Speaking in Tongues

( 17 )


In this bestselling “shocker” (Los Angeles Times), Jeffery Deaver delivers a tale of “chilling retribution” (Ottawa Citizen) sure to keep you up at night!

Aaron Matthews is a man with a gift: he can talk anyone into doing almost anything. As a psychologist he used that talent to help people. Now he’s using it against one man for revenge. Targeting former trial lawyer Tate Collier, the brilliant, ruthless Matthews knows the easiest way to destroy his adversary is to strike at the...

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In this bestselling “shocker” (Los Angeles Times), Jeffery Deaver delivers a tale of “chilling retribution” (Ottawa Citizen) sure to keep you up at night!

Aaron Matthews is a man with a gift: he can talk anyone into doing almost anything. As a psychologist he used that talent to help people. Now he’s using it against one man for revenge. Targeting former trial lawyer Tate Collier, the brilliant, ruthless Matthews knows the easiest way to destroy his adversary is to strike at the point of least resistance: Collier’s teenage daughter.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Our Review
Speak of the Devil
These days, Jeffery Deaver is best known for the popular series of suspense novels (The Bone Collector, The Coffin Dancer, The Empty Chair) featuring quadriplegic forensic genius Lincoln Rhyme. But Deaver has also written a number of excellent stand-alone novels during the course of his career, including Praying for Sleep and -- my own personal favorite -- A Maiden's Grave. His latest, Speaking in Tongues, is another effective independent novel that offers an unpredictable, furiously paced story of murder, madness, and the limitless power of language.

Two figures, each blessed with uncommon powers of persuasion, dominate the narrative. The first is Tate Collier, a lawyer and gentleman farmer whose oratorical abilities once made him the most successful prosecuting attorney in Fairfax County, Virginia. The second is Aaron Matthews, a powerfully seductive former therapist whose tragic past -- and long-standing history of mental instability -- lead him to devise a complex scenario whose ultimate goal is the destruction of Tate Collier.

By the time the novel opens, Tate's once charmed life has drifted sharply off center. He is divorced, no longer practices criminal law, and has grown increasingly estranged from his troubled teenage daughter, Megan McCall, who has developed more than her share of emotional and psychological problems. The story begins when Aaron, posing as a "substitute" therapist, kidnaps Megan and hides her away in the crumbling, gothic ruins of a deserted mental institution in the Blue Ridge mountains. In the aftermath of that kidnapping, Tate, together with his former wife, embarks on a desperate quest to locate his daughter and to understand the origins of an apparently pointless crime.

Speaking in Tongues contains an oddly engaging combination of elements. On the surface, it is an unabashed thriller filled with unexpected plot reversals and narrative sleight-of-hand. Beneath that surface, it is an extended meditation on the art of manipulation and on language as the most potent -- and versatile -- of weapons.

In essence, Speaking in Tongues recounts a series of elaborate seductions, beginning with Megan's kidnapping and ending with a fatal confrontation between two master manipulators with radically different agendas. It isn't, by any means, a perfect novel -- the prose occasionally seems hasty, and a number of incidents stretch credibility past the breaking point -- but it's original, provocative, and a great deal of fun. At the very least, it should keep Deaver's many readers happy until the next Lincoln Rhyme adventure comes along.

--Bill Sheehan

Bill Sheehan reviews horror, suspense, and science fiction for Cemetery Dance, The New York Review of Science Fiction, and other publications. His book-length critical study of the fiction of Peter Straub, At the Foot of the Story Tree, has been published by Subterranean Press (www.subterraneanpress.com).

From The Critics
"Aren't words the most astonishing thing?" asks Dr. Aaron Matthews as he stands over a shallow grave and prepares to kill a man. Words are the weapons of choice in this gripping battle between Matthews, a homicidal psychiatrist bent on revenge, and Tate Collier, the prosecutor whose gift of oration has propelled him to the top of his profession. Throughout his latest thriller, Deaver keeps the action fast and the violence brutal. As revenge against Collier, his long-time adversary, Matthews arranges the kidnapping of Collier's teen-age daughter. And so the chase is on: Collier teams with his ex-wife to search for their daughter; Matthews stays one step ahead by manipulating key witnesses and using their weaknesses against them. As Matthews pushes words to their limit, Collier learns an important lesson: When words and logic fail us, we are left with an even more powerful motivator, emotion. Throughout, Matthews' cruelty is convincing, yet his skills at manipulation stretch credulity—as does Collier's uncanny knack for intuiting his rival's intentions. Deaver's latest requires a substantial suspension of disbelief, but nevertheless provides a suspenseful good time.
—Jennifer Braunschweiger

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Before he launched his praised and popular series about quadriplegic criminologist Lincoln Rhyme (The Empty Chair, etc.), Deaver made his reputation with tricky, stylish thrillers such as Praying for Sleep and Manhattan Is My Beat. This slick novel is a throwback to those books and Deaver's first wholly outside the Rhyme universe since A Maiden's Grave. The basic plot is simple. An insane but intensely charismatic psychiatrist, Aaron Matthews, for reasons revealed only near book's end, kidnaps his patient, alienated Megan McCall, the young adult daughter of former Virginia prosecutor Tate Collier, and imprisons her in an abandoned mental institution. Tate and his estranged wife go looking for Megan and enlist the cops in their search. Much violence ensues. Deaver's characters are workable but not deep, though there's some psychological probing along the fault lines dividing Tate, his wife and their daughter. The novel's primary appeal arises from its thrills, which are plentiful. Like James Patterson, Deaver writes dialogue-driven prose, in short, strong sentences and paragraphs that demand little from the reader while seizing attention to the max. Tate and his wife are forgettable heroes, but Deaver tells some of the story from feisty Megan's gripping POV, as she fights back against her captor--one dandy villain who delights in conning others through disguise and misdirection, allowing for plenty of plot curves. This isn't Deaver's most accomplished novel but it's high-energy entertainment. (Dec. 11) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Deaver's fast-paced suspense novel provides a thrill-a-minute audio experience. The action begins as semiretired attorney and gentleman farmer Tate Collier is wrenched from his orderly existence when his teenage daughter, Megan, disappears. Although both Tate and his ex-wife Bett find handwritten notes from Megan that imply she has run away, the two soon sense that something far more sinister is afoot. They begin to search in earnest for their daughter and eventually deduce that she is in the hands of Aaron Matthews, a brilliant but twisted Harvard-educated psychologist who has manufactured this elaborate kidnapping scheme as a means to gain revenge against Tate. Dennis Boutsikaris's deliberate, well-paced performance gives credibility to the often larger-than-life events and characters in this thriller. Deaver's many fans will not be disappointed; enthusiastically recommended for all popular fiction collections. Beth Farrell, Portage Cty. Dist. Lib., OH Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Deaver takes a break from his Lincoln Rhyme blockbusters (The Empty Chair, p. 254) for a kidnapping story that packs just as much suspense but a lot fewer moving parts. For a young woman of 17, Megan McCall's had a surprisingly troubled life: her parents' divorce when she was two, her father's remoteness, her mother's string of lovers, her own sexual acting-out, and now a dangerous stunt that's won her a round of court-ordered therapy. But all these traumas are chump change compared to the trouble she falls headlong into when"Dr. Bill Peters," the handsome, empathetic charmer substituting for her usual therapist, turns out to be Dr. Aaron Matthews, a sociopathic psychiatrist who tricks Megan into writing defiant notes to her estranged parents, drugs her, dumps her into the trunk of her car, and drives off on the first leg of an elaborate abduction plan. As usual in Deaver's thrillers, the good guys have plenty of resources—the bulldog tenacity of Megan's forbidden boyfriend Joshua LeFevre, the immediate suspicion of her hotshot lawyer father Tate Collier that something's not quite right about her running away, Tate's friendship with a hardworking Fairfax County detective, the witnesses who know Matthews was stalking Megan—but Matthews has a fiendish bag of tricks to neutralize them all. Keeping two steps ahead of his pursuers, he locks Megan in a cell in an abandoned mental hospital, where she tries to elude her abductor's retarded son Peter as she's wondering why somebody would have done this to her. Meantime, back in the real world, Peter's father toys with his pitifully overmatched adversaries on his trail, leaving themnotonly routed but ruined or dead, till thefinal showdown reveals the inevitable one secret too many. Scorchingly one-dimensional: a ruthlessly efficient formula thriller with nary an ounce of thought on its bones.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451675726
  • Publisher: Pocket Books
  • Publication date: 8/28/2012
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 965,141
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeffery  Deaver

Jeffery Deaver is the author of two collections of short stories and twenty-eight previous suspense novels. His most recent #1 international bestseller is Carte Blanche, the newest James Bond novel that brought Ian Fleming’s Agent 007 firmly into the modern age. Deaver is best known for his Kathryn Dance and Lincoln Rhyme thrillers, most notably The Bone Collector, which was made into a feature starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. Deaver has been nominated for seven Edgar Awards by the Mystery Writers of America, an Anthony Award, and a Gumshoe Award. He was recently short-listed for the ITV3 Crime Thriller Award for Best International Author. His books are sold in 150 countries and translated into twenty-five languages. He lives in North Carolina.

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    1. Also Known As:
      William Jefferies, Jeffery Wilds Deaver
    2. Hometown:
      Washington, D.C.
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 6, 1950
    2. Place of Birth:
      Chicago, Illinois
    1. Education:
      B.A., University of Missouri; Juris Doctor, cum laude, Fordham University School of Law
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Crazy Megan parks the car.

Doesn't want to do this. No way.

Doesn't get out, listens to the rain...

The engine ticked to silence as she looked down at her clothes. It was her usual outfit: JNCO jeans. A sleeveless white tee under a dark denim work shirt. Combat boots. Wore this all the time. But she felt uneasy today. Embarrassed. Wished she'd worn a skirt at least. The pants were too baggy. The sleeves dangled to the tips of her black-polished fingernails and her socks were orange as tomato soup. Well, what did it matter? The hour'd be over soon.

Maybe the man would concentrate on her good qualities — her wailing blue eyes and blond hair. Oh, and her body too. He was a man.

Anyway, the clothes covered up the extra seven...well, all right, ten pounds that she carried on her tall frame.

Stalling. Crazy Megan doesn't want to be here one bit.

Rubbing her hand over her upper lip, she looked out the rain-spattered window at the lush trees and bushes of suburbia. This April in northern Virginia had been hot as July and ghosts of mist rose from the asphalt. Nobody on the sidewalks — it was deserted here. She'd never noticed how empty this neighborhood was.

Crazy Megan whispers, Just. Say. No. And leave.

But she couldn't do that. Mega-hassle.

She took off the wooden peace symbol dangling from her neck and flung it into the backseat. Megan brushed her blond hair with her fingers, pulled it away from her face. Her ruddy knuckles seemed big as golf balls. A glance at her face in the rearview mirror. She wiped off the black lipstick, pulled the blond strands into a ponytail, secured the hair with a green rubber band.

Okay, let's do it. Get it over with.

A jog through the rain. She hit the intercom and a moment later the door latch buzzed.

Megan McCall walked into the waiting room where she'd spent every Saturday morning for the past seven weeks. Ever since the Incident. She kept waiting for the place to become familiar. It never did.

She hated this. The sessions were bad enough but the waiting really killed her. Dr. Hanson always kept her waiting. Even if she was on time, even if there were no other patients ahead of her, he always started the session five minutes or so late. It pissed her off but she never said anything about it.

Today, though, she found the new doctor standing in the doorway, smiling at her, lifting an eyebrow in greeting. Right on time.

"You're Megan?" the man said, offering an easy smile. "I'm Bill Peters." He was about her father's age, handsome. Full head of hair. Hanson was bald and looked like a shrink. This guy...Maybe a little George Clooney, Crazy Megan decides. Her wariness fades slightly.

And he doesn't call himself "Doctor." Interesting.


"Come on in." He gestured. She stepped into the office.

"How's Dr. Hanson?" she asked, sitting in the chair across from his desk. "Somebody in his family's sick?"

"His mother. An accident. I hear she'll be all right. But he had to go to Leesburg for the week."

"So you're like a substitute teacher?"

arHe laughed. "Something like that."

"I didn't know shr — therapists took over other patients."

"Some don't."

Dr. Peters — Bill Peters — had called yesterday after school to tell her that Hanson had arranged for him to take over his appointments and, if she wanted, she could make her regular session after all. No way, Crazy Megan had whispered at first. But after Megan had talked with Peters for a while she decided she'd give it a try. There was something comforting about his voice. Besides, baldy Hanson wasn't doing diddly for her. The sessions amounted to her lame bitching about school and about being lonely and about Amy and Josh and Brittany, and Hanson nodding and saying she had to be friends with herself. Whatever the hell that meant.

"This'll be repeating some things," Peters now said, "but if you don't mind, could we go over some of the basics?"

"I guess."

He asked, "It's Megan Collier?"

"No, Collier's my father's name. I use my mother's. McCall." She rocked in the stiff-backed chair, crossing her legs. Her tomato socks showed. She uncrossed her legs and planted her feet squarely on the floor.

"You don't like therapy, do you?" he asked suddenly.

This was interesting too. Hanson had never asked that. Wouldn't ask anything so blunt. And unlike this guy, Hanson didn't look into her eyes when he spoke. Staring right back, she said, "No, I don't."

He seemed amused. "You know why you're here?"

Silent as always, Crazy Megan answers first. Because I'm fucked up, I'm dysfunctional. I'm a nutcase. I'm psycho. I'm loony. And half the school knows and do you have a fucking clue how hard it is to walk through those halls with everybody looking at you and thinking, Shrink bait, shrink bait? Crazy Megan also mentions what just plain Megan would never in a million years tell him — about the fake computerized picture of Megan in a straitjacket that made the rounds of Jefferson High two weeks ago.

But now Megan merely recited, "'Cause if I didn't come to see a therapist they'd send me to Juvenile Detention."

When she'd been found, drunk, strolling along the catwalk of the municipal water tower two months ago she'd been committing a crime. The county police got involved and she maybe pushed, maybe slugged a cop. But finally everybody agreed that if she saw a counselor the commonwealth's attorney wouldn't press charges.

"That's true. But it's not the answer."

She lifted an eyebrow.

"The answer is that you're here so that you can feel better."

Oh, please, Crazy Megan begins, rolling her crazy eyes.

And, okay, it was totally stupid, his words themselves. But...but...there was something about the way Dr. Peters said them that, just for a second, less than a second, Megan believed that he really meant them. This guy's in a different universe from Dr. Loser Elbow Patch Hanson.

He opened his briefcase and took out a yellow pad. A brochure fell out onto the desk. She glanced at it. A picture of San Francisco was on the cover.

"Oh, you're going there?" she asked.

"A conference," he said, flipping through the brochure. He handed it to her.


"I love the city," he continued. "I'm a former hippie. Tie-dyed-in-the-wool Deadhead and Jefferson Airplane fan...Whole nine yards. Course, that was before your time."

"No way. I'm totally into Janis Joplin and Hendrix."

"Yeah? You ever been to the Bay Area?"

"Not yet. But I'm going someday. My mother doesn't know it. But I am."

He squinted. "Hey, you know, there is a resemblance — you and Joplin. If you didn't have your hair up it'd be the same as hers."

Megan now wished she hadn't done the pert 'n' perky ponytail.

The doctor added, "You're prettier, of course. And thinner. Can you belt out the blues?"

"Like, I wish..."

"But you don't remember hippies." He chuckled.

"Time out!" she said enthusiastically. "I've seen Woodstock, like, eight times."

She also wished she'd kept the peace symbol.

"So tell me, did you really try to kill yourself? Cross your heart."

"And hope to die?" she joked.

He smiled.

She said, "No."

"What happened?"

"Oh, I was just drinking a little Southern Comfort. All right, maybe more than a little."

"Joplin's drink," he said. "Too fucking sweet for me."

Whoa, the F-word. Cool. She was almost — almost — beginning to like him.

He glanced again at her hair — the fringes on her face. Then back to her eyes. It was like one of Josh's caresses. Somewhere within her she felt a tiny ping — of reassurance and pleasure.

Megan continued her story. "And somebody I was with said no way they'd climb up to the top and I said I would and I did. That's it. Like a dare is all."

"All right, so you got nabbed by the cops on some bullshit charge."

"That's about it."

"Not exactly the crime of the century."

"I didn't think so either. But they were so...you know."

"I know," he said. "Now tell me about yourself. Your secret history."

"Well, my parents are divorced. I live with Bett. She has this business? It's really a decorating business but she says she's an interior designer 'cause it sounds better. Tate's got this farm in Prince William. He used to be this famous lawyer but now he just does people's wills and sells houses and stuff. He hires people to run the farm for him. Sharecroppers. Sound like slaves, or whatever, but they're just people he hires."

"And your relationship with the folks? Is the porridge too hot, too cold or just right?"

"Just right."

He nodded, made a small notation on his pad though he might've been just doodling. Maybe she bored him. Maybe he was writing a grocery list.

Things to buy after my appointment with Crazy Megan.

She told him about growing up, about the deaths of her mother's parents and her father's dad. The only other relative she'd been close to was her aunt Susan — her mother's twin sister. "She's a nice lady but she's had a rough time. She's been sick all her life. And she really, really wanted kids but couldn't have them."

"Ah," he said.

None of it felt important to her and she guessed it was even less important to him.

"What about friends?"

Count 'em on one hand, Crazy Megan says.


"I hang with the goth crowd mostly," she told the doctor.

"As in 'gothic'?"

"Yeah. Only..." She decided she could tell him the truth. "What it is is I kinda stay by myself a lot. I meet people but I end up figuring, why bother? There're a lot of losers out there."

"Oh, yeah." He laughed. "That's why my business is so good."

She blinked in surprise. Then smiled too.

"What's the boyfriend situation?"

"This won't take much time," she said, laughing ruefully. "I was going with this guy? Joshua? And he was, like, all right. Only he was older. And he was black. I mean, he wasn't a gangsta or anything. His father's a soldier, like an officer in the Pentagon, and his mother's some big executive. I didn't have a problem with the race thing. But Dr. Hanson said I was probably involved with him just to make my parents nuts."

"Were you?"

"I don't know. I kinda liked him. No, I did like him."

"But you broke up?"

"Sure. Dr. Hanson said I ought to dump him."

"He said that?"

"Well, not exactly. But I got that impression."

Crazy Megan thinks that Mr. Handsome Shrink, Mr. George Clooney stud, ought to've figured it out: How can a psycho nutcase like me go out with anybody? If I hadn't dumped Josh — which I cried about for two weeks — if I hadn't left, then everybody at his school would be on his case. "He's the one with the loony girl." And then his folks would find out — they're the nicest people in the universe and totally in love — and they'd be crushed...Well, of course I had to leave...

"Nobody else on the horizon?" he asked.

"Nope." She shook her head.

"Okay, let's talk about the family some more. Your mother."

"Bett and I get along great." She hesitated. "Only it's funny about her — she's into her business but she also believes in all this New Age stuff crap. I'm, like, just chill, okay? That stuff is so bogus. But she doesn't hassle me about it. Doesn't hassle me about anything really. It's great between us. Really great. The only problem is she's engaged to a geek."

"Do you two talk, your mom and you? Chew the fat, as my grandmother used to say?"

"Sure...I mean, she's busy a lot. But who isn't, right? Yeah, we talk." She hoped he didn't ask her about what. She'd have to make up something.

"And how 'bout Dad?"

She shrugged. "He's nice. He takes me to concerts, shopping. We get along great."


C.M. — Crazy Megan — chides, Is that the only word you know, bitch? Great, great, great...You sound like a parrot.

"Yeah," Megan said. "Only..."

"Only what?"

"Well, it's like we don't have a lot to talk about. He wants me to go windsurfing with him but I went once and it's a totally superficial way to spend your time. I'd rather read a book or something."

"You like to read?"

"Yeah, I read a lot."

"Who're some of your favorite authors?"

"Oh, I don't know." Her mind went blank.

Crazy Megan isn't much help. Yep, he's gonna think you're damaged.

Quiet! Megan ordered her alter ego. She remembered the last book she'd read. "You know Márquez? I'm reading Autumn of the Patriarch."

His eyebrow lifted. "Oh, I loved it."

"No kidding. I — "

Dr. Peters added, "Love in the Time of Cholera. Best love story ever written. I've read it three times."

Another ecstatic ping. The book was actually sitting on her bedside table. "Me too. Well, I only read it once."

"Tell me more," he continued, "about your father."

"Um, he's pretty handsome still — I mean for a guy in his forties. And he's in pretty good shape. He dates a lot but he can't seem to settle down with anybody. He says he wants a family."

"Does he?"

"Yeah. But if he does then why does he date girls named Bambi?...Just kidding. But they look like they're Bambis." They both laughed.

"Tell me about the divorce."

"I don't really remember them together. They split up when I was three."


"They got married too young. That's what Bett says. They kind of went different ways. Mom was, like, real flighty and into that New Age stuff I was telling you about. And Dad was just the opposite."

"Whose idea was the divorce?"

"I think my dad's."

He jotted another note then looked up. "So how mad are you at your parents?"

"I'm not."

"Really?" he asked, as if he were completely surprised. "You're sure the porridge isn't too hot?"

"I love 'em. They love me. We get along gre — fine. The porridge is just right. What the fuck is porridge anyway?"

"Don't have a clue," Peters said quickly. "Give me an early memory about your mother."


"Quick! Now! Do it!" His eyes flashed.

Megan felt a wave of heat crinkle through her face. "I — "

"Don't hesitate," he whispered. "Say what's on your mind!"

She blurted, "Bett's getting ready for a date, putting on makeup, staring in a mirror and poking at a wrinkle, like she's hoping it'll go away. She always does that. Like her face is the most important thing in the world to her. Her looks, you know."

"And what do you think as you watch her?" His dark eyes were fervent. Her mind froze again. "No, you're hesitating. Tell me!"


He nodded. "Now that's wonderful, Megan."

She felt swollen with pride. Didn't know why. But she did.

"Brilliant. Now give me a memory about your father. Fast!"

"Bears." She gasped and lifted a hand to her mouth. "No...Wait. Let me think."

But the doctor pounced. "Bears? At the zoo?"

"No, never mind."

"Tell me."

She was shaking her head, no.

"Tell me, Megan," he insisted. "Tell me about the bears."

"It's not important."

"Oh, it is important," he said, leaning forward. "Listen. You're with me now, Megan. Forget whatever Hanson's done. I don't operate his way, groping around in the dark. I go deep."

She looked into his eyes and froze — like a deer in headlights.

"Don't worry," he said softly. "Trust me. I'm going to change your life forever."

Copyright © 2000 by Jeffery Deaver

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First Chapter

Chapter 2

"They weren't real bears."


"Bears in a story."

"What's so hard about this?" Dr. Peters asked.

"I don't know."

Crazy Megan gives her a good burst of sarcasm. Oh, good job, loser. You've blown it now. You had to tell him about the book.

But the other side of her was thinking: Seven weeks of bullshit with Dr. Shiny Head Hanson and she hadn't felt a thing but bored. Ten minutes with Dr. Peters and she was hooked up to an electric current.

Crazy Megan says, It's too hard. It hurts too much.

But Bill couldn't hear C.M., of course.

"Go on," he encouraged.

And she went on.

"I was about six, okay? I was spending the weekend with Tate. He lives in this big house and nobody's around for miles. It's in the middle of his cornfields and it's all quiet and really, really spooky. I was feeling weird, all scared. I asked him to read me a story but he said he didn't have any children's books. I was really hurt. I started to cry and asked why didn't he have any. He got all freaked and went out to the old barn — where he told me I wasn't ever supposed to go — and he came back with this book. It was called The Whispering Bears. Only it turned out it wasn't really a kid's story at all. I found out later it was a book of folk stories from Europe."

"Do you remember it?"


"Tell me."

"It's stupid."

"No," Peters said, leaning forward again. "I'll bet it's anything but stupid. Tell me."

"There was a town by the edge of the woods. And everybody who lived there was happy, you know, like in all fairy stories before the bad shit happens. People walking down the street, singing, going to market, having dinner with their families. Then one day these two big bears walked out of the woods and stood at the edge of town with their heads down and it sounded like they were whispering to each other.

"At first nobody paid any attention then little by little the people stopped what they were doing and tried to hear what the bears were saying. But nobody could. That night the bears went back into the forest. And the townspeople stood around and one woman said she knew what they were whispering about — they were making fun of the people in the village. And then everybody started noticing how everybody else walked funny or talked funny or looked stupid and they all ended up laughing at each other, and everybody got mad and there were all kinds of fights in town.

"Okay, then the next day the bears came out of the forest again and started whispering, blah, blah, blah, you get the picture. Then that night they went back into the woods. And this time some old man said he knew what they were talking about. They were gossiping about the people in town. And so everybody figured that everybody else knew all their secrets and so they went home and closed all their windows and doors and they were afraid to go out in public.

"Then — the third day — the bears came out again. And it was the same thing, only this time the duke or mayor or somebody said, 'I know what they're saying! They're making plans to attack the village.' And they went to get torches to scare away the bears but they accidentally set a house on fire and the fire spread and the whole town burned down."

Megan felt a shiver. Her eyes slipped to the top of the desk and she couldn't look up at Dr. Peters. She continued, "Tate only read it to me once but I still remember the last line. It was, 'And do you know what the bears were really whispering about? Why, nothing at all. Don't you know? Bears can't talk.'"

This is so bogus, Crazy Megan scoffs. What's he going to think about you now?

But the doctor calmly asked, "And the story was upsetting?"



"I don't know. Maybe 'cause everybody's lives got ruined for no


"But there was a reason for it."

Megan shrugged.

He continued, "The town was destroyed because people projected their own pettiness and jealousy and aggression on some innocent creatures. That's the moral of the story. How people destroy themselves."

"I guess. But I was just thinking it wasn't much of a kid's story. I guess I wanted The Lion King or 101 Dalmatians." She smiled. But Peters didn't. He looked at her closely.

"What happened after your father finished it?"

Why did he ask that? she wondered, her palms sweating. Why?

Megan looked away and shrugged again. "That's all. Bett came and picked me up and I went home."

"This is hard, isn't it, Megan?"

Get a clue.

Quiet! Megan snapped to C.M.

She looked at Dr. Peters. "Yeah, I guess."

"Would it be easier to write down your feelings? A lot of my patients do that. There's some paper."

She took the sheets that he nodded toward and rested them on a booklet he pushed forward for her to write on. Reluctantly Megan picked up a pen.

She stared at the paper. "I don't know what to say."

"Say what you feel."

"I don't know how I feel."

"Yes, you do." He leaned close. "I think you're just afraid to admit it."

"Well — "

"Say whatever comes into your mind. Anything. Say something to your mother first. Write a letter to her. Go!"

Another wave of that scalding heat.

Spotlight on Crazy Megan...

He whispered, "Go deep."

"I can't think!"

"Pick one thing. Why are you so angry with her?"

"I'm not!"

"Yes, you are!"

She clenched her fist. "Because..."


"I don't know. Because she's...She goes out with these young men. It's like she thinks she can cast spells on them."

"So what?" he challenged her. "She can date who she wants. She's single. What's really pissing you off?"

"I don't know!"

"Yes, you do!" he shot back.

"Well, she's just a businesswoman and she's engaged to this dweeb. She's not a fairy princess at all like she'd like to be. She's not a cover girl."

"But she wears an exotic image? Why does she do that?"

"I guess to make herself happy. She wants to be pretty and young forever. She thinks this asshole Brad's going to make her happy. But he isn't."

"She's greedy? Is that what you're saying?"

"Yes!" Megan cried. "That's it! She doesn't care about me. The night on the water tower? She was at Brad's and she was supposed to call me. But she didn't."

"Who? Her fiancé's?"

"Yeah. She went up there, to Baltimore, and she never called. They were fucking, I'll bet, and she forgot about me. It was just like when I was little. She'd leave me alone all the time."

"By yourself?"

"No, with sitters. My uncle mostly."

"Which uncle?"

"My aunt Susan's husband. My mom's twin sister. She's been real sick most of her life, I told you. Heart problems. And Bett spent all this time with her in the hospital when I was young. Uncle Harris'd baby-sit me. He was real nice, but — "

"But you missed your mother?"

"I wanted her to be with me. She said it was only for a little while because Aunt Susan was real sick. She said she and Susan were totally close. Nobody was closer to her than her sister."

He shook his head, seemed horrified. "She said that to you? Her own daughter?"

Megan nodded.

"You should have been the person closest to her in the world."

These words gripped her by the throat. She wiped more tears and struggled for breath. Finally she continued, "Aunt Susan'd do anything to have kids but she couldn't. Because of her heart. And here Mom got pregnant with me and Susan felt real bad about that. So Mom spent a lot of time with her."

"There's no excuse for neglecting children. None. Absolutely none."

Megan snagged a Kleenex and wiped her face.

"And you didn't let yourself be angry? Why not?"

"Because my mother was doing something good. My aunt's a nice lady. She always calls and asks about me and wants me to come visit her. Only I don't 'cause..."

"Because you're angry with her. She took your mother away from you."

A chill. "Yeah, I guess she did."

"Come on, Megan. What else? Why the guilt?"

"Because my aunt needed my mom more back then. When I was little. See — "

Crazy Megan interrupts. Oh, you can't tell him that!

Yes, I can. I can tell him anything.

"See, Uncle Harris killed himself."

"He did?"

"I felt so bad for my aunt."

"Forget it!" he snapped.

Megan blinked.

"You're Bett's daughter. You should have been the center of her universe. What she did was inexcusable. Say it. Say it!"


"Say it!"

"It was inexcusable!"

"Good. Now write it to her. Every bit of the anger you feel. Get it out."

The pen rolled from Megan's lap onto the floor. She bent down and picked it up. It weighed a hundred pounds. The tears ran from her nose and eyes and dripped on the paper.

"Tell her," the doctor said. "Tell her that she's greedy. That she turned her back on her daughter and took care of her sister instead."

"But," Megan managed to say, "that's greedy of me."

"Of course it's greedy. You were a child, you're supposed to be greedy. Parents are there to fill your needs. That's the whole point of parents. Tell her what you feel."

Her head swam — from the electricity in the black eyes boring into hers, from her desire, her fear.

From her anger...

In ten seconds, it seemed, she'd filled the entire sheet. She dropped the paper on the floor. It floated like a pale leaf. The doctor ignored it.

"Now. Your father."

Megan froze, shaking her head. She looked desperately at the wall clock. "Next time. Please."

"No. Now. What are you mad about?"

Her stomach muscles were hard as a board. "Well, I'm mad 'cause why doesn't he want to see me? He didn't even fight the custody agreement. I see him every two or three months."

"Tell him."

"I — "

"Tell him!"

She wrote. She poured her fury on to the page. When the sheet was half full her pen braked to a halt.

"What else is it, Megan? What aren't you telling me?"


"Oh, what do I hear?" he said. "The passion's slipping. Something's wrong. You're holding back." Dr. Peters frowned. "Whispering bears. Something about that story's important. What?"

"I don't know."

"Go into the place where it hurts the most. We go deep, remember. That's how I operate. I'm Super Shrink."

Crazy Megan can't take it anymore. She just wants to curl up into a little crazy ball and disappear.

The doctor moved closer, pulling his chair beside her. Their knees touched. "Come on. What is it?"

"No. I don't know what it is..."

"You want to tell me. You need to tell me." He dropped to his knees, gripped her by the shoulders. "Touch the most painful part. Touch it! Your father's read you the story. He comes to the last line. 'Bears can't talk.' He puts the book away. Then what happens?"

She sat forward, shivering, and stared at the floor. "I go upstairs to pack."

"Your mother's coming to pick you up?"

Eyes squinting closed painfully. "She's here. I hear the car in the driveway."

"Okay. Bett walks inside. You're upstairs and your parents are downstairs. They're talking?"

"Yeah. They're saying things I can't hear at first then I get closer. I sneak down to the landing."

"You can hear them?"


"What do they say?"

"I don't know. Stuff."

"What do they say?" The doctor's voice filled the room. "Tell me!"

"They were talking about a funeral."

"Funeral? Whose?"

"I don't know. But there was something bad about it. Something really bad."

"There's something else, isn't there, Megan? They say something else."

"No!" she said desperately. "Just the funeral."

"Megan, tell me."


"Go on. Touch the place it hurts."

"Tate said..." Megan felt faint. She struggled to control the tears. "He called me...They were talking about me. And my daddy said..." She took deep gulps of air, which turned to fire in her lungs and throat. The doctor blinked in surprise as she screamed, "My daddy shouted, 'It would all've been different without her, without that damn inconve-

nient child up there. She ruined everything!'"

Megan lowered her head to her knees and wept. The doctor put his arm around her shoulders. She felt his hand stroke her head.

"And how did you feel when you heard him say that?" He brushed away the stream of her tears.

"I don't know...I cried."

"Did you want to run away?"

"I guess I did."

"You wanted to show him, didn't you? If that's what he thinks of me I'll pay him back. I'll leave. That's what you thought, isn't it?"

Another nod.

"You wanted to go someplace where people weren't greedy, where people loved you, where people had children's books for you, where they read and talked to you."

She sobbed into a wad of Kleenex.

"Tell him, Megan. Write it down. Get it out so you can look at it."

She wrote until the tears grew so bad she couldn't see the page. Then she collapsed against the doctor's chest, sobbing.

"Good, Megan," he announced. "Very good."

She gripped him tighter than she'd ever gripped a lover, pressing her head against his neck. For a moment neither of them moved. She was frozen here, embracing him fiercely, desperately. He stiffened and for a moment she believed that he was feeling the same sorrow she was. Megan started to back away so that she could see his kind face and his black eyes but he continued to hold her tightly, so hard that a sudden pain swept through her arm.

A surge of alarming warmth spread through her body. It was almost arousing.

Then they separated. Her smile faded as she saw in his face an odd look.

Jesus, what's going on?

His eyes were cold, his smile was cruel. He was suddenly a different person.

"What?" she asked. "What's wrong?"

He said nothing.

She started to repeat herself but the words wouldn't come. Her tongue had grown heavy in her swollen mouth. It fell against her dry teeth. Her vision was crinkling. She tried once again to say something but couldn't.

She watched him stand and open a canvas bag that was resting on the floor behind his desk. He put away a hypodermic syringe. He was pulling on latex gloves.

"What're you?..." she began, then noticed on her arm, where the pain radiated, a small dot of blood.

"No!" She tried to ask him what he was doing but the words vanished in comic mumbling. She tried to scream.

A whisper.

He walked to her and crouched, cradling her head, which sagged toward the couch.

Crazy Megan is beyond crazy. She loves him, she's terrified of him, she wants to kill him.

"Go to sleep," he said in a voice kinder than her father's ever sounded. "Go to sleep."

Finally, from the drug, or from the fear, the room went black and she slumped into his arms.

Copyright © 2000 by Jeffery Deaver

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2005

    great read!!

    There are exciting twists and turns and I both loved and loathed the villian. I didn't necessarily love the ending, I wish there was more but it's great none the less. I read it everytime I managed to at school and at home, I'll be looking into more of Jeffrey's books.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2008

    Hmmm what on earth?

    I am a huge fan of Deaver, I have read all his work so far and this was on of my least favorite. Its just to far fetched. I understand you need to have an open mind and just let things happen but this was all to perfect - everything fell into perfect place making for a great story but it left me thinking....... yeah right! As always the story was great, good plot and pretty twisted fella was this Matthews but seriously I was pretty bored once I was half way through it. Figured what was coming next and how he took care of the witnesses was a bit to much for me. Too cute, to easy, to boring...... I think Deaver is great, usually he makes me think about the book for a few days after I am done but this one will not be. If you can find it in a bargain bin for a couple bucks and you have nothing to do its a great time filler but other than that I say skip it. I am shocked on B&N the reviews are so good, other site I use they are far less favorable.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2007

    Gruesome & gory

    This was my first J. Deaver book and I was so looking forward to it. He'd been highly recommended by several people. Although I thought it was well written and suspenseful, I found it too gruesome. Matthews' violence was too horrific for me. I think it could give some folks nightmares. Admittedly, I did finish it because I wanted to know the ending (I thought).

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2006

    Silver Tongued Devils

    Speaking in Tongues by Jeffery Deaver is, in my opion, a fantastic book. As expected from Mr. Deaver, it has twist and turns but not so many that the reader/listner becomes confused. The story line is great, the pace is just right, and the narrator, Dennis Boutsikaris, is, as always, fantastic. This book is hightly recommended to all. Kit

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2003

    An Exciting Thrill-Ride!!

    'Speaking in Tongues' by Jeffery Deaver is a clever thrill-ride that introduces an original type of psychopath: One that understands knives and guns are not the most dangerous weapons, but words are. Aaron Matthews is by far one of the most brilliant and intriguing villains in suspense books I've read, and I have read a lot of them. Jeffery Deaver gives the reader great insight into the minds of the characters. Aaron Matthews is a psychiatrist who uses his power of persuasion to kidnapp Megan McCall, the daughter of Bett McCall and Tate Collier, and exact a powerful revenge on this already crumbling family. 'Speaking in Tounges' is like 'Cape Fear', 'Along Came a Spider', and some other thrillers, with a whole new bent to it. The thing I admire is the writing style, and the way the words persuade and seduce. The novel brings forth such emotion, suspense, truthfulness, and even in some scenes, beauty. It is a masterpiece and a work of art.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2003

    This book is awesome!

    Ok I'm a pretty big reader. I go through alot of books no problem. I couldn't put this down. I was just consumed by the book. I love the character Aaron Matthews. This book is a definite must read. Place it at the top of your list and buy a copy. You won't regret it

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2001

    Pretty Good Book

    I have read between 5 - 7 books by Jeffrey Deaver. This wasn't the best of his works, but it still is worth reading. I found the pace of the book to alternate between fast moving and somewhat slower, but I found that I had to finish the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2001

    Page Turner!!

    This was my first Deaver book and I can tell you he is near the top of my favorites now. This book was a breeze to read and I look forward to reading some of his previous work. Real Page Turner.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    exciting thriller

    Seventeen year old Megan McCall is required to see a psychologist after becoming very drunk and climbing the town¿s water tower. When she arrives at her appointment, her usual shrink is not there. Instead subbing is Dr. Bill Peters. He maneuvers Megan into writing notes to her parents that pour out how she feels about them. He next injects her with a chemical that knocks her out. Bill places the unconscious teen in the trunk of his Mercedes before driving to an abandoned insane asylum. Dr. Bill Peters is actually Dr. Aaron Matthews, a brilliant psychiatrist seeking vengeance from Megan¿s father for destroying his life. <P>Megan¿s parents, Brett and Tate, do not know their daughter well enough to realize that she is not at her father¿s home. Tate has been indifferent towards his daughter and Brett is interested in her own social life. By the time they conclude that something is wrong, they cannot persuade the police that Megan has been abducted and not a runaway. Matthews discredits anyone who intervenes otherwise. Brett and Tate turn amateur sleuths in a risky effort to rescue their daughter. <P> Although SPEAKING IN TONGUES lacks the deep intensity of some of Jeffrey Deaver¿s previous novels, the story line remains an exciting thriller. The plot emphasizes why the antagonist loathes the hero to the point that he will go to extreme lengths to see his enemy suffer. The relationship between Megan¿s parents seems unreal and staged, but Megan¿s behavior provides credibility to the cast. Though not quite a Lincoln, fans will enjoy Mr. Deaver¿s latest work. <P>Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2000

    The best

    This book is just the best.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2000

    Deaver is, quite simply, THE BEST!!!!!!!

    I don't know what else to say. I've now read almost all of his books and most of his short stories and my review headline says it all. I'm running out of adjectives to describe his books. I've used the words 'awesome', 'superb', magnificent', 'greatest' and 'terrific' to death. I promise I won't use any of those words in THIS review (even though they all could be used to describe SPEAKING IN TONGUES). If you have never read Deaver (WHERE YA BEEN?), then you need to quickly order all his books and have a Deaver-thon. You will NOT be disappointed. This is my guarantee to you (take it for what its worth). Pick ANY book by Deaver and you too will be using the words I am not going to mention in this review (see above) to describe whichever book you pick. I will close this review with two words and a ton of exclamation points for Mr. Deaver. ....WRITE FASTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    Posted July 25, 2011

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    Posted December 7, 2008

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