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The Tunnels
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The Tunnels

4.0 18
by Michelle Gagnon

An old, abandoned tunnel system beneath a prestigious New England college becomes the gruesome stalking ground of a serial killer…

The crime scenes are both grim and otherworldly. The bodies of two female students are found mutilated and oddly positioned in the dark labyrinth beneath the school—haunting symbols painted on the walls above them.

In her


An old, abandoned tunnel system beneath a prestigious New England college becomes the gruesome stalking ground of a serial killer…

The crime scenes are both grim and otherworldly. The bodies of two female students are found mutilated and oddly positioned in the dark labyrinth beneath the school—haunting symbols painted on the walls above them.

In her decade tracking serial killers, FBI special agent Kelly Jones has seen some of the worst humanity can inflict. Yet the tragedy unfolding at her alma mater chills her to the bone. Evidence suggests that the connection between the victims—daughters of powerful men—and the cryptic message behind the killings is rooted in a dark, ancient ritual. As the body count rises, so do the stakes. The killer is taunting Kelly, daring her to follow him down a dangerous path from which only one can emerge.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Though formulaic, the debut novel from Gagnon is saved by smart, appealing lead characters FBI Special Agent Kelly Stone and her partner, Roger Morrow. A distinguished New England college is in turmoil after two female students, each the daughter of rich and powerful families, are found butchered in an old campus tunnel system, with strange Norse symbols painted around them. Joining the agents on the case is former FBI agent Jake Riley, who now works as head of security for one of the dead girls' fathers. As more bodies turn up-and a student goes missing-Kelly and her team find themselves in a race to stop the mysterious killer. While Gagnon doesn't bring much new to the standard serial-killer plot line, she keeps things moving with a brisk pace and likable leads. Kelly's interactions with Roger carry a nice blend of warmth, humor and professionalism, bringing a sense of the real to their partnership. Kelly and Jake's relationship is no less interesting, and Gagnon wisely avoids forcing a romance between them. Gagnon's characters hold promise for an enjoyable series; she just need to find some cases worthy of them. (June)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

Product Details

Publication date:
Kelly Jones Series , #1
Product dimensions:
4.21(w) x 6.62(h) x 0.81(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Tunnels

By Michelle Gagnon


Copyright © 2007 Michelle Gagnon
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780778324461

"What's his name?"

"Chad Peterson, a.k.a. smart–ass punk."

"Great. I can hardly wait." Kelly Jones sighed, quickening her pace as Agent Roger Morrow struggled to keep up.

"Jesus," he huffed. "It's called walking, Jones, not jogging."

"Sorry." She shrugged. "A decade of living in New York will do that to you. Relationship to the victim?"

"None, or so he claims. They hooked up at a party Saturday night, he took her into the tunnels—you know, get her a little scared and you might get lucky, that sort of thing—they heard a noise in the chapel and bolted, got separated, then Prince Charming spent the rest of the night tucked soundly in bed."

"And the girl?"

"Like I said, they got separated."

"And he didn't go back for her? What a hero. Any chance it was him?" "Nah. Normal kid, no history of anything besides the usual prep–school bullshit. Roommate confirms he was in bed, asleep by 2:00 a.m."

"But then frat brothers will say almost anything, won't they? Give me a minute alone with him." She threw open the door of the FBI command trailer. Sunk deep into one of the swiveling chairs was a young man, face buried in his hands. He lifted his head and regarded her forlornly. It was obvious he'd been crying. Pinned to the bulletin board behind him were photos of the girl. It was acommon tactic, leaving a suspect alone with the crime–scene photos. The innocent ones crumbled at the images, and the others…nine times out of ten they gave themselves away, unable to fully contain their pride. Chad Peterson appeared to belong to the former group, although Kelly wasn't letting him off the hook yet. She fixed him with a glare and planted herself in front of the chair, peering past him to examine the gruesome images of the crime scene. The trailer was sparsely furnished, desks and swivel chairs bolted to the floor, most of the wall space occupied by dry–erase and bulletin boards. A coffeepot and microwave in the corner served as the kitchen. Right now, all of the boards in the office were empty save for the one she squared off against.

This wasn't her first homicide. Since joining the Bureau a decade earlier, she had investigated dozens of deaths across the country, ranging from prostitutes dumped in shallow graves to children maimed beyond comprehension. But these shots were uniquely horrific. The girl hung from a rope coiled around one of the beams supporting the roof of the tunnel. Her naked body was splayed like a butterfly on display, head dangling forward, eyes open as if gazing down at the terror inflicted on her body. Her jaw hung abnormally slack and distended. Below the rope, her chest was carved open to expose broken ribs; the lungs were missing, an odd trophy to take, Kelly thought. Blood trailed down the girl's leg from another gash on the inside of her upper thigh. The incisions were surgical, probably done with a large hunting knife, Kelly surmised. Scrawled across the bottom of the photos in black ink was, "Anna Varelas, 20 yrs., Cauc female."

"So." She turned to the boy. "Anything you want to tell me?"

"I'm so sorry…" he began, voice strangling with emotion. "When she didn't come back, I just assumed she found another way out, you know? I never thought…" He dissolved into sobs.

Kelly twisted the top off a bottle of water and handed it to him. He took it gratefully and swallowed a few gulps, breath heaving between sips. She watched him silently. Not even De Niro could pull off a performance of this caliber. The kid was definitely clean. Being an asshole didn't make him a killer, she thought grimly. Which unfortunately made her job harder. "Have you seen her before?"

"Sure." He nodded his head slowly. "Around campus. But this is the first time I ever talked to her, I swear. I don't know who could've done this. I feel terrible, I never should have left her alone down there."

"No, you shouldn't have." "I just don't get it. I've been in those tunnels a hundred times, I've never seen anything or anyone—"

"There's a first time for everything." Kelly perched on the edge of the desk facing him and crossed her arms. "So here's what we're going to do. We're going to go through your story, step by step. Anything you can remember, even if it doesn't seem important, you're going to tell me. I want to know everything you said and did, everything you heard and saw, up until the moment you got into bed. You got it?"

He cleared his throat loudly. "Sure." He finished off the water and pushed a stray hair out of his eyes, surreptitiously wiping away the last of his tears. "FBI, huh? I thought you guys only came in for the big cases."

"This is a big case."

"Well yeah, I know. But I figured one murder, the cops would handle it first, right? Aren't you guys only pulled in for federal stuff?"

She considered telling him about the other girl, then decided against it. "You don't know who she was?"

"Who, Anna? She said she went to boarding school in Switzerland."

"Right. She's Dmitri Christou's daughter." Kelly sighed inwardly at his blank stare. "The Greek shipping magnate? Makes loans that float the economies of small countries?"

"No shit?" The boy looked awed. "But I thought her last name was—"

"She was going by her mother's maiden name here, as a security precaution." "Wow…I had no idea."

"That was the whole point. Anyway." Kelly pulled a notebook from her inside jacket pocket and flipped to a clean page. "You met around what time last night?"

"So what do you think?"

She looked up from her notes to find Morrow watching her, rocking back and forth on his heels with a half smile.

"Not our guy." She rubbed her eyes with a thumb and forefinger and suppressed a yawn.

"Told you. Long day, huh? Where'd they pull you in from?"


"Oh right, the chicken guy. Nice work on that one."

"Thanks. How's Carol?"

"Counting down the days until my retirement."

"Really? I didn't think you were close." Kelly had worked a few cases with Morrow in the past, including a particularly nasty one with teenagers who took horror movies far too seriously. She wouldn't have guessed him to be a day past forty–five, bald head and paunch aside.

"Just ten years to go," he joked, rolling his eyes. "You want to talk to the other couple that was with them?"

Kelly shrugged. "You tell me. Did they see or hear anything?"

Morrow shifted his belt back below his paunch. "Naw. Those two could have seen Jack the Ripper drag someone into an alley and they wouldn't have anything to report. Their daddies must be rich, otherwise there's no way they would've gotten in here. You stop by the sites?"

Kelly shook her head. "No time yet." She nodded at the board behind her. "But a picture's worth a thousand words."

"Gruesome, huh?"

"Yeah, gruesome." Kelly sighed. Ten years of this work and it never seemed to get any easier. If anything, the killers she tracked became more creative and vicious in their cruelty. "What did the M.E. list as cause of death?"

Morrow sank into the chair opposite her. "From the looks of it he strung her up first, but the rope was knotted to choke without breaking her neck. Actual cause of death was massive blood loss. Stabbed the femoral vein and collected the blood in a bucket while she was still alive and kicking."

"Tricky stuff." Kelly chewed the end of her pen.

"Could be a surgeon, someone with medical training."

"I checked, no med school here. I was thinking a butcher."

"Not a lot of those here, either," Kelly noted. Morrow shrugged. "You never know, maybe a scholarship kid or prof with a blue–collar daddy." He walked over to the board and pointed to one of the photos, the camera zeroing in on the girl's toes dangling just above the ground. "You see these circles, here? The bigger one was left by the bucket, wax residue indicates the other two were candles. He tore her jaw in two, snapped her ribs and yanked out her lungs."


"God, I hope so. We should know for certain this afternoon. Not the way I want to go, I'll tell you that much."

Kelly leaned in to squint at the photos. "Any sign of rape?"

Morrow shook his head. "M.E. doesn't think so, at least definitely not with the Christou girl. Believe it or not she was still a virgin, probably the last one on campus. The other one, she's not so sure."

"Tell me more about her."

"Almost identical M.O.s. Lin Kaishen, Chinese, twenty–one–year–old senior, daughter of a U.N. diplomat. Turned up in a connecting tunnel about a half–mile away. She'd been missing for about two weeks, not that anyone knew it. Her friends assumed she went home for the break before midterm exams, parents thought she stayed to work on her thesis. We're trying to pin down exactly when she got grabbed. Not a pretty sight after the rats got to her. I've got the shots here if you want to take a look at them."

"Sure." Morrow tossed her the file. She caught it midair and flipped it open. This girl was slighter and more fine–boned, with long black hair trailing down what remained of her face. Her legs were spread, pinned to the wall with heavy black rebar. Again, the lower jaw dangled grotesquely and ribs peeked out from her torn flesh. Kelly's eyes narrowed. "Body position's different."

"And that's why they pay you the big bucks. For some reason he skipped the legs on the Christou girl. Maybe he forgot the rebar at home."

"But remembered the bucket and candles? Might mean he's refining his M.O.," Kelly mused. It generally took serial killers some time to hit their groove, so to speak. The best chance of catching them was always early on, when they hadn't yet perfected their technique and were most likely to make a mistake. With any luck, they were dealing with a newcomer here. "So sure it's a he?" Morrow asked.

Kelly shrugged. "To mount the girls like this would take someone pretty strong, or maybe two people. What are this one's stats?"

Morrow flipped through his notebook. "According to her driver's license she was five–six, a hundred–fifteen pounds."

"Add five to that. Girls always lie about their weight." Kelly peered closely at the last photo in the batch.

"What's that behind her? Was that already there?"

"That, my friend, is our best lead. And the answer to why he collects their blood. Apparently he's too cheap to invest in a set of watercolors. We found a couple of them painted down there, mostly in the tunnels leading to the chapel." He tossed her two more photos. "These were taken once the bodies were removed."

Kelly examined one photo closely. The paint had been smudged by the girl's body, blurring the details of a crudely scrawled image. It was difficult to tell whether it was supposed to be human or animal, but it was most definitely a face of some sort. Two eyes glowered fiercely from beneath a shaggy brow, pointy ears jabbed out from the sides, and a long bedraggled beard dangled almost to the floor. Even here, under the fluorescent glow of the trailer lights, the sight of it induced a prickle at the base of her spine. She could only imagine how much worse it would look looming out from the darkness of the tunnels. "He uses the girls' blood as paint?"


Excerpted from The Tunnels by Michelle Gagnon Copyright © 2007 by Michelle Gagnon. 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.

What People are Saying About This

James Rollins
"From its harrowing prologue to its haunting last paragraph, Michelle Gagnon masterfully crafts a stellar work of mounting suspense and terror. Ritual murder, ancient magic, and buried secrets all blend seamlessly in this debut mystery by a major new talent. Not to be missed!"--(James Rollins, New York Times bestselling author of Black Order)
Denise Hamilton
"A tantalizing premise, brilliantly executed, The Tunnels is a powerful Gothic-tinged thriller that hits the ground running and doesn't let up until the final page. A riveting blend of Norse mythology, ritualized Ivy League murders, a sympathetic female FBI profiler, and a ticking clock. So slick and polished it's hard to believe this is Michelle Gagnon's first book."--(Denise Hamilton, Edgar, Anthony, Macavity and Creasey Dagger finalist and author of Prisoner of Memory, a Toronto Globe & Mail "Best Book of 2006")
John Lescroart
"This book starts out scary and only gets worse-or, if you like frightening thrillers- better. Michelle Gagnon is a fresh and confident new voice in crime fiction, and The Tunnels marks an auspicious debut."--(John Lescroart, New York Times bestselling author of The Suspect and The Hunt Club)
Sheldon Siegel
"Michelle Gagnon's stellar debut is an edge-of-your seat story of suspense and intrigue. FBI agent Kelly Jones is in a race against time to stop a series of gruesome murders on a pristine college campus. With a deftly-crafted plot and a winning protagonist, Gagnon spins a fast-moving yarn that is certain to keep you up late. We will hear more from this talented newcomer. Highly recommended."--(Sheldon Siegel, New York Times bestselling author of The Confession)

Meet the Author

Michelle Gagnon has worked as a bartender, dog walker, Russian supper club performer, model, personal trainer, and writer. She lives in San Francisco.

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Tunnels 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
At a small New England college, two coeds go missing and are later discovered in the system of tunnels below the school as part of ritualistic sacrifices. FBI Special Agent Kelly Jones (an alumna of the college) and her partner, Morrow, are called in to investigate the crimes and find the killer before he kills again. The father of one of the girls has also hired his own investigator, Jake Riley. Together the three are racing against time to try to put together the puzzle pieces and figure out the significance behind the rituals in an effort to keep any other coeds from suffering the same fate. Michelle Gagnon has written a wonderfully fast paced debut novel that will keep you guessing until the last page is turned.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This debut novel is an eclectic mix of serial murder and ancient rituals that brings a refreshing wind to this genre of writing. We are introduced to FBI Special Agent Kelly Jones, a ten year veteran of tracking serial killers, who has returned to her alma mater to solve two bizarre killings. Playing on our primal fears of being alone in the dark, Michelle Gagnon explores the tunnels of our imagination and makes each twist and turn of the plot come to life. Fast- paced and original, this book is just the beginning for this talented new author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Started out with a bang and ended with a surprise.
denmna70 More than 1 year ago
What a excellant descriptive book. Took two days to read becasue I couldn't put it down, between the suspense and Michelle Gagnon giving you the ability to feel apart of the book and be there with everyone. Love trying to figure out who did it and you know when you are reading a great book when you think you know who didd it and then you end up wrong. Intense a bit of romance yet when you're reading a book like that you really are not reading it for the romance anyways. Can't wait to read her next book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Tunnels was an amazing debut from a talented new writer. The story grips you from the first and you can¿t put it down until the very exciting an shocking conclusion. Just when you think you have it all figured out you find out you were way off base. The characters are interesting and well developed. I am assuming that Kelly Jones, the FBI agent who is sent to her old alma mater to investigate the gory sacrificial death of a female student and daughter of a rich and powerful father, will be in further mysteries by this author. Soon Kelly learns that this isn¿t the first death and shortly after her arrival there are more. Deaths abound in the wake of this serial killer on the lose, and it is up to Kelly Jones and her partner Morrow with the help of an outside private agent and former FBI, Jake, to find him and quickly before more deaths. There are lots of twists and turns and an interesting history of the ancient rites of the Norsemen. Give this one a try, you won¿t be sorry. It will keep you reading into the night.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Michelle Gagnon's debut thriller, The Tunnels, is a welcome new voice. This serial killer thriller chills the reader with an unusual motive and an ancient ritual that unfolds with page-turning suspense. Readers may not want to read this book alone at night. A New England college with a labyrinth of tunnels underground, rich girls found dead --- their fathers leaders in the world--- victims slain in a ritualistic and brutal fashion, ancient rituals from a religion unknown except to scholars...a serial killer whose pace is quickening...what more could a person want in a thriller? Thriller lovers will want to grab this debut book and catch the Michelle Gagnon ride while it is beginning. When a college girl is found brutally and ritualistically murdered in the tunnels below the college, FBI Special Agent Kelly Jones sees the evidence, she knows that she has never encountered a serial killer like the one before her now. With the body count increasing, Kelley Jones must unravel the clues to prevent more killings. As she gets closer and closer, the killer begins to taunt her. Can she find him in time and will she survive their encounter? Readers may want to read this book with the light on (not a book light!) or get an early start in the day. Something about a shadowed dark room, these tunnels and the kidnap scenes makes a person crave light. Kelley Jones is a multi-dimensional character. Following the trail of the serial killer with her as a guide is just downright thrilling. If you like thrillers with serial killers, this is a great choice. Even if, like me, you normally do not read serial killer thrillers, The Tunnels might surprise and please a reader. I certainly enjoyed this thriller much more than most to eagerly await the next Michelle Gagnon thriller.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Two coed students, both children of foreign wealth, are mutilated in what appears to be ritual murders in the tunnels beneath the New England University. The FBI sends Special Agent Kelly Stone, alumni of the school, to lead the investigation that has international ramifications assisting her is Agent Roger Morrow. However, forcing his way onto the investigation is former agent Jake Riley, who heads security for wealthy and powerful Christou, the father of one of the victims.----------------- Soon other corpses surface that leads to the obvious: a ritual serial killer is on the loose. When another victim is abducted, the two Feds and the private sleuth try everything to prevent another murder. None know that Kelly has been brought into the crosshairs of a diabolical psychopath.------------------- The interrelationships between the three investigators including keeping a romance simmering on the back burner (attraction seems insignificant when dealing with mutilation and other mayhem) make for a fun police procedural. The story line is fast-paced as the actions especially of the realistic portrayed Kelly, Roger and Jake make the tale. Although the killer with his twin motive seems more out of ritual serial killer handbook 101, thriller fans will appreciate Michelle Gagnon¿s fine cat and mouse story inside the TUNNELS.--------------- Harriet Klausner
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a great novel! Page turner, could not put it down. Great read especially recommend for a beach read. Can't wait until her next book comes out!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Story doesn't really 'kick' in until about page 152, then you can't put it down. Characters were not clearly defined, and disappointed by lack of relationship between main characters. All in All, good book. Would read next work.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow! It's been a long time since a book has kept me reading all night! This is a great book - I'm looking forward to more by this great writer.
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