The Perfect Husband (FBI Profiler Series #1)

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Overview

What would you do if the man of your dreams hides the soul of a killer?

Jim Beckett was everything she'd ever dreamed of...But two years after Tess married the decorated cop and bore his child, she helped put him behind bars for savagely murdering ten women. Even locked up in a maximum security prison, he vowed he would come after her and make her pay. Now the cunning killer has escaped—and the most dangerous game of all begins....

After a ...

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The Perfect Husband (FBI Profiler Series #1)

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Overview

What would you do if the man of your dreams hides the soul of a killer?

Jim Beckett was everything she'd ever dreamed of...But two years after Tess married the decorated cop and bore his child, she helped put him behind bars for savagely murdering ten women. Even locked up in a maximum security prison, he vowed he would come after her and make her pay. Now the cunning killer has escaped—and the most dangerous game of all begins....

After a lifetime of fear, Tess will do something she's never done before. She's going to learn to protect her daughter and fight back, with the help of a burned-out ex-marine. As the largest manhunt four states have ever seen mobilizes to catch Beckett, the clock winds down to the terrifying reunion between husband and wife. And Tess knows that this time, her only choices are to kill—or be killed.

Lisa Gardner sold her first novel when she was 20 years old. In 1993 she graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in international relations. She lives in Rhode Island, where she is at work on her next novel of suspense.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A streamlined bang-up addition to the oeuvre of Tami Hoag, Karen Robards, Elizabeth Powell and, these days, even Nora Roberts." —Publishers Weekly

"A dark, powerful tale of nerve-shattering suspense."—Tami Hoag

"A chilling story of revenge and betrayal, with one of the creepiest villains I've ever read."—Iris Johansen, author of The Ugly Duckling

"An unforgettably evil villain and a throat-gripping climax make The Perfect Husband a real page-turner!"—Tess Gerritsen, author of Harvest

"I loved this book! I was up till 2 a.m. finishing it!"—Karen Robards, author of Walking After Midnight and Hunter's Moon

"Nail-biting suspense...a taut roller coaster of a story that kept me up very, very late."—Kay Hooper, author of Amanda and After Caroline

"A superlative read, with vivid characters, faultless procedure, and a villain who will whisper in the dark evertime you turn off the light."—Eileen Dreyer, author of Brain Dead

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553593495
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/27/2009
  • Series: FBI Profiler Series , #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.80 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Lisa Gardner

Lisa Gardner is the New York Times bestselling author of thirteen novels. Her Detective D. D. Warren novels include Love You More, Live to Tell, Hide, Alone, and The Neighbor, winner of the International Thriller Writers’ Award. Her FBI Profiler novels include Say Goodbye, Gone, The Killing Hour, The Next Accident, and The Third Victim. She lives with her family in New England.

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Read an Excerpt

Tess Williams awoke as she'd learned to awaken—slowly, degree by degree, so that she reached consciousness without ever giving herself away.  First her ears woke up, seeking out the sound of another person breathing.  Next, her skin prickled to life, searching for the burning length of her husband's body pressed against her back.  Finally, when her ears registered no sound and her skin found her alone in her bed, her eyes opened, going automatically to the closet and checking the small wooden chair she'd jammed beneath the doorknob in the middle of the night.

The chair was still in place.  She released the breath she'd been holding and sat up.  The empty room was already bright with mid-morning sun, the adobe walls golden and cheery.  The air was hot.  Her T-shirt stuck to her back, but maybe the sweat came from nightmares that never quite went away.  She'd once liked mornings.  They were difficult for her now, but not as difficult as night, when she would lie there and try to force her eyes to give up their vigilant search of shadows in favor of sleep.

You made it, she told herself.  You actually made it.

For the last two years she'd been running, clutching her four-year-old daughter's hand and trying to convince Samantha that everything would be all right.  She'd picked up aliases like decorative accessories and new addresses like spare parts.  But she'd never really escaped.  Late at night, she would sit at the edge of her daughter's bed, stroking Samantha's golden hair, and stare at the closet with fatalistic eyes.

She knew just what kind of monsters hid in the closet.  She had seen the crime scene photos of what they could do.  Three weeks ago, her personal monster had broken out of a maximum security prison by beating two guards to death in under two minutes.

Tess had called Lieutenant Lance Difford.  He'd called Vince.  The wheels were set in motion.  Tess Williams had hidden Samantha safely away, then she had traveled as far as she could travel.  Then she had traveled some more.

First, she'd taken the train, and the train had taken her through New England fields of waving grass and industrial sectors of twisted metal.  Then she'd caught a plane, flying over everything as if that would help her forget and covering so many miles she left behind even fall and returned to summer.

Landing in Phoenix was like arriving in a moon crater: everything was red, dusty, and bordered by distant blue mountains.  She'd never seen palms; here roads were lined with them.  She'd never seen cactus; here they covered the land like an encroaching army.

The bus had only moved her farther into alien terrain.  The red hills had disappeared, the sun had gained fury.  Signs for cities had been replaced by signs reading STATE PRISON IN AREA.  DO NOT STOP FOR HITCHHIKERS.

The reds and browns had seeped away until the bus rolled through sun-baked amber and bleached-out greens.  The mountains no longer followed like kindly grandfathers.  In this strange, harsh land of southern Arizona, even the hills were tormented, flayed alive methodically by mining trucks and bulldozers.

It was the kind of land where you really did expect to turn and see the OK Corral.  The kind of land where lizards were beautiful and coyotes cute.  The kind of land where the hothouse rose died and the prickly cactus lived.

It was perfect.

Tess climbed out of bed.  She moved slowly.  Her right leg was stiff and achy, the jagged scar twitching with ghost pains.  Her left wrist throbbed, ringed by a harsh circle of purple bruises.  She could tell it wasn't anything serious—her father had taught her a lot about broken bones.  As things went in her life these days, a bruised wrist was the least of her concerns.

She turned her attention to the bed.

She made it without thinking, tucking the corners tightly and smoothing the covers with military precision.

I want to be able to bounce a quarter off that bed, Theresa.  Youth is no excuse for sloppiness.  You must always seek to improve.

She caught herself folding back the edge of the sheet over the light blanket and dug her fingertips into her palms.  In a deliberate motion, she ripped off the blanket and dumped it on the floor.

"I will not make the bed this morning," she stated to the empty room.  "I choose not to make the bed."

She wouldn't clean anymore either, or wash dishes or scrub floors.  She remembered too well the scent of ammonia as she rubbed down the windows, the doorknobs, the banisters.  She'd found the pungent odor friendly, a deep-clean sort of scent.

This is my house, and not only does it look clean, but it smells clean.

Once, when she'd taken the initiative to rub down the window casings with ammonia, Jim had even complimented her.  She'd beamed at him, married one year, already eight months pregnant and as eager as a lap dog for his sparing praise.

Later, Lieutenant Difford had explained to her how ammonia was one of the few substances that rid surfaces of fingerprints.

Now she couldn't smell ammonia without feeling ill.

Her gaze was drawn back to the bed, the rumpled sheets, the covers tossed and wilted on the floor.  For a moment, the impulse, the sheer need to make that bed—and make it right because she had to seek to improve herself, you should always seek to improve—nearly overwhelmed her.  Sweat beaded her upper lip.  She fisted her hands to keep them from picking up the blankets.

"Don't give in.  He messed with your mind, Tess, but that's done now.  You belong to yourself and you are tough.  You won, dammit.  You won."

The words didn't soothe her.  She crossed to the bureau to retrieve her gun from her purse.  Only at the last minute did she remember that the .22 had fallen on the patio.

J.T. Dillon had it now.

She froze.  She had to have her gun.  She ate with her gun, slept with her gun, walked with her gun.  She couldn't be weaponless.  Defenseless, vulnerable, weak.

Oh God.  Her breathing accelerated, her stomach plummeted, and her head began to spin.  She walked the edge of the anxiety attack, feeling the shakes and knowing that she either found solid footing now or plunged into the abyss.

Breathe, Tess, breathe.  But the friendly desert air kept flirting with her lungs.  She bent down and forcefully caught a gulp by her knees, squeezing her eyes shut.

"Can I walk you home?"

She was startled.  "You mean me?"  She hugged her school books more tightly against her Mt. Greylock High sweater.  She couldn't believe the police officer was addressing her.  She was not the sort of girl handsome young men addressed.

"No," he teased lightly.  "I'm talking to the grass."  He pushed himself away from the tree, his smile unfurling to reveal two charming dimples.  All the girls in her class talked of those dimples, dreamed of those dimples.  "You're Theresa Matthews, right?"

She nodded stupidly.  She should move.  She knew she should move.  She was already running late for the store and her father did not tolerate tardiness.

She remained standing there, staring at this young man's handsome face.  He looked so strong.  A man of the law.  A man of integrity?  For one moment she found herself thinking, If I told you everything, would you save me?  Would somebody please save me?

"Well, Theresa Matthews, I'm Officer Beckett.  Jim Beckett.  "

"I know.  " Her gaze fell to the grass.  "Everyone knows who you are."

"May I walk you home, Theresa Matthews?  Would you allow me the privilege?"

She remained uncertain, too overwhelmed to speak.  Her father would kid her.  Only promiscuous young women, evil women, enticed men to walk them home.  But she didn't want to send Jim Beckett away.  She didn't know what to do.

He leaned over and winked at her.  His blue eyes were so clear, so calm.  So steady.

"Come on Theresa, I'm a cop.  If you can't trust me, who can you trust?"

"I won," she muttered by her knees.  "Dammit, I won!"  But she wanted to cry.  She'd won, but the victory remained hollow, the price too high.  He'd done things to her that never should have been done.  He'd taken things from her that she couldn't afford to lose.  Even now, he was still in her head.

Someday soon, he would kill her.  He'd promised to cut out her still-beating heart, and Jim always did what he said.

She forced her head up.  She took a deep breath.  She pressed her fists against her thighs.  "Fight, Tess.  It's all you have left."

She pushed away from the dresser and moved to her suitcase, politely brought to her room by Freddie.  She'd made it here, step one of her plan.  Next, she had to get J.T. to agree to train her.  Dimly, she remembered mentioning her daughter to him.  That had been a mistake.  Never tell them more than you have to, never tell the truth if a lie will suffice.

Maybe J.T. wouldn't remember.  He hadn't seemed too sober.  Vincent should've warned her about his drinking.

She didn't know much about J.T.  Vince had said J.T. was the kind of man who could do anything he wanted to, but who didn't seem to want to do much.  He'd been raised in a wealthy, well-connected family in Virginia, attended West Point, but then left for reasons unknown and joined the Marines.  Then he'd left the Marines and struck out solo, rapidly earning a reputation for a fearlessness bordering on insanity.  As a mercenary, he'd drifted toward doing the impossible and been indifferent to anything less.  He hated politics, loved women.  He was fanatical about fulfilling his word and noncommittal about everything else.

Five years ago, he'd up and left the mercenary business without explanation.  Like the prodigal son, he'd returned to Virginia and in a sudden flurry of unfathomable activity, he'd married, adopted a child, and settled down in the suburbs as if all along he'd really been a shoe salesman.  Later, a sixteen-year-old with a new Camaro and even newer license had killed J.T.'s wife and son in a head-on collision.

And J.T. had disappeared to Arizona.

She hadn't expected him to be drinking.  She hadn't expected him to still appear so strong.  She'd pictured him as being older, maybe soft and overripe around the middle, a man who'd once been in his prime but now was melting around the edges.  Instead, he'd smelled of tequila.  His body had been toned and hard.  He'd moved fast, pinning her without any effort.  He had black hair, covering his head, his arms, his chest.

Jim had had no hair, not on head, not on his body.  He'd been completely hairless, smooth as marble.  Like a swimmer, she'd thought, and only later understood the full depth of her naivetÚ.  Jim's touch had always been cold and dry, as if he was too perfect for such things as sweat.  The first time she'd heard him urinate, she'd felt a vague sense of surprise; he gave the impression of being above such basic biological functions.

Jim had been perfect.  Mannequin perfect.  If only she'd held that thought longer.

She'd stick with J.T. Dillon.  He'd once saved orphans.  He'd been married and had a child.  He'd destroyed things for money.  He sounded skilled, he appeared dangerous.

For her purposes, he would do.

And if helping her cost J.T. Dillon too much?

She already knew the answer, she'd spent years coming to terms with it.

Sometimes, she did wish she was sixteen again.  She'd been a normal girl, once.  She'd dreamed of a white knight who would rescue her.  Someone who would never hit her.  Someone who would hold her close and tell her she was finally safe.

Now, she remembered the feel of her finger tightening around the trigger.  The pull of the trigger, the jerk of the trigger, the roar of the gun and the ringing in her ears.

The acrid smell of gunpowder and the hoarse sound of Jim's cry.  The thud of his body falling down.  The raw scent of fresh blood pooling on her carpet.

She remembered these things.

And she knew she could do anything.

    

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 1346 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 1362 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A taut suspenseful thriller

    This is my first novel by Gardner and it was worth the all nighter I pulled too finish the book! Gardner knows how suspence works-taut pacing makes a thriller.
    It is called the PERFECT HUSBUND because Jim Beckett thinks he is. As a handsome charming Police Officer, Theresa (Tess) can't believe he's interested in her. For years, she lives with an abusive father and unwitting leaps into the marriage bed of the worst sociopath, she can imagine. Jim swore he'd kill his 'perfect wife' for helping the police putting him, Jim Beckett perfection personified (especially in his killing), onto death row. He escapes, killing 2 guards. And, he is looking for his perfect wife. Jim has molded young Theresa into perfection that only he can see, and therefore Thersa must die for her ultimate betrayal.
    Tess leaves her daughter in police custody and seeks out J.T. Dillon, a burntout ex-Marine and ex-mercenary. J.T. is battling his own demons and is not too receptive to Tess and her plight, until his sister Marion abruptly appears. As an FBI agent, she is suspicious of Tess and is also very dismissive of J.T. Their history is not that nice. The Colonel has seen to that. But, cool, aloof Marion may have screwed up-she's discovered Tess' true identity and Beckett may already know where she is.
    J.T. knows he has to help Tess, and is fighting to control past and present emothions. J.T. has just finished his annual drinking binge to mark the anniversary of his 'perfect' wife. Marion wants J.T. to go seee their father. He's dying. She's been the good girl and good wife and the perfect FBI agent. Why then is everything unraveling now. She must not disappoint the Colonel, but she must help save Tess from the worst serial killer, FBI profiler Quinn has seen. Beckett was one of them, he knows police procedure, murder protocol, and forensics.
    Gardner puts together a beautiful patchwork quilt, because of the subplots in THE PERFECT HUSBAND. Just make sure you have a pot of coffee and your your favorite comfort food, because you have to finish this page turner in one sitting. And the book will haunt your dreams for a few nights.

    17 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 13, 2011

    suspenseful, but lacking in details

    I enjoed the suspense factor and the twist in the story, but I selected this book because it was said to be the 1st in an FBI profiler series and the book was extremely lacking in the details and the prospective of the profiler. The history of the brother and the sister seemed out of context with the major plot of the story, (maybe added for character development), but should have been minimized for more details on how and what the FBI was doing to catch the bad guy. It will be awhile before I read another Gardner novel.

    11 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2005

    Perfect Husband

    I read a lot of books and this is by far the best book I have ever read. It just felt so real, the people seemed like normal people with real life problems. The hero (J.T.) wasn't perfect which I liked. and Tess was srong willed, but also not perfect and you could really feel their pain. Jim was scarry and you could really see it happen. You have got to read this book. I cried which is very hard for me to do in a book.

    8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Not my favorite.

    I liked the suspense part of the story. There was a very good premise and for the most part it was believable and kept you waiting for the next turn. I thought the characters were overly dramatic and I most definitely could live without the graphic sex. All the smoldering and heat etc belongs in a Harlequin Romance, not this type of story. I may or may not read this author again.

    6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2007

    Excellent writter

    This is the first book of hers I've read and it was great. I didn't want to put it down. Some books get boring in parts but not this one. It was exciting from beginning to end.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 21, 2011

    This book is rated R for sex

    This is the first book I've read by this author and I won't read another. I enjoyed the story line, but the sex scenes were a distraction. The book would have been better without them.

    5 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2011

    disappointed first time reader

    At first I found the story interesting. About 200 pages in I found myself skipping parts due to tacky sex scenes. Thinking about the characters in this book and feeling sorry for themIf this is typical of Gardner I will pass on adding her books to my library.

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 21, 2011

    I'm done with Bestseller Lists!

    I don't seem to see eye to eye with Bestseller Lists anymore. I find that more often now I have to dig around for the kind of books that hold my interest these days. I found this book to be nearly painful to get through. I felt like I was reading a thriller/romance. Is that what they call this?

    All too predictable. I need more from a sentence these days. I need more from a paragraph to keep me going. I flipped through this as quickly as I could and went back to scouring the internet for something to quench my thirst. I'm no scholar by any stretch of the imagination, but this was just too much.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2009

    Say Goodbye is a great book.

    It keeps you in suspense. I really enjoyed this book. I enjoy all Lisa Gardner's books.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 10, 2011

    Great book, but rough sex!

    Lisa Gardner has done it again with a real page-turner. Only problem is that this one goes on and on with graphic sex acts where the partners take out anger and frustrations on each other during the act. Way too much 'plunging' 'screaming orgasms' and 'shooting sperm'. This could add to the story with one or two episodes, but the sex goes on and on.....for no reason that adds to the climax (pardon the pun!)

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 1, 2010

    GREAT BOOK...But, don't listen to the audio version

    This was a great book. But I listened to the audio version. The reader did a lousy job with the MA accent for Tess! Jennifer Wydra tried to hard to get the accent right. She made Tess's voice sound Nasal and whinny at times when pronouncing words with the dropped "R's". She often paused before pronouncing....It was very annoying to listen to. ( from MA so familar with this accent)..LOL So my recomendation is READ the BOOK! It is one of the best!!!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 16, 2011

    First book

    This is the first book of hers I have had read. Enjoyable read but I thought the romance and lovemaking got in the way a bit.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 30, 2011

    Do not recommended

    Tess is just too ignorent regarding her staying with a husband that would treat her so badly, in this day and age women have more choices on how their lives run.
    The story between Tess and J.T. is very good. However, I do believe this book is not what I would call a good FBI profiler story just not enough interaction with the FBI getting into the nitty gritty of the story.
    Not really searching for more of Lisa Gardner books after reading this.
    This could be discussed in a book club, in fact I wouldn't mind reading other reviews regarding this story.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2011

    Suspenseful.

    The book was very suspenseful. But I will not read anymore of this author because of the filthy language.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 14, 2011

    Chewing gum

    After reading this and a few other Lisa Gardner's creations I had a very strong sense of chewing gum in my mouth, probably cheaper version that loses sweetness fast and the only question you have after a few chapters is "why do I still have it in my mouth ?" I did keep "chewing" it until the end, but only because it was the only entertainment option while traveling (bad aftertaste). I found characters and problems being artificial, writing style being weak and the plot being predictable, so if you are looking for a chewing gum, then this is you book. Do not waste your time and money if you are looking for quality "meal" for your brain and soul.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 12, 2011

    Do not reccommend this book - Not one of her best.

    I found this book to be suspenseful but I had a hard time liking any of the Characters. The Agent and his sister was just too much. It wasn't necessary to have the sister so involved only to have the ending turn out as it did. I just don't get what she was trying to do with the two characters. I believe it had the makings of a great story but all the Gloom and doom of the family histories of the characters made it hard to imagine them ever getting beyond being wounded shells of their former selves. I also don't buy the instant love that makes a person want toremin with another person who is so miserable. Where was the glimmer of the foodness. Just because he married his fathers ex mistress because she was pregnant does not make him Mr. Wonderful. Hestill behaved like jerk. It borderd on the ridiculous. The fact that she could know deep down that she could nuture him out of his hell hole was ridiculous. Lisa, you let me down with this one. However I will continue to read your books because this was your first miss fo me.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 26, 2011

    Only if you can borrow the book

    Predictable one dimensional characters. Love based on need, furry and shared history of abusive parents. Glad it was on ebook so I didn't even have to waste the effort of turning a page.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2011

    predictable

    Despite the temptation to stop reading it, I did finish; and not because the characters were interesting or the writing fantastic. I was very disapointed that the characters were poorly developed and predictable. The combination of a serial killer, a mercenary from a rich family (go figure), violence against female characters and vivid description of sexual encounters were not at all original, interesting or appealing. Unless one is just interested in reading about torture, aggressive sex and vilence against women, I would not recommend this bood.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 17, 2011

    ugh!

    Gardner is horrible this time around. Dialogue is fake macho and difficult to believe. Hard to like any of these characters.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2011

    I am ashamed that I bought and read this book.

    Is this the modern reading? what a low level our society has sunk to.
    language and overall theme was poor

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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