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Tuesday, March 21
Whoever had dubbed the town Silence must have gotten a laugh out of it, Nell thought as she closed the door of her Jeep and stood on the curb beside the vehicle. For a relatively small town, it was not what anyone would have called peaceful even on an average day; on this mild weekday in late March, at least three school groups appeared to be trying to raise money for something or other with loud and cheerful car washes in two small parking lots and a bake sale going on in the grassy town square. And there were plenty of willing customers for the kids, even with building clouds promising a storm later on.
Nell hunched her shoulders and slid her cold hands into the pockets of her jacket. Her restless gaze warily scanned the area, studying the occasional face even as she listened to snatches of conversation as people walked past her. Calm faces, innocuous talk. Nothing out of the ordinary.
It didn't look or sound like a town in trouble.
Nell glanced through the window of her Jeep at the newspaper folded on the passenger seat; there hadn't been much in yesterday's local daily to indicate trouble. Not much, but definitely hints, especially for anyone who knew how to read between the lines.
Not far from where she stood was a newspaper vendor selling today's edition, and she could easily make out the headline announcing the town council's decision to acquire property on which to build a new middle school. There was, as far as she could see, no mention on the front page of anything of greater importance than that.
Nell walked over to buy herself a paper and returned to stand beside her Jeep as she quickly scanned the three thin sections. She found it where she expected to find it, among the obituaries.
George Thomas Caldwell,
42, Unexpectedly, at Home.
There was more, of course. A long list of accomplishments for the relatively young man, local and state honors, business accolades. He had been very successful, George Caldwell, and unusually well-liked for a man in his position.
But it was the unexpectedly Nell couldn't get past. Someone's idea of a joke in very poor taste? Or was the sheriff's department refusing to confirm media speculation of only a day or so ago about the violent cause of George Caldwell's death?
Unexpected. Oh, yeah. Murder usually was.
She refolded the newspaper methodically and tucked it under her arm as she turned to face him. It was easy to keep her expression unrevealing, her voice steady. She'd had a lot of practice--and this was one meeting she had been ready for.
Standing no more than an arm's length away, Max Tanner looked at her, she decided, rather the way he'd look at something distasteful he discovered on the bottom of his shoe. Hardly surprising, she supposed.
"What the hell are you doing here?" His voice was just uneven enough to make it obvious he couldn't sound as impersonal and indifferent as he wanted to.
"I could say I was just passing through."
"You could. What's the truth?"
Nell shrugged, keeping the gesture casual. "I imagine you can guess. The will's finally through probate, so there's a lot I have to do. Go through things, clear out the house, arrange to sell it. If that's what I end up doing, of course."
"You mean you're not sure?"
"About selling out?" Nell allowed her mouth to curve in a wry smile. "I've had a few doubts."
"Banish them," he said tightly. "You don't belong here, Nell. You never did."
She pretended that didn't hurt. "Well, we agree on that much. Still, people change, especially in--what?--a dozen years? Maybe I could learn to belong."
He laughed shortly. "Yeah? Why would you want to? What could there possibly be in this pissant little town to interest you?"
Nell had learned patience in those dozen years, and caution. So all she said in response to that harsh question was a mild "Maybe nothing. We'll see."
Max drew a breath and shoved his hands into the pockets of his leather jacket, gazing off toward the center of town as if the bake sale going on there fascinated him.
While he was deciding what to say next, Nell studied him. He hadn't changed much, she thought. Older, of course. Physically more powerful now in his mid-thirties; he probably still ran, still practiced the martial arts that had been a lifelong interest. In addition, of course, to the daily physical labors of a cattle rancher. Whatever he was doing, it was certainly keeping him in excellent shape.
His lean face was a bit more lived-in than it had been, but just as with so many really good-looking men, the almost-too-pretty features of youth were maturing with age into genuine and striking male beauty--beauty that was hardly spoiled at all by the thin, grim line of his mouth. The passage of the years had barely marked that face in any negative way. There might have been a few threads of silver in the dark hair at his temples, and she didn't remember the laugh lines at the corners of his heavy-lidded brown eyes. . . .
Bedroom eyes. He'd been known for them all through school, for bedroom eyes and a hot temper, both gifts from a Creole grandmother. Maturity had done nothing to dampen the smoldering heat lurking in those dark eyes; she wondered if it had taught him to control the temper.
It had certainly taught her to control hers.
"You've got a hell of a nerve, I'll say that for you," he said finally, that intense gaze returning to her face.
"Because I came back? You must have known I would. With Hailey gone, there was no one else to . . . take care of things."
"You didn't come back for the funeral."
"No." She offered no explanation, no defense.
His mouth tightened even more. "Most people around here said you wouldn't."
"What did you say?" She asked because she had to.
"I was a fool. I said you would."
"Sorry to disappoint you."
Max shook his head once, an almost violent negation, and his voice was hard. "You can't disappoint me, Nell. I lost ten bucks on a bet, that's all."
Nell didn't know what she would have said to that, but she was saved from replying when an astonished female voice exclaimed her name.
"Nell Gallagher? My God, is that you?"
Nell half turned and managed a faint smile for the stunning redhead hurrying toward her. "It's me, Shelby."
Shelby Theriot shook her head and repeated, "My God," as she joined them beside Nell's car. For a moment, it seemed she would throw her arms around Nell in an exuberant hug, but in the end she just grinned. "I thought you'd probably show up here eventually, what with the house and everything to take care of, but I guess I figured it'd be later, maybe summer or something, though I don't know why. Hey, Max."
"Hey, Shelby." He stood there with his hands in his pockets, expressionless now, dark eyes flicking back and forth between the two women.
Nell kept her own gaze on Shelby's glowing face. "I thought about waiting until fall or until storm season was mostly past," she said easily, "but it worked out that I had some time now before beginning a new job, so I came on down."
"Down from where?" Shelby demanded. "Last we heard, you were out west somewhere."
"Heard from Hailey?"
"Yeah. She said you were--well, I think the word she used was entangled, with some guy in Los Angeles. Or maybe it was Las Vegas. Anyway, out west somewhere. And that you were taking college courses at night. At least, I think that's what she said."
Rather than commenting on the information, Nell merely said, "I live in D.C. now."
"Did you ever get married? Hailey said you came close once or twice."
"No. I never married."
Shelby grimaced. "Me either. Matter of fact, half our graduating class seems to be single these days, even though most of us have hit thirty. Depressing, isn't it?"
"Maybe some of us are better off alone," Nell offered, keeping her tone light.
"I think there's something in the water," Shelby said darkly. "Honest, Nell, this is getting to be a weird place. Have you heard about the murders?"
Nell lifted an eyebrow. "Murders?"
"Yeah. Four so far, if you count George Caldwell--remember him, Nell? 'Course, the sheriff hasn't been eager to put this latest death on the list with the others, but--"
Max cut her off to say, "We've had killings here before, Shelby, just like any other town."
"Not like these," Shelby insisted. "People around here get themselves killed, the reason why is generally pretty obvious, just like who the killer is. No locked-room mysteries or other baffling whodunits, not in Silence. But these deaths? All fine, upstanding men of the town with reputations the next best thing to lily-white, then they're murdered and all their nasty secrets come spilling out like a dam broke wide open."
"Secrets?" Nell asked curiously.
"I'll say. Adultery, embezzlement, gambling, pornography--you name it, we've had it. It's been a regular Peyton Place around here. We haven't heard anything about poor George's secrets so far, but it's early days yet. The other three, their secrets became public knowledge within a couple of weeks of their deaths. So I'm afraid it's just a matter of time until we find out more about George than we ever wanted to know."
"Have the killers been caught?"
"Nope. Which is another weird thing, if you ask me. Four prominent citizens killed in the last eight months, and the sheriff can't solve even one of the murders? He's going to have a hell of a time getting himself reelected."
Nell glanced at Max, who was frowning slightly but didn't offer a comment, then looked back at Shelby. "It does sound a little strange, but I'm sure the sheriff knows his job, Shelby. You always did fret too much."
Shelby shook her head but laughed as well. "Yeah, I guess I did at that. Oh, hell--is that the time? I've gotta go, I'm late. Listen, Nell, I really want to catch up--can I give you a call in a day or two, after you've settled in? We can have lunch or something."
"Sure, I'd love to."
"Great. And if you get lonesome in that big old house and want somebody to talk to in the meantime, you call me, okay? I'm still a night owl, so anytime's fine."
"Gotcha. See you later, Shelby."
With a wave to Max, the redhead rushed off, and Nell murmured, "She hasn't changed much."
Nell knew her best bet would be to get in her car and just leave, but she heard herself saying slowly, "These murders do sound pretty unusual. And to go unsolved for so long . . . Doesn't the sheriff have at least a few suspects?"
Max uttered an odd little laugh. "Oh, yeah, he has a few. One, in particular."
"Yeah, one. Me." With another laugh, he turned on his heel and walked away.
Nell gazed after him until he disappeared around the next corner. Then she looked at the busy little town that seemed oblivious to the storm clouds moving in and, half under her breath, murmured, "Welcome home, Nell. Welcome home."
Ethan Cole stood at the window of his office and looked down on Main Street. He had an excellent view of most of the street, especially the area around the newsstand. So he saw the visibly tense encounter between Nell Gallagher and Max Tanner, saw Shelby Theriot join them for a few moments before hurrying on in a characteristic rush. Saw Max stalk away and Nell watch him until she could no longer see him.
Well, now. How about that?
Ethan had known Nell was coming back to Silence, of course. Wade Keever wasn't as closemouthed as he should have been about the legal affairs he handled, especially with a couple of drinks in him, and Ethan usually bought him a couple or three at least twice a month, just to keep on top of things. So he knew that Nell had--somewhat reluctantly, according to Wade--agreed to come home at least long enough to clear out the old house, see what family possessions she wanted to keep, do whatever else needed doing by the last blood Gallagher left with ties to this place.
Hell, maybe she'd just have a big-ass yard sale and then set a match to the ancestral home and drive back to D.C. purged of the past.
Ethan doubted she'd want to keep much, at least if all the old stories and rumors had any truth to them. And since she hadn't returned home even for family funerals in the past twelve years, it certainly looked like at least some of those stories were true.
Ethan pursed his lips unconsciously as he watched Nell get back into her very nice Grand Cherokee and drive away. He'd run the plates later, he decided, just to make sure, but he didn't expect there'd be anything he didn't already know.
He knew a lot.
Being sheriff of a small, generally close-knit community required that, of course. Good police work in Lacombe Parish, and particularly here in Silence, so often came down to what he knew about the people here long before he had a crime to solve. So he made it his business to know what most everybody was up to, whether or not it was illegal.
He turned from the window to find one of his CID detectives, Justin Byers, standing in front of the desk. He encouraged his people to come seek him out if they needed to talk, avoiding the outdated intercom system mostly because it was outdated but also because he hated the tinny, almost eerie sounds of voices run through the things.
"What's up, Justin?"
"I'm having a little trouble running down all the financial information on George Caldwell. Nothing really suspicious, just some pretty scattered investments and a few too many details unexplained for my taste. I thought maybe if we got a warrant for his personal records--"
Ethan smiled. "I appreciate your enthusiasm, Justin, but I doubt Judge Buchanan will issue a warrant based on our uneasiness. Find out what you can, but don't push anybody, and don't call on his widow, okay?"
"Does Sue Caldwell even consider herself his widow? I mean, they'd been separated--what?--two or three years?"
"About that." Ethan shrugged. "But they were still married, and she's his legal heir. From what I hear, she's grieving. So leave her alone."
"Okay, sure. Just so you know, it's going to take a while to gather all the info you wanted--"
From the Paperback edition.
Posted July 9, 2002
Hi Everyone! I think I just about camped out in front of Barnes & Noble to get this latest edition of Kay Hooper's new book. At 55, I really thought I was beyond this, but when you find a book worth waiting for -- well, what can I say? The story begins like this: Men are dying for some very strange reasons in this quiet little town aptly called 'Silence'. Nell comes back after 12 years and is here to settle her family estate but she also has a secret! She and Max are the main characters in this book and Nell finds out that after 12 years she is still connected to Max, literally. You see, Nell is psychic and SOMEONE is blocking her mind and it is scaring Max, especially when she blacks out. I love reading books that bring back past characters, and Kay does this with Tony Harte and Miranda! These characters appear in her series which I call the 'Shadow Books' and 'Touching Evil. Miranda is now married to Noah Bishop, they merge their psychic abilities to a higher level and together, they are a force not to take lightly. Just when you think you know who the killer is, Kay throws in a twist! Oh, did I mention that this is a 'keeper'?
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 13, 2014
Posted September 14, 2012
The whole series is a very interesting take on head hunters. While occasionally I felt the books went a little overboard, the stories were well thought out and kept my interest all the way through book 12. I will wait until the next trilogy is complete before continuing on. But I will definitely continue on.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 8, 2012
Posted February 2, 2011
You know, based on the other reviews I thought this was going to be areslly great read, but I have to write how disappointed I am. This book is 272, or so, pages long, and it finally stopped droning on and on by page 217. Frustrating that something takes such unnecessary time to start moving. Dint get me wrong, it is a somewhat fast-paced book, however, events, characters, emotions, and explanations, repeated themselves again and again. I felt like screaming, "I get it, can we move on?" it seems like the author had the plot in her mind, which was a good one, but everything leading up to it was just a waste of my time that could've been condensed to no more then 60 pages. I did like, however, that when the story ended...it was over, not with some 20 page epilogue summating a finale. Okay, with all that, my BIGGEST pet peeve is that the story was written, or not edited properly, who knows, as if you're watching a movie. Sounds interesting, right? Yeah, it's not, because there you are, in the middle of a chapter, and page, and the next sentence picks up with tdotslly different characters and storyline than the previous sentence. Every author I've read thus far, in my 39 years, would indicate a chug in direction like that with, oh, I don't know, a NEW CHAPTER OR SOME STARS, OR A SQUIGGLY LINE. So you think this won't be bothersome to you? Well, I had to read, and reread s couple of pages, thinking, wait, are we on s different topic now? It's like having a conversation with an ADD. So if that's not enough, the author randomly ends chapters mid thought/conversation and starts a new chapter...and not with s new topic....right where the previous sentence ended. I was never an English major (perhaps obvous to some), but this seems like a very basic rule of thumb for writers...don't try to lose the reader. Would I recommend it? Only if it was free, period.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 30, 2009
Posted August 31, 2005
Posted May 4, 2005
This is possibly the best murder mystery I've ever read. This book is a classic and I really feel sorry for those who haven't read it. This is a very cleverly written book and it's got enough twists and turns to make your head spin. The best thing about the book and about Kay Hooper's style of writing is that she always leaves you hanging at the end of the chapter and that really makes you want to read more until you understand what's going on. The best part of the book is the biggest surprise-- when you learn who the killer is. All in all, definitely a pleaser and it's a classic in my opinion.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 2, 2004
I love Kay Hooper! She is an excellent author. I love her books. This is my 2nd book that I have read & just like the 1st one, it was great! Her books have everything that you're looking for, from suspense, drama, love, murder & more. Please, if you havent read this book, you need to buy it ASAP!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 6, 2003
Posted October 7, 2003
Posted May 8, 2003
Posted February 11, 2003
This book is definitely one of Kay Hooper's best. I read this fast just so that I could find out who the killer was without reading ahead. I was surprised by the killer's circumstances but not by the identity. The book was incredibly interesting and I enjoyed catching up with the other FBI agents I've read about before.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 17, 2002
The small Louisiana town of Silence is anything but quiet these days. Four men in eight months have been killed and the townsfolk are afraid, they want the police to catch the killer quickly. The only problem is the police are totally lost so the mayor has asked the FBI to come in since their profile suggests that the murderer is a local cop. Nell Gallagher ran away from Silence when she was seventeen, but has returned twelve years later to settle the family estate. Since she is also a FBI agent, she is able to work undercover without anyone wondering why se is so curious about the killings. She must deal with Max Tanner, her ex-lover after kicking him to the curb the first time they ¿made love¿. The plot is complex and has so many unexpected twists and turns that readers won¿t be able to predict what happens next. You will definitely want to read this book more than once.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 9, 2002
Posted September 13, 2002
Posted September 13, 2002
If this book, was so dry and stale, then why on earth would I want to read her other books. This book was awesome. It had me the moment I sat down to read it and it took me only 2 days to do so. I could not put this book down. I recommend this book to anyone who loves a good mystery with the paanormal mixed in.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 15, 2002
The first book I ever read by Kay Hooper was Touch Of Evil and that left me wanting more. I purchased this book and couldn't wait to get home to start reading it and I finished it in 3 days. I've always been interested in the paranormal but this book really got me interested. I was on the edge of my seat and positive that I knew who the killer was but in the end I was completely surprised. Don't worry I won't give the ending away. Nell and Matt showed how true love can effect a person both physically and mentally. The plot was excellent it definitely kept you guessing. I hope Kay Hooper will give us another look at the town of Silence.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 9, 2008
The small Louisiana town of Silence is anything but quiet these days. Four men in eight months have been killed and the townsfolk are afraid; they want the police to catch the killer quickly. The only problem is the police are totally stymied so the mayor has asked the FBI to come in since their profile suggests that the murderer is a local cop. <P>Nell Gallagher ran away from Silence when she was seventeen, but has returned twelve years later to settle the family estate. Since she is also a FBI agent, she is able to work undercover without anyone questioning her motives. She must deal with rancher Max Tanner, who needs to know why Nell closed the door on their relationship to run away after they made love for the first time. <P>Kay Hooper¿s, psychic thrillers are always a delightful reading experience and WHISPER OF EVIL is no exception. Characters from previous works lend a sense of continuity to the story line and readers will be glad to reunite with favorites who feel like friends. The plot is complex and has so many unexpected twists and turns that readers won¿t be able to predict what happens next. This is a one sitting read that will find its¿ way to the reader¿s keeper shelf. <P>Harriet Klausner
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Posted August 17, 2012
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