When She Was Bad

When She Was Bad

4.4 29
by Jonathan Nasaw

View All Available Formats & Editions

The author of Twenty-Seven Bones and The Girls He Adored delivers another nailbiting thriller featuring former FBI agent E. L. Pender. Breathtaking and suspenseful, yet leavened with a perverse and quirky humor, When She Was Bad examines the terrifying relationship between two hot young lovers who also happen to be coldblooded killers.


The author of Twenty-Seven Bones and The Girls He Adored delivers another nailbiting thriller featuring former FBI agent E. L. Pender. Breathtaking and suspenseful, yet leavened with a perverse and quirky humor, When She Was Bad examines the terrifying relationship between two hot young lovers who also happen to be coldblooded killers.

"Multiples in love: imagine the possibilities," said one of the twisted couple's earlier victims. Lily DeVries and Ulysses Maxwell have quite a few things in common. Both were horrifically abused as children, then diagnosed with multiple personality disorder, and eventually incarcerated in the same Oregon mental institution. There, they fell into the hands of the well-meaning, genially sinister director, Dr. Al.

When the ingenious lovers engineer a bloody escape, the only people who have a chance of stopping them are the rumpled, endearingly flawed E. L. Pender and Dr. Irene Cogan, a brilliant psychiatrist who loves Lily almost as much as she fears Maxwell. With the aid of a private investigator, Pender and Cogan take on a pair of killers who win hearts as easily as they slit throats.

A sexually charged thriller of undeniable originality and page-turning suspense, When She Was Bad moves at a rapid clip from the inner recesses of two twisted psyches to a terrifying climax and brilliantly realized finale.

Emotionally taut and difficult to put down, this tale of sex, romance, madness, and murder will not disappoint.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

While novels featuring a love affair between the multiple personalities of two psychopathic serial killers are certainly rare, any points Nasaw might have earned for originality are canceled out by the improbable plot of this fourth E.L. Pender adventure (after 2004's Twenty-Seven Bones). British psychiatrist Alan Corder has spent years trying to cure Ulysses Maxwell, an in-patient at a prestigious Oregon treatment facility, of his murderous alternate identities. Maxwell, who's obviously clever enough to game the system, gets an unexpected ally when the attractive and deranged Lily DeVries arrives at the center. After Corder hosts the two killers at his house, they butcher him, his wife and their psychiatric attendants and make their escape. Soon ex-FBI series hero E.L. Pender and Dr. Irene Cogan, a psychiatrist who was kidnapped and tortured by Maxwell, take up the pursuit. Though Nasaw raises interesting questions about identity and sanity, his superficial answers leave this blood-soaked action yarn lacking genuine thrills or chills. (Sept.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
The sequel to The Girls He Adored (2001) uses multiple personality disorder as a come-on for a Jekyll and Hyde horror story. There is good news and bad news about Ulysses Maxwell, the serial killer of the earlier novel. The good news is that his Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) has been brought under control by Dr. Corder, his therapist at a psychiatric institute in Oregon; evil Max has been replaced by sweet Lyssy. The bad news, unknown to Corder, is that Max is still lurking in Lyssy's psyche. The latest arrival at the institute is another DID patient, gentle Lily, a young woman who acquired Lilith, an alter (alternate identity), while being raped by a biker; fierce Lilith bit off his nose. The rehabilitated Maxwell is facing trial for 12 murders; under the stress, Max surfaces and makes contact with Lilith, who wants to escape. Nasaw sets the stage for a massacre, which occurs when Corder invites the two patients into his family home. In walk two Jekylls, out walk two Hydes, having slashed to death Corder, his wife and their two escorts. This is gut-level exciting because another couple, Lily's former shrink Dr. Irene Cogan and retired FBI agent E.L. Pender, try and fail to prevent the tragedy. The trouble is, Nasaw peaked too soon; we're not yet at the midpoint, and nothing will top that massacre. The killers flee to the California hideout of two notorious drug dealers, Carson and Mama Rose; the latter had rescued Lily from the biker. There will be more mayhem before Lily/Lilith and Lyssy/Max move to a cabin in the woods and the inevitable confrontation with Cogan and Pender. Nasaw tries to keep things interesting with constant alter switches, but they just become distracting. AsPender says, "you can't tell the players without a scorecard."Nasaw's overriding interest is an impressive body count, but even nine corpses can't guarantee thrills.

Product Details

Pocket Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.78(w) x 4.20(h) x 0.99(d)

Read an Excerpt


"Are you sure you're going to be all right now?"

"I'll be fine, Grandma."

"I hate to go off and leave you."

Lily rolls her eyes. "Grandma, I'm seventeen years old, I can take care of myself for two days."

"Of course you can, dear. It's just..." No need to complete the sentence — they both know how it ends.

"Dody, she'll be fine," chimes in Lily's grandfather. "Now can we please get this show on the road — I want to be off the highway before dark." His night vision isn't what it used to be — but then, as he's fond of saying, what is?

In the circular driveway at the bottom of the wide marble steps waits a gleaming black Mercedes SUV loaded with enough provisions to have seen Napoleon's army safely home from Moscow. Dark-haired, dark-eyed Lily hugs her roly-poly grandmother, who smells like stale baby powder. When her grandfather stoops to give Lily a peck on the cheek, the overpowering scent of his aftershave brings tears to her eyes — apparently his sense of smell ain't what it used to be, either.

Lily waves from the top of the steps until the SUV is out of sight, then heads back inside the two-story, Mission-style Pebble Beach mansion where she's lived with her grandparents since she was almost five. To celebrate being alone, she sneaks up to her grandmother's bedroom, steals a cigarette from the pack of Dorals Grandma hides in a bureau drawer, and smokes it out on the balcony, waving it around languidly, wrist bent like some old movie actress.

But the reality of being home alone never lives up to the expectation for long. After a few puffs the cigarette tastes hot and stale, and when she stubs it out and goes back inside, the mansion is so empty and echoey that she can hear the tick-tock of the grandfather clock down in the parlor from her second-floor bedroom.

Flopping onto her bed, Lily switches on the television and clicks through the channels. MTV is showing one of its beach parties, college kids dancing on the sand, the boys in their baggy shorts and scraggly wanna-be goatees, the heavy-breasted girls in skimpy bikinis that barely cover their nipples. Lily is both disturbed and fascinated by the overt sexuality. Scaredy cat, she chides herself — don't you even want a normal life someday?

Just to see what it would feel like, she strips down to her bra and panties, tries on a few moves in front of the floor-length mirror mounted on the closet door. Oh yeah, she thinks happily, blushing like a pomegranate at sunset, I could do this.

But after only a few seconds of modest abandon, an image from Lily's past fills her mind. Strong, sharp-scented male hands, large enough to palm her head like a softball, pry her jaws apart; an impossibly swollen, purple-headed penis forces itself into her mouth, choking her; a flashbulb explodes into white glare.

She reels away from the mirror, fighting for breath as if she were still that baby, and sits on the edge of the bed, head between her knees, breathing iiiin and ouuut, niiice and caaalm. A commercial for acne cream is playing; she feels around for the remote and blindly switches off the television, then guides herself through an exercise she's learned from her psychiatrist, Dr. Irene Cogan. That was then, this — she raises her head, glances around the familiar bedroom — is now. That was a memory, this is the reality. You're not that helpless baby anymore — no one can touch you without your consent.

And gradually the panic subsides. Lily turns on the bedroom light, slips on a bathrobe and a pair of slippers, and is halfway down the wide, curving staircase when the phone starts ringing. She charges back up the stairs, throws herself across the bed, fumbles the receiver off the hook just before the downstairs answering machine kicks in. "Hello?"

"Is this the home of...Lyman and Dorothy DeVries?"

"Who's calling, please?" Lily is well-versed in telephone safety.

"This is Sergeant Mapes, California Highway Patrol."

Everything's gone quiet, like just before an earthquake. "Yes, this is the DeVries residence."

"Who am I speaking to?"

"This is Lily. Lily DeVries — I'm their granddaughter. Is something wrong?"

"Is there an adult around I can speak to?"

"Yes — me." It isn't the first time Lily has been mistaken for a child over the phone. "Has something happened to them?"

"There's been an accident. A bad one." A pause. "A very bad one." Another pause, as if he wanted Lily to ask him a question. She couldn't think of one, though — all she could think of was how tired she had suddenly become. "I'm sorry to have to be the one to break the news, Miss DeVries. From what we've been able to ascertain, your grandfather seems to have lost control of the vehicle on Highway One, a few miles south of Big Sur. It went through the guardrail, over the cliff, and landed on the rocks sixty feet below. Both bodies were still in the car. If it's any comfort, they were almost certainly killed outright."

Lily had to put the receiver under her pillow to muffle the squeaky, unintelligible sounds coming out of it. Too tired, she thought, rolling onto her stomach and closing her eyes — I'm too tired to deal with this.

Copyright © 2007 by Jonathan Nasaw

Meet the Author

Jonathan Nasaw is the acclaimed author of Fear Itself and The Girls He Adored, both Literary Guild Selections. He lives in Pacific Grove, California.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

When She Was Bad 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"When She was Bad" is a terrifying look into the fictitious minds of the criminally mentally ill. It was a sick and twisted trainwreck, but definitely one that you couldn't turn away from. It is very graphic with horrible abuse and horrific violence - so reader beware. However, it definitely raises questions into the conscious versus unconscious, and makes you question accountability and the lines of control.
Lisa_Joy More than 1 year ago
I like characters with lots of flaws, so this book was great. two of the main characters have mental health issues and there are some characters from his previous book, The Girls He Adored.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Despite the sometimes awkward constant changes when the two main characters with multiple personalities flipped from one persona to another, I found this book highly readable, and a real page turner. As I neared the close of the book, I couldn't help but worry that there would be no satisfying ending for Lyssy, who had two powerfully different personas--one who was innocent and childlike, and the other who was a cold-blooded killer, and yet in a clever twist, the author was able to pull it off.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. A quick and easy read that drew me in. This book has a bit of EVERYTHING!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Someone else described the story like "a trainwreck; YOU WANT TO LOOK AWAY BUT CAN'T" and that sums it up well. The author is just incredible and I will read more from him. From the description you might not think this book is for you, but if you like this genre I advise you to check it out. I gave it five stars for character development, humourous relief and an understanding of Multiple Personality Disorder. The ending is......well you will see! Happy Reading!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book...I find it hard to find books that keep my attention and want to keep reading...I have read this book well over 7 times now. I just keep going back to read it again...very hard for me to find in a book anymore.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BookAddictFL More than 1 year ago
Ulysses and Lilly, two people suffering with multiple personality disorder, fall in love. This story starts there and goes full tilt until the very end. One personality is a serial killer, another a hard-edged biker babe unafraid to kill. Then there's the sweet, naive man-child and the trusting, hopeful young woman. Personalities fight for dominance and the good and bad guy are all wrapped up in one package. Nasaw is an excellent writer. He tackles a fascinating subject with sizzling suspense that kept me on the edge throughout the book. If you enjoy psychological suspense, this is one book you shouldn't miss.
MISS_READ_IT More than 1 year ago
this is a must read great way to follow the girls he adored (which is even better) i definitly recommend!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
lesli320 More than 1 year ago
I think I read this book in about four hours! It was just as everyone said in the reviews - suspenseful with horrific details. It does cause you to be sympathetic to the characters, though. I wil definitely look for other books by this author. I enjoyed it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dbowman More than 1 year ago
This book was captivating. Had a dificult time putting it down. The ending was nothing like I expected. An excellent, thrilling read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. Besides being a thriller it really explained in detail about multiple personality disorder or dissociative identity disorder (now called DID). But you should read it in order. First read THE GIRLS HE ADORED so you will understand the story better since it is a sequel. The sexual serial killing parts are pretty descriptive so if you have a queazy stomach it might bother you (keep the lights on). FBI Special Agent Pender is a hoot and his personality lends well to the storyline affording small breaks in the tension. I really enjoy Jonathan Nasaw's books since FEAR ITSELF. I have not read his earlier books about vampires. I prefer more reality and in todays weird world these scarey books have a realism to them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was looking forward to reading this book, however even though the plot was creative, the characters were not as well developed as they could have been. It is a bit of boring read, it could have been much better if the characters had more depth.
Nridgely More than 1 year ago
This book I must say was a good read. the whole book whad twists and turn that you wouldnt expect its a bit gorey but a read worth while.
bumlucy More than 1 year ago
This was a great read. Well drawn ,enjoyable characters, a taught plot and a "Silence of the Lambs" type of tension. Nasaw doesn't get the credit he's due.
If you have not read the E.J. Pender series, now's the time to start!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I highly recommend this book. The story draws you in and keeps going till the end. I've been passing it onto my friends and they are all now hooked on Nasaw as well. If you liked this book you need to get "The Girls He Adored" it goes into the story of the other main character Max and is a page turner as well.