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The cat dodged Charlie Schilling's feet as he made his way
across the parking lot to Panik's Bar and Grille. The cat was
two years old, amber-eyed and mostly black except for a patch
of white to one side of her nose and white paws and another
white patch on her belly. She was hungry but then she was
mostly hungry and had been for three months now since her
owners, two young newlyweds from Hopatcong, had driven her to
Sparta and dropped her off on the quiet street behind Paul's
Deli and driven away. Their new baby daughter was allergic.
The cat didn't know about allergies, only that where once
she'd been well-fed and warm and cared for by humans whose
presence rather comforted her now she was alone and cold
nights and nearly always felt a rumble in her belly. She
dodged Schilling's feet because Shilling was a big man and
unfamiliar and big men had been known to kick.
Schilling wouldn't have dreamt of kicking her and certainly
He walked into the yellow twilight of the bar and Ed Anderson
was just where he'd expected him to be, down at the end of the
bar leaning over a Bud and talking to Teddy Panik, who owned
the place. It was four-thirty, Happy Hour, and it was Ed's
practice to leave no Happy Hour at Panik's Bar and Grille
until six o'clock when it was over. Ed called it Going to the
Meeting. He'd never attended a business meeting in all his
fifty-two years but celebrating that fact was precisely the
He walked past Dave Lenhart and Phil Preston and said hi to
Billy Altman and Sam Heinz and Walter Earle who interrupted
their conversation about who made more money, Willie Shoemaker
or Lew Alcindor to say hello back to him and sat down on the
stool next to Ed. Teddy poured him his usual Dewar's and soda
and both he and Ed knew Charlie well enough to see that
something wasn't right, to let him have a while before saying
anything. It was Ed who finally asked.
"She died," Charlie said.
"Elise Hanlon. Life support all these years and what was the
point. Word came to the station a little after noon."
"Aw hell, Charlie. I'm sorry to hear that."
"You know I went to see her about a month ago and it looked to
me like she was already dead. Nothing but skin and bones. But
she wouldn't let go. Or they wouldn't let her let go. Another
He stared straight ahead at the faded blowup of Bogie as Sam
Spade over the register. Bogie was flanked by Gehrig and
Mantle. Behind him over the cigarette machine the neon Miller
sign was buzzing again. He thought that Teddy should either
fix the damn thing or throw it out. The buzzing was a pain in
the ass. But Teddy was partial to Miller and sold a lot of it.
Everybody seemed to want to drink Miller these days, everybody
but him and Ed. It called itself the Champagne of Bottled
Beers but to him it tasted like panther piss. Weak panther
piss at that.
He wasn't going to kick a cat but trashing a neon sign
probably would suit his mood exactly. Except he couldn't do
that to Teddy. Teddy was hooked on panther piss and they paid
him to hang the sign.
"We worked like hell on that one, Charlie. You know we did."
"Yeah, we did. And look where it went. Down the toilet."
"My partner along with it."
"Absolutely untrue, my friend."
Charlie looked at him. Ed was the most decent, honest guy he'd
ever met and he'd never known him to kid himself about
anything. Well, maybe about one thing-Sally Richmond. But he
thought he was kidding himself about this.
"What are you telling me? That's not the reason you left the
department? Come on, Ed. Bullshit."
"I left the department because I was tired. Not because of
Elise Hanlon or Lisa Steiner or even Ray Pye."
Pye was the kid they'd tried to nail on it. Except that
Pye wouldn't nail.
"We've had this talk before, Charlie. I'll give it to you one
more time. I won't say it wasn't a factor. Sure it was a
factor. But I put on the uniform ten years earlier than you.
Plus I've got six years on you age-wise. Let me refresh you,
my friend. When I started out in this town you didn't lock
your doors, you left 'em open even if you weren't home in case
the neighbors needed something, pliers or a cup of milk or
something and you weren't around to loan it to them. You
didn't worry about stealing. Hell, we're lakes district, half
the homes in town are closed up all winter. But you didn't
worry about break-ins in the wintertime, you worried about the
pipes freezing. From fifty to fifty-nine we had exactly one
homicide. And that was Willie Becker and his wife both drunk
as Chinamen slugging it out in the living room, him nailing
her with an uppercut he probably never knew he had in him.
"Ten years, fifteen years ago a cop's job in a town like
Sparta was mostly helping people, not chasing after punks and
bad guys. You made sure the kids got to school all right
mornings and stayed there and that the drunks got home to
their wives at night. You cleaned up after traffic accidents,
fender-benders mostly for god sakes and stood in the street
directing traffic during Kiwanis Karnival or heavy weather.
You worked with the volunteer fire department and the
first-aid department. Sure, there was the occasional assault
and battery, the occasional store theft, the occasional
vandalism. But, Charlie, we were helping cats out of gutters.
See what I mean? I didn't sign on for the reason the kids do
now, to catch the bad guys. I signed on because it was a good
thing to do and a way to do a little good.
"And then the world went and changed on me. Since Kennedy
died, maybe a while before, I dunno, things seem all shot to
Ed ordered another beer and Teddy poured it. Teddy was
listening in on them but you'd never know it. Not that he was
nosy. Teddy just wanted to know what his patrons had on their
minds. He wasn't a particularly smart man, but you could count
on him to be curious and you could count on him to be
"I didn't want to be that kind of cop, Charlie. I didn't want
to look at Lisa Steiner's shot-dead body four years ago and I
didn't want to look at another. Not ever. I know you've seen
some since then. That's not for me. I'm not sure it's for you
exactly either, you want to know the god's honest truth. But
that's your business, old buddy, your call. Teddy's got a good
corned beef sandwich with potato salad at two-twenty-five
today. Nice and lean. I recommend it highly."
There was a clock on the wall next to Gehrig with a plaque
under it saying irish time, but no clock with the real time.
Schilling stared at it without really seeing it. Teddy was
Polish but he'd bought the bar from an Irishman and never
bothered to change the clock or anything else about the place.
He wondered if Teddy knew what time it was in Poland.
"I've got to go talk with the mother."
"No you don't. Why?"
"You know why."
"It was four years ago, Charlie. She stopped calling, what,
two-and-a-half years ago? Let it ride."
"It's the least I can do."
"You already did the most you could do for chrissake."
"You don't get it."
"Okay, I'm a dope. Tell me what I don't get."
"I don't care anymore, Ed. Most of the time I just don't give
a shit. I used to want to nail that Pye kid real bad. I went
from that to figuring he'd slip up one of these days and I
could wait. I went from that to figuring we'd never nail him,
not for anything. Not even for a parking ticket and guess
what? We didn't. I had a woman couple of nights ago over on
Cedar Street, little white house next to the corner. Noise
complaint, two in the morning. She's new here and I think
there's something going on between her and the neighbors, bad
blood or something.
"Anyhow the uniforms go over and she's lying on the floor
unconscious, stark naked with her panties pulled over her
head. She's been raped so bad she can barely stand. A year
ago, two years, it would have made me mad as hell. Now it's
like it's the ass end of another real bad day, you know?"
"See? Same kind of blues I got. Only you got it a little
"No. You're wrong. You're telling me you quit because the job
description changed, you didn't want to chase the bad guys.
I'm staying on because I do want to chase the bad guys, I
always did, but jesus, I need something to shake me."
"They catch this joker?"
"Jokers. Three mean boozers from Dover. One of them's her
ex-boyfriend and the other two are his army buddies. She ID'd
them right away. And all I'm thinking is, these guys are
incredibly stupid. They should have killed her. Now how about
that? I'm thinking if they killed her they might have got away
"Shit, Charlie. That's a hell of a thing to say."
"You get no argument from me. That's my point."
Altman, Heinz and Earle had moved on to a loud discussion
about who was the better fighter, Joe Louis or Mohammed Ali,
who Altman still insisted on calling Cassius Clay. The juke
was blaring out a Frankie Valle tune.
It was like the sixties had never happened in Panik's joint.
They had definitely happened to Schilling.
"Pye, the mother and Elise Hanlon were the last ones who
really got to me. I want to touch bases with her."
"Phone her up."
"You're telling me you're gonna drive all the way to Short
"Soon as I leave here."
Ed nodded toward the scotch glass.
"You better go easy, then."
"I can drive on three."
"You can drive on five. I was your partner, remember? But I'd
just as soon you didn't."
It was two hours from Sparta to Short Hills, out of the lakes
district down through rolling hills to flatlands and once he
hit Route 10 he took his time. He could drive on three but two
would push him over the breathalyzer limit and cop or not it
would not be a good idea to get himself pulled over down here.
Not in Short Hills anyway. The town was about as prosperous as
New Jersey got and despite what most out-of-staters thought
that was considerable. Their police were entirely by the book
and their chief an irascible old son of a bitch in Schilling's
opinion. Besides, it was getting on to dark and his night
vision wasn't exactly what it used to be.
Number 245 Old Short Hills Road looked pretty much the same as
the last time he'd seen it maybe a year ago. Except that the
big black Lincoln wasn't there anymore. The husband, the
lawyer, had held on to that and the word was not much else,
leaving Barbara Hanlon the big white house on the corner, the
three-acre plot behind it and presumably a settlement large
enough to cover Elise's medical expenses and for Barbara to go
on living in the style to which she'd become accustomed. In
place of the Lincoln there was a dark blue Ferrari now. The
Ferrari looked lonely on the long wide blacktop and dwarfed by
Barbara Hanlon had told him once that theirs had been a happy
marriage and he'd believed her. He guessed that too had taken
a bullet in the head four years ago though nobody had been
aware of it at the time. Elise had outlived her parents'
marriage by just under a year.
The lawyer'd remarried. The wife hadn't.
He parked behind the Ferrari, got out and took the winding
walkway up the hill through the carefully tended lawn and
shrubbery to the steps, wondering just why he was here now
that in fact he was here and what in hell he was going to say
to her. He hadn't rehearsed this. During the drive his mind
had been mostly a blank, focused only on the road ahead, on
the process of getting there. Probably he was defending
himself against something. He didn't know. Right now he felt
like a toad on a four-lane expressway. Something just might
roll him over. He probably should have taken Ed's advice and
He crunched the last of his peppermint Lifesaver with his
front teeth and swallowed it against whiskey breath and
climbed the steps and rang the bell.
She took a while coming. He almost rang again. He had time to
think that maybe there was nobody home. But the living room
lights were on and there was the Ferrari sitting in the
He needn't have bothered with the Lifesaver. The woman who
opened the door was one he almost didn't recognize. The
Barbara Hanlon he knew, even in her grief, even in those awful
first days and nights at the hospital, had been proud and
strong and very nearly beautiful, the length of her chin
almost, but not quite, spoiling her elegant patrician
features. As the investigation faltered and finally died she
would visit the station trying to urge them on, eyes flashing
with a fury only barely restrained by her sense of dignity and
sheer will. It was always clear she shopped the best stores.
Her grooming dotted all the i's and crossed the t's. She
struck him as a tough lady and Schilling admired her.
There was nothing tough about her now.
This Barbara Hanlon was a mess.
She'd gained maybe twenty pounds since he saw her last. That
was very clear to Schilling because beneath the thin satin
robe she was also clearly naked. The robe didn't do much in
the way of obscuring the fuller breasts and belly. Her face
looked puffy and her makeup smudged. The long brown hair was
lank and needed brushing. Her eyes were red and he was betting
it wasn't tears that got them that way.
She held both sides of the door frame for balance. As drunk as
Schilling had ever been in his life and that was going some.
She stunk of gin and cigarette smoke. She stood in the doorway
polluting the Short Hills air.
"Christ," she said. "It's you."
Even the voice had changed. Like she was living with a
permanent head cold now.
"I heard about Elise, Mrs. Hanlon."
"I thought I'd come by."
She nodded. Weaved. Everything he'd said so far sounded lame
to him but he had to wonder if she even noticed.
"I wanted to say I'm sorry."
She stared at him. Empty-eyed and then not. As though some
sort of light upstairs kept blinking on and off.
"Hon? Who's that?"
The voice was a man's and it was every bit as slurred as hers
They'd been having a little party here.
On the eve of her daughter's death.
He appeared behind her barefoot, wearing wrinkled slacks and
nothing else. He was fastening his belt. He had a bony chest
and thin pale arms and he'd needed a shave since yesterday.
"Policeman, Eddie. Sparta Police. Come to see us 'bout Elise.
Detective Charles Schilling. The gen'lman who investigated the
case. This is Eddie."
"That's awfully nice of you," Eddie said. He reached out and
Schilling shook his hand.
He didn't know what to say. He felt suddenly very weary. He
didn't know whether he was disgusted or sad or angry with her
or exactly what he was. Maybe he was all those things at once
or maybe none of them.
"She died eleven thirty-five this morning. They called me.
Said she passed away."
"I know, Mrs. Hanlon. I'd asked the hospital to phone me at
the station if and when, so they had a note on the chart to
that effect. I guess I learned a little while after you did."
"I'm a little drunk, y'know?"
"I figure you probably have a right to be."
She started to cry. The man behind her put a hand on her
shoulder. The man looked both befuddled and sincere.
"Thing is, I been a little drunk a lot these days. I never did
drink much before 'cept maybe a glass of wine but now I do.
With Eddie. I met Eddie ... where did we meet, Eddie?"
"We met at the Standish House, Barb. At the bar there."
"That's right. We met at the bar. Thing is, see, it's not just
today. You understand?"
"It's good of you to come by, Officer," Eddie said. He had
both hands on her shoulders now. She was quietly sobbing. Her
face was red and streaked with tears.
"It's not just 'cause Elise's gone. I wish to hell I could
tell you that it was."
"Elise's been gone a long, long time," Eddie said to him.
There was nothing he could do here. Not for himself and not
for them. He knew about drunks. When Lila and the kids had
left him he'd taken to starting the morning with a couple
shots of vodka and then nipping from his flask all day and
passing out at night. The usual sad and stupid story. It was
Ed who threw his ass into detox, telling the chief he was
visiting a sick brother in Florida. Which turned out to be a
poor choice of places to lie about when he returned without so
much as a hint of a tan.
"If you need any help with this," he said, "with the drinking
I mean, give me a call. Either of you. I know a good place.
I've been there myself. Anything I can do, you call me. I'm
truly sorry about your daughter, Mrs. Hanlon."
"Me too," she said. "Real sorry."
It should have sounded silly. It didn't.
It sounded like a voice up out of a well.
Excerpted from The Lost
by Jack Ketchum
Copyright © 2001 by Jack Ketchum.
Excerpted by permission.
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.
Posted July 28, 2011
OMG! Its another one by the Master of Thrills. This had all the blood and slaughter that you could find.. His point of view writing puts you at the scene of the crime, from the murder's point. Readers beware you will read this one under the blankets with that flashlight.. Brings me back to my kid days... ooohhh the boogeyman!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 11, 2009
I am surprised now how many great reviews this novel has received. I didn't enjoy this book very much. I didn't really care for most of the characters. I think it tried to hard. To hard to shock the reader. Is there really a movie based on this book? Not sure if i will be reading another Ketchum book anytime soon.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 29, 2008
This is one of those books that you could read over and over again. Ketchum is the MASTER when it comes to writing and you really get the insiders prospective on violence. I am a huge fan of Ketchum and this book was awesome! Youll love the characters and hate them.. Read this novelWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 16, 2008
i really thought this was gonna be this nasty gory books, cuz i heard that about this author.well, it wasent...it was actually the kinda book i didnt think i would like...WELL i read this in one day, i have to say its one of the best books iv ever read!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 12, 2005
This is not an ordinary horror novel. The horrors here are simply human. Given the realistic premise, this story is more than frightening; this book has the power to disturb. The simplicity of the story and the setting is sharply punctuated by Ketchum's evocative and gruesome descriptions of violence. The way Ketchum draws seemingly disparate characters together has the overall affect of an oncoming train in which a collision is inevitable, and you can't take your eyes off the scene for even a second. The end is particularly unsettling. In Ketchum's world, as in real life, there are no easy answers.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 27, 2004
I picked this book up thinking it wouldn't keep my attention all the way through. But straight from the beginning I was hooked. One of the best books ever written. Simply Jack Ketchum's best.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 9, 2001
I¿ve read Jack Ketchum before and looked forward to this new book, THE LOST. When I started it I couldn¿t put it down until it was finished. It¿s a tense and edgy ride with Ray and those attracted to and repulsed by his relentless hunger. Years after the opening Bad incident we travel through the town Ray lives in, drawn by his non-PC life, waiting for the next Bad thing to happen. Ketchum doesn¿t disappoint in THE LOST, there was always another layer of Bad things waiting to make me turn the page. In the end, the random everyday-ness of Ray¿s evil made me want to put extra locks on my door and windows and sleep with the lights on. LOVED IT!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 9, 2008
A bored or angry Ray Pye is a dangerous person. In June 1965 in Sparta, New Jersey, Ray, accompanied by his girlfriend Jennifer and his best friend Tim, goes camping when he sees two girls touching and hugging one another. He concludes they are lesbians, a sexual preference he abhors. He shoots and kills one and leaves the other in a comatose state. Four years later, the second girl dies. <P>Neither Jennifer nor Tim snitch on Ray and no other evidence links the sociopathic killer to the crime. Tim and Jennifer fear Ray and do anything he demands of them. Jennifer continues to have sex with Ray though he openly cheats on her all the time. When Katherine enters his life, Ray falls in love his style. However, she dumps him leading to a rampage that makes his previous homicides seem like a night at the opera. <P> Jack Ketchum is a master of suspense and horror of the human variety. With each new novel he writes, Mr. Ketchum¿s plots seem to become scarier and scarier. THE LOST is horror at the edge of reality. The story line seems lifted from headlines making it even more frighteningly plausible. Readers so believe in what this Bram Stoker winner writes, there is probably a high correlation between installing new security systems and the release of a new Mr. Ketchum chiller. <P>Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 6, 2010
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Posted March 25, 2009
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Posted May 31, 2009
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Posted October 26, 2008
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Posted June 15, 2009
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