Twisted: The Collected Stories of Jeffery Deaverby Jeffery Deaver
"A beautiful woman goes to extremes to rid herself of her stalker; a daughter begs her father not to go fishing in an area where there have been a series of brutal killings; a contemporary of the playwright William Shakespeare vows to avenge his family's ruin; and Jeffery Deaver's most beloved character, criminalist Lincoln Rhyme, is back to solve a chilling… See more details below
"A beautiful woman goes to extremes to rid herself of her stalker; a daughter begs her father not to go fishing in an area where there have been a series of brutal killings; a contemporary of the playwright William Shakespeare vows to avenge his family's ruin; and Jeffery Deaver's most beloved character, criminalist Lincoln Rhyme, is back to solve a chilling Christmastime disappearance." Diverse, provocative, eerie and inspired, this collection of Jeffery Deaver's best stories exhibits the amazing range and signature plot twists that have earned him the title "master of ticking bomb suspense" (People). With nods to O. Henry and Edgar Allan Poe, these crafted pieces, never before compiled in one volume, pulse with subtle intrigue and Deaver's incomparable imagination.
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.
- Simon & Schuster
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.19(d)
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TwistedThe Collected Stories of Jeffery Deaver
By Jeffery Deaver
Simon & SchusterCopyright © 2003 Jeffrey Deaver
All right reserved.
"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."
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."
"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?"
"I like bright red," Doug said.
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 ..."
"Okay, baby, sorry. But what do you mean by do something?"
"Get to know him."
"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.
Excerpted from Twisted by Jeffery Deaver Copyright © 2003 by Jeffrey Deaver. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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