Tell Me No Secrets

Tell Me No Secrets

4.0 2
by Joy Fielding

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People are inexplicably disappearing from Chicago prosecutor Jess Koster's life. First her mother vanished without a trace eight years ago. And now a client, the victim of a brutal, sadistic rapist, is also missing. Someone is disrupting Jess's neat, ordered existence with chaos and terror. And from the shadow of her past, a maniac is watching her . . .stalking her


People are inexplicably disappearing from Chicago prosecutor Jess Koster's life. First her mother vanished without a trace eight years ago. And now a client, the victim of a brutal, sadistic rapist, is also missing. Someone is disrupting Jess's neat, ordered existence with chaos and terror. And from the shadow of her past, a maniac is watching her . . .stalking her — until there is no one Jess can trust her mysterious tormentor is perilously close — and that the next person to vanish from the face of the Earth will be Jess Koster.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Although this latest vehicle by the author of See Jane Run ultimately reaches an ingeniously crafted finale, readers may tire of Fielding's (mostly irrelevant) plot detours and excessive emotional baggage--specifically, the protagonist's constant state of anxiety. Suspense along the way is minimal and often forced, while, for most of its length, the novel reads like a not especially compelling domestic drama. Jess Koster, a 30-year-old prosecutor in the Cook County (Ill.) state's attorney's office, overreacts to just about everyone and everything; she is particularly obsessed with her mother's unexplained disappearance eight years earlier. (A remark by her mother, in fact, is one of the book's many annoyingly repeated phrases.) The attenuated storyline snakes around three men in Jess's life; while they figure prominently in a clever denouement, their individual encounters with Jess exhibit little freshness. Jess's family relationships are unconvincingly strained, while her courtroom work proves mundane: in a pointless trial sequence, her strategy for winning a murder conviction, hailed by coworkers as ``brilliant,'' will be old hat to mystery devotees. Because this heroine seems not to like herself--and displays few engaging qualities--it becomes difficult to like or empathize with her (often imaginary) plights. First serial to Cosmopolitan; Literary Guild main selection. (June)
Library Journal
The joy of a good whodunit so often lies in how the author plays with and reveals the possible twists. So it is with Fielding's Tell Me No Secrets. Fielding tries to weave district attorney Jess Koster's complicated inner struggle of past and present fears with her current cases--horrible crimes that force Jess to face her vulnerabilities. The clues add up, and listeners will probably figure it out long before Jess does, but there remains skill to admire in how Fielding closes this novel and pulls it all together. The reading by Jean Reed Bahle plays a huge role in one's enjoyment, as she captures Rick Ferguson's cruel leer and Jess's wild imaginings and private admonishments. Bahle must overcome some stilted writing, especially mid-story, but she helps keep the listener interested. For large mystery collections.-- Joyce Kessel, Villa Maria Coll . , Buffalo, N.Y .
John Mort
A routine legal thriller set in Chicago, somewhat similar to Richard North Patterson's "Degree of Guilt" in that it deals with rape, the difficulties the legal system faces in prosecuting that crime, and the independence, frustrations, and terrors of single professional women. However, Fielding puts her character, a lawyer named Jess Koster, inside a plot that reminds one of the film "Class Action" (Jess faces off against her ex-husband, rather than her father) and various formula romances. To wit, all the men are no good except one, and he, through no fault of his own, "appears" to be bad, while the guy the reader is led to "think" is good--in this case Jess' ex-husband--really isn't. So when Jess' ex rescues, or seems to rescue, her from the predictably sadistic stalker/rapist, her comment that "It's just like in the movies" may seem like self-parody. Jess escapes this formula--and becomes not only real, but touching--when she visits her suburban sister and the brother-in-law she despises, when she talks with a woman juror in a rape trial about why the verdict was not guilty, and when we visit with her in her private fear. Otherwise, she's made for TV, which is to say, she'll be popular.
Kirkus Reviews
Eight years after her mother mysteriously disappeared on her way to a doctor's appointment, Chicago prosecutor Jess Koster's panic attacks have returned—as she fights to convict a sadistic rapist who may have killed his latest victim. But Rick Ferguson—the man who threatened to kill Connie DeVuono if she pressed charges and then smiled at the news of her disappearance—may not even be the man behind Jess's stifling fear. Puzzling over the question of who sent her a urine-soaked letter garnished with pubic hairs, she wonders "how many men [she had] managed to alienate in her young life" It's a good question for a workaholic prosecutor—especially when you add Jess's hostility toward her lovesick father, her controlling brother-in-law Barry Peppler, her bedroom-minded colleague Greg Oliver, and Terry Wales, the Crossbow Murderer she's trying to nail on murder one. Even the two men she can bring herself to trust—her provocative new romantic interest, Adam Stohn, a shoe salesman; and her protective ex-husband, Don Shaw, who turns out to be Rick Ferguson's own attorney—are pulling her apart by their appeals to her loyalty. Maybe she's just imagining seeing Ferguson's face in so many crowds. But she's not imagining the vandalism to her car or the break-in to her house; and the prognosis on her pet canary doesn't look too good either. Fielding (See Jane Run, 1991, etc.) has always been at her best when her soapy tales of female oppression have been sparked by a criminal interest, and despite a wildly improbable (though politically correct) climax, the story she has to tell this time is a corker that runs rings around Mary Higgins Clark. Don't even think ofstarting this anywhere near bedtime. (First serial to Cosmopolitan; Literary Guild Triple Selection for July)

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HarperCollins Publishers
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4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.04(d)

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Chapter One The words hung suspended in the space between them, like laundry someone had forgotten to take off the line. Jess held her breath, sensing Connie was on the verge of capitulating, afraid to do anything that might tip the delicate balance in the other direction. Another speech was already working its way to the tip of her tongue. There's an easy way to do this, it began, and there's a hard way. The easy way is that you agree to testify as planned. The hard way is that I'll have to force you to testify. I'll get the judge to issue a bench warrant for your arrest, force you to come to court, force you to take the stand. And if you still refuse to testify, the judge can, and will, hold you in contempt, send you to jail. Wouldn't that be a tragedy--you in jail and not the man who attacked you?

Jess waited, fully prepared to use these words if she had to, silently praying they wouldn't be necessary. "Come on, Connie," she said, giving it one last try. "You've fought back before. After your husband died, you didn't give up, you went to night school, you got a job so that you could provide for your son. You're a fighter, Connie. You've always been a fighter. Don't let Rick Ferguson take that away from you. Fight back, Connie. Fight back."

Connie said nothing, but there was a slight stiffening of her back. Her shoulders lifted. Finally, she nodded.

Jess reached for Connie's hands. "You'll testify?"

Connie's voice was a whisper. "God help me."

"We'll take all the help we can get." Jess checked her watch, rose quickly to her feet. "Come on, I'll walk you out."

Neil and Barbara had already left for court, and Jess ushered Connie along the corridor ofthe state's attorney's offices, past the display of cut-off ties that lined one wall, symbolizing each prosecutor's first win before a jury. The halls were decorated in preparation for Halloween, large orange paper pumpkins and witches on broomsticks taped across the walls, like in a kindergarten class, Jess thought, accepting Greg Oliver's "good luck" salutations, and proceeding through the reception area to the bank of elevators outside the glass doors. From the large window at the far end of the six elevators, the whole west side and northwest side of the city was visible. On a nice day, O'Hare Airport could be easily discerned. Even faraway Du Page County seemed within reach.

The women said nothing on the ride down to the main floor, knowing everything important had already been said. They exited the elevator and rounded the corner, pointedly ignoring the Victim-Witness Services Office with its large picture-laden poster proclaiming WE REMEMBER YOU . . . IN LOVING MEMORY OF. . . and proceeded to the glassed-in, rectangular hallway that connected the Administration Building to the courthouse next door. "Where are you parked?" Jess asked, about to guide Connie through the airportlike security to the outside.

"I took the bus," Connie DeVuono began, then stopped abruptly, her hand lifting to her mouth. "Oh my God!"

"What? What's the matter?" Jess followed the woman's frightened gaze.

The man was standing at the opposite end of the corridor, leaning against the cold expanse of glass wall, his lean frame heavy with menace, his blunt features partially obscured by the thick mass of long, uncombed, dark blond hair that fell over the collar of his brown leather jacket. As his body swiveled slowly around to greet them, Jess watched the side of his lips twist into the same chilling grin that had greeted her arrival at work that morning.

I am Death, the grin said.

Jess shuddered, then tried to pretend it was from a gust of cold air that had sneaked into the lobby through the revolving doors.

Rick Ferguson, she realized.

"I want you to take a taxi," Jess told Connie, seeing one pull up to drop somebody off, guiding Connie through the doors onto California Avenue, and thrusting ten dollars into her hand. "I'll take care of Rick Ferguson."

Connie said nothing. It was as if she had expended all her energy in Jess's office, and she simply had no more strength to argue. Tightly clutching the ten-dollar bill, she allowed Jess to put her in the cab, not bothering to look back as the car pulled away. Jess remained for a moment on the sidewalk, trying to still the loud thumping in her chest, then turned around and pushed her way back through the revolving doors.

He hadn't moved.

Jess strode toward him across the long corridor, the heels of her black pumps clicking on the hard granite floor, watching as Rick Ferguson's features snapped into sharper focus with each step. The vague generic menace he projected--white male, early twenties, five feet ten inches tall, 170 pounds, blond hair, brown eyes--became more concrete, individualized--shoulders that stooped slightly, unkempt hair pulled into a loose ponytail, deeply hooded cobralike eyes, a nose that had been broken several times and never properly reset, and always that same unnerving grin.

"I'm warning you to stay away from my client," Jess announced when she reached him, not giving him the chance to interrupt. "If you show up within fifty yards of her again, even accidentally, if you try to speak to her or contact her in any way, if you leave any more gruesome little presents outside her door, I'll have your bail revoked and your ass in jail. Am I making myself clear?"

"You know," he said, speaking very deliberately, as if he were in the middle of an entirely different conversation, "it's not such a great idea to get on my bad side."

Jess almost laughed. "What's that supposed to mean?"

Rick Ferguson shifted his body weight from one foot to the other, then shrugged, managing to appear almost bored. He looked around, scratched at the side of his nose. "It's just that people who annoy me have a way of . . . disappearing."

Jess found herself taking an involuntary step back. A cold shiver, like a drill, snaked its way through her chest to her gut. She had to fight the sudden urge to throw up. When she spoke, her voice was hollow, lacking resonance. "Are you threatening me?"

Rick Ferguson pushed his body away from the wall. His smile widened. I am Death, the smile said. I have come for you.

Then he walked away without a backward glance.

Copyright ) 1993 by Joy Fielding

Meet the Author

Joy Fielding's ability to portray the lives of ordinary women inextraordinary circumstances—as in See Jane Run andTell Me No Secrets—has made her an internationalbestselling author. She lives in Toronto with herhusband and their two daughters, and spends partof the year in Palm Beach, Florida.

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