Terrified

( 35 )

Overview

Truth

Megan Keeler died years ago—or so everyone believes. In fact, she disappeared to escape from her sadistic husband, Glenn. When dismembered body parts were found near their home, Glenn was convicted of his wife's murder. And Megan, terrified for her unborn child's safety, never came forward with the truth. . .

Is More Terrifying

Since then, Megan has built a new life in Seattle for herself and her son, ...

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Overview

Truth

Megan Keeler died years ago—or so everyone believes. In fact, she disappeared to escape from her sadistic husband, Glenn. When dismembered body parts were found near their home, Glenn was convicted of his wife's murder. And Megan, terrified for her unborn child's safety, never came forward with the truth. . .

Is More Terrifying

Since then, Megan has built a new life in Seattle for herself and her son, Josh. She's never forgotten that she's a fugitive, and Josh knows nothing about her past. But someone does. First, there are anonymous emails and threats, just as she learns that Glenn has been released from prison. Then the unthinkable happens: a masked man breaks into their home and abducts Josh. . .

Than Fiction

To save her son, Megan must put herself at the mercy of a maniac. Is Glenn a cold-blooded killer determined to destroy her world piece by piece, or is the truth even more twisted? Megan thought she knew fear, but her nightmare is only beginning. . .

Praise for the Novels of Kevin O'Brien

"White knuckle action! . . .takes readers into the darkest corners of the human mind." —Tess Gerritsen on One Last Scream

"Scary! Read this page turner with the lights on!" —Lisa Jackson on Watch Them Die

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786021383
  • Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 4/1/2012
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 560
  • Sales rank: 137,073
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Read an Excerpt

TERRIFIED


By KEVIN O'BRIEN

PINNACLE BOOKS

Copyright © 2012 Kevin O'Brien
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7860-2138-3


Chapter One

Glenview, Illinois—October 25, 1996

Her son was awfully quiet.

Ensconced on a park bench in the little playground, Maggie divided her time between composing a grocery list and watching her four-year-old, Mark, play on the jungle gym.

BBQ Potato Chips, she scribbled down on the personalized notepad with Ms. Margaret Farris printed along the top of the page with the cheesy illustration of a pumpkin patch. She had gotten the notepad from the March of Dimes or the American Cancer Society or one of those places that sent her junk mail. She always felt a bit guilty for keeping her "personal gift" and tossing out the rest of it. But not too guilty—she gave to the United Way at the office.

Maggie worked part-time, selling ad space for the Pioneer Press, a weekly newsmagazine for several suburbs along the Chicago North Shore. She cherished these Fridays off, spending the day with Mark. After this, they'd go grocery shopping at Dominic's. They now had a tradition on Friday nights: she and Mark would meet her husband, Ed, at the Glenview train station and they'd go for dinner at The Willow Inn.

Sitting on that park bench, bundled in a pea coat, with her light brown hair fluttering in the breeze, Maggie had no idea this wouldn't be one of their regular Friday nights. They wouldn't make it to the supermarket.

She added rice to the shopping list, and then K-Mart Bars. That was what Mark called Special K Bars. Maggie had gotten him to eat the healthy snacks, but still couldn't get him to call them by their correct name. So—in the Farris household, they were K-Mart Bars. And if somebody ate too many, they might get a stomachache and need to take some Pencil Bismal—another Markism.

Dressed in jeans, red tennis shoes, and his blue Chicago Bears jacket with the orange ITLITL logo on the back, he scurried over to the slide. The sun caught him at a certain angle, and made his curly, dark brown hair look golden.

It was a beautiful, cool-crisp fall afternoon. The trees were a riot of color, and fallen leaves danced across the grass. The playground stood in the far corner of a big playfield. Some shrubs near the monkey bars provided a natural barrier to a gully alongside a set of railroad tracks. It smelled like someone nearby was burning leaves.

She watched Mark careen down the slide—without making a sound. He played like some people studied—quietly and focused. While watching TV or eating or even lying in bed, he was a regular chatterbox. He even talked to himself. But not right now. He was concentrating, and the task at hand was making his way down the slide.

Maggie had no complaints. The silence was lovely—no traffic noise, just the occasional chirping from some birds. She went back to her grocery list. Rollos & mini Nestlé Crunch, she wrote. They needed something for the trick-or-treaters, but who was she kidding? She'd be dipping into both bags. Hell, she'd probably have to buy another supply before Halloween. Better she give out some candy that wasn't so tempting—maybe Mike & Ikes and Hot Tamales. No, she'd only eat those, too. Maggie jotted down a few more candy candidates, then scratched them out and scribbled: Halloween crap—whatever's on sale.

In the distance, she heard a train horn blaring. She automatically looked up. Mark wasn't on the slide anymore. She glanced over toward the vacant monkey bars—and then at the swing set. The empty swings swayed in the breeze. The chains holding them squeaked lightly.

"Mark?" she called. Maggie sprung up from the bench. Her notepad and pen fell to the ground. "Mark, honey, where are you?" she yelled. Glancing around the park, she had this awful feeling in the pit of her stomach. She didn't see him on the railroad tracks on the other side of the bushes. And he wasn't in the playfield, either. How could he have just vanished?

She kept hoping to hear his laugh. Maybe he was playing hide-and-seek with her. But all she heard was the train horn, getting louder and louder. She anxiously looked over toward the tracks again. There was still no sign of him.

The street was on the other side of the playfield, and she didn't see any cars coming or going. No one could have driven off with him. She'd only looked away for a few moments. With a hand on her forehead, she wandered around the small park, calling out his name.

Why in God's name didn't he answer her?

With a roar, the train sped by, drowning out her cries. As it churned down the tracks, the noise subsided—only to be replaced by the sound of her son's screams. Panic-stricken, all Maggie could think was that the train had run over him—and severed his foot or an arm.

Maggie raced toward the tracks and broke through a gap in the shrubs. Peering down at the gully that sloped down from the railroad tracks, she spotted Mark. "Honey?" she whispered.

Her little boy stood at the bottom of the ditch—amid the thorny bushes and overgrown grass. He'd just pulled something out of a black plastic garbage bag. Frozen, he held it in his trembling hand, and kept shrieking. It was a severed human arm.

He couldn't seem to move or let go of the mangled thing. And he couldn't stop screaming.

Horrified, Maggie rushed down the gully to him. She had to knock the severed arm out of his grasp. The empty black plastic bag danced in the wind. Maggie hugged her young son, but he kept screaming. His little body shook in her embrace.

Maggie glanced down at the blue-white limb amid the overgrown grass. The fingertips on the hand had been cut off, and hundreds of ants were crawling all over it.

* * *

The headline and subhead ran across the top of page three of Saturday's Chicago Tribune:

ANOTHER GRISLY DISCOVERY IN 'GARBAGE BAG' KILLING

Severed Arm Found Near Glenview Playground

Seated on a stool at the window counter of the Plaza del Lago Starbucks in Wilmette, he paid no attention to the traffic on Sheridan Road or the view of the lake. He sipped his Grande Americano and pored over the news article. He was a bit disappointed the story hadn't made the front page.

No photo accompanied the article, but there was a map of the Chicago North Shore suburbs. It pinpointed each location where a garbage bag containing a body part was found. So far there were three sites on the map, all within a few miles of each other.

The most recent find had been the right arm, which he'd tossed in a ditch by some railroad tracks near a playground in Glenview. He'd sealed the bag up pretty well, but that was no guarantee raccoons or birds wouldn't get to it.

Fortunately, a four-year-old Glenview boy—the news article didn't give his name—found it first. The news story indicated that his handiwork was still intact—nothing gnawed away, no bite marks to mar the clean, surgical cuts he'd made just below her shoulder.

He hadn't been as lucky with the first find. Wood creatures had discovered the left leg hours before a group of schoolkids on a field trip stumbled upon it along a forest trail in Glencoe's Turnbull Woods on Monday morning. The possums or raccoons had dragged the garbage bag—along with the half-eaten limb—to the path's edge.

Another animal, a collie named Tippin, had unearthed the left arm wrapped in a garbage bag by some bushes at the edge of Tower Road Beach in Winnetka. Bradley Reece, a retired English teacher, had been taking Tippin on an unleashed run along the beach when the dog had made the discovery late Thursday afternoon.

"Cook County Medical Examiner Dennis Gotlieb has confirmed the severed leg and arms are from the same unidentified female victim," the article stated. "The fingertips of both hands had been cut off. Gotlieb indicated that the victim appears to have been killed within the past two weeks."

Nine days ago, to be exact, thought the man, hunched over the counter with his newspaper. He'd strangled her last Thursday. It was supposed to have been a night of reconciliation, or at least she'd thought so. He'd surprised her with a bottle of champagne and a carton of Ben & Jerry's strawberry. She never got to finish that first glass of champagne.

Three garbage bags containing her remains were still out there at various locations along the North Shore. A cold snap in the weather had helped keep the limbs relatively fresh. They hadn't yet found the right leg, her lower torso, and the upper torso. But they would—soon enough.

He didn't think they would ever find her head. He'd buried it very carefully.

According to the news article, one of the detectives on the scene at Tower Road Beach on Thursday had referred to the discovery as part of the Garbage Bag Murder.

The man sitting in Starbucks hoped the moniker caught on. He liked the sound of it.

"If I told you a secret—I mean, a really, majorly serious secret—would you promise not to blab to anybody?"

Seventeen-year-old Candy Kruger couldn't keep it inside any longer. She had to talk to someone. She nervously ran a hand through her light brown hair—styled after Rachel in Friends. The sophisticated cut seemed incongruous with her St. Regina High School uniform: white Peter Pan–collar blouse, plaid kilt, and knee socks.

Her best friend, Trish Scanlin, gazed at her from behind a pair of slightly mannish glasses. She had frizzy red hair, which today was pulled back and braided. She blinked several times. "God, what is it?" she whispered.

"Candice and Patricia!" their biology teacher, Ms. Trotter, admonished them. Maybe it was the photo of President Clinton—right under the photo of Pope John Paul II—by the blackboard, but Ms. Trotter always reminded Candy of Hillary Clinton. Though a redhead, she did her hair like the first lady—and she had that same brainiac, no-nonsense demeanor. "Eyes on your work, and put your gloves on, please," Ms. Trotter said.

Candy automatically straightened up on her stool. With a sigh, she slipped on the pair of latex gloves that had been placed on the worktable in front of her. She rolled her eyes at Trish, and then gazed down at the wrinkly pink-grayish dead thing in a pan with a plastic bag rolled up beside it. Candy's lip curled. Part of the umbilical cord was still attached to the fetal pig they had to dissect for class. She and Trish had been working with the unborn piglet for three days now, and Candy still wasn't used to it. Trish did most of the cutting. They'd named the poor thing Boris, after their drippy trig teacher who stunk from wearing too much bargain-basement cologne. Their little Boris stunk as well—from formaldehyde or whatever the solution was preserving him.

According to Ms. Trotter, the insides of a pig were similar to a human's, and that was why this animal was so ideal for dissection. And no fetal pigs were murdered for this biology class—at least, not exactly. They were the unborn piglets of sows butchered by the meatpacking industry. They were extracted from the dead sow's uterus.

That little bit of information didn't make Candy feel any better about cutting into the poor thing. And it had her swearing off bacon—at least until the end of the semester.

She kept gazing at Boris and at the plastic bag in which they stored him between classes. She thought about cutting into him, and couldn't help making a connection to the latest discovery in the Garbage Bag Killing.

The day before, someone had found the woman's upper torso. It had been inside a black garbage bag at a construction site—a half-finished new mansion in Hubbard Woods, not far from the house they used in Home Alone. Like anyone would want to live in that new mansion now, no matter how pretty it was, even in that ritzy cake-eater neighborhood.

According to the TV news, the torso had some distinct markings.

"So—what's the big secret?" Trish whispered. Hovering over Boris, she held a suture in her gloved hand. But she was looking at Candy.

Ms. Trotter was busy helping Barbie Ray, who was a total moron, so Candy figured it was okay to talk. "You know how yesterday they found a new section of that woman who got murdered?" she said under her breath. "And you know how my aunt supposedly killed herself?"

Trish scowled at her. "What do you mean, supposedly?"

"I mean, I don't think she committed suicide," Candy admitted in a quiet voice. She kept her head down, pretending to be focused on the fetal pig in front of her. "I think she's the one whose body parts they're finding all over the place."

"You're kidding!" Trish said, out loud.

Candy automatically glanced toward Ms. Trotter, who glared at them. "Patricia, Candice? Is there something you'd like to share with the rest of the class? And does it have anything to do with the digestive system of our specimens?"

Their mouths open, both Candy and Trish quickly shook their heads. Then they pretended to get back to work on Boris. Candy stared at the internal organs of the unborn thing. She thought of her Aunt Lisa—and the section of torso found at that construction site.

Candy felt sick. She remembered how beautiful her Aunt Lisa was. They weren't too far apart in age. Lisa was only twenty-five. She had wavy, shoulder-length chestnut hair and big blue eyes with long, thick lashes. Candy had seen her without makeup, and she was still gorgeous. Candy had seen her naked, too. Her aunt had taken her swimming at the country club pool a few times over the summer, and Candy had snuck a curious peek at her in the locker room. She felt clunky and pale in her aunt's naked presence. Lisa had long, tan, shapely legs, a tiny waist, and petite perfect breasts. She seemed flawless—until Candy glimpsed the purple-hued bruise on Lisa's lower back. She also had an ugly scar along her left rib cage—a cluster of three angry-reddish marks, each about the size of a nickel.

Lisa seemed to catch her staring, and she quickly wrapped a towel around her. Earlier, while swimming, Candy had wondered why her aunt—with her killer body—would wear a modest one-piece swimsuit to the pool. Now she knew. "God, Aunt Lisa, what happened?" Candy asked. "It looks like you burned yourself, and your back...."

Her Aunt Lisa just shook her head, which Candy took as a cue to shut the hell up. Outside, kids screamed, giggled, and splashed in the pool. But in their little alcove of the locker room, Candy just stared at her Aunt Lisa for a moment.

Lisa let out a nervous laugh. "Oh, I'm such a klutz. I—I had an accident with the barbecue, hon. That's what I get for messing around in your Uncle Glenn's territory. I fell—and suddenly there were hot coals and me sprawled out all over the patio...." With a wave of her hand, she seemed to dismiss the subject. "I'm so embarrassed. I don't even want to talk about it. You know what I think? I think we should head to Old Orchard and go shopping. Fall's just around the corner, hon, and you'll need clothes for all the dates you'll have...."

Clutching the towel around her, Aunt Lisa retreated toward the shower area. Candy frowned as she watched her duck around the corner of the tiled room. She'd known right then that story about the barbecue was probably a lie.

Glenn was Candy's uncle—her mom's younger brother and a big-shot surgeon. He and Lisa had been married for a year. Lisa had a brother with cancer or something, and he was always in and out of the hospital. That was how Lisa had met Glenn—during one of her hospital visits to her brother. She didn't really have any other family. As for girlfriends, the way Lisa explained it she just grew apart from most of her friends when she married Glenn. She became sort of a big sister to Candy—a big sister with money, who took her places and bought her stuff. Plus she was funny and sweet, and a good listener. Candy confided in her. She didn't think there was anything she couldn't tell her Aunt Lisa.

And yet on that afternoon in the women's changing room by the country club pool, she'd realized there were some things Lisa kept secret from her.

Candy wouldn't put it together about the bruise and the burn marks until after Aunt Lisa disappeared.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from TERRIFIED by KEVIN O'BRIEN Copyright © 2012 by Kevin O'Brien. Excerpted by permission of PINNACLE BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 35 )
Rating Distribution

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(23)

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(10)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 35 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 4, 2012

    I recently discovered Kevin O'Brien and love his books. This on

    I recently discovered Kevin O'Brien and love his books. This one delivers as well! Suspenseful, as usual!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted June 8, 2014

    Love!

    This book gets a rare 5 stars! I love this mans writing. This is a book you just want to keep reading. The characters are believable, the story linecseems ripped from the headlines. You can imagine yourself in Megans shoes! Highly recommended read and author. He's a little bit Stephen King and Dean Koontz, with his own terrifying twist.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 9, 2013

    Have been looking for a new author, I found one here! This book

    Have been looking for a new author, I found one here! This book was just good!!!! Never a dull moment, had twists and turns and even made me jump a few times. Read it at night but look out to see 
    If someone is watching!

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

    Posted January 24, 2013

    I loved this book and couldn't put it down!!! This book just dr

    I loved this book and couldn't put it down!!! This book just draws you into the story and you feel like your in it! Was my first time reading one of his books but I will definitely read another!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 12, 2013

    i love his books i read make them cry and i was hooked.i love th

    i love his books i read make them cry and i was hooked.i love them all then i read terrified in a day and a half

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  • Posted November 27, 2012

    Another hit by one of my favorite authors. Suspenseful with twi

    Another hit by one of my favorite authors. Suspenseful with twists and turns.

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

    Posted October 27, 2012

    The secondborn

    The secondborn kit ran in, covered in blood. Her mothers earsplitting shrieks were heard in the distance. Dew.... she whimpered. She curled up and started to sleep lightly bareley breathing.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 12, 2012

    Great book as always by Kevin O'Brien.

    Looked this book, just as good as all this authors books. Keeps you in suspense all the way.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2012

    This was my first novel by this author. I thought it was pretty

    This was my first novel by this author. I thought it was pretty good, it kept me interested. I just had one small issue - pages 393-424 were missing. They didn't appear to have been torn out or anything. It was like they were never put in in the first place. Anyone else have that problem? I did buy the book at a thrift store, but, as I stated, the pages don't seem to have been removed (no empty spaces in the binding or jagged edges). Even so, it was entertaining.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2012

    Good read

    Second book by this author. It was great.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2012

    Fantastic read... Edge of your seat

    I have now read all of Kevin O'Brien's books. This was definitely one of the best. As usual, there are many twists to the plot, keeping you on the edge of your seat until the very end. Just when you think you have it figured out, bam, another twist! If you enjoy this author, you must read this book!

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

    Posted August 2, 2012

    Not His Best

    Having recently discovered this author, I have recently read several of his books. While I have enjoyed the others that I!ve read, I found this one to be repetitive and too similar to some of his other books (Watch Them Die, for example). I was able to figure out who the killer was VERY early on.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted July 20, 2012

    A real good Loved It!

    A really good book with so many twists and turns Kept me guessing until the last few chapters

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 6, 2012

    Very Good Book

    Kevin O'Brien is one of my favorite authors. This book is hard to put down and will keep you on the edge of your seat. In fact, all his books are very good

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 18, 2012

    This was a super fast-paced thriller. Highly recommend.

    This was a super fast-paced thriller. Highly recommend.

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

    Posted May 18, 2012

    Truly a MUST READ!!!

    Love his work, but I think this is his best ever. Can't wait for what's next.






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  • Posted May 5, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Karen P. for Readers Favorite In "Terrified&qu

    Reviewed by Karen P. for Readers Favorite

    In "Terrified", author Kevin O'Brien has produced a gasp-a-minute plot which keeps the reader reeling until the final chapter. Megan Kessler is an abused woman who is thought to have committed suicide in an attempt to escape from her abusive husband. In truth, she has changed her name and relocated to the Pacific Northwest to raise a child who knows nothing about his mother's past. A series of murders and mutilations grab Megan's attention and then, the unthinkable happens; her husband is released from prison, making her life an ongoing torment of fear and guesswork. In an attempt to protect her son from his abusive father, Megan gets deeper and deeper involved in a plot in which a murderer vows to have and to keep Megan no matter the cost.

    This is a story the reader has heard again and again, and yet, it is fresh and mind-boggling as well as a story to keep the reader on the seat of the chair begging for a reprieve from the ongoing suspense. No one wants to believe any human could sink to the depths of the killer in this story and yet, the reader remains mesmerized, hoping that justice might come out of the terror and the turmoil that has so cruelly been thrust at Megan Keeslar and her son Josh. O'Brien is a master of suspense and this novel will not disappoint the most avid suspense reader.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 4, 2012

    Very highly recommended thriller!

    Another great book by Kevin O'Brien that will leave you on edge and turning the pages :)

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

    Posted April 17, 2012

    Awesome!

    This book is wonderful. It kept me guessing right until the end! Its a great game of cat and mouse and thinking you know who did it but being totally wrong!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 13, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Just finished another great thriller by Kevin O'Brien. If you li

    Just finished another great thriller by Kevin O'Brien. If you like thrillers this is the book for you. I thought from reading the back of this book that it would be a familiar previously done storyline BUT surprise this book was not what I thougt it was going to be about at all. This is the story of Lisa Swann who stages her death so she can run away from her abusive husband Glenn and start a new life. She is pregnant with their son Josh when she becomes a new person Megan Kesslar.That's where the storyline changes to her having a obsessed stalker for many years and him taking her son hostage. Hiding her secret life from everyone she has no one to turn to but herself. Is it her husband who found her or someone new? Have to read to find out. Great thriller , good long read. I would recommend to anyone who likes a good suspense book!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 35 Customer Reviews

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