Under Cover of Darkness

Under Cover of Darkness

4.5 25
by James Grippando
     
 

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The youngest lawyer ever to grabthe helm of Seattle's most prominentlaw firm, Gus Wheatley has foundsuccess—as well as money, power, and prestige. He thinks nothing can interfere with his meteoric rise to the top.Until his wife, Beth, vanishes.

Beth's disappearance coincides witha series of brutal murders the FBI dubs the "bookend killings." They think Beth

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Overview

The youngest lawyer ever to grabthe helm of Seattle's most prominentlaw firm, Gus Wheatley has foundsuccess—as well as money, power, and prestige. He thinks nothing can interfere with his meteoric rise to the top.Until his wife, Beth, vanishes.

Beth's disappearance coincides witha series of brutal murders the FBI dubs the "bookend killings." They think Beth is the killer's latest victim . . . or his willing accomplice. But Gusknows his wife would never allyherself with a cold–blooded killer.The further he searches, however,the more he discovers that Beth isn'tthe woman he thought he knew.

Beth may be alive. She may or maynot be innocent. She may havecome up against evil far morereaching than a serial killer. And forGus and his family, that evil ismuch too close to home.

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:
9780062024527
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
06/28/2011
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
560
Sales rank:
191,093
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.40(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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