Under Cover of Darkness

Under Cover of Darkness

4.5 25
by James Grippando
     
 

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From the bestselling author of The Abduction and Found Moneycomes another pulse-pounding thriller.

Gus Wheatley thinks he's found success. Money, power, prestige—they all come with the territory for the youngest lawyer ever to grab the helm of Seattle's most prominent law firm. Nothing can interfere with his meteoric rise to the top—until his wife

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Overview

From the bestselling author of The Abduction and Found Moneycomes another pulse-pounding thriller.

Gus Wheatley thinks he's found success. Money, power, prestige—they all come with the territory for the youngest lawyer ever to grab the helm of Seattle's most prominent law firm. Nothing can interfere with his meteoric rise to the top—until his wife vanishes. .

Beth dropped off their six-year-old daughter at the youth center one afternoon, and no one has seen her since. Her disappearance comes just as FBI profilers are called in to examine a bizarre emerging pattern of brutal serial murders that rocks Seattle. The FBI dubs them "bookend killings, " as the killer seems to be striking his victims in pairs: first two men, then two women. The victims are unrelated, yet within each pairing, one mirrors the other in chilling detail. .

But this is just the beginning of the nightmare for Gus. Soon Seattle police fashion a theory that leaves two horrifying possibilities: Either Beth is the killer's latest victim ... or she is his willing accomplice. .

As the gruesome murders continue, and with Beth's whereabouts still unknown, Gus starts to investigate. He cannot accept the idea that Beth would ever ally herself with a cold-blooded killer, but only now that she's gone does Gus realize just how far apart they've grown. Slowly, Gus begins to unravel the shocking truth about the woman he thought he knew. Beth may be alive. She may or may not be innocent. She may have come up against something far more evil than just a serial killer. And for Gus and his family, that evil is far too close to home. .

An intense tale of success and betrayal, and a frightening look into the darker side of the human psyche, Under Cover of Darkness is James Grippando at his best.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble Guide to New Fiction
"Better than any John Grisham novel," this "well-written and gripping" thriller features a missing wife who may be a serial killer's victim - or his accomplice. "A real page-turner." "A must for summer reading, with twists and turns galore."
Miami Herald
Powerful... undeniably a page turner.
BookPage
...a gripping tale that crests with a surprise twist and a satifying climax.
Journal Library
Another riveting tale of suspense from Grippando.
Chicago Tribune
Grippando wins you over.
Poisoned Pen
A truly twisty plot.
January Magazine
An intriguing mystery . . . a shocking and utterlyunpredictable ending . . . engrossing on severallevels . . . the perfect beach read.
BookPage.com
A real gripper from the eerie opening to thecatastrophic denouement.
Bellingham Herald
Grippanso is a sophisticateed writer, good with plot labyrinths and emotional darkness. His style is intelligent and tense.
Bookpage.com
A real gripper from the eerie opening to the catastrophic denouement.
Daily Oklahoman
A chiller full of suspense.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A workaholic attorney is forced to examine his priorities when his wife disappears amid a spree of serial killings in the Pacific Northwest. Grippando's fifth thriller (The Pardon; Found Money) springs energetically from the gate, creating tension and pace before a few unbelievable plot twists cause it to lose traction. Attorney Gus Wheatley, general partner of one of Seattle's biggest and most prestigious law firms, is interrupted from his busy schedule by a call from his daughter's dance instructor: his wife, Beth, failed to pick up six-year-old Morgan after class. At first merely annoyed, he next assumes his wife is having an affair (they have been experiencing marital problems) but soon calls police when he realizes Beth has disappeared without a trace. Ambitious FBI agent Andrea "Andie" Henning believes Beth may have fallen victim to a serial killer. In the days following her disappearance, Gus is stunned to learn that his wife suffered from bulimia and kleptomania, conditions pointing to extremely low self-esteem. Her emotional condition and other clues--strange phone calls, a tip from a prison inmate--eventually tempt investigators with another theory: Beth may have joined a local cult that includes murder among its group activities. The most successful component of this story is Gus Wheatley's growing awareness of his emotional separation from his family. Former trial lawyer Grippando displays expertise in police and legal procedures, but the connection between the killings and the cult strains credulity. Several key characters are not drawn convincingly, and the finale is more of an ambush than a surprise. (July) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Library Journal
In this latest from Grippando (Found Money), the marriage of high-powered attorney Gus Wheatley and his insecure wife, Beth--already unfamiliar terrain to both partners--is invaded by a serial-killer. Beth seems to have it all: the perfect home and a precious young daughter. Yet she vanishes one afternoon without taking a single piece of her life, including her child, who is left waiting all evening at private school. Rookie FBI agent Andie Henning has recently ditched her loser of a fianc at the altar and welcomes the opportunity to work on what turns out to be a high-profile serial-killer case. Gus's world continues self-destructing, as his daughter, sister, and colleagues judge and reject him, the killer piles up Beth lookalike victims, and eerie telephone clues indicate that she may be alive and in the killer's clutches. In the meantime, Gus learns some rather sad and unsavory things about the wife he thought he knew. Another riveting tale of suspense from Grippando. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/15/00.]--Susan A. Zappia, Paradise Valley Community Coll., Phoenix Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
School Library Journal
A workaholic attorney is forced to examine his priorities when his wife disappears amid a spree of serial killings in the Pacific Northwest. Grippando's fifth thriller (The Pardon; Found Money) springs energetically from the gate, creating tension and pace before a few unbelievable plot twists cause it to lose traction. Attorney Gus Wheatley, general partner of one of Seattle's biggest and most prestigious law firms, is interrupted from his busy schedule by a call from his daughter's dance instructor: his wife, Beth, failed to pick up six-year-old Morgan after class. At first merely annoyed, he next assumes his wife is having an affair (they have been experiencing marital problems) but soon calls police when he realizes Beth has disappeared without a trace. Ambitious FBI agent Andrea "Andie" Henning believes Beth may have fallen victim to a serial killer. In the days following her disappearance, Gus is stunned to learn that his wife suffered from bulimia and kleptomania, conditions pointing to extremely low self-esteem. Her emotional condition and other clues--strange phone calls, a tip from a prison inmate--eventually tempt investigators with another theory: Beth may have joined a local cult that includes murder among its group activities. The most successful component of this story is Gus Wheatley's growing awareness of his emotional separation from his family. Former trial lawyer Grippando displays expertise in police and legal procedures, but the connection between the killings and the cult strains credulity. Several key characters are not drawn convincingly, and the finale is more of an ambush than a surprise. (July) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Kirkus Reviews
Grippando's latest lawyer-in-distress yarn asks what happened to the missing wife of a successful attorney, and comes up with an answer beyond your wildest dreams. Gus Wheatley's wife Beth didn't pick up their preteen daughter Morgan from her big-ticket school for the best reason in the world: Beth had vanished—without packing her bags, taking her car, or touching her bank account. The Seattle cops, joined by the FBI, fear that she's the latest victim of a serial killer whose first two victims were graying 51-year-old divorcées who both drove Ford pickups, and whose third victim looked an awful lot like Beth. And as Gus, held at arm's length by the partners whose firm he'd been managing before Beth's vanishing act brought up the abuse complaint she'd briefly entered against him years earlier, takes his first close look in years at the stranger who'd shared his bed, what he finds is unnerving. Beth had suffered from bouts of bulimia and shoplifting she kept from her husband, though she confided every last detail to his sister Carla. What other secrets had she been hiding? And what to make of clues that suggest she's still alive and maybe even conspiring with the still-active killer? Unhappy with the inconclusive reports of FBI profiler Victoria Santos (The Informant, 1996), Gus decides to offer a fat reward for information about Beth's whereabouts, and the convict who claims the bounty dangles a single clue that links Beth to a nefarious cult, whose appearance sends all credibility from whooshing from the tale like air from a punctured balloon. FBI agent Andrea Henning's climactic infiltration of the sect answers everyquestionabout Beth's disappearance and the trail of murder surrounding it except one: who could possibly believe this stuff? An ingeniously entertaining mess for readers who won't mind the way the case soars off the rails, or who just plain don't like cults.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061097478
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
05/28/2001
Edition description:
Reissue
Pages:
480
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The rain was a sign of good luck and happiness.

Andrea Henning had heard that old wives' tale at least thirty times today. She wondered. if Mr. Gallup had ever conducted a poll to find out -if couples who married on sunny days actually had higher divorce rates than those who waded through puddles on their way to the attar. Not that it really mattered. Rain on this wedding had been a virtual certainty. It was, after all, late winter in Seattle.

Andie -- no one called her "Andrea" -- wasn't bothered by the weather or any of the things a bride typically worried about. Maybe it was her training as an FBI agent, or maybe it was her innate common sense. Whenever something couldn't be controlled, Andie just dealt with it, and it usually worked out. Her crash diet had been a disaster, but the dress still fit perfectly. The best man was an idiot, yet he'd somehow remembered the marriage license. And the old candlelit church had never looked better. Bouquets of white roses with lace and pink ribbons adorned each pew. A long white runner stretched down the center aisle from the vestibule to the altar. The crowd was spread evenly, left side and right, soothed by a gentle harp as the last of four bridesmaids walked down the aisle. Rain or not, it was the wedding her mother had always told her to dream of.

Andie moved into the open double doorway in the rear of the church. The wedding consultant helped with the satin train behind her.

In front, the silver-haired minister waited at the altar, flanked on his right by bridesmaids dressed in red velvet dresses. To his left stood three young groomsmen and Andie's handsome husband-to-be. Ricklooked nervous, even from a distance. His steely blue eyes glistened. They were almost glazed-probably from all the drinking his friends had inflicted on him last night. The rented tuxedo seemed a little tight for his chest and shoulders, but maybe he was just taking deep breaths. He would have been far more at ease in blue jeans. So would have Andie.

The sound of the harp faded away. The guests fell silent. All heads swiveled toward the back of the church.

Andie took her father's arm. Though a half foot shorter than her, he was a pillar of strength-normally. At the moment she could feel his hands trembling.

"Ready?" he asked.

She didn't reply. The time had come.

The pipe organ blared. Andie cringed. She had explicitly instructed the organist not to play the traditional "Here Comes the Bride." Her meddlesome mother had struck again.

Together, Andie and her father started down the aisle.

A camera flashed in her face, Then another. It was like staring into a strobe light. At this rate, she'd not only be filing a married couple's tax return this year, but she'd also have to mark yes in that little box that asks "Are you blind?" Andie focused on the burning candles on the altar as she continued down the aisle.

Friends and relatives beamed as she passed. They made her feel beautiful, though all of her life she'd been told she was beautiful. She resembled neither of her adoptive parents, of course. She had the prominent cheekbones and raven black hair of the American Indian mother she never knew. The deep green eyes were presumably from an Anglo father. The result was striking, an exotic ancestral mix. Halfway down the aisle, Andie slowed the pace. Her nervous father was walking way too fast. His hand was sweating in hers. She squeezed it, then released. Finally, they stopped before the minister, standing side by side. The loud organ ceased abruptly.

Butterflies fluttered in her stomach. The minister raised his hands, then lowered them, instructing the crowd to sit. A quiet shuffle filled the church as two hundred guests lowered themselves into oak pews. When all was quiet, the minister raised his voice and asked, "Who gives this bride?"

The question echoed against Gothic stone arches.

Her father swallowed hard. "Her mother and I do."

Andie could barely recognize the shaky voice. He lifted her veil and kissed her on the cheek. "I love you," she whispered.

He couldn't speak. He turned and walked to the front pew, taking the seat beside his wife.

Andie climbed the two marble steps. The groom reached for her hand. She turned away, however, and faced the guests. She drew a deep breath, then spoke with self-assurance. "I know this is unorthodox. But before we get started" I want to thank some people."

The guests seemed confused. Her parents looked at one another. Nobody moved.

Andie continued, "First, I want to thank my parents. Mom, Dad. I love you both very much. I want to thank Reverend Jenkins, who has known me since I was a gangly teenager and who has been looking forward to this day probably more than anyone. I also want to thank each and every one of you for coming today. It means so much to have your friendship, your support." Her voice trailed off. She averted her eyes, then drew a deep breath and looked squarely at the clock in the back of the church. "But most of all," she said, her voice shaking, "I want to thank Linda, my lovely sister and maid of honor." She glared to her right.

"For sleeping with the groom last night."

The crowd gasped. Andie whirled and hit the groom squarely in the chest with her bouquet. Anger and embarrassment rushed through her veins. She hiked her long white wedding dress and ran for the side exit.

"You son of a bitch!" her father cried, charging toward the groom. The best man jumped forward to restrain the old man but knocked him flat in an accident that looked like a sucker punch.

"My back!" He was groaning, sprawled on the tile floor. The best man towered...

Under Cover of Darkness. Copyright © by James Grippando. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Meet the Author

James Grippando is a New York Times bestselling author of suspense. Cash Landing is his twenty-third novel. James Grippando was a trial lawyer for twelve years before the publication of his first novel in 1994 (The Pardon), and he now serves as counsel to Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP. He lives in south Florida with his wife, three children, two cats, and a golden retriever named Max, who has no idea he's a dog.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Coral Gables, Florida
Date of Birth:
January 27, 1958
Place of Birth:
Waukegan, Illinois
Education:
B.A. with High Honors, University of Florida, 1980; J.D. with Honors, University of Florida, 1982
Website:
http://www.jamesgrippando.com

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Under Cover of Darkness 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this story line. It kept me enthralled until the end. I especially like reading a book that has no profanity.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book deserves more like 10 stars. A real page turner. Full of twist and turns in every chapter. Wow! It had me on the edge of my seat and I couldn't put it down. A real ROLLER COASTER RIDE!! This was my first James Grippando book and I really look forward to reading all of James Grippando books. Thanks Mr. Grippando.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought that I would pick up a good mystery over the holidays and headed for "Grisham" on the rack. I stopped short when "Grippando" caught my eye. "Under Cover of Darkness" was not a good mystery. It was a GREAT mystery from start to finish. I don't think I have ever read a story this intense in my life. Full of short, fast-flying chapters, "Under Cover of Darkness" ends each with nail-biting suspense and the inability to put the pages down. The character portrayal was expert and the plot was full of twists and turns but never lost me. The forces of good and evil were embattled so realistically throughout this novel that sometimes I would find my shoulders shudder and my spine tingle. If you are as busy as I am and have only a small window of opportunity for pleasure reading, pick this one up. It's the fastest read you'll ever find.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was my first book I have read by the author. I enjoyed it. Anyone who hasn't read this book yet, might want to read THE INFORMANT first. Because main character from that book made a cameo apparence in this book. I liked THE INFORMANT much better.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read and enjoyed all books by Mr. Grippando but this tops them all. Full of suspense and thrills, it kept me intrigued to the very end. If you like a book to help you forget about your daily problems, then you've found it here. Hopefully Mr. Grippando has a lot more fascinating plots and characters running around in his head, ready to come out and give readers another great story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a very exciting book. I was exhausted at the end! I will be reading more by this author!
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Ocilla More than 1 year ago
Great read. Recommend to everyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the first novel of James Grippando's that I have read.I could not put this book down. Can't wait to read more of his novels.
Rfc56 More than 1 year ago
This book was very good,I always enjoy his books. Very surprising villain recommend this book to all Grippando fans
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Guest More than 1 year ago
When this book was first released I wouldn't touch it because after reading the Prologue I was terrified. Saw it on a bargin table in hardback for $7.00, brought it, just finished it and I'm exhausted. What a great workout for the brain. Kept me guessing until the end which was a work of art in itself. All the characters were developed well and fit into the story line perfectly. I've read The Pardon and I can't wait to get my hands on another book by Mr. Grippando. I agree, this story along with The Pardon would be great movies. I've seen worst movies that have been developed from books
Guest More than 1 year ago
Despite having a good storyline and well developed characters, this book was just a little bit disappointing for me. For one thing, it was extremely slow-moving. The entire book seemed like it was supposed to lead up to a huge surprise ending, but the ending wasn't even that good. Another thing was that I found that Gus Wheatley's daughter to be much more mature than a six-year-old could ever possibly be. Their conversations about Beth Wheatley were way too sophisticated to be between a father and his six-year-old daughter. When I started this book, I expected it to be a psychological thriller about a serial killer. But, it went a little over the top as the main characters delved deeper into the mystery. I also found some of the characters to be quite annoying. For example, Gus' sister, Carla, would never leave Gus alone about how it was his fault that Beth disappeared. Overall, this isn't a bad book, there are just many parts that could have been done much better.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Grippando's latest feature is smooth reading & fast moving with his signature-style character development & multi-plot twists. It's impossible to put this book down once you start reading! All of Grippando's books are screaming to be made into a movie!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Grippando did it again! A great mystery that keeps you reading! Enjoyable characters that keep you turning the pages.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Gus Wheatley has success, money, power, a loving wife, and a beautiful daughter, until one day his world shatters. Gus's wife, Beth, disappears. FBI profiler, Andie Henning, is investigating a series of murders, the strange beginnings of a serial killer. The deeper Andie gets she believes Beth to be a victim of the killer. Gus begins his own investigation, and as he uncovers certain 'truth's' about his wife, he realizes he did not know her at all. Andie and Gus will work together, for new evidence points to Beth still being alive, and possibly being an accomplice to the killer. 'Under Cover Of Darkness' will keep you turning the pages, and guessing all the way to the shocking climax. James Grippando has consistently written great book after great book, and has quickly become one of my favorite authors. With his new book he keeps the pace fast while juggling various characters, and shifting the twist and turns of the plot into high gear. A MUST read! Nick Gonnella
harstan More than 1 year ago
At forty-one, Gus Wheatley is the youngest managing partner of Preston and Coolidge, one of Seattle¿s most powerful law firms. Gus loves the power, the attention, and recognition his position provides for him, but his career comes at a high cost. He hardly knows his six-year-old daughter Morgan or even his wife of many years Beth.

Sadly, Gus is unaware how little he knows about his family until his spouse fails to pick up their daughter at the youth center. Gus gets his child who is not pleased to see him. Gus¿ sister thinks Beth disappeared because she was unhappy living with him. By the time the FBI becomes involved, Gus realizes that he does not know Beth at all. She suffers from bulimia and shop lifts for items she does not need. With a serial killer on the loose, the FBI thinks Beth might be one of his victims because she fits the description of his marks. Their inquiries take them to a cult and the FBI the lead investigator wonders if Beth is a hostage or a killer?

James Grippando is one of the more creative writers on the market today. Rarely does the audience guess the ending to one of his books because he is the master at misdirection. UNDER COVER OF DARKNESS is an exciting and imaginative thriller filled with likable characters deserving of sympathy from the audience. This roller coaster tale moves form event to event, leaving readers with a slight gasp to regain their oxygen as the riveting action moves to an absorbing finish.

Harriet Klausner