4.5 20
by Jeff Abbott

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What if everything in your life was a lie?

Things are going well for 24 year-old Evan Casher: his career as a documentary filmmaker is booming and his relationship with his new girlfriend, Carrie, couldn't be better. After an urgent phone call from his mother, he makes an unexpected trip home to Austin. Then the unthinkable happens. He arrives to find…  See more details below


What if everything in your life was a lie?

Things are going well for 24 year-old Evan Casher: his career as a documentary filmmaker is booming and his relationship with his new girlfriend, Carrie, couldn't be better. After an urgent phone call from his mother, he makes an unexpected trip home to Austin. Then the unthinkable happens. He arrives to find his mother brutally murdered, and narrowly escapes an attempt on his own life. Spirited away from the scene by an enigmatic mercenary with an agenda of his own, Evan is confronted with a shocking fact: his entire life has been little more than a carefully constructed lie.

Pursued by a powerful, ruthless organization of killers who will stop at nothing to keep old secrets buried, Evan's only hope for survival is to uncover the truth about his family...and his own past. With his mother's attackers fast on his heels and with no one to trust--not the authorities, his father, nor the woman he loves--his perilous search takes him from the Texas Hill Country to New Orleans, to London, and to Miami. Full of unforgettable characters and jolting plot twists, Panic is an emotionally charged, heart-stopping thriller about one man's determination to take back his stolen life.

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Editorial Reviews
The Barnes & Noble Review
What would you do if you suddenly found out that everything in your life -- your relationship with your significant other, your parents' occupations, their backgrounds, even your own name -- was all a meticulously constructed lie? When wunderkind documentary filmmaker Evan Casher gets an urgent early-morning call from his mother, pleading with him to drive two hours to her home in Austin, Texas, he obliges -- only to find her strangled to death on the kitchen floor. After barely escaping a brutal attempt on his own life minutes afterward, Casher begins to realize the unbelievable truth: His entire life has been built upon a foundation of lies. With a duo of sadistic killers hot on his trail and a shadowy former CIA operative closing in, Casher must somehow unravel the mystery of his mother's murder before the killers unravel him. He eventually discovers that his parents were somehow involved in an elaborate freelance spy ring, with clients from every major intelligence agency in the world -- but that's just the beginning of the mind-blowing revelations…

The long-anticipated hardcover debut from Jeff Abbott (Cut and Run, Black Jack Point, A Kiss Gone Bad, et al.) has been well worth the almost two-year wait. The aptly entitled Panic, a breakneck-paced psychological thriller with enough jaw-dropping plot twists to satisfy even the most demanding reader, will undoubtedly place Abbott firmly in the pantheon of elite suspense writers. Equal parts Dean Koontz and Robert Ludlum, this addictively page-turning espionage thriller will keep readers up all night -- with all the lights on, of course! Paul Goat Allen

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.24(w) x 9.22(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
14 Years

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The phone awoke Evan Casher, and he knew something was wrong. No one who knew him ever called this early. He opened his eyes. He reached across the bed for Carrie but she was gone, and her side of the bed was cool. A note, folded, on the pillow. He reached for it but the phone continued its insistent shrill, so he answered.

"Hello," he said.

His mother said: "Evan. I need you to come home. Right now." She spoke in a low whisper.

He fumbled for the bedside lamp. "What's the matter?"

"Not over the phone. I'll explain when you get here."

"Mom, it's a two-and-half hour drive. Just tell me what's wrong."

"Evan. Please. Just come home."

"Is Dad all right?" His father, a computer consultant, had left Austin three days ago for a job in Australia. He made databases dance and sing for big companies and governments. Australia. Long flights. He had a sudden vision of a plane, scattered across the outback or Sydney Harbor, ripped metal, smoke rising. "What's happened?"

"I just need you here, okay?" Calm but insistent.

"Mom, please. Not until you tell me what's going on."

"I said not on the phone." She fell silent, he said nothing, and the uncomfortable tension of an unexpected standoff rose for ten long seconds until she broke it. "Did you have a lot of work to do today, sweetheart?"

"Just edits on Bluff."

"Then bring your computer with you, you can work here. But I need you here. Now."

"What's the big deal about not telling me?"

"Evan." He heard his mother take a steadying breath. "Please."

The naked, almost frightening neediness—tone he had never heard in his mother's voice— made her sound like a stranger to him. "Um, okay, Mom, I can leave in an hour or so."

"Sooner. As soon as possible."

"All right then, in like fifteen minutes or so."

"Hurry, Evan. Just pack and come as fast as you can."

"Okay." He fought down a rising panic.

"Thank you for not asking questions right now," she said. "I love you and I'll see you soon, and I'll explain everything."

"I love you, too."

He put the phone back in the cradle, a little disoriented with the shock of how the day started. Now wasn't the time to tell his mother that he was in love. Seriously, crazy, in Romeo-and-Juliet love.

He opened the note. It simply said, Thanks for a great evening. I'll call you later. Had early morning errands. C.

He got in the shower and wondered if he'd blown it last night. I love you, he'd told Carrie, when they lay spent in the sheets. The words rose to his mouth without thought or effort, because if he'd weighed the consequences, he would have kept his mouth shut. He never said the L-word first. Before, he had told only one woman he loved her, and that had been his last girlfriend, hungry for his reassurance, and he'd said it because he thought it might be true. But last night was different. No might or maybe; he knew with certainty. Carrie lying next to him, her breath tickling his throat, her fingernail tracing a line along his eyebrow and she looked so beautiful and he said the big three words and they felt as true in his heart as anything he had ever known.

Pain flared in her eyes when he spoke and he thought, I should have waited. She doesn't believe it because we're in bed. But she kissed him and said, "Don't love me."

"Why not?"

"I'm trouble. Nothing but trouble." But she held him tight, as though she were afraid he would be the one to vanish.

"I love trouble." He kissed her again.

"Why? Why would you love me?"

"What's not to love?" He kissed her forehead. "You have a great brain." He kissed between her eyes. "You see the beauty in everything." He kissed her mouth and grinned. "You always know the right thing to say. . .unlike me."

She kissed him back and they made love again and when they were done she said, "Three months. You can't really know me."

"I'll never know you. We never know another person as much as we like to pretend."

She smiled, snuggled up close to him, pressed her face to his chest, put her mouth close to his beating heart. "I love you, too."

"Look at me and say it."

"I'll say it here to your heart," she said. A tear trickled from her cheek to his chest.

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing. Nothing. I'm happy," Carrie said. She kissed him and said, "Go to sleep, baby."

And he did and now, in the hard light of day, she was gone, the whispers and the promises gone with her. And this distant note. But maybe this was for the best. She was nervous. And the last complication he needed was explaining a mysterious family disaster.

He tried Carrie's cell phone. Left her a voice mail. "Babe, I've got a family emergency, I've got to go to Austin. Call me when you get this." He thought, I shouldn't say it again, it scared her off but he said, "I love you and I'll talk to you soon."

Evan tried his father's cell phone. No answer. Not even voicemail picking up. But his dad's phone might not connect in Australia. He put the plane crash scenario out of his mind. He followed his clockwork morning regimen: fired up his computer, checked his to-do list, checked his news feed: no disasters reported in Australia. Perhaps this was a disaster on a smaller scale. Cancer. Divorce. The thought dried his throat.

He clicked on his email, shot off a message to his dad saying, Call me ASAP, then downloaded his emails. His in-box held an invitation to speak at a film conference in Atlanta; e-mails from two other documentary filmmakers who were friends of his; a pile of music files and a couple of her latest digital photos, all sent by his mother late last night. He synced the music to his digital player; he'd listen to the songs in the car. Mom thrived on obscure bands and tunes, and she'd found three great songs for his earlier movies. He checked to be sure he had all the footage he still needed to edit for his nearly completed documentary on the professional poker circuit. Made sure that he had the raw notes for a talk he was supposed to give at for a speech at University of Houston next week. He slid his laptop, his digital music player, and his digital camcorder into his backpack. Evan packed a bag with a weekend's worth of clothes his mother hated for him to wear: old bowling shirts, worn khakis, tennis shoes a year past their prime.

His watch said seven-fifteen. It was not quite a three-hour drive from Houston to Austin.

Evan locked the door behind him and headed to his car. This wasn't the day he had planned. He fought his way through the morning snarl of Houston traffic, listening to the music his mother sent last night. He wanted Spanish-flavored electronic funk for the opening scenes of his poker-player documentary, and no songs he'd heard yet sounded right, but this music was perfect for what he needed.

He tapped his fingers to the beat as he drove and kept waiting for his cell to ring, his father or Carrie calling, his mom calling to say all was suddenly fine, but his phone stayed silent all the way to Austin.

His mother's front door was locked. Mom kept her photography studio out in a garage apartment, and he decided she must have retreated to the comfort of film, primer, and solitude.

He unlocked the door with his key and stepped inside. "Mom?" he called out. No answer.

He walked toward the back of the house, toward the kitchen. He had bought his mom her favorite pastries, peach kolaches from a bakery she adored in LaGrange halfway from Houston, and he wanted to put up the food before he headed to her studio.

Evan turned the corner and saw his mother lying dead on the kitchen floor.

—Reprinted from Panic by Jeff Abbott by permission of Dutton, a member of Penguin Group (USA). Copyright © 2005 by Jeff Abbott. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced without permission.

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What People are saying about this

Harlan Coben
Panic is a sleek, smart thriller that combines a family tragedy, international intrigue, and the redemptive power of love into one of this year's best books. There is no question: Jeff Abbott is the new name in suspense.
Michael Connelly
Panic is a ride down the roaring rapids. Jeff Abbott has put together a hell of a page turner.

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Panic 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When an unsuspecting person leading an ordinary existence is suddenly trapped in a horrifying, life threatening situation it is even more spine tingling than when readers/listeners know there's probably a psycho on the loose or an extra-terrestrial hovering. This abrupt twist is only one of the plots at which Jeff Abbott excels. In the case of 'Panic' we meet young film maker Evan Casher. Life is good for Evan - his career is on the upswing and his girl, Carrie, seems to be the woman he'd hoped to meet. One phone call from his mother turns his world upside down. He travels to Austin, Texas, only for a shocking surprise - his mother has been murdered and his father missing. Further, there's a swift attempt on Evan's life and he has no idea why. Evan has never heard of the Deeps, never even dreamed of a spy ring made up of sadistic killers but they're the ones pursuing him. They believe he has access to a computer file holding information that would seriously compromise the Deeps. How did this come to be? No spoilers here - suffice it to say that his mother, a travel photographer, and his dad, a computer whiz, were secret agents. What of Carrie who appeared to be the girl of his dreams? Those who remember Abbott's 'Cut and Run' and 'Black Jack Point well know this author turns out heart-stopping thrillers. Right on with 'Panic.' Voice performer L. J. Ganser (seen on TV's Guiding Light, As The World Turns, etc) turns in a pulse racing performance as Evan tries to stay alive, save his father, and discover the secrets of his past. High level intrigue and suspense at the touch of a button. Don't miss this one! - Gail Cooke
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Panic is a great thriller about a man discovering his life is a lie. Brilliant writing. The plot unfolds at the perfect pace.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What if you discover your whole life is a well constructed web of lies? That's the premise of Jeff Abbott's Panic. It is a remarkable book. The plot never thins. Highly recommended.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has a lot going for it. There is a healthy serving of action, blood, a ton of suspense and more dead bodies than the New York City morgue on a busy night. The problems I found are few and far between, but do keep it from receiving a perfect score. The relationship between Evan & Carrie seems forced at times. This book isn't anything close to a romance novel, so the only reason I can see for the forced romance is to fill the necessary cliché. I personally was disappointed with the ending, but that's just me wishing things had turned out differently. There¿s great potential for a thriller Hollywood flick here. Over all, a great, fast paced read that should be finished in no time. The book got my adrenalin going a number of times and for that I give it just due. If I could award 4 1/2 stars, I would.
1dachsmom More than 1 year ago
Love Jeff Abbott's books. This one is a little hard to follow - a bit more strange because of the characters, but on the whole, I loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed, try it.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Twenty-four years old documentary filmmaker Evan Casher feels he owns the world and the universe is next in his grasp. The reasons he feels euphoric on life are his career seems on the verge of major success as he is in demand and he cherishes his girlfriend Carrie, who seems to reciprocate his high regard................ When his mother calls in a state of panic, a stunned Evan races to Austin to insure she is okay. However, he arrives as someone brutally murders his mother and tries to kill him too. Evan knows he is fortunate to escape with his life and that only because some weird former CIA operative Gabriel rescued him. On the run, Evan begins to learn what he thought was his heritage is a total fabrication. He has no idea what is going on or who to turn to for information. He quickly realizes he must trust no one including the agent who saved his life, law enforcement, the CIA, or even his maybe biological father he seeks for answers. He wonders if he has turned paranoid as Evan even questions whether Carrie was part of the fraud that he once called his life................... PANIC is a powerhouse of a thriller filled with twists and turns that keep readers guessing what is going on. Evan is a terrific center holding the tale together while coping with his shock that nothing about his life is true. The support cast adds depth to this Kafka existence in which the beleaguered hero feels like the Prisoner starring in a deadly version of The Truman Story...................... Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Suspense and fast pacing make this a good thriller.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing!!!! For those of you who are looking for a new action packed novel look no further!!!!! I love this book l love the authorhe weaves the most amazing stories. I highly reccomend this!!!!!!!:D
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I had never read anything by this author and will most likely choose more of his stories to read. This book was thoroughly entertaining.
Progdad More than 1 year ago
Once again, another great Jeff Abbott story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Holds your interest, fast paced, you never know who the enemy is
Sabrina17RB More than 1 year ago
I have been reading Jeff Abbott's Sam Capra series, so I wanted to sample some of his other books. This was just as action packed and the storyline was good and the charactors were likable and deplorable, as intended. I recommend this book.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Stephen Brayton for Readers' Favorite In Panic, Jeff Abbott gives us Houston documentary filmmaker Evan Casher, who gets a frantic call from his mother in Austin. When he makes a hurried trip home, he finds her dead and is subsequently attacked. Thus begins his run from parties who insist he give them certain files they claim his mother sent. He does not know who he can trust, and this includes his girlfriend who is also part of a shadowy organization called the Deeps. From Texas to Louisiana, to Ohio, to London, and Florida, Evan tries not to panic as he traces the history of the Deeps and discovers his own family ties...and the fact that everything about his life and his parents are not what he believed. For the most part, Evan does NOT panic even when he sees his family history revealed. I heard more panic in those who want Evan to either die or cooperate. Abbott does a fine job of laying out the story, and drew me in with tantalizing bits of how Evan learns the truth little by little. There's intrigue, suspense, and corruption, and something a bit different from the usual run of spy thrillers out there. Something plausible and scary in that it could be true... I listened to the audio version and the narrator helped the story spur the imagination by using believable voices for each character. I've read Abbott's work before and in many of his stories, there's a touch of the bizarre. Panic is no exception. Plenty of action and twists to keep you going. Abbott writes another winner!
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