Stripped

Stripped

4.4 72
by Brian Freeman
     
 

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In this stunning follow-up to Brian Freeman's remarkable debut novel, Immoral, Detective Jonathan Stride discovers that there are only two ways to go in Las Vegas. You can hit the jackpot. Or you can get Stripped...

They looked like isolated cases: a hit-and-run and a celebrity murdered during a fling with a prostitute. No one could ever

Overview

In this stunning follow-up to Brian Freeman's remarkable debut novel, Immoral, Detective Jonathan Stride discovers that there are only two ways to go in Las Vegas. You can hit the jackpot. Or you can get Stripped...

They looked like isolated cases: a hit-and-run and a celebrity murdered during a fling with a prostitute. No one could ever imagine they'd be linked to a brutal crime in Las Vegas's steamy past—and that the race against the clock to corner a determined serial killer would stir up secrets long thought buried with the dead. As detectives Jonathan Stride and Serena Dial are called separately to investigate, they have no idea what they're stepping into: a world where desperate ambition rules and loyalties know no bounds, and where their own uncharted emotions and sexual desires will reach an explosive conclusion.
Shocking, twisted, with edge-of-your-seat suspense, Stripped pushes the limits of its heroes and keeps the reader turning ever page until the last plot twist.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
When it comes to Brian Freeman's second thriller, Stripped (sequel to 2005's Edgar Award–nominated Immoral), the slogan "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" couldn't be more fitting. Set amid the innumerable depravities of Sin City -- sex, drugs, gambling, organized crime, etc. -- the novel's very first line gives readers a pretty good indication of the debauchery to come: "She slipped the robe off her shoulders, and the white silk gathered in a pool of accordion folds at her feet..."

Protagonist Jonathan Stride -- a former Duluth police lieutenant who followed his girlfriend to Vegas and is now working as an LVPD homicide investigator -- is finding it hard to adapt to his neon-lit, surgically enhanced, completely superficial surroundings. The culture shock even extends to his partner on the job, Amanda Gillen, a non-operative transsexual (who is arguably the most grounded character in the novel!). While Stride's cop girlfriend, Serena Dial, investigates the hit-and-run death of a young boy, he struggles to unravel the bizarre murder of a rich socialite named M. J. Lane -- whose claim to fame, besides being the son of a billionaire producer, is starring in his own homemade porn flick. As they dig deeper, they begin to realize that the two cases have tenuous connections to the Scheherazade casino in 1967 -- specifically the brutal murder of an ambitious starlet that was never fully resolved. Meanwhile, a cunning serial killer is loose on the Strip…

With Vegas as the sordid backdrop, Stripped succeeds in large part because of the compelling dynamic between Stride and Dial and the pair's contrasting backgrounds. That said, fans of Freeman who are wondering where he is going to take his two protagonists in future installments will be more than surprised by the bombshell he drops at the novel's conclusion. Paul Goat Allen
Publishers Weekly
At the start of Freeman's solid second thriller (after 2005's Immoral), detective Jonathan Stride has left his job in Duluth, Minn., for Las Vegas, Nev. The action begins with a flashback to Sin City in the 1950s and the murder of a famous exotic dancer, a case never fully resolved and having a lot to do with the present-day brutal assassination of a rich young "trust fund baby," MJ Lane, whose dad may have been involved in the earlier murder. As Stride and his new police partner, Amanda Gillen, investigate, they plunge deep into the roots of the city. Freeman depicts his characters well, especially the good-natured Stride; his cop girlfriend, Serena Dial; and his partner, Amanda. Freeman has crafted a strong narrative, rife with sex and violence, though the complex plot at times gets bogged down by overly extensive backstories and a prose style that shades toward the purple. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
MDetective Jonathan Stride has left his northern Minnesota roots to follow his lover, Detective Serena Dial, to her home turf of Las Vegas, where he joins her on the Metro Homicide Division. In Stride's first case, a wealthy playboy is murdered in what appears to be an assassination. Stride soon discovers that someone is killing people connected to the 40-year-old murder of a showgirl. Meanwhile, Dial is investigating the seemingly senseless hit-and-run death of a ten-year-old boy. As the two cases converge, additional murders ensue. Although we know the killer's identity by the middle of the book, the suspense mounts as Stride and Dial each face personal demons while delving into Sin City's past. Guilt-stained relationships can't be kept hidden, even though Vegas keeps reinventing itself and sometimes justice must be delivered outside a courtroom. Edgar Award finalist Freeman's latest book is every bit as good as Immoral is, and a third in the series is coming soon. Highly recommended for all mystery and thriller collections. Roland Person, formerly with Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Showgirls and mobsters and madmen-good times. The 40-year-old murder of a Vegas dancer inspires a psychopath's killing spree in Freeman's delightfully tawdry page-turner. Four decades ago, Amira Luz was the queen of Vegas: the hottest dancer in the city's hottest show, pursued by mobsters, magnates, movie stars and pretty much anyone else lucky enough to catch a glimpse of her. But it all came to an end when she was murdered in her hotel pool. The crime was pinned on an obsessed fan, and that was pretty much that-until now. There's a serial killer in town, and he's picking off Sin City denizens one by one. The connection? Amira, of course; each victim is somehow connected to the long-dead beauty. In charge of piecing together the puzzle is Las Vegas detective Jonathan Stride (Immoral, 2005). With the help of transsexual partner Amanda Gillen and cop/lady-friend Serena Dial, Stride sets out to uncover the killer's identity and end his spree. Of course, it could never be that simple. This is Vegas, a town where everyone has a cache of secrets stashed somewhere, and Stride's search can't help but bump up against a few facts local power-players would prefer kept under wraps. The author makes a half-hearted grab at gravitas, giving his leads a set of suitably dark backstories, but ultimately, the story is pure confection. Murder, money, suspense and sex are accounted for as Freeman consistently hits his thriller marks, keeping the action coming and the tension high. The characters are mostly made of cliche, but, happily, they're entertaining. Stride himself provides a nicely humane counterpoint to the otherwise breathless Vegas shenanigans. The height of guilty pleasures.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781429900805
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
10/03/2006
Series:
Jonathan Stride Series , #2
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
26,321
File size:
474 KB

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Read an Excerpt


Chapter One
Elonda scanned Flamingo Road with the practiced eyes of a turkey vulture, lazily circling the desert landscape and hunting for prey. She spotted her quarry a half block from the Oasis casino and sized him up.

He was tall and tan, like a surfer washed up in the city, with wavy blond hair that hung below his ears and wraparound silver shades. Young, maybe twenty-two. He wore a loud, untucked short-sleeve shirt with the buttons done wrong, a loose-fitting pair of white shorts, and dirty sneakers with no socks. His cocky walk told her he had money in his pocket. He wore sunglasses at night, and she knew that behind the shades his eyes were on the hunt, too, just like hers.

His head swiveled in her direction. He saw her and grinned.

Her cop radar wasn't going off. Cops didn't walk--they pitched the girls from inside their unmarked, air-conditioned sedans. Only the newbies fell for them.

Elonda sauntered across the wide street, raising her hand to stop the speeding cars and flashing the drivers with her white teeth and a jiggle of her breasts. There was plenty of traffic at one in the morning. The city operated on jungle rules: Feed under the cool cover of darkness, and find a patch of shade to sleep through the hot days.

On the opposite sidewalk, she ducked into the doorway of a magic shop. She pulled a bottle of K-Y from the back pocket of her jeans and squirted some on her fingers. Sucking in, she squeezed a hand inside her skin-tight pants and lubed up. She did a little dance, rubbing it in. A trick of the trade. Oh, I am so wet for you, baby. Although most guys weren't looking to pole her these days. They were too afraid of AIDS or too klutzy to get inside her standing up. So they went for the mouth music.

With the grease between her legs, Elonda flipped her hair back and listened to the rap of the multicolored beads dotting her cornrows. She tugged on her feathered pink tube top until the black crescents of her nipples peeked through. Finally, she popped a wintergreen mint onto her tongue. Another little trick. Guys loved the cool burn of the mint in her warm mouth.

She eased back onto the sidewalk and scoped out the street, looking for competition. No, she was alone, just her and the bad boy. The lights of the Strip shone like fire across the freeway. On this side of I-15, where casinos spilled over from Las Vegas Boulevard like popcorn out of an overflowing box, the Gold Coast and Rio shimmered on the north side of the street, and the Oasis tower loomed a block away. Where she was, though, Flamingo was dark, nothing but an empty lot and the old cinder-block magic shop butting up to the street.

Elonda leaned her shoulders against the shop window, her hips jutting out, and casually nibbled on one painted nail. Letting a slow smile creep onto her face, she turned her head and drank him in. He was headed right for her, his feet trampling on nudie brochures littering the street. No hesitation. This wasn't his first time.

As he got closer, her eyes narrowed. He looked familiar, but she couldn't place him. He wasn't a regular--she hadn't done him before. Maybe she recognized his face from one of the tabloids. Behind the shades, it was hard to tell. But Elonda studied him long and hard, because a celebrity paying for sex from a Vegas hooker might be worth some serious cash from someone.

He stopped right next to her. "Hey."

His voice was young and carefree. Bored. Slurred.

"Hey yourself." Elonda reached out and slid a finger inside his shirt, making a circle on his chest. "Don't I know you, baby?"

"You ever been to Iowa?" he asked.

A hick with a familiar face, she thought. Damn. "A lot of cows and corn there, right? And shit on your shoes? No thanks."

Elonda cast her eyes up and down the street, looking for Metro patrol cars. The traffic came and went--Hummers, limos, pickups, beaters--but there was no one who would hassle her. A block away, near the Oasis, she spotted a man standing by a bus stop, looking bored, checking his watch. In the other direction, no one at all. The coast was clear.

"Suck or fuck?" she asked.

He didn't answer, but stuck out his tongue and flicked it at her. She smelled gin wafting from his mouth. Elonda gave him a price, and he dug out two crumpled bills from his pocket. She used one of her ragged fingernails to nudge him backward into the doorway of the magic shop. Elonda got on her knees and unzipped him. She glanced up. His eyes were closed. She saw a couple of days' worth of yellow stubble on his chin.

She began counting in her head. That was her little game, something to pass the time, like the office workers who listened to their iPods while they typed all day. One, two, three, four. No guy had ever made it to one hundred. Most didn't make it to ten.

He took a few seconds to stiffen--that was the gin, she figured--but she worked her magic, and his body responded. She heard a low rumble in his throat, a purr of pleasure. When she glanced up from her work, she saw that his mouth had fallen open.

Thirty-two, thirty-three, thirty-four.

He was already close. She could feel his hips moving, starting to thrust, and she sucked harder and moved her head faster.

Thirty-nine.

Elonda heard something clip-clop nearby, the sound of heavy boots on the sidewalk. Someone was heading their way from the casino. She looked up again, but the farm boy was already on another planet, and he didn't hear a thing. Clip-clop, clip-clop. She didn't really care. She got peeped all the time and heard the shocked whispers from people who secretly wished she was on her knees in front of them. If he looked their way, let him enjoy the show.

Forty-five, forty-six. The farm boy was getting ready to blow.

The tapping of the boots came up directly behind her in the doorway, and then they stopped right there. Elonda heard a rustle of fabric and a strange metallic click. The john's eyes were still closed, and he moaned loudly.

It was creepy, that man standing behind her, watching them. She got a bad feeling. The hairs on her neck pricked up, and she knew he was still there, although she couldn't even hear him breathing. She could feel his eyes. A cloud of menace engulfed her. It was the kind of sixth sense you got after enough time on the street.

Elonda let the man's shaft slip from her mouth. She bit her lip and looked up, but she wasn't going to look back, not for anything. Immediately, the john's eyes snapped open, his lips twisting into an angry scowl. Then she watched as he spotted the stranger behind her.

"What the--"

His anger became slack-jawed surprise. His eyes widened. She saw his face register disbelief.

Then he didn't have a face anymore.

The loudest sound Elonda had ever heard detonated in her ears like the cap being blown off a volcano. The farm boy sprouted a third eye, and his head fell forward, so she could stare right at him and see up into the hole burrowed into his skull, a red river pouring out of it. As she watched, he crumpled into a pile and collapsed on top of her, pinning her to the ground. Blood streamed over her, rippling like worms across her skin and seeping into her clothes. She smelled urine and shit as his bowels evacuated.

Finally, Elonda remembered to scream. She closed her eyes and unleashed a screeching yell that went on and on until she ran out of breath. No one seemed to hear. None of the traffic stopped. All she heard was the sound of footsteps again, going away now, heading back down the street as casually as they had arrived. Clip-clop, clip-clop.

Copyright © 2006 by Brian Freeman. All rights reserved.

Meet the Author

Brian Freeman is the internationally bestselling author of psychological suspense novels featuring detectives Jonathan Stride and Serena Dial. His books have been sold in forty-six countries and eighteen languages. His debut thriller, Immoral, won the Macavity Award and was a nominee for the Edgar, Dagger, Anthony, and Barry awards for best first novel. His other novels include The Bone House, The Burying Place, In the Dark and Stalked. Brian is drawn to complex characters, and says, "My stories are about the hidden intimate motives that draw people across some terrible lines." Brian and his wife, Marcia, have lived in Minnesota for more than twenty years.
Brian Freeman is the internationally bestselling author of psychological suspense novels featuring detectives Jonathan Stride and Serena Dial. His books have been sold in 46 countries and 18 languages. His debut thriller, Immoral, won the Macavity Award and was a nominee for the Edgar, Dagger, Anthony, and Barry awards for best first novel. His other novels include The Bone House, The Burying Place, In the Dark, and Stalked. Brian is drawn to complex characters, and says, “My stories are about the hidden intimate motives that draw people across some terrible lines.” Brian and his wife, Marcia, have lived in Minnesota for more than twenty years.

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Stripped 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 72 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found Stripped by Brian Freeman a great read. It continues with the life of Jon Stride. It is the second book in the Stride series. It had great character development and the story was compelling. It took place in Vegas, and spanned events taking place back in to the 60's, and just getting solved now. I recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good reading, fast paced, crime mystery. 5 Stars.
shellnchase More than 1 year ago
Once again Brian Freeman has written an excellent mystery novel. Keep them coming Mr. Freeman.
BeckBeck809 More than 1 year ago
I received Brian Freedman's book Immoral from the book club I am a member of when I accidentally didn't reject the featured selections. It turned into the best mistake, because I immediately fell in love with Brian Freedman's writing and the characters in this series. Stripped is a great follow-up, as are the next two books in the series. I have already pre-ordered Freedman's next book, and can't wait to get it! Freedman is a great author who hasn't gotten the attention he deserves.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed every page.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*Walk in wearing a short denim skirt and a strapless red top.* Hey guys. Where is everybody? Haven't been on for a while.... where are the new places?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walks in and sits in a corner and drinks
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Are gay!!! Fkin what s nook sex? OMG PLZ SHUT UP AND COMMENTING INAPPROPRIATE STUFF
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Se.x?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What kind of club?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bc i hope so
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Messed up people
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dean is locked out. He wants you to go to natural res 7
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im ur ex. Lol
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walks in the club sup i say to the firdt person i meet
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Post walks in
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I want a lap dance
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She grins.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yep, although I do try not to get involved with any of the staff here *He shrugs and hands Cammeron a glass and a flask of hard whiskey. He then turns to Blake* This my kingdom of alcohol, care to be the queen? *He offers her a bottle of gin*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lmao. Yeah
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"I want to be a stripper as well." (Post)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Once (nope sworry)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thats exactlybwhat im here for *smiles*