who yelled the loudest.

Jen cast her vote for David Wright, a ridiculous choice so early in his career, but he was a Met and she always thought the Mets were the best. Somebody and Whoever  were bored silly by the entire spectacle, though at one point Somebody said, “My brother likes sports.”

Before long, Somebody and Whoever said their good-byes, while John and Willie stayed with Jen and me so we could keep the arguments going. When all the yelling was over, Jen announced, “Richard’s spending Christmas at my parents’ house.”

“Whoa!” was John’s response. “This is more serious than I thought.”

“We’re living together, idiot,” I pointed out with my characteristic subtlety. “You didn’t think that was serious?”

“Well, Richie, my boy, I’m afraid things are about to change.”

“What are you talking about?” I asked.

John turned to Willie. “You tell him.”

Willie sighed, as if he hated to have to break the bad news. “Rich,” he said, “suppose you had a daughter who looked like that.” He pointed at Jen. “Now suppose she brought home a guy who looked like that.” He pointed at me. “You see where I’m going with this?”

“I’m afraid I do,” I said.

Jen wouldn’t hear of it. “They’ll love him.” She kissed me. “I love him.”

A stupid grin on my face, I turned to John and Willie. “She loves me. Eat your heart out.”

ON BORROWED TIME Copyright © 2011 by David Rosenfelt

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 30 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 30 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 31, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Entertaining but ridiculous

    Richard Kilmer meets and falls in love with Jennifer Ryan, the girl of his dreams. On a visit to her mother and father they find themselves in a terrible dark windstorm and Richard loses control of his car. When the dust settles, Jennifer is nowhere to be found but that's not the worst of it.

    Returning home to Manhattan, none of Richard's friends know who Jennifer is, even though they've met her before. There's also no sign of her in their apartment; it's as if she's vanished into thin air. Returning to Kendrick Falls where Jennifer's parents live is even worse. No one knows anyone named Jennifer Ryan and nothing is the same; not the house that was supposed to be Jennifer's childhood home, nor her family.

    A writer, Richard writes his story for Manhattan Magazine. Because of the article, he's contacted by Allison Tynes, a woman who could be Jennifer's twin, whose own sister Julie is missing. Soon more strange things begin to occur and Richard isn't sure if Jennifer actually existed or is a figment of his imagination.

    The PI who has done research for Richard's stories in the past intimates that Richard was working on a major story that he felt was Pulitzer worthy, but which Richard has no memory of. He visits Dr. Garber, a psychiatrist who insists that Richard has been there before. While Richard and Allison continue to search for Jennifer/Julie, the story soon degenerates into a bizarre and absurd mind control plot.

    Is it just me or was this the strangest book Rosenfelt has ever written? Although I've long been a fan of David Rosenfelt's books, ON BORROWED TIME while entertaining, stretched the credibility factor to the realm of ridiculous. Lynn Kimmerle

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 15, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    On Borrowed Time

    Imagine you find the perfect girl, meet her parents and propose to her. Then while driving to a favorite childhood spot of hers, a quick dark storm comes, you have a car accident and when you get yourself together, you can't find your love. Soon things aren't as they were or you begin to wonder, did she ever exist or is it a conspiracy? This is the premise of On Borrowed Time, and Richard Kilmer spends the whole book trying to find his girlfriend Jennifer before he gores truly crazy. I found this a pleasant mystery but not suspenseful enough.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 6, 2011

    Spectacular, once again!

    I love the intelligence and humor in all of Rosenfelt's books! There is not a line of dialogue in this book that does not resonate perfectly with it's characters...something other authors strive for but most often fail to achieve. I am a true fan, and would reccomend this author to anyone. The only thing missing for me was the requisite mention of a Golden Retriever. Another brilliant work, Mr. Rosenfelt. Thank you!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 18, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Good Mystery to Keep the Reader Guessing

    The book begins like a Twilight Zone episode (Think Richard Long as David Guerny, whom nobody could remember existing). Richard Kilmer is in love with a woman (Jen) and while staying with her at her parent's house he proposes. She accepts and to celebrate she wants to take him to the Falls to see something interesting. On the drive there, a storm seems to come out of nowhere and forces Kilmer to lose control of the car and it tumbles off the road.

    Kilmer is out of the car relatively fast and unsuccessfully tries to locate Jen. He takes the police back to her parent's house and find's Jen's mother doesn't know him or Jen and her husband has been dead for about 20 years. The house looks different inside too. Richard tries talking to other people that knew Jen and finds that nobody ever heard of her.

    He goes back home and his friends seem to not remember Jen and Richard's apartment looks the way it did before Jen had moved in). Also, there are things that have transpired that Richard cannot remember. Did Jen really exist?
    Richard writes a magazine article about his experience with a sketch of Jen, hoping someone will remember her. A woman who looks just like Jen (Allie) comes looking for Richard saying that the sketch of Jen looks like her twin sister Julie who mysteriously vanished.

    Allie and Richard start looking for Jen/Julie and the more Richard spends time with Allie, he realizes that she says and does many things exactly the same as Jen did. Could Allie be Jen. Meanwhile all of Richard's moves are being watched by a guy who works for someone named The Stone. Apparently, the Stone has used Richard in some way and wants Richard to help get him rich.

    As Richard and Allie start investigating, some people they talk to end up dead. The reader is kept guessing until pretty much the end of the book before all will be revealed. The author does an excellent job confusing the reader throughout and make it difficult to guess what is really happening.

    When Richard narrates his chapters he kind of sounds like Andy Carpenter , the wise cracking lawyer that appears in many of the author's other books. I did not give the book a full five stars because I felt that some loose ends were not fully tied up and some of the explanations of what had transpired are a little sketchy. Overall it is an well above average mystery.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    good read

    great style and fun to read, really will keep you interested but it could be a bit thick on the plot at times, with too much going on to the point where I lost the characters a little bit. Never boring, though so I give it 4 stars.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 13, 2015

    Good reading

    David Rosenfelt writes about places near where I used to live and whether he is writing the mysteries involving dogs or books like ON BORROWED TIME, they cannot be put down until finished.

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  • Posted February 6, 2013

    Interesting but not up to snuff in his typical Andy Carpenter S

    Interesting but not up to snuff in his typical
    Andy Carpenter Series.

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  • Posted March 17, 2012

    Highly Reccommended

    David Rosenfelt stands away from his award winning Andy Carpenter novels to put out this stand alone novel that was Fantastic!!

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  • Posted February 21, 2011

    Great, great page turning read!

    I have never been disappointed in David Rosenfelt's books. And I was not disappointed with On Borrowed Time. Grabs you in the first pages and keeps you hooked throughout the book. Great read. I would highly recommend. And if you have not read Rosenfelt's Andy Carpenter series, you should certainly check them out! Great stuff!

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  • Posted January 25, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    This suspense thriller grips the reader

    Manhattan based reporter Richard Kilmer and his lover Jennifer Ryan drive from their apartment on the Upper West Side to her hometown to meet her family in Kendrick Falls. He plans to ask her to marry him. However, they have an accident, but eerily somehow before they finish the two hour drive, Jen vanished.

    Stunned with no clues as to his beloved's whereabouts, Richard meets the family he thought would be his in-laws. Shocked further after meeting her family when they insist she is not their kin; her friends deny knowing a Jennifer Ryan. Finally even his friends claim they never met her. As a catharsis, Richard writes articles for a magazine about his recent trauma. Allison Tynes comes from Wisconsin to New York to meet Richard as she insists she is Jen's identical twin; leaving the journalist further bewildered.

    This suspense thriller grips the reader once the car accident occurs and never let's the audience go even after the climax as the audience will ponder what happened to the key characters especially the beleaguered protagonist who sadly muses that he entered the Twilight Zone. To David Rosenfelt's credit and writing skills he never ventures in to the Serling realm. With Andy Carpenter on respite, fans will still relish this taut thriller as like Kilmer will wonder what is going on.

    Harriet Klausner

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    Posted August 4, 2011

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