Twisted: The Collected Stories of Jeffery Deaver

Twisted: The Collected Stories of Jeffery Deaver

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by Jeffery Deaver
     
 

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New York Times bestselling author Jeffery Deaver delivers an electrifying collection of sixteen award-winning stories that will widen your eyes and stretch your imagination. Diverse and provocative, Twisted showcases Deaver's amazing range and signature plot twists: a beautiful woman goes to extremes to rid herself of her stalker; a contemporary

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Overview

New York Times bestselling author Jeffery Deaver delivers an electrifying collection of sixteen award-winning stories that will widen your eyes and stretch your imagination. Diverse and provocative, Twisted showcases Deaver's amazing range and signature plot twists: a beautiful woman goes to extremes to rid herself of her stalker; a contemporary of William Shakespeare vows to avenge his family's ruin; and Deaver's most beloved character, brilliant criminalist Lincoln Rhyme, is back to solve a chilling Christmastime disappearance.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Publishers Weekly Outstanding, gripping, brilliant, spectacular.

Los Angeles Times A thrill ride between covers.

Chicago Tribune Like watching a chess match in which the captured pieces actually fall to the board and bleed.

Publishers Week Outstanding, gripping, brilliant, spectacular.

Publishers Weekly
The title applies in several ways to this wicked collection of crime short stories by bestselling author Deaver (The Vanished Man, etc.): to many of the stories' characters and protagonists, who include murderers, adulterers, thieves; to the stories' arcs, which offer numerous bends and surprises; and to the general tone of the tales-as Deaver says in a brief introduction, "In a story, I can make good bad and bad badder and, most fun of all, really bad good." Of the 16 stories, 15 are reprints, some from Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, some from its counterpart Alfred Hitchcock, while one, a Christmas tale featuring Deaver's beloved quadriplegic crime-buster Lincoln Rhyme and his sidekick, Amelia Sachs, is original to the anthology. The opening story, "Without Jonathan," is representative of Deaver's approach here. A woman, Marissa, drives along a Maine road, tormented by images of her husband drowning at sea. She's on her way to meet a man, presumably her first date since her husband's death. Cut to the man, shown strangling a woman-is our heroine about to encounter a serial killer? The two meet... and it turns out that he's a hit man hired by Marissa to kidnap her cheating husband aboard the husband's ship, then throw him overboard. And so it goes in story after story, all characterized, in addition to clever plotting, by brisk characterization and compact, efficient prose. The Rhyme/Sachs entry, "The Christmas Present," is the cherry on the tart, as grumpy Rhyme and sweet but dangerous Sachs set out to save a woman from one apparent predator only to have to rescue her from another. Like an afternoon snack, this snappy volume will stave off hunger for Deaver fans until his next novel appears. (Dec. 9) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780743491594
Publisher:
Pocket Books
Publication date:
10/26/2004
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
480
Sales rank:
604,456
Product dimensions:
4.30(w) x 6.30(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

Triangle

"Maybe I'll go to Baltimore."

"You mean..." She looked over at him.

"Next weekend. When you're having the shower for Christie."

"To see..."

"Doug," he answered.

"Really?" Mo Anderson looked carefully at her fingernails, which she was painting bright red. He didn't like the color but he didn't say anything about it. She continued. "A bunch of women round here — boring. You'd enjoy yourself in Maryland. It'll be fun," she said.

"I think so too," Pete Anderson said. He sat across from Mo on the front porch of their split-level house in suburban Westchester County. The month was June and the air was thick with the smell of the jasmine that Mo had planted earlier in the spring. Pete used to like that smell. Now, though, it made him sick to his stomach.

Mo inspected her nails for streaks and pretended to be bored with the idea of him going to see Doug, who was her boss, an "important" guy who covered the whole East Coast territory. He'd invited both Mo and Pete to his country place but she'd planned a wedding shower for her niece. Doug had said to Pete, "Well, why don't you come on down solo?" Pete had said he'd think about it.

Oh, sure, she seemed bored with the idea of him going by himself. But she was a lousy actress; Pete could tell she was really excited at the thought and he knew why. But he just watched the lightning bugs and kept quiet. Played dumb. Unlike Mo, he could act.

They were silent and sipped their drinks, the ice clunking dully in the plastic glasses. It was the first day of summer and there must've been a thousand lightning bugs in their front yard.

"I know I kinda said I'd clean up the garage," he said, wincing a little. "But — "

"No, that can keep. I think it's a great idea, going down there."

I know you think it'd be a great idea, Pete thought. But he didn't say this to her. Lately he'd been thinking a lot of things and not saying them.

Pete was sweating — more from excitement than from the heat — and he wiped the moisture off his face and his short-cut blond hair with a napkin.

The phone rang and Mo went to answer it.

She came back and said, "It's your father," in that sour voice of hers. She sat down and didn't say anything else, just picked up her drink and examined her nails again.

Pete got up and went into the kitchen. His father lived in Wisconsin, not far from Lake Michigan. He loved the man and wished they lived closer together. Mo, though, didn't like him one bit and always raised a stink when Pete wanted to go visit. Pete was never exactly sure what the problem was between Mo and the man. But it made him mad that she treated him badly and would never talk to Pete about it.

And he was mad too that Mo seemed to put Pete in the middle of things. Sometimes Pete even felt guilty he had a father.

He enjoyed talking but hung up after only five minutes because he felt Mo didn't want him to be on the phone.

Pete walked out onto the porch. "Saturday. I'll go visit Doug then."

Mo said, "I think Saturday'd be fine."

Fine...

They went inside and watched TV for a while. Then, at eleven, Mo looked at her watch and stretched and said, "It's getting late. Time for bed."

And when Mo said it was time for bed, it was definitely time for bed.

Later that night, when she was asleep, Pete walked downstairs into the office. He reached behind a row of books resting on the built-in bookshelves and pulled out a large, sealed envelope.

He carried it down to his workshop in the basement. He opened the envelope and took out a book. It was called Triangle and Pete had found it in the true-crime section of a local used-book shop after flipping through nearly twenty books about real-life murders. Pete had never stolen anything in his life but that day he'd looked around the store and slipped the book inside his windbreaker then strolled casually out of the store. He'd had to steal it; he was afraid that — if everything went as he'd planned — the clerk might remember him buying the book and the police would use it as evidence.

Triangle was the true story of a couple in Colorado Springs. The wife was married to a man named Roy. But she was also seeing another man — Hank, a local carpenter and a friend of the family. Roy found out and waited until Hank was out hiking on a mountain path, then he snuck up and pushed him over a cliff. Hank grabbed on to a tree root but he lost his grip — or Roy smashed his hands; it wasn't clear — and Hank fell a hundred feet to his death on the rocks in the valley. Roy went back home and had a drink with his wife just to watch her reaction when the call came that Hank was dead.

Pete didn't know squat about crimes. All he knew was what he'd seen on TV and in the movies. None of the criminals in those shows seemed very smart and they were always getting caught by the good guys, even though they didn't really seem much smarter than the bad guys. But that crime in Colorado was a smart crime. Because there were no murder weapons and very few clues. The only reason Roy got caught was that he'd forgotten to look for witnesses.

If the killer had only taken the time to look around him, he would have seen the campers, who had a perfect view of Hank Gibson plummeting to his bloody death, screaming as he fell, and of Roy standing on the cliff, watching him....

Triangle became Pete's Bible. He read it cover to cover — to see how Roy had planned the crime and to find out how the police had investigated it.

Tonight, with Mo asleep, Pete read Triangle once again. Paying particular attention to the parts he'd underlined. Then he walked back upstairs, packed the book in the bottom of his suitcase and lay on the couch in the office, looking out the window at the hazy summer stars and thinking about his trip to Maryland from every angle.

Because he wanted to make sure he got away with the crime. He didn't want to go to jail for life — like Roy.

Oh, sure there were risks. Pete knew that. But nothing was going to stop him.

Doug had to die.

Pete realized he'd been thinking about the idea, in the back of his mind, for months, not long after Mo met Doug.

She worked for a drug company in Westchester — the same company Doug was a sales manager for, with his office in the company's headquarters in Baltimore. They met when he came to the branch office in New York for a sales conference. Mo had told Pete that she was having dinner with "somebody" from the company but she didn't say who. Pete didn't think anything of it until he overheard her tell one of her girlfriends on the phone about this really interesting guy she was working for. But then she realized Pete was standing near enough to hear and she changed the subject.

Over the next few months Pete noticed that Mo was getting distracted, paying less and less attention to him. And he heard her mention Doug more and more.

One night Pete asked her about him.

"Oh, Doug?" she said, sounding irritated. "Why, he's my boss. And a friend. That's all. Can't I have friends? Aren't I allowed?"

Pete noticed that Mo was starting to spend a lot of time on the phone and online. He tried to check the phone bills to see if she was calling Baltimore but she hid them or threw them out. He also tried to read her e-mails but found she'd changed her pass code. Pete's specialty was computers, though, and he easily broke into her account. But when he went to read her e-mails he found she'd deleted them all on the main server.

He was so furious he nearly smashed the computer.

Then, to Pete's dismay, Mo started inviting Doug to dinner at their house when he was in Westchester on company business. He was older than Mo and sort of heavy. Slick — slimy, in Pete's opinion. Those dinners were the worst....They'd all three sit at the dinner table and Doug would try to charm Pete and ask him about computers and sports and the things that Mo obviously had told Doug that Pete was into. But it was awkward and you could tell he didn't give a damn about Pete. He kept glancing at Mo when he thought Pete wasn't looking.

By then Pete was checking up on Mo all the time. Sometimes he'd pretend to go to a game with some friends but he'd come home early and find that she was gone too. Then she'd get home at eight or nine and look all flustered, not expecting to find him, and she'd say she'd been working late even though she was just an office manager and hardly ever worked later than five before she met Doug. Once, when she claimed she was at the office, Pete called Doug's number in Baltimore and the message said he'd be out of town for a couple of days.

Everything was changing. Mo and Pete would have dinner together but it wasn't the same as it used to be. They didn't have picnics and they didn't take walks in the evenings. And they hardly ever sat together on the porch anymore and looked out at the fireflies and made plans for trips they'd wanted to take.

"I don't like him," Pete said. "Doug, I mean."

"Oh, quit being so jealous. He's a good friend, that's all. He likes both of us."

"No, he doesn't like me."

"Of course he does. You don't have to worry."

But Pete did worry and he worried even more when he found a Post-It note in her purse last month. It said, D.G. — Sunday, motel 2 P.M.

Doug's last name was Grant.

That Sunday morning Pete tried not to react when Mo said, "I'm going out for a while, honey."

"Where?"

"Shopping. I'll be back by five."

He thought about asking her exactly where she was going but he didn't think that was a good idea. It might make her suspicious. So he said cheerfully, "Okay, see you later."

As soon as her car had pulled out of the driveway he'd started calling motels in the area and asking for Douglas Grant.

The clerk at the Westchester Motor Inn said, "One minute, please. I'll connect you."

Pete hung up fast.

He was at the motel in fifteen minutes and, yep, there was Mo's car parked in front of one of the doors. Pete snuck up close to the room. The shade was drawn and the lights were out but the window was partly open. Pete could hear bits of the conversation.

"I don't like that."

"That...? " she asked.

"That color. I want you to paint your nails red. It's sexy. I don't like that color you're wearing. What is it?"

"Peach."

"I like bright red," Doug said.

"Well, okay."

There was some laughing. Then a long silence. Pete tried to look inside but he couldn't see anything. Finally, Mo said, "We have to talk. About Pete."

"He knows something," Doug was saying. "I know he does."

"He's been like a damn spy lately," she said, with that edge to her voice that Pete hated. "Sometimes I'd like to strangle him."

Pete closed his eyes when he heard Mo say this. Pressed the lids closed so hard he thought he might never open them again.

He heard the sound of a can opening. Beer, he guessed.

Doug said, "So what if he finds out?"

"So what? I told you what having an affair does to alimony in this state? It eliminates it. We have to be careful. I've got a lifestyle I'm accustomed to."

"Then what should we do?" Doug asked.

"I've been thinking about it. I think you should do something with him."

"Do something with him?" Doug had an edge to his voice too. "Get him a one-way ticket..."

"Come on."

"Okay, baby, sorry. But what do you mean by do something?"

"Get to know him."

"You're kidding."

"Prove to him you're just my boss."

Doug laughed and said in a soft, low voice, "Does that feel like I'm just a boss?"

She laughed too. "Stop it. I'm trying to have a serious talk here."

"So, what? We go to a ball game together?"

"No, it's got to be more than that. Ask him to come visit you."

"Oh, that'd be fun." With that same snotty tone that Mo sometimes used.

She continued, "No, I like it. Ask us both to come down — maybe the weekend I'm having that shower for my niece. I won't be able to make it. Maybe he'll come by himself. You two hang out, paint the town. Pretend you've got a girlfriend or something."

"He won't believe that."

"Pete's only smart when it comes to computers and sports. He's stupid about everything else."

Pete wrung his hands together. Nearly sprained a thumb — like the time he jammed his finger on the basketball court.

"That means I have to pretend I like him."

"Yeah, that's exactly what it means. It's not going to kill you."

"Pick another weekend. You come with him."

"No," she said. "I'd have trouble keeping my hands off you."

A pause. Then Doug said, "Oh, hell, all right. I'll do it."

Pete, crouching on a strip of yellow grass beside three discarded soda cans, shook with fury. It took all his willpower not to scream.

He hurried home, threw himself down on the couch in the office and turned on the game.

When Mo came home — which wasn't at five at all, like she promised, but at six-thirty — he pretended he'd fallen asleep.

That night he decided what he had to do. The next day he went to the bookstore and stole the copy of Triangle.

On Saturday Mo drove him to the airport.

"You two're going to have fun together?"

"You bet," Pete said. He sounded cheerful because he was cheerful. "We're gonna have a fine time."

On the day of the murder, while his wife and her lover were sipping wine in a room at the Mountain View Lodge, Roy had lunch with a business associate. The man, who wished to remain anonymous, reported that Roy was in unusually good spirits. It seemed his depression had lifted and he was happy once more.

Fine, fine, fine...

Mo kissed him and then hugged him hard. He didn't kiss her back, though he did give her a hug, reminding himself that he had to be a good actor.

"You're looking forward to going, aren't you?" she asked.

"I sure am," he answered. This was true.

"I love you," she said.

"I love you too," he responded. This was not true. He hated her. He hoped the plane left on time. He didn't want to wait here with her any longer than he had to.

The flight attendant, a pretty blonde woman, kept stopping at his seat. This wasn't unusual for Pete. Women liked him. He'd heard a million times that he was cute, he was handsome, he was charming. Women were always leaning close and telling him that. Touching his arm, squeezing his shoulder. But today he answered her questions with a simple yes or no. And kept read-ing Triangle. Reading the passages he'd underlined. Memorizing them.

Learning about fingerprints, about interviewing witnesses, about footprints and trace evidence. There was a lot he didn't understand but he did figure out how smart the cops were and that he'd have to be very careful if he was going to kill Doug and get away with it.

"We're about to land," the flight attendant said. "Could you put your seat belt on, please?" She smiled at him.

He clicked the belt on and went back to his book.

Hank Gibson's body had fallen one hundred and twelve feet. He'd landed on his right side and of the more than two hundred bones in the human body, he'd broken seventy-seven of them. His ribs had pierced all his major internal organs and his skull was flattened on one side.

"Welcome to Baltimore, where the local time is twelve twenty-five," the flight attendant said. "Please remain in your seat with the seat belt fastened until the plane has come to a complete stop and the pilot has turned off the Fasten Seat Belt sign. Thank you."

The medical examiner estimated that Hank was traveling 80 mph when he struck the ground and that death was virtually instantaneous.

Welcome to Baltimore...

Doug met him at the airport. Shook his hand.

"How you doing?" Doug asked.

"Okay."

This was so weird. Spending the weekend with a man that Mo knew so well and that Pete hardly knew at all.

Going hiking with somebody he hardly knew at all.

Going to kill somebody he hardly knew at all...

He walked along beside Doug.

"I need a beer and some crabs," Doug said as they got into his car. "You hungry?"

"Sure am."

They stopped at the waterfront and went into an old dive. The place stunk. It smelled like the cleanser Mo used on the floor when Randolf, their Labrador retriever puppy, made a mess on the carpet.

Doug whistled at the waitress before they'd even sat down. "Hey, honey, think you can handle two real men?" He gave her the sort of grin he'd seen Doug give Mo a couple of times. Pete looked away, a little embarrassed but plenty disgusted.

When they started to eat, Doug calmed down, though that was probably the beers more than the food. Like Mo got after her third glass of Gallo in the evenings.

Pete wasn't saying much. Doug tried to be cheerful. He talked and talked but it was just garbage. Pete didn't pay any attention.

"Maybe I'll give my girlfriend a call," Doug said suddenly. "See if she wants to join us."

"You have a girlfriend? What's her name?"

"Uhm. Cathy," he said.

The waitress's name tag said, Hi, I'm Cathleen.

"That'd be fun," Pete said.

"She might be going out of town this weekend." He avoided Pete's eyes. "But I'll call her later."

Pete's only smart when it comes to computers and sports. He's stupid about everything else....

Finally Doug looked at his watch and said, "So what do you feel like doing now?"

Pete pretended to think for a minute and asked, "Anyplace we can go hiking around here?"

"Hiking?"

"Like any mountain trails?"

Doug finished his beer, shook his head. "Naw, nothing like that I know of."

Pete felt rage again — his hands were shaking, the blood roaring in his ears — but he covered it up pretty well and tried to think. Now, what was he going to do? He'd counted on Doug agreeing to whatever he wanted. He'd counted on a nice high cliff.

Hank was traveling 80 mph when he struck the ground....

But then Doug continued. "But if you want to be outside, one thing we could do maybe is go hunting."

"Hunting?"

"Nothing good's in season now," Doug said. "But there's always rabbits and squirrels."

"Well — "

"I've got a couple guns we can use."

Pete debated for only a moment and then said, "Okay. Let's go hunting."

"You shoot much?" Doug asked him.

"Some."

In fact, Pete was a good shot. His father had taught him how to load and clean guns and how to handle them. ("Never point it at anything unless you're prepared to shoot it.")

But Pete didn't want Doug to know he knew anything about guns so he let the man show him how to load the little twenty-two and how to pull the slide to cock it and where the safety was.

I'm a much better actor than Mo.

They were in Doug's house, which was pretty nice. It was in the woods and it was a big place, full of stone walls and glass. The furniture wasn't like the cheap things Mo and Pete had. It was mostly antiques.

Which depressed Pete even more, made him angrier, because he knew that Mo liked money and she liked people who had money even if they were idiots, like Doug. When Pete looked at Doug's beautiful house he knew that if Mo ever saw it then she'd want Doug even more. Then he wondered if she had seen it. Pete had gone to Wisconsin a few months ago, to see his father and cousins. Maybe Mo had come down here to spend the night with Doug.

"So," Doug said. "Ready?"

"Where're we going?" Pete asked.

"There's a good field about a mile from here. It's not posted. Anything we can hit, we can take."

"Sounds good to me," Pete said.

They got into the car and Doug pulled onto the road.

"Better put that seat belt on," Doug warned. "I drive like a crazy man."

Pete was looking around the big, empty field.

Not a soul.

"What?" Doug asked, and Pete realized that the man was staring at him.

"I said it's pretty quiet."

And deserted. No witnesses. Like the ones who screwed up Roy's plans in Triangle.

"Nobody knows about this place. I found it by my little old lonesome." Doug said this real proud, as if he'd discovered a cure for cancer. "Lessee." He lifted his rifle and squeezed off a round.

Crack...

He missed a can sitting about thirty feet away.

"Little rusty," he said. "But, hey, aren't we having fun?"

"Sure are," Pete answered.

Doug fired again, three times, and hit the can on the last shot. It leapt into the air. "There we go!"

Doug reloaded and they started through the tall grass and brush.

They walked for five minutes.

"There," Doug said. "Can you hit that rock over there?"

He was pointing at a white rock about twenty feet from them. Pete thought he could have hit it but he missed on purpose. He emptied the clip.

"Not bad," Doug said. "Came close the last few shots." Pete knew he was being sarcastic.

Pete reloaded and they continued through the grass.

"So," Doug said. "How's she doing?"

"Fine. She's fine."

Whenever Mo was upset and Pete'd ask her how she was she'd say, "Fine. I'm fine."

Which didn't mean fine at all. It meant, I don't feel like telling you anything. I'm keeping secrets from you.

I don't love you anymore.

They stepped over a few fallen logs and started down a hill. The grass was mixed with blue flowers and daisies. Mo liked to garden and was always driving up to the nursery to buy plants. Sometimes she'd come back without any and Pete began to wonder if, on those trips, she was really seeing Doug instead. He got angry again. Hands sweaty, teeth grinding together.

"She get her car fixed?" Doug asked. "She was saying that there was something wrong with the transmission."

How'd he know that? The car broke down only four days ago. Had Doug been there and Pete didn't know it?

Doug glanced at Pete and repeated the question.

Pete blinked. "Oh, her car? Yeah, it's okay. She took it in and they fixed it."

But then he felt better because that meant they hadn't talked yesterday or otherwise she would have told him about getting the car fixed.

On the other hand, maybe Doug was lying to him now. Making it look as if she hadn't told him about the car when they really had talked.

Pete looked at Doug's pudgy face and couldn't decide whether to believe him or not. He looked sort of innocent but Pete had learned that people who seemed innocent were sometimes the most guilty. Roy, the husband in Triangle, had been a church choir director. From the smiling picture in the book, you'd never guess he'd kill somebody.

Thinking about the book, thinking about murder.

Pete was scanning the field. Yes, there...about fifty feet away. A fence. Five feet high. It would work just fine.

Fine...

As fine as Mo.

Who wanted Doug more than she wanted Pete.

"What're you looking for?" Doug asked.

"Something to shoot."

And thought: Witnesses. That's what I'm looking for.

"Let's go that way," Pete said and walked toward the fence.

Doug shrugged. "Sure. Why not?"

Pete studied it as they approached. Wood posts about eight feet apart, five strands of rusting wire.

Not too easy to climb over but it wasn't barbed wire like some of the fences they'd passed. Besides, Pete didn't want it too easy to climb. He'd been thinking. He had a plan.

Roy had thought about the murder for weeks. It had obsessed his every waking moment. He'd drawn charts and diagrams and planned every detail down to the nth degree. In his mind, at least, it was the perfect crime....

Pete now asked, "So what's your girlfriend do?"

"Uhm, my girlfriend? She works in Baltimore."

"Oh. Doing what?"

"In an office. Big company."

"Oh."

They got closer to the fence. Pete asked, "You're divorced? Mo was saying you're divorced."

"Right. Betty and I split up two years ago."

"You still see her?"

"Who? Betty? Naw. We went our separate ways."

"You have any kids?"

"Nope."

Of course not. When you had kids you had to think about somebody else. You couldn't think about yourself all the time.

Like Doug did.

Like Mo.

Pete was looking around again. For squirrels, for rabbits, for witnesses.

Then Doug stopped and he looked around too. Pete wondered why but then Doug took a bottle of beer from his knapsack and drank the whole bottle down and tossed it on the ground. "You want something to drink?" Doug asked.

"No," Pete answered. It was good that Doug'd be slightly drunk when they found him. They'd check his blood. They did that. That's how they knew Hank'd been drinking when they got what was left of the body (80 mph, after all) to the Colorado Springs hospital — they checked the alcohol in the blood.

The fence was only twenty feet away.

"Oh, hey," Pete said. "Over there. Look."

He pointed to the grass on the other side of the fence.

"What?" Doug asked.

"I saw a couple of rabbits."

"You did? Where?"

"I'll show you. Come on."

"Okay. Let's do it," Doug said.

They walked to the fence. Suddenly Doug reached out and took Pete's rifle. "I'll hold it while you climb over. Safer that way."

Jesus...Pete froze with terror. He realized now that Doug was going to do exactly what Pete had in mind. He'd been planning on holding Doug's gun for him. And then when Doug was at the top of the fence he was going to shoot him. Making it look like Doug had tried to carry his gun as he climbed the fence but he'd dropped it and it went off.

Roy bet on the old law enforcement rule that what looks like an accident probably is an accident....

Pete didn't move. He thought he saw something odd in Doug's eyes, something mean and sarcastic. It reminded him of Mo's expression. Pete took one look at those eyes and he could see how much Doug hated him and how much he loved Mo.

"You want me to go first?" Pete asked. Not moving, wondering if he should just run.

"Sure," Doug said. "You go first. Then I'll hand the guns over to you." His eyes said, You're not afraid of climbing over the fence, are you? You're not afraid to turn your back on me, are you?

Then Doug was looking around too.

Looking for witnesses, just like Pete had been.

"Go on," Doug encouraged.

Pete — his hands shaking now from fear — started to climb. Thinking: This is it. He's going to shoot me. Last month I left the motel too early! Doug and Mo had kept talking and planned out how he was going to ask me down here and pretend to be all nice then he'd shoot me.

Remembering it was Doug who'd suggested hunting.

But if I run, Pete thought, he'll chase me down and shoot me. Even if he shoots me in the back he'll just claim it's an accident.

Roy's lawyer argued to the jury that, yes, the men had met on the path and struggled, but that Hank had fallen accidentally. He urged the jury to find that, at worst, Roy was guilty of negligent homicide....

He put his foot on the first rung of wire. Started up.

Second rung of wire...

Pete's heart was beating a million times a minute. He had to pause to wipe his palms.

He thought he heard a whisper, as if Doug were talking to himself.

He swung his leg over the top wire.

Then he heard the sound of a gun cocking.

And Doug said in a hoarse whisper, "You're dead."

Pete gasped.

Crack!

The short, snappy sound of the twenty-two filled the field.

Pete choked a cry and looked around, nearly falling off the fence.

"Damn," Doug muttered. He was aiming away from the fence. Nodding toward a tree line. "Squirrel. Missed him by two inches."

"Squirrel," Pete repeated manically. "And you missed him."

"Two goddamn inches."

Hands shaking, Pete continued over the fence and climbed to the ground.

"You okay?" Doug asked. "You look a little funny."

"I'm fine," he said.

Fine, fine, fine...

Doug handed Pete the guns and started over the fence. Pete debated. Then he put his rifle on the ground and gripped Doug's gun tight. He walked to the fence so that he was right below Doug.

"Look," Doug said as he got to the top. He was straddling it, his right leg on one side of the fence, his left on the other. "Over there." He pointed nearby.

There was a big gray lop-eared rabbit on his haunches only twenty feet away.

"There you go!" Doug whispered. "You've got a great shot."

Pete shouldered the gun. It was pointing at the ground, halfway between the rabbit and Doug.

"Go ahead. What're you waiting for?"

Roy was convicted of premeditated murder in the first degree and sentenced to life in prison. Yet he came very close to committing the perfect murder. If not for a simple twist of fate he would have gotten away with it....

Pete looked at the rabbit, looked at Doug.

"Aren't you going to shoot?"

Uhm, okay, he thought.

Pete raised the gun and pulled the trigger once.

Doug gasped, pressed at the tiny bullethole in his chest. "But...but...No!"

He fell backward off the fence and lay on a patch of dried mud, completely still. The rabbit bounded through the grass, panicked by the sound of the shot, and disappeared in a tangle of bushes that Pete recognized as blackberries. Mo had planted tons of them in their backyard.

The plane descended from cruising altitude and slowly floated toward the airport.

Pete watched the billowy clouds and his fellow passengers, read the in-flight magazine and the "Sky Mall" catalog. He was bored. He didn't have his book to read. Before he'd talked to the Maryland state troopers about Doug's death he'd thrown Triangle into a trash bin.

One of the reasons the jury convicted Roy was that, upon examining his house, the police found several books about disposing of evidence. Roy had no satisfactory explanation for them....

The small plane glided out of the skies and landed at White Plains airport. Pete pulled his knapsack out from underneath the seat in front of him and climbed out of the plane. He walked down the ramp, beside the flight attendant, a tall black woman, talking with her about the flight.

Pete saw Mo at the gate. She looked numb. She wore sunglasses and Pete supposed she'd been crying. She was clutching a Kleenex in her fingers.

Her nails weren't bright red anymore, he noticed.

They weren't peach either.

They were just plain fingernail color.

The flight attendant came up to Mo. "You're Mrs. Jill Anderson?"

Mo nodded.

The woman held up a sheet of paper. "Here. Could you sign this, please?"

Numbly, Mo took the pen the woman offered and signed the paper.

It was an unaccompanied-minor form, which adults had to sign to allow their children to get on planes by themselves. The parent picking up the child also had to sign it. After his parents were divorced Pete flew back and forth between his dad in Wisconsin and his mother, Mo, in White Plains so often he knew all about airlines' procedures for kids who flew alone.

"I have to say," she said to Mo, smiling down at Pete, "he's the best behaved youngster I've ever had on one of my flights. How old are you, Pete?"

"I'm ten," he answered. "But I'm going to be eleven next week."

She squeezed his shoulder. Then looked at Mo. "I'm so sorry about what happened," she said in a soft voice. "The trooper who put Pete on the plane told me your boyfriend was killed in a hunting accident."

"No," Mo said, struggling to say the words, "he wasn't my boyfriend."

Though Pete was thinking: Of course he was your boyfriend. Except you didn't want the court to find that out because then Dad wouldn't have to pay you alimony anymore. Which is why she and Doug had been working so hard to convince Pete that Doug was "just a friend."

Can't I have friends? Aren't I allowed?

No, you're not, Pete thought. You're not going to get away with dumping your son the way you dumped Dad.

"Can we go home, Mo?" he asked, looking as sad as he could. "I feel real funny about what happened."

"Sure, honey."

"Mo?" the flight attendant asked.

Mo, staring out the window, said, "My name's Jill. But when he was five Pete tried to write mother on my birthday card. He just wrote M-O and didn't know how to spell the rest. It became my nickname."

"What a sweet story," the woman said and looked like she was going to cry. "Pete, you come back and fly with us real soon."

"Okay."

"Hey, what're you going to do for your birthday?"

"I don't know," he said. Then he looked up at his mother. "I was thinking about maybe going hiking. In Colorado. Just the two of us."

Copyright © 2003 by Jeffrey Deaver

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Meet the Author

Jeffery Deaver is the international, #1 bestselling author of more than twenty-seven suspense novels, including The Bone Collector, which was made into a film starring Denzel Washington. He lives in North Carolina.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Washington, D.C.
Date of Birth:
May 6, 1950
Place of Birth:
Chicago, Illinois
Education:
B.A., University of Missouri; Juris Doctor, cum laude, Fordham University School of Law
Website:
http://www.jefferydeaver.com/

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Twisted 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a twisted set of stories. Hopefully a good introduction to his other books. It was so hard to put down but the short stories were perfectly sized for small breaks from reality. Cant wait to start on another on eof his books!
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MathNerd More than 1 year ago
Wonderful. I have not bought a collection of short stories in many years but have already purchased Deaver's book "More Twisted". This book is full of interesting stories. Of course, each one has a twist just as most of his books do. I truly enjoy his writings.
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lilibeth29 More than 1 year ago
This was a wonderful assortment of short stories that kept me guessing from the first paragraph to the last. Just when I thought I had it figured out, up comes a twist. More fun than the House of Mirrors at the fair!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
The author picks very different settings as backdrop to lead the reader down one seemingly predictable plot path--only we are surprised by a completely unexpected ending each and every time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This short-story collection from best-selling author Jeffey Deaver delivers on the promise implied by its title. Not only are there clever plot twists at the end of each story, but in most cases the stories themselves feature characters whose motives and ethics are, well, twisted. I have never before read any of Deaver's work (I saw the movie The Bone Collector based on his most lauded effort and I loathed its implausibility) so I am unable to compare it to his novels. Certainly, this isn't literature, nor is it meant to be, and Deaver's prose is a bit point-to-point for my tastes, but I have to admit that his plots certainly offered compelling reading. I found myself trying to guess the twist in each tale, only to be wrong most of the time. Enjoyable reading, and I look forward to the second volume.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Excellent stories with great twists! I can't even pick which was best. I was disappointed with the last story (too bad, I love the Rhyme / Sachs sagas,) but this one was a dud I felt like there should have been another chapter.