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Stealing Faces [NOOK Book]

Overview

From New York Times and USA Today bestseller Michael Prescott, author of FINAL SINS and COLD AROUND THE HEART, comes this exciting novel of relentless psychological suspense.

John Cray has a secret. For twelve years he has stalked and kidnapped women, setting them loose in the mountains of eastern Arizona, hunting them like animals, and taking their lives. He has left no clues. He is suspected by no one. Or so...

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Stealing Faces

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Overview

From New York Times and USA Today bestseller Michael Prescott, author of FINAL SINS and COLD AROUND THE HEART, comes this exciting novel of relentless psychological suspense.

John Cray has a secret. For twelve years he has stalked and kidnapped women, setting them loose in the mountains of eastern Arizona, hunting them like animals, and taking their lives. He has left no clues. He is suspected by no one. Or so he thinks.

But now he has a problem. Somebody -- a woman whose name he doesn't know -- is stalking him.

She follows him when he makes his nightly rounds in Tucson. She watches him on busy streetcorners and in shadowy restaurants. She seems to know his secret. But if so, why hasn't she gone to the police?

Cray plans to turn the tables on his mysterious pursuer. He will become the predator, and she -- the prey. Once she's in his power, she will tell him who she is and what she's after. And then she will die.

But even Cray isn't prepared to confront the truth when he discovers it -- or to deal with the shattering implications of a past he had thought long buried and an obsessive madness he cannot control ...

"Stealing Faces is truly thrilling as well as chilling: I could not put this book down. Reading the first few chapters of this tale is like reading the climax for most thrillers and the excitement just keeps building. Michael Prescott knows how to keep readers' eyes glued to his pages.... I was completely hooked. Actually, more than completely hooked, I thought the lightning-paced thrills were going to give me a heart attack!" - Judith Flavell, The Mystery Reader

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Editorial Reviews

Jeffery Deaver
Micheal Prescott delivers a harrowing thriller of the first order.
USA Today
The Mystery Reader - Judith Flavell
STEALING FACES is truly thrilling as well as chilling: I could not put this book down. Reading the first few chapters of this tale is like reading the climax for most thrillers and the excitement just keeps building. Michael Prescott knows how to keep readers' eyes glued to his pages.... I was completely hooked. Actually, more than completely hooked, I thought the lightning-paced thrills were going to give me a heart attack!
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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940046282641
  • Publisher: Michael Prescott
  • Publication date: 9/7/2014
  • Sold by: Draft2Digital
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 102,856
  • File size: 307 KB

Meet the Author

Michael Prescott is the New York Times bestselling author of 21 novels, including six written under the pen name Brian Harper.
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Read an Excerpt

Prologue

She had been a person once.

Hours earlier, when she started her long run through the hills under the moonless sky, she'd had a name and a job and a son to live for.

All of that was gone now, and she was only a scratched and muddy animal crawling through tall stands of reeds along a stream bank.

She was instinct and reflex. Her world was a flow of sensation-the movement of her body, the rack of pain, the press of fear.

The chase had taken her dignity and her freedom of will, and the shock of the bullet in her leg had taken her memories and hopes. Blood loss and rising panic had done the rest.

Somewhere, not inside her but out there, apart from her and distant, a presence named Sharon Andrews hovered like a ghost. Sharon Andrews, thirty-four, divorced mother raising a seven-year-old boy named Todd, working five days a week as a receptionist in the showroom of Edison Auto Mart on East Speedway Boulevard in Tucson, Arizona.

This woman, this Sharon Andrews, had read dinosaur books to her son in the evenings. She had worried about the rent on their two-bedroom apartment when the alimony check was late. She had stopped at the local video store once a week to raid the bargain bin for Disney movies on sale, used, for $9.99. When she smiled, her mouth turned downward, and when she sneezed she said, Excuse me, even if she was alone.

This woman, this Sharon Andrews, had been all quirks and opinions and worries and loves and disappointments and ideas picked up from magazines and strange, lonely moods when she wondered about the infinite.

This woman did not exist anymore, and would never exist again.

Where she had been, there was the bloodied, wounded, tattered, desperate thing now splashing into the shallow stream, drawn there by an agonizing thirst and a need to soothe the burn of the bullet hole.

The streambed was slick, and her bare feet slipped in a groove of ooze. She fell in the water, inhaling some of it, gasping and retching, then struggled on.

She had no conscious reason to continue. She did not lash herself with what-if and if-only. She was aware of no plan, no strategy for survival, and nothing but fear had impelled her down the steep hillside to the stream.

A person might have imagined that the stream would erase her trail and throw off her pursuer, but there was no person now.

Sometimes limping, sometimes crawling, she splashed through ten inches of water, traveling with the current because she was too tired to resist it, covering distance she couldn't measure, running a race with an adversary she no longer clearly remembered.

The stream curved, narrowing. Somewhere a coyote sang to the night, its cry high-pitched and sad.

She'd heard it before, when she was Sharon Andrews. Then, she had ignored it, knowing coyotes were no threat to her, but now she knew nothing but direct perception and intuitive response, and the predator's song chilled her.

She ran faster and lost her footing again, coming down hard on the soft bank, spattered with muck, and abruptly all motion fled her, and she lay utterly still.

The night was large and silent, heavy with darkness. She looked at the sky. The stars had dimmed.

She did not understand that the leakage of blood from the hole in her leg had impaired her thinking and now even her vision.

She was aware of pain and weakness, hunger, and the fast feathery beating of her frightened heart.

This was all there was for her, this and the great stillness all around, the silence that stretched and stretched as if it might last forever.

The second bullet caught her in the hip.

She jerked with the impact, her eyes watering in surprise and pain.

Her hands found the bullet hole and felt the rush of sticky warmth suffusing her skirt. Blindly she tried to plug the hole with her fingers, but the effort was hopeless and she was much too tired.

She'd never even heard the gunshot-perhaps her startled yelp had covered the noise-but she heard the coyote again, keening a ululant song.

It was not a coyote, of course. It never had been.

It was him.

Some part of her registered this fact. She looked behind her and saw him striding along the bank of the stream, the pistol in his gloved hand.

If she had been Sharon Andrews, she would have known she was finished. Somehow she knew anyway, though her body fought against the knowledge, insisting on survival.

When he reached her, she was clawing feebly at the mud, straining to rise, but she would never rise. The second shot had shattered her hip and damaged the base of her spine, leaving her legs limp and unresponsive even as her upper body thrashed and flailed.

Crouching beside her, he touched the carotid artery at the side of her neck. She moaned.

"Quiet now," he said. "Quiet."

Roughly he turned her on her back.

A light snapped on, dim and red, a low-power flashlight with a red filter.

Swimming in the red haze was the blur of his face. He leaned close, studying her, his eyes narrowed and intense.

"Now I see you," he whispered. "Now I see you as you really are. I see the essence of you."

She heard words, but they meant nothing, they were only sounds, dull sounds. She was sleepy.

Her eyes were closing when she saw the knife.

He'd slipped it from a sheath at his waist. A long knife with a double-edged blade.

A last reflex of fear stiffened her.

"There, there." He set down the flashlight. "Be calm. This won't take long."

Then he was bending nearer, one hand on her chin, the other holding the knife against the tender hollow of her jaw.

"You wear a mask," he said. "All your life you've worn it."

His tone soothed her, a steady tone that stroked her in a calm caress. "But not tonight. Tonight you've been unmasked. Tonight you're pretending no longer. Isn't it good, not to pretend? Isn't it right, to be real for once? To be only what you are?"

She didn't understand, but she knew there was only a little more to go, and she relaxed, waiting for it to be over.

"The process is almost complete. Just this last step, to make it official. The final stage of liberation from your stale disguise."

The knife point pricked her, but the pain was someone else's. Past his face, the night was growing darker.

"Are you ready? Ready to remove the mask?"

He knew there would be no answer. But she was indeed ready. He could tell.

And so was he.

The knife moved, slicing the soft flesh under her chin, and before she could resist or even scream, he took the loose skin flap in both hands and in a single practiced motion he peeled off her face.

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Interviews & Essays

On Friday, May 21st, barnesandnoble.com welcomed Michael Prescott to discuss STEALING FACES.

Moderator: Welcome to the Auditorium! We are about to begin chatting with Michael Prescott, author of STEALING FACES. How are you, Michael?

Michael Prescott: I'm doing fine, and I'm very happy to be here. Thanks for inviting me.


Pac87@aol.com from XX: Hello, Michael Prescott! Would you consider yourself to be a "horror" author? What are your thoughts on the direction the horror genre has been moving over the past five years?

Michael Prescott: Actually, STEALING FACES is more of a suspense novel or a psychological thriller. That's the genre I know best. I've read some horror authors, but I'm not an expert in the field.


Monroe from Aurora, CO: Who are some authors you like reading? Also, is there any one book you think had the most influence on your writing career?

Michael Prescott: I think Stephen King's CUJO influenced me the most, because it showed me that you could do a horror/suspense book with realistic characters in a realistic setting. I had always thought of writing thrillers, but I knew I wasn't knowledgeable enough to do a spy novel or something requiring a lot of specialized knowledge. King showed me that you can write about ordinary people and still make it thrilling. Other writers I like include Michael Connelly, Thomas Perry, Stephen Hunter, Steven Saylor, and Dean Koontz.


JWC901@aol.com from New Jersey: Do you do extensive research on your novels before beginning? I really enjoyed COMES THE DARK, and I am anxious to read the new one.... Are you like Patricia Cornwell with your preparation of your novels?

Michael Prescott: Yes, but it's mostly library or Internet research. I read quite a few books about ancient religion and mythology before (and during) the writing of COMES THE DARK. And I researched psychology, mental hospitals, issues in evolutionary psychology (which used to be called sociobiology), and other things before I wrote STEALING FACES. If I get stuck on a scene, I usually do more research -- this stimulates fresh ideas. Thanks for your kind words about COMES THE DARK, by the way.


Cassie from NYC: Is it hard to write novels that go so deep into the mind of the characters? STEALING FACES gets into the deepest thoughts and feelings of the characters.

Michael Prescott: Thank you. I think you have to find the character within yourself. If you're shy, but you're writing about an extrovert, try to remember a situation where you were very outgoing and get back to that mood and mind-set. Evil characters are handled the same way -- we all have dark thoughts and feelings now and then, so just focus on those and ask yourself what it would be like to feel that way all the time: What would it do to you...how would you relate to other people?


Janie from Virginia: I loved COMES THE DARK, and I am almost finished with STEALING FACES. I like the way you describe the killer as an animal.... Are you planning another book?

Michael Prescott: Thanks very much. Yes, I'm almost finished with my third book. It takes place in Los Angeles and involves a stalker obsessed with a celebrity. It might possibly become the basis for a short series with a continuing character, but that's not certain yet. There are pluses and minuses to a series -- on the plus side, it's easier to market the books; on the minus side, I like doing something different each time. So we'll see what happens. As for the villain in STEALING FACES, he sees other people as animals, and the irony is that this perspective makes him an animal himself.


Hannah from Los Angeles: Do you agree with the killer in your book that everybody wears a mask that covers up who they really are?

Michael Prescott: Not really. The killer's point of view is far from my own. I mean, we all masquerade to some extent, but I don't accept the killer's premise that the "essence" of who we are is our animalistic traits, and all our civilizing features are an illusion. I have read this view espoused by others, for example in THE MORAL ANIMAL by Robert Wright, but I don't share it and in fact wrote STEALING FACES in part to criticize it.


Clare from Washington, D.C.: It's so great to be chatting with you! I just bought my Rocket eBook, and I love reading your new book on it -- do you think the e-book will be a success?

Michael Prescott: Well, I think e-books will occupy a niche in the industry, like books on tape. I doubt they will replace printed books any time soon. As for being a success, the main advantage of the electronic publication is the publicity it has provided, and the opportunity for reviewers and some readers to get an early look at the book. Hopefully this will help the book, if word of mouth is favorable.


Jim from Brooklyn: Did you base the serial killer in STEALING FACES on a real-life person?

Michael Prescott: No, although there have been killers who took body parts of their victims as souvenirs. I'm not aware of any who took the faces.... My main interest in the character is his philosophy, and I did base that on some intellectuals who espouse what might be called reductionism or materialism: the idea that all the mysteries of life can be reduced to instincts and chemicals, DNA code and ingrained habits and reproductive strategies. I think this idea has some truth in it but is dangerous and demoralizing if carried too far.


Jennifer from Seattle: I think it's cool that your book is out as an electronic book. Are you planning to release your next novel in this form, too?

Michael Prescott: I've only done an electronic deal for this one book, but you never know -- others may follow. I think it's cool, too. I feel like I'm on the cutting edge ... and considering that I only got on the Internet last year, that's a pretty unusual feeling for me.


Doug from Cardiff, CA: Can you tell me more about this putting your book online before in print? Do you see this happening more and more?

Michael Prescott: STEALING FACES is the first book my publisher has ever done as an electronic debut -- in other words, the first time the book has been available electronically before the print edition comes out. (I don't know if other publishers have done this.) So it's an experiment, and we'll see how it goes. Frankly, I can't say too much about the details because all I did was sign a contract, and other people handled the rest. I think you'll see more books coming out electronically, sure -- eventually it'll be standard, just like every movie comes out on videotape now. Whether there will be a lot of electronic debut editions, I don't know.


Kathy from Rochester, NH: As a second-grade teacher, I am curious about when you first became interested in writing. Did you enjoy writing as a child? What advice would you have for young writers?

Michael Prescott: The first thing I published was the story of Tucker J. Mouse. It appeared in the school paper when I was in the third grade. My parents still think it's my best work. I always enjoyed writing, although I had an interest in filmmaking, too. If I hadn't been a writer, I might have been a special effects artist. For young writers, learn the basics of spelling, punctuation, syntax, et cetera. Read a lot. Read what you enjoy -- I was somewhat turned off by reading classics I was too young to appreciate, but I loved science fiction, and that's what kept me interested in writing as a kid.


Dawn from Hoboken: The serial killer in STEALING FACES is an author, a respected doctor...do you think that, in a way, he is wearing a mask too, just like his victims?

Michael Prescott: Absolutely. He is a wolf in sheep's clothing. (And it takes a cop named Shepherd to stop him ...) I do think people put on different personae in different situations -- we're different in a job interview than we are at a party -- but few of us mask anything like what Cray is hiding.


jlopez from New York: Do you think that violence on television and in movies, books, et cetera, results in things like the recent school shootings?

Michael Prescott: Good question. I would lay the blame mainly on the shooters. They were old enough to know what they were doing. They chose an act of evil, and they should not be glorified, glamorized, and celebrated for it. They should not be put on magazine covers. Some blame may also lie with the parents. Did they ever discipline these kids, or did they give in to their every demand? Kids need limits if they are to learn self-restraint and self-control. A kid whose every demand is granted never learns how to deal with frustration. When frustrating things happen to him, he just explodes. That said, it's likely that various other factors contribute to the problem. Guns, violent entertainment, moral relativism, even some of the ideas I deal with STEALING FACES -- ideas that rob kids of hope and optimism about the human condition.... It's a complicated issue, but the shooters themselves are the moral agents here. They made a volitional choice, and they should be held accountable.


Sarah from Michigan: I really admired the character Elizabeth -- she is so brave, and in spite of her past, she knew what needed to be done to stop the killer. Do you think that her strength came from her knowledge of how horrible the killer was or from her own inner force?

Michael Prescott: I would say her inner strength. Some people have a very low breaking point -- others are more resilient. I see her as the resilient type, down but never out.


Janice from NYC: I have just started reading your books and like them very much. Is California the setting for all of your books? Are you from L.A. or somewhere on the West Coast? Are you from a family of writers?

Michael Prescott: Well, actually the book I'm writing now is set in L.A., but STEALING FACES takes place in the desert Southwest in and around Tucson, and COMES THE DARK is set in Pennsylvania. I lived in L.A. for 12 years, until riots, quakes, crime, and general craziness drove me out. It's a beautiful city in many ways, but it extracts a high price for its beauty. As for a family of writers -- no, there's just me. And I didn't even set out to be a writer; I studied film in college and meant to take Hollywood by storm. It didn't work out that way, so I became a novelist, and I'm actually much happier with this career.


Kurt from Springfield, VA: You got any plans on reading the new Harris book, HANNIBAL?

Michael Prescott: Oh, yes. Thomas Harris is the best writer in this genre. Both RED DRAGON and THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS are masterpieces. I will definitely be reading HANNIBAL. To me, this book is a much bigger event than the new Star Wars movie!


Isabel from Arizona: Do you think the electronic book will help new writers get published?

Michael Prescott: Maybe, but there will still have to be some kind of filtering mechanism to weed out publishable material from stuff that just doesn't make the grade. I don't mean to sound elitist, but there is a lot of material out there that isn't up to professional standards -- sort of the equivalent of what gets shown on public access cable TV. But probably e-books, the Internet, et cetera, will open doors for some talented writers whose vision may be a little too offbeat for mainstream publishers.


Arthur from San Francisco: I think it's interesting that you say you were interested in film -- because I think STEALING FACES would make a great, suspenseful movie! Would you ever consider making it into a film?

Michael Prescott: Thanks for the compliment. I'd agree to a movie if they paid me for it, sure. But I'm not holding my breath. Thousands of books are published every year and hardly any make it to the screen. But if you know a producer who's interested, steer him my way!


Amanda from New Jersey: The killer in STEALING FACES is really brutal... how did you get the idea for his obsession (taking people's faces)?

Michael Prescott: Well, I'd like to make it clear for those who haven't read the book that I don't go into graphic or gory detail about this. It's really a suspense novel, not horror, and pretty tame compared with many similar books. The idea was simply a way of dramatizing the killer's obsession with unmasking his victims -- it was the only way to make the abstract idea concrete. Also, his M.O. had to be so distinctive that Elizabeth would immediately recognize it from news reports.


Kathy from New Hampshire: Do you expect to be doing any book signings in the New England area?

Michael Prescott: No, I'm not scheduled to do any signings, but thanks for asking. I think signings work well only if the author is pretty well known. Otherwise you end up sitting by yourself with a stack of books in a corner. I know one author who went on an eight-city tour and sold a total of six books! That's less than one book per city. So I'm a little wary of the idea, at least right now.


Glen from New Mexico: I think people are becoming more like machines than animals.... Do you think that as society advances people will be less animalistic?

Michael Prescott: Interesting question. Maybe there will be some evolution in the opposite direction -- a backlash against some of the excesses of the machine age. I don't mean to sound like a Luddite, an antitechnology person. I'm not. After all, I'm sitting in an air-conditioned room typing this on a computer hooked up to the Internet. But there are extremes in everything, and perhaps we need to cultivate a higher appreciation of nature, art, poetry, et cetera, to offset the values of the technological world. And this may in fact be happening. I think human consciousness has evolved quite a bit over time -- the mind-set of ancient Egyptians and Babylonians was different from ours, I imagine -- and perhaps it will continue to evolve in new and positive ways, allowing greater harmony between the two sides of the brain -- the logical left and the intuitive right. This sounds kinda New Age-y, doesn't it? Well, anyway, ask a philosophical question and that's what you get!


Moderator: Thanks for all the great questions! We have been chatting with Michael Prescott about his chilling book, STEALING FACES. Any last words for our audience, Michael?

Michael Prescott: Thanks for moderating. I enjoyed the experience -- my first online chat, ever -- and I want to thank barnesandnoble.com for inviting me. Thanks also to everyone who participated.


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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 934 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(390)

4 Star

(310)

3 Star

(129)

2 Star

(56)

1 Star

(49)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 936 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 19, 2011

    Quick and Suspenseful Read

    Figured for $.99 I didnt have anything to lose by trying this book out. Really liked it Going to look for other titles by this author.

    40 out of 40 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 20, 2011

    Surprisingly good read!

    After reading all the patterson's and harlan coben books, i turned to this one based on all the great reviews.. if u enjoy a good suspense - you will not be disappointed.

    31 out of 31 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 22, 2011

    Well worth the price!

    For $0.99 you cant beat this book. Plenty of action and kept me hooked right to the end!

    22 out of 27 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 12, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent

    Well worth the price. I have read all Michael Prescott's books and this one is my favourite.

    14 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2011

    Awfully awful

    My biggest complaint is that it was far too long. I knew within 150 pages what the "twist" was going to be. The killer was a bore, the "heroine" was a bore, and the police were incompetent. I can't believe an editor did not go to town with a red pen to reel the writer back in. Ah well.

    The saving grace of the book is that it was 99 cents.

    12 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 22, 2011

    900+ pages flew by

    Would have paid 15$ for the story and thought it was a value. Loved the surprises and the character. So worth your time!

    10 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 22, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Highly Recommended

    It's on the New York Times Best Seller list. Need I say anything more?

    9 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted August 22, 2011

    Predictable

    Average on suspense, at best. Telling a story out of chronological order doesn't make it suspenseful. I was glad I only paid .99 cents for this title.

    9 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted December 10, 2011

    ?. ...

    I enjoyed this book, but at some parts i was really creeped out..... Overall it was a good read..

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 8, 2011

    Just OK

    Writes a lot about a little

    7 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 30, 2011

    skip it

    This sounded good. I was astonished at how many pages it has. I have tried 3 separate times to read this, don't like to not finish one. I just can't do it. It is a graphic slasher book with very little if no intrigue. I confess I didn't get far but try not to put garbage in my mind.
    If you want a quality read keep looking.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted October 28, 2011

    A Must-Read

    Stealing Faces is full of twists and surprises! The characters are unforgetable, and their journey through the book leaves you craving more. Absolutely worth it.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 23, 2011

    Addicting read!!!!

    First but not last book i read from this author. Great read. Cant wait to read riptide. Justdownloaded it. Thank you michael !

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted January 19, 2013

    Things nightmares are made of

    This was a fast read. Each page left me wanting more. This was a book i thought about even when not reading it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted January 17, 2013

    It was an okay read.

    The book was not that great. There were too many parts in the book that had no real substance. I feel that the author was going in many directions.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted December 22, 2012

    Stealing Faces

    If you are a mystery/thriller lover, I recommend this read. First Michael Prescott book I have read and cannot wait to dive into the next one.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted December 17, 2012

    Great author!

    This was a super read! Very suspensefull!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted December 9, 2012

    Fast paced suspense Novel.

    A gruesome case of cat and mouse that will keep you up late turning pages!!!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted January 28, 2014

    Awesome

    I loved this book and actually went back to reread it a few years later. Frequently, I will buy a cheap book thinking, "Eh, what the heck... its only a few bucks..." this book surpassed my expectations for a 99 cent book and I genuinely was afraid, while reading it. Great book. You should give it a shot. Worst case scenario, you lose a dollar.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2013

    awesome book!!

    This is a must read for someone who likes horror stories. Great twist and ending.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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