The Perfect Murder (Last Stand Series #6)

( 29 )

Overview

For more than a year, Sebastian Costas has been trying to unravel the truth behind the murder of his ex-wife and son. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, he's convinced that her second husband?a cop?committed both murders, then faked his own death. Now Sebastian has followed the slimmest of leads to Sacramento?and that's where he finally gets the break he needs. Jane Burke, an investigator with The Last Stand, calls him in connection with a separate crime?a crime that...
See more details below
Paperback (Mass Market Paperback)
$7.35
BN.com price
(Save 8%)$7.99 List Price
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (107) from $1.99   
  • New (9) from $1.99   
  • Used (98) from $1.99   

Overview

For more than a year, Sebastian Costas has been trying to unravel the truth behind the murder of his ex-wife and son. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, he's convinced that her second husband—a cop—committed both murders, then faked his own death. Now Sebastian has followed the slimmest of leads to Sacramento…and that's where he finally gets the break he needs. Jane Burke, an investigator with The Last Stand, calls him in connection with a separate crime—a crime that could lead him straight to the man he's been looking for.

Once married to a serial killer, Jane has spent the past five years rebuilding her life. And with Sebastian she finally has a chance at happiness. But the man they're after is after them, too. For him this has become a personal battle, one he's determined to win. Whatever it takes…

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Sebastian Costas's yearlong hunt for the ex-cop who killed Sebastian's ex-wife and son and then faked his own death has led Sebastian to Sacramento, CA, and into the life of Jane Burke, a victim's advocate at The Last Stand charity who is looking for two missing sisters. Realizing they are after the same man, Jane and Sebastian set a trap for the killer, but what began as a one-way hunt has suddenly turned into a deadly game of cat and mouse. VERDICT Two emotionally damaged protagonists find much-needed healing and unexpected love in a chilling, sensual tale that features a host of skillfully developed characters and intricate, multilayered plotting. Sacramento-based Novak (The Perfect Liar) writes gripping romantic thrillers. This is the latest in her "Last Stand" series.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780778327257
  • Publisher: Mira
  • Publication date: 9/29/2009
  • Series: Last Stand Series , #6
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 269,300
  • Product dimensions: 6.66 (w) x 4.34 (h) x 0.97 (d)

Meet the Author

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Brenda Novak has penned over 45 novels. A two-time Rita nominee, she's won The National Reader's Choice, The Bookseller's Best, The Bookbuyer's Best and many other awards. She runs an annual online auction for diabetes research every May at www.brendanovak.com. To date, she’s raised over $2 million. Brenda considers herself lucky to be a mother of five and married to the love of her life.
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Mary looked good. Better than she had in high school. There were more curves to her body, a new sophistication to her face, and her smile seemed to have more meaning behind it. But Malcolm could tell she was weary. The divorce had taken a heavy toll. And she did a lot for her two boys.

He shifted, ducking when he heard an engine in the street. He was partly shielded by a large poplar tree and, judging by the volume of the music emanating from what appeared to be a muscle car, the driver was probably a teenage boy who was as oblivious and self-absorbed as he used to be at that age. But it wouldn't do to have someone see him peeking in Mary's windows.

The car, bass pounding through its speakers, passed without slowing. Then the beat and the motor dimmed, and the neighborhood returned to sleep mode. This was Malcolm's favorite time to watch Mary—although he sometimes came when the sun was up, too, if he thought she'd be home from work. Now that he was unemployed it was hard to fill all the hours in a day. His new life hadn't turned out remotely the way he'd imagined when he'd planned to start over. He missed the people he'd known before, wanted to contact some of them— but they thought he was dead and they had to go on thinking that.

Maybe that was why, after so many years, he'd looked up his high-school sweetheart and followed her to California. The compulsion to reconnect didn't make much sense otherwise. He'd moved on without her quite easily twenty years ago. Married twice, divorced once and…

He didn't want to think about what he'd done to his second wife. He didn't regret killing her or her son. As far as he was concerned, they deserved what they got. But ever since he'd gambled away most of the insurance settlement he'd taken when he left Jersey, he'd been forced to live in dumpy rental houses out in the boondocks where the smell of cow shit was so strong it sometimes felt as if he was standing in it. Tough to find something better when the only jobs he could get were at two-bit security companies that paid a buck or two over minimum wage.

With a silent curse, he remembered the last job he'd held. It wasn't the meager pay that bothered him so much as the lack of respect. He couldn't take it; not after being a real cop.

Fingering the badge he still carried everywhere, he slid to the next window so he could have a better view of Mary checking her computer. She was probably expecting to hear from him. Claiming to be someone she'd once met briefly, he'd contacted her through her jewelry-making Web site and managed to strike up a relationship.

But hiding behind an alias and a computer screen wasn't satisfying him tonight. He was bored, restless….

After only a few minutes at the computer, Mary stood and started turning off the lights. With the kids in school and her job at the hospital, she was pretty damned predictable. From here, she'd go into her bedroom, pull the blinds and the show would be over.

Unless she didn't bother with the blinds. In the months he'd been watching her, she'd forgotten only once, but that gave him hope.

Creeping around to the other side of the house, he squatted in the shrubbery and waited for her to enter her bedroom.

She came in, turned on the TV, put away some clothes that were folded and sitting on a chair. Then she approached the window. They were only inches apart, so close he could see the mascara smudges that told him she'd been rubbing her eyes—

Then the blind went down.

Shit. Malcolm sank lower on his haunches. What now? Should he head to the Indian casinos and while away a few hours?

No. He needed something more visceral, something more exciting, something to remind him of the power he'd once enjoyed.

He toyed with the idea of slipping into the house, exploring the empty rooms, touching Mary's things, stealing a pair of her panties. Maybe even watching her sleep. The temptation to do so was growing stronger every day. He certainly thought about it a lot. But he was afraid he'd get caught and screw up the possibility of having a real relationship with her once he could trust her enough to reveal his true identity. He'd come too far to blow all that by being impatient….

He had to leave. But that didn't mean he had to call it a night. Thinking of the Kojak light he kept in his van, he felt his mood improve. Playing cop wouldn't put him in Mary's bed tonight, but it would give him the adrenaline rush he craved—and maybe a few sexual favors to go with it.

Three weeks later…

Jane Burke recognized an opportunity when she saw one. Ever since she'd started working at The Last Stand, she'd been waiting for her chance, hoping a case would come along that would allow her to prove herself.

She was pretty sure it had just walked through the door.

"The man who let me in said you might be able to help me." A short cannonball of a woman stood uncertainly in the entryway of Jane's office, swiping at tear-filled eyes.

Motioning for her to come farther into the room, Jane brought over a box of tissues. "I'll do my best," she promised. "But first I need to learn more about why you're here."

The young woman's obesity made it difficult to guess her age, but Jane pegged her at twenty-four or twenty-five. Gerald, the volunteer who'd admitted her, had told Jane she had two siblings who'd recently gone missing. So far, that was all Jane knew. If it'd been on the news, she hadn't seen it or heard about it. But that wasn't too surprising. She'd been so busy she hadn't even turned on the TV. "What's your name?"

In an attempt to control her emotions, the woman took two tissues and blew her nose. "Gloria. Gloria Rickman."

"Gloria, I'm Jane Burke. Please sit down so we can talk." Jane returned the tissue box to its generally ignored corner, then pulled a chair away from the wall, placing it in front of the desk, where it would've been if she'd been in the habit of taking her own cases. She was still in training, had been since she'd started six months ago, which meant she did all the tedious record searches, time-consuming court runs and boring clerical work for the three partners who were the backbone of the victims' charity. But she had a feeling the criminal justice courses she'd been taking, and everything she'd learned on the job, was about to pay off. With Skye Willis and Ava Trussell in South America on a rare job-for-hire, tracking a father who'd stolen his child from his ex-wife, and Sheridan Granger out on maternity leave, Jane had been left in charge of the office. This was the perfect time to tackle her first case. Other than the three volunteers who came in to stuff envelopes or solicit donations, she was the only person here.

"Let me get a notebook. Then I want you to tell me what's upset you so much."

The chair creaked as the woman settled into it. Rolls of flesh spilled over the wooden frame, but Jane didn't care about her excess weight. She'd once been heavy herself. Maybe not quite to this degree, but definitely frumpy. If not for the counseling, daily workout sessions and self-defense classes that'd become her routine—all a product in one way or another of her friendship with Skye—she'd probably still be the disillusioned, overweight, hard-edged smoker she'd been four years ago.

Now she ran an hour a day, weighed a trim one hundred and ten pounds, and had stopped trying to kill herself with cigarettes. Only her smoker's voice remained. And the scars from that period of her life, of course. They'd never go away entirely—especially the ones on the inside.

"I'm here 'bout my two sisters," Gloria said. "They went missin' three weeks ago."

"Three weeks ago?" Jane echoed, unable to hide her shock.

Tears welled up again. "Three weeks ago las' Saturday."

It was Monday morning. That added another day, almost two.

"Why haven't I heard about this?"

"I don't know. There were articles in the paper. I reported it to the police the same afternoon it happened," she said, "but the detective who called me ain't found nothin' yet. He's been tryin', but… no one's got any idea where my sisters are an'… I'm so scared. That's why I'm here. I have to do somethin' more. I can't jus' sit around an' wait. I'm all they have. I'm all they ever had."

"Where're your parents?"

"We have different fathers, but none of 'em are any good," she said. "Our mother didn't hang with the best crowd, you hear what I'm sayin'? She died of a drug overdose when I was twenty-three. I was the oldest and had my own place, so I moved my sisters in with me. Latisha, the youngest, wasn't even in high school yet."

Jane could easily identify with being raised by another member of the family. Her parents had been killed in a car accident when she was six, leaving her to be raised by an aging aunt who'd stayed single her entire life and had since died, as well. "Where do you live?"

"In a one-bedroom apartment on Marconi. We been there since they came to live with me. It's a small place, but we make it work. I won't uproot 'em again and again and again, like what my mama did to me."

"It's wonderful that you've been able to provide some stability," Jane said. "How long ago did you assume responsibility for them?"

"It's been 'bout three years now. They eighteen and seventeen. They both graduated this last June," she stated proudly. "Marcie got her GED, but Latisha, she was put up a grade on account of she's so smart. She graduated with honors and won a scholarship to Sac State."

So the missing sisters were, for the most part, adults. That was probably why this case hadn't become a major focus for the media. That and the fact that there'd been nothing more to report. "Did you have an argument with them? Try to punish them? Anything that might've made them angry enough to leave?"

"We argue all the time, but that ain't what's wrong, Ms.—"

"Jane. You can call me Jane."

"They ain't never left before. They know I yell 'cause I want 'em to be more and have more than our mother. They gotta go to college. They keep tryin' to drop out so they can help me keep a roof over our heads. It's tough to earn a livin' workin' at a convenience store. I put in a good sixty, seventy hours a week. But I got Marcie's tuition at ARC to pay for, in

addition to all the other bills. They're what make it worth doin'—knowin' they'll have a better life if I keep goin'. I can't lose 'em." More tears streaked her bronze cheeks. "We been through too much. It can't end like this."

Already Jane feared she might be in over her head. Be careful what you wish for, she silently chided herself. She'd been bugging Skye to let her start taking on her own cases, and Skye kept saying she wasn't ready. But if she didn't get involved now, Gloria would have to wait for Skye and Ava to return. Depending on what happened in South America, that could take a week to ten days, maybe longer. With the economy the way it was, donations were down by a significant margin. Skye and Ava needed to finish this job in order to keep the charity's doors open. That was the only reason Skye's husband had agreed to her going so far away. He was the one who'd insisted Ava go with her, since he couldn't take the time off work. They wouldn't be back until the woman who'd contracted them had her child back. And Sheridan, their other partner, was planning to spend the next three or four months at home with her new baby.

"Have you been in touch with all their friends?" Jane asked. "Do you have any other family in the area?"

"I talked to everybody. I been on the phone night an' day. Ain't nobody seen 'em."

"When's the last time you had contact?"

"That same Saturday. Latisha was sleepin' when I had Marcie take me to work. Latisha had to wait tables at noon and Marcie had to be at the Rancho Cordova Marriott at three. She's a maid." She leaned forward, as if taking Jane into her confidence. "I let 'em work part-time if they're keepin' up with their schoolwork and all." She rocked back. "Anyway, Latisha never showed up at the restaurant. I didn't know 'cause nobody called me. But when Marcie didn't go to work like she always does, the hotel wanted to know what was what. I tried her cell, but it kept goin' to voice mail."

"So you're thinking they disappeared from your apartment?"

"No. As soon as I could get someone to cover the store, I took the bus home and foun' the house jus' fine, locked up an' everythin'. But the car was gone. We have a little Honda Civic."

Jane made a note of this information. "Is there any chance your sisters could be into drugs, Gloria?"

"Oh, no! You think I'd let that happen after I watched my mama kill herself with that shit? After all I done to raise 'em up good? They wouldn't dare. They know I'd kick their asses clear to kingdom come."

Jane believed she would, too. "Where do you think they might've driven?"

Gloria's double chin wagged as she shook her head. "With the price of gas, they had no business goin' nowhere. We gotta pinch pennies jus' to survive. Mosta the time, we take the bus. But maybe Marcie decided to buy some doughnuts and a paper. She been talkin' 'bout gettin' a new job, a better one. That's my best guess, since the car was found near Hank's Donuts. Hank's is our favorite."

Jane quickly tried to assemble the scenario in her mind. Car abandoned; girls missing. Both sisters were going to school and working. They were also living in an environment that wasn't easy by any stretch of the imagination, but it was very apparent that they were at least loved. What could've gone wrong?

"What condition was the car in? Did it have a flat, a breakdown?" she asked.

"That car has one problem after another. It ain't worth but a few hundred bucks. But the police found it parked on a residential street off Franklin Boulevard, a few blocks from the doughnut place, like I said. And it was runnin'jus' fine."

"Was there anything inside to indicate where your sisters had been that morning—some napkins from Hank's? A grocery sack? A Starbucks cup?"

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 29 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(19)

4 Star

(7)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(1)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 29 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2014

    Me

    Great story, although sometimes a bit illogical.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2012

    Recommended

    I like all her books.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 30, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The Perfect Murder, the perfect read

    I was pulled into the novel from the first page and continued to be drawn in by the multi dimensional characters who were trying to move forward from pasts that seemed to have irrevocably changed them.

    The plot had so many twists and turns which served to keep my attention.

    I must warn that if you haven't read Novak's Trust Me series, this book would be a spoiler as it discusses situations that occured.

    I recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good thriller with a serving of romance on the side!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A great thriller

    One year ago, former cop Malcolm Turner killed his wife and teenage stepson before committing suicide. However, investment banker Sebastian Costas, whose ex-wife and son were the two victims of her second husband, believes Turner faked his death to escape the law. Costas quit his job and has spent the past twelve month futilely trying to prove his theory.

    However, Sebastian's efforts lead him to Last Stand victims' advocate wannabe investigator Jane Burke. She is searching for two abducted teens (Marcie and Leticia) whose older sister raised them; Jane believes Turner kidnapped them. Jane and Sebastian team up to try to bring down a "dead" killer who connects the pair chasing him and decides to end their pursuit. He failed to do his homework as Jane survived a serial killing husband so has no qualms about destroying Turner.

    The latest Last Stand thriller (see THE PERFECT LIAR and THE PERFECT COUPLE) is a super tale that stars a strong cast which includes the villain who committed the PERFECT MURDER, but had not factored in the impact of getting away with the homicides; he has to accept menial jobs with no respect. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Malcolm stalks his high school sweetheart and never slows down. Although the romance between Sebastian and Jane is a requirement of the sub-genre, the subplot enhances the anticipated confrontation.

    Harriet Klausner

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 29 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)