Smoke in Mirrors

Smoke in Mirrors

4.2 26
by Jayne Ann Krentz, James Daniels, Aasne Vigesaa
     
 

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From the author of the New York Times bestseller Lost & Found, hailed as "a delightful mystery from a seasoned pro" (People), comes a new novel of romantic suspense.

A con artist and seductress, Meredith Spooner lived fast-and died young. Now it seems Meredith's last scam-embezzling more than a million dollars from a college endowment

Overview

From the author of the New York Times bestseller Lost & Found, hailed as "a delightful mystery from a seasoned pro" (People), comes a new novel of romantic suspense.

A con artist and seductress, Meredith Spooner lived fast-and died young. Now it seems Meredith's last scam-embezzling more than a million dollars from a college endowment fund-is coming back to haunt Leonora Hutton. An e-mail has just arrived in which Meredith-in fear for her life-explains that the money is waiting for Leonora in an offshore account . . . and a safe-deposit key is on the way.

Leonora wants nothing to do with the tainted money. She's already been accused of being in on the theft by Thomas Walker-who, it seems, was a victim of Meredith's knack for both scams and seductions. Eager to prove him wrong, Leonora sets out to collect the cash and hand it over.

But she discovers two other items in the safe-deposit box. One is a book about Mirror House-a mansion filled with antique mirrors, where Meredith engineered her final deception. The other is a set of newspaper stories about a thirty-year-old murder that occurred there-unsolved to this day.

Now Leonora has an offer for Thomas Walker. She'll hand over the money-if he helps her figure out what's happening. Meredith had described Thomas Walker as "a man you can trust." But in a funhouse-mirror world of illusion and distortion, Leonora may be out of her league.

Author Biography: Jayne Ann Krentz, who has also written under the names Amanda Quick and Jayne Castle, has thirty-one New York Times bestsellers to her credit.

Editorial Reviews

bn.com
Charming, seductive scam artist Meredith is dead, and the job of proving that death was no accident is left to Leonora Hutton, who has always been there when Meredith needed her. Thomas Walker has something to prove about Meredith, too -- that the million-dollar inheritance she left Leonora was embezzled from a college endowment fund entrusted to his brother. He gives Leonora two choices: Turn the money over to him or be named an accomplice to Meredith's crime. Leonora makes the blackmail mutual. To gain her cooperation, Thomas must help her investigate Meredith's death, which shows some uncanny similarities to the supposed suicide of Thomas's brother's wife, who had also worked in the campus building known as Mirror House. Their first clue is a folder of clippings about an unsolved murder in Mirror House 30 years ago, so academic librarian Leonora secures a job cataloging the building's vast collection of antique mirrors and books about them, to search for reflections of that past case in their present situation. Smoke in Mirrors tells of a looking-glass world, where academic jealousy, murderous rage, and deadly passion are superimposed, and nothing is as it seems.
Publishers Weekly
Sparks fly between a sexually repressed college librarian and a handyman venture capitalist while they attempt to hunt down a killer who possesses the ability to make murder look like suicide in this tepid romantic thriller from veteran author Krentz (aka Amanda Quick, Stephanie James, Jayne Castle). The news of Meredith Spooner's death comes as no surprise to her half-sister, Leonora Hutton; after all, Meredith was a con artist who was adept at making enemies. But when Thomas Walker, a victim of Meredith's most recent scam, confronts Leonora, demanding that she help him find the $1.5 million that Meredith filched from the Bethany Walker memorial fund and intimating that Meredith may have been murdered, Leonora drops her reference desk position in California to do some amateur sleuthing in Wing Cove, Wash. With the help of Thomas's brainy brother, Deke, she lands a position in Mirror House, an eerie, mirror-lined mansion that houses Eubanks College's alumni office as well as a large collection of rare books. While investigating the connection between Meredith's death and two other suspicious deaths, Leonora romances Thomas with the help of her matchmaking grandmother and a disgruntled advice columnist and pairs Deke with his sexy yoga instructor. A few half-hearted attempts on Thomas's life, orchestrated by a fraudulent stress therapist, add some zing to this one-dimensional read, but events spiral too quickly toward an unexpected and unbelievable conclusion. Once a college librarian herself, Krentz (Dawn in Eclipse Bay; Slightly Shady) ably depicts the competitive atmosphere of the academic arena, but this awkward pairing of dark melodrama and frothy romance fails to impress. National author tour. (Jan. 7) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Leonora intends to turn over the cash that she discovers murdered friend Meredith embezzled. But she feels compelled to investigate when she finds that the lock box where the loot is stashed also contains a newspaper account of an unsolved murder and a book about the Mirror House, where the murder occurred. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A Nancy Drewish turn from perennial bestseller Krentz (Soft Focus, 2000, etc.). Leonora Hutton, academic librarian and all-around sex goddess, just claimed the body of her half-sister Meredith Spooner. Now a strange man is claiming that Meredith embezzled more than a million dollars from the Eubanks College endowment fund before her mysterious death. Thomas Walker is a magnetically sexy animal whose reclusive brother Deke was married to Bethany, a mathematician in charge of the endowment fund who also died mysteriously. Deke might be implicated in the embezzlement unless Thomas can unmask the real culprit. So Thomas wants answers-now. Well, Leonora explains, Meredith had emotional problems because she never met their father, who's long dead (her heartless, no-account mother produced evil little Meredith via sperm donation). Feeling deprived of a real dad and other fun things, she began to embezzle and play nasty pranks, like seducing Leonora's former fiance just to show her half-sister that he was no good. Accompanied by Thomas, Leonora pays a visit to Eubanks College on the fog-shrouded shores of Puget Sound. She can pretend to be reorganizing the card catalogue at Mirror House, the spooky Victorian mansion filled with unusual antique mirrors. Maybe then she can find out why Meredith circled the oddly ornate mirror on page 81 of the house's catalogue of mirrors. Speaking of mirrors, there were rumors that both Bethany and Meredith had been using a new hallucinogen called "S and M" (for Smoke and Mirrors, of course). Along with a placebo stress reliever for high-strung academicians, S and M is being pushed by an amber-eyed con man named Alex Rhodes. But Deke swears Bethany never toucheddrugs of any kind, although she wouldn't be the first substance abuser on campus. Why, world-famous mathematician Osmond Kern, inventor of an algorithm that proved to be immensely important to the computer industry, is drinking himself to death. It's almost as if he knows something no one else knows... For the fans.
From the Publisher
“A well-rendered tale…A suspenseful journey into unexpected danger and romance.”—Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“Eerie antique mirrors, secret passages, and psychic contact contribute a haunting quality to Krentz’s enticing blend of suspense and top-notch romance.”—Booklist

“Written solidly, with a plot that puts the two protagonists in convincing peril from a number of directions…Entertaining…This is vintage Krentz.”—The Seattle Times

Smoke in Mirrors reads fast and will make you smile, wince, and sigh. What else could you want?”—The State (Columbia, S.C.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781593352431
Publisher:
Brilliance Audio
Publication date:
06/10/2004
Edition description:
Unabridged
Product dimensions:
5.38(w) x 7.44(h) x 0.53(d)

Read an Excerpt

Prologue

One year earlier . . .

The hallucinations were worsening rapidly.

She halted at the top of the staircase and tried to steady herself. The hall of dark mirrors stretched away into infinity, a treacherous fun house filled with night and shifting shadows. She had to forge a path through this disorienting landscape before she lost her grip on the last remnants of her sanity.

The planes and angles of the shadowed corridor were melting and flowing into bizarre shapes that reminded her of Mšbius strips. Endless loops with no beginning and no end. She did not know how much longer she could hold together the disintegrating fragments of her awareness. She longed for sleep but she could not give in to the nearly overwhelming urge. Not yet. There was something she had to do first.

The electricity had flickered out of existence a moment ago. Weak starlight seeped in through the narrow windows at either end of the endless corridor. She gazed down the length of the writhing passage and saw a sharp sliver of silver. She knew it marked the entrance to the library. Fourth door on the left.

A desperate urgency swept through her. If she could get to that shard of light she could leave her message.

"Bethany?" The killer's voice came from shadows at the foot of the stairs. "Where are you? Let me help you. You must be very sleepy by now."

A bolt of icy panic gave her the energy required to overcome the drug's effects for a moment. She tightened her grip on the strap of her purse, staggered a few steps down the hall and came to a stop again. She fought to remember what it was that she had to do. It had been so clear there at the bottom of the stairs. But now it kept slipping away.

She stared into the nearest of the dozens of black mirrors that lined the walls. In the gloom she could just barely make out the heavily gilded and scrolled frame of the eighteenth-century looking glass. She searched the bottomless pool behind the glass for wisps of her memory.

There was something she had to do before she went to sleep.

"I can help you, Bethany."

She thought she saw a shifting of the shadows in the old looking glass. An image gelled there for an instant. She struggled to make sense of it. The library. She had to get to the library. Yes. That was it. She had to go there before the killer found her.

A number swirled up out of the depths of her disappearing memory.

Four.

The entrance to the library was the fourth door on the left.

She clung gratefully to the number. It steadied her as nothing else could have done. She was at home in the universe of mathematics; comfortable and serenely content in a way she had never been in the world where human emotions made things complicated and illogical.

Four doors down on the left.

Getting there meant running the gauntlet of mirrors. The enormity of the challenge almost paralyzed her.

"There's no need to hide from me, Bethany. I only want to help you."

She had to do this. Deke would need answers. He would not be able to rest until he got them. And Thomas would help him because Deke was his brother and the Walker brothers stuck together. She had never fully understood the depths of that kind of bond, but her logical mind accepted the strength of the link that existed between Deke and Thomas. It was as real as any mathematical relationship.

Summoning every ounce of will she possessed, she made her way toward the shard of light that marked the library door.

The hallucinations intensified. Strange creatures pulsed behind the reflective surfaces of the antique looking glasses that surrounded her. They beckoned her to join them.

Not yet.

She set her teeth and concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other.

She dared not look directly into any of the old, dark mirrors for fear that she would be sucked into the world on the other side. It was not that she was afraid to go there, it was just that she knew she had to stay in this universe for a few more minutes. She owed that much to Deke and Thomas.

"Bethany? You're ill, Bethany. Let me help you."

The killer was in the hallway behind her.

"Not much longer now, Bethany. The hallucinations must be terrible. But soon you'll sleep and then it will all be over."

She focused intently on the triangle of moonlight. The glowing lines drew her and calmed her. The mathematical purity of the moonlit angles was a strong, if temporary antidote to the hallucinations.

She reached the fourth door, went through it and paused in the middle of an aisle of books, trying to think. There was a small office in here somewhere. And inside the office there was a book. She had been looking at it just this afternoon. It was a very important book because it contained a picture of her killer. She had to mark the picture for Deke and Thomas.

The shelves of books around her curved and warped themselves into a maze. Gathering her waning strength, she staggered through the twisting corridors to the office.

The little book was lying on the desk, just as she remembered. She got it open and stared helplessly at the first page. The picture was here somewhere. She had to find it quickly. The killer was halfway down the hall.

She turned pages, taking refuge once more in the comfort of numbers.

Seventy-nine.

Eighty.

Eighty-one. There it was. A picture of the killer.

There was a pen next to the book. After three attempts she finally managed to pick it up. She was beyond being able to write a name but she had enough eye-hand coordination left to draw a shaky circle around the picture on page eighty-one.

She paused when she finished, concentrating hard.

There was something else she wanted to do just to make sure Deke and Thomas understood.

The envelope, please.

She smiled with satisfaction as the memory blazed clearly in the fog of her thoughts.

The envelope was in the purse draped over her shoulder. She got it out. Managed to slip it inside the book.

Now what?

Hide the book and the envelope. She could not risk having the killer discover them.

"I know where you are, Bethany. Did you think you could hide in the library?"

She looked around, searching for a place in which to conceal the book and the envelope.

The large, old-fashioned wooden card catalog stood against one wall, the rows of little drawers neatly organized in lovely straight lines.

Perfect.

"Mirror, mirror on the wall," the killer chanted from the door of the library. "Who is the smartest one of all? Not you, Bethany. Not Sebastian Eubanks, either. I'm the smartest one of all, Bethany."

She ignored the taunting and wedged the book with the envelope inside into the hiding place. Deke and Thomas would find it sooner or later.

It was done. A sense of peace flowed through her. She had completed the task. She could sleep now. She turned around, clutching the desk for support.

The killer came to stand silhouetted in the office doorway.

"I'm the smartest one of all, Bethany."

Bethany Walker did not respond. She closed her eyes and slipped into a peaceful world on the other side of the looking glass, where the laws of mathematics reigned supreme and everything made sense.

—from Smoke in Mirrors Jayne Ann Krantz, Copyright © January 2002, Putnam Pub Group, a division of Penguin Putnam, Inc., used by permission.

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“A well-rendered tale…A suspenseful journey into unexpected danger and romance.”—Seattle Post-Intelligencer
 
“Eerie antique mirrors, secret passages, and psychic contact contribute a haunting quality to Krentz’s enticing blend of suspense and top-notch romance.”—Booklist
 
“Written solidly, with a plot that puts the two protagonists in convincing peril from a number of directions…Entertaining…This is vintage Krentz.”—The Seattle Times
 
Smoke in Mirrors reads fast and will make you smile, wince, and sigh. What else could you want?”—The State (Columbia), S.C.)

 

Meet the Author

Jayne Ann Krentz is the author of fifty New York Times bestsellers. She has written contemporary romantic suspense novels under that name, as well as futuristic and historical romance novels under the pseudonyms Jayne Castle and Amanda Quick, respectively. She lives in Seattle.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Seattle, WA
Place of Birth:
San Diego, CA
Education:
BA in History, University of California at Santa Cruz, MA in Librarianship from San Jose State University (California)
Website:
http://www.krentz-quick.com

Customer Reviews

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Smoke in Mirrors 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Vibrant and sexy con artist Meredith has bilked the Bethany Walker fund out of over a million dollars. Thomas Walker, Bethany's brother in law is out to recover it, even if doing so means putting Meredith's lovely half sister, Lenora, in jail, though he would much rather do other things with her. However, Leo, unlike her sister, is honest, and out to do the right thing. Though at first disliking Thomas, she quickly warms up, welcoming his assistance in solving her half sister's murder. Their investigation has ties to more than one old unsolved murder, and reveals plots involving cover ups, homosexuality, and illegal drugs. Secrets and danger dog their heels as they fall more in love and come closer to the truth. **** Though not as quirk filled as many of Ms. Krentz's trademark oil and water couples, Thomas and Leonara live up to her classic style. Long time fans will find all the signs of a Krentz novel in this one and will not be disappointed. There are also a couple of charming secondary romances that add depth to the mix. **** REVIEWER: Amanda Killgore.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this was a great mystery book so thats why i rate it 5 stars but it wasnt so much a romance book though so if u r looking for a good whodunnit book with a little romance then this book is for you
Anonymous 5 months ago
I loved the book because it kept you in suspense until the very end
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As always Jayne Ann Krentz has again written a spell-binding love story. I have read almost all of her books and don't know how I missed this one. I truly and highly reccommend this won- derful story.
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Laniem2m More than 1 year ago
Really good book. An earlier novel of the author. Her alter books are better
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Guest More than 1 year ago
My fave author! Great book. Had everything from romance to mystery. A great summer read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Thrilling,I couldnt put the book down! The best page turner I have read. Mystery, Romance.. everything you could ask for in a book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is so good. I thought the suspence was wonderful and you will never know who the killer is until the end. This book is a great suspence and love story in one and I highly recommend it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was my first Jayne Ann Krentz book, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! The suspense was great.
Guest More than 1 year ago
THIS IS ONE OF HER BETTER WORKS, AND I REALLY ENJOYED THE MIX OF WHO DONE IT AND ROMANCE.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Multi-talented author Jane Ann Krentz¿s latest is a novel of mystery and murder set in an eerie old home replete with antique mirrors.

As librarian Leonora Hutton learns of the car crash that killed her half-sister Meredith, she begins to clean out Meredith¿s apartment. There she encounters Thomas Walker, a former ¿friend¿ of Meredith¿s who is convinced that she embezzled from his sister-in-law¿s memorial fund at Eubanks College in Wing Cove, Washington. And the only link between his sister-in-law, Bethany, and Meredith, is that they both worked at Mirror House, the college alumni association building.

When Leonora receives information concerning her sister¿s offshore bank account, she agrees to share that with Thomas in exchange for his getting her a job at Mirror House. Upon learning of Thomas¿s brother Deke¿s suggestion that Meredith and Bethany may have been murdered, Leonora wants to investigate. What she soon discovers is a house full of sinister-looking mirrors, a snake-oil therapist, and an attraction she never expected. While the romance heats up between Leonora and Thomas, they find themselves in danger as their investigation brings them closer to the truth. The carefully orchestrated love scenes are a wonderful addition to this read thereby making up for the minimal description of Thomas and Leonora.

Though the reader may feel cheated with the shallow characterization of the main characters, the mystery will carry this novel through to the finish. With the page turning suspense, be prepared for the final clincher- it¿s a winner.