Storm Warning

Storm Warning

4.4 7
by Dinah McCall

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The phone rings. She picks up, but no one is there. She hears music and the sound of thunder. She hangs up in a trance. Minutes later, she is dead.

Ginny Shapiro stares at the photograph of seven smiling schoolgirls from the exclusive Montgomery Academy. Six of them are dead. She is the only one still alive.

The phone rings. Ginny gets

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The phone rings. She picks up, but no one is there. She hears music and the sound of thunder. She hangs up in a trance. Minutes later, she is dead.

Ginny Shapiro stares at the photograph of seven smiling schoolgirls from the exclusive Montgomery Academy. Six of them are dead. She is the only one still alive.

The phone rings. Ginny gets in her car and speeds away. Anywhere. Fast.

FBI agent Sullivan Dean has the photo, too—as well as information that came too late to save the others. Tracking Ginny down to an isolated cabin in Mississippi, he's hell-bent on stopping her from becoming the final victim. What happened to those girls twenty years ago? The answer is locked deep in Ginny's memory; the key is somewhere in the dangerous world of mind control, where a sound, a word, a voice, can trigger death. For Ginny and Sully, the world is closing in—and passion between them is exploding. But time is running out, and death is within arm's reach…every time the phone rings.

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Editorial Reviews

Ms. McCall's brilliant talent is immeasurable. She knows how to pen remarkably breathtaking love stories.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In 1979, seven girls attended a class for gifted students at a Manhattan private school. That same year a lightning bolt burned the school down, destroying all of its records; the girls themselves remember nothing of the class's contents or its instructor. Twenty years later, each of the young women receives a single phone call that causes them to slip into a hypnotic trance and commit suicide, oblivious to warnings or pleas. Only St. Louis reporter Virginia Shapiro discovers the threat in time and flees her home to avoid the mysteriously compelling call. Eventually, she is joined by off-duty FBI agent Sullivan Dean, a close friend of one of the victims. The two battle perils on the road and then their equally intense attraction at a remote safe house where they wait while the FBI clumsily attempts to solve the case. Meanwhile, Nobel-winning doctor Emile Karnoff, who unbeknownst to the world was the class's teacher, continues to heal illness with hypnosis as his disturbed son disintegrates and his wife keeps life tidy in increasingly peculiar ways. Neither the book's medical nor its investigative details ring true, and a surprising denouement leaves many questions unanswered. Despite its novel premise, McCall's (The Return) lackluster thriller fails to develop full characters or a credible plot line. (May) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
In the space of a few weeks, six of Ginny Shapiro's grade-school friends have committed suicide even Sister Mary Theresa, who wrote to tell her of the deaths and knew that killing herself was a mortal sin. Having learned that a phone call somehow triggers these so-called suicides, Ginny is running for her life, with FBI agent Sullivan Dean a friend of Sister Mary's brother in hot pursuit, determined to save her. Intense, fast-paced, and cleverly crafted, this engrossing tale deals with some of the darker aspects of hypnosis and human nature and will appeal to those who like their contemporary romances on the chilling side. McCall (The Return) also writes under her own name, Sharon Sala, and lives in Oklahoma. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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Upstate New York, 1979

Edward Fontaine stood at the doorway, watching the children on the playground while keeping an eye on the weather. As headmaster of Montgomery Academy, a small private school, it was his duty to oversee every aspect of the daily routine, including the welfare of the children.

    Granted, his teachers were doing their part as they stood duty out on the playground, but Edward had a bird's eye view from the top of the steps. As he watched, he felt a shift in the wind and glanced up at the sky. The light, fluffy clumps of clouds that had been there earlier were now massing into something large and dark. Although the play period was not over, he didn't want to take a chance on one of the children being shuck by lightning, so he hurried into his office and rang the bell. It echoed throughout the building and out on the grounds, and even though he was still inside, he could hear the collective shouts of the children's dismay.

    As he reached the top steps, the first rumble of thunder shook the windows. The children's reluctance to end their play was replaced with frantic haste as the teachers began herding them inside.

    "Hurry! Hurry!" Edward shouted, calling to the youngest children at the very farthest end of the grounds. "It's going to storm. You must come inside!"

    Virginia Shapiro and her best friend, Georgia, had been at the top of the slide when the first bell rang. At six years old, their dilemma now became one of climbing back down the steps or sliding down and risking the wrath of having"played" when they were supposed to be going inside. When the second ripple of thunder shattered the sky above them, Virginia began to cry. Georgia took her by the hand, uncertain what to do.

    Edward could tell the children were in trouble and bolted down the steps. As he ran, it occurred to him that he should be in better shape, but the thought disappeared with the first drops of rain upon his face.

    "Come, children, come," he urged, standing at the foot of the slide. "It's all right. Just slide to me. We'll go inside together."

    Georgia tugged at Virginia's hand, giving her a brave little smile.

    "Come on, Ginny ... we'll go together, like always."

    Ginny sniffled and nodded, and moments later they went flying down the slick, metal surface and right into Mr. Fontaine's arms.

    "That's my good girls," he said, quickly taking each one by the hand. "Now let's run. I'll bet I can beat you."

    The girls squealed and pulled loose from his grasp as they tore off across the yard. He sighed with relief and then started after them at a jog, knowing full well he was going to be wet before he got back.

    They were nowhere in sight as he entered the building. But as his eyes adjusted to the dimmer light, he saw them at the far end of the hall, scurrying toward the last room on the left.

    He'd almost forgotten. Today was Thursday. The Gifted and Talented Class met on Thursdays. The niggle of doubt that crossed his mind was not the first he'd had as he watched the door close behind them. It wasn't as if he was allowing anyone to harm them. Quite the opposite. Those particular seven little girls had one thing in common that had garnered them access to the class. And the money he'd received as a "special endowment" for allowing the class to proceed was not something he could overlook. The fact that the parents didn't realize the true nature of the class often disturbed him, but he knew the children were not being harmed. Besides, it was already done, and that was that.

    A strong gust of wind blew a curtain of rain against the backs of his legs. Turning his mind to more pertinent affairs, he quickly shut the doors of the main entrance and went to his office. There was always paperwork to be done,

    Inside the last room on the left, seven little girls sat quietly in their respective chairs, watching for the teacher to begin. The glass in the windows rattled as thunder continued to rumble. They didn't hear the rain peppering against the windows or see the lightning as it began to flash. Their eyes were on the teacher, their minds focused on the sound of his voice.

    That night, long after the children had gone home, the storm still raged. Wind-whipped trees bent low to the ground, their branches bowing in supplication to the greater strength of the storm.

    Just before midnight, a great shaft of lightning came down from the sky, shattering wood and shingles alike as it pierced the roof of the school. Before anyone noticed, the school was completely engulfed in flames. By morning, there was nothing left but an exterior wall and a huge pile of smoldering timbers.

     Edward Fontaine stood on the outskirts of the playground, looking at what was left of his school in disbelief. He didn't have the resources to start all over again, and going back into the classroom as a teacher


Excerpted from Storm Warning by Dinah McCall. Copyright © 2001 by Sharon Sala. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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