Whispers

Whispers

4.1 172
by Lisa Jackson
     
 

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When Voices In The Night Become Whispers. . .

In the chill of an Oregon night, a man plunges to his death. Another vanishes without a trace. A third drowns in the murky waters of a quiet lake. Alone in the dark, a ruthless killer is certain that every loose end has been cut, every enemy silenced except one. . .

Be Afraid. . .

It's been sixteen

Overview

When Voices In The Night Become Whispers. . .

In the chill of an Oregon night, a man plunges to his death. Another vanishes without a trace. A third drowns in the murky waters of a quiet lake. Alone in the dark, a ruthless killer is certain that every loose end has been cut, every enemy silenced except one. . .

Be Afraid. . .

It's been sixteen years since Claire St. John fled in terror from her family's home on Lake Arrowhead. Sixteen years since her fiancé's tragic death and the shocking secret she promised never to reveal to anyone. But that was before journalist Kane Moran began probing the mystery of that horrible night, turning a light on the darkest corners of Claire's life, exposing her once again to a cold-blooded murderer's vicious fury. . .

Be Very Afraid. . .

Now, as Claire returns home to face a past she's tried to forget, another body is unearthed, revealing the twisted nature of a killer who is ready at last to make Claire pay the ultimate price. . .

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In a letter to readers, Jackson (Cold Blooded, etc.) declares this a "spanking brand new edition" of her 1999 romantic suspense novel, complete with new twists and a new ending. As such, it should generate plenty of excitement among her fans, but new readers may be put off by the book's overabundance of sex and violence. After being approached to run for Governor of Oregon, Dutch Holland vows to lay the skeletons of his past to rest. He soon learns, however, that they won't go away so easily. Sixteen years earlier, his rival's younger son, Harley Taggert, was murdered, and Dutch believes one of his own daughters may have been responsible. Now, journalist Kane Moran has returned home to crack open the case and write a book about it, despite the fact that his actions may hurt his old crush, single mom Claire Holland, Dutch's daughter. Harley's brother, Weston Taggert, a typical animal-abusing sexual deviant, also hates Dutch and would do anything to discredit the Hollands. The relationship between Kane, a lowborn, abused bad boy, and the unreachable, well-off Claire follows a familiar path, but the pages practically sizzle when they're together. Stock secondary characters and predictable family dramas leech away some of the suspense, but Jackson livens up her story with a final, dizzying twist. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781420151589
Publisher:
Kensington
Publication date:
07/03/2012
Pages:
447
Sales rank:
75,224
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.40(d)

Read an Excerpt

Whispers


By Lisa Jackson

KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.

Copyright © 1996 Lisa Jackson LLC
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4967-0237-1



CHAPTER 1

All's fair in love and war.

Or so the old saying went. Kane wasn't entirely sure he could adopt the adage, not when Claire Holland's future was at stake, but then what the hell, she'd never cared for him anyway. Never given him the time of day except once, when she'd let her tightly laced guard down. He stepped hard on the emergency brake as he cut the engine and reminded himself that she was married, separated but married, and her name was now Claire St. John.

Rain peppered the windshield, drizzling down the glass in jagged streaks as Kane stared at the shack he'd inherited — a three-room cabin on the shores of Lake Arrowhead. Shingles were missing from the roof; two windows were covered with plywood now decorated with graffiti; rust ran in orange stains from downspouts clogged by years of leaves, needles, and dirt; and the front porch sagged like a broken-down cart horse's back. Stumps, mutilated by a chain saw and blackened from years in the rain, had toppled over long before they became his father's works of Northwest art. The attic window — the only source of natural light in the cramped space that had been his bedroom — had been smashed, and pieces of glass still littered the porch roof.

Welcome home, he thought sourly as he climbed out of his rig, threw his duffel bag and bedroll over one shoulder, and ducked against an icy blast of wind. Hot pain shot through his hip, compliments of a stray piece of shrapnel he'd collected on his last assignment overseas. He winced and hitched the bag higher on his shoulder as he cursed the fact that he still limped a bit, enough to throw off his gait when he wanted to move fast.

On the stoop, he inserted his key into the old lock, and the latch gave way completely, the door opening with a groaning creak, sawdust filtering down from the useless dead bolt.

Years of dust, dead air, and the general feeling of lost dreams crowded around him as he walked over the threshold. Second thoughts were his companions for the first time since deciding upon this mission. Maybe moving back here was a bad idea. Maybe the guy who came up with the phrase "let sleeping dogs lie" knew something Kane didn't.

Too bad. He stepped over an upended coffee table. Now wasn't the time for turning back. He dropped his duffel and sleeping bag onto a couch in the corner — a once-rose-colored contemporary sectional, now a dingy pink-gray, with the stuffing exposed in several spots. The windowsills were dry and peeling, covered with the remnants of spiders' meals, brittle carcasses of insects. In one corner of the ceiling, where the tiles drooped, a half-decayed yellow jacket's nest hung loosely. The knotty pine walls were mildew-stained, and the dank smell slipped through the cabin like a fetid shadow.

He'd camped in worse places than this over the years, seen hovels in the Middle East and Bosnia that made this old cabin look like a palace, but none of those wretched abodes had he ever called home. Only in this place was his soul stripped bare and bleeding, this run-down cottage where he'd been reared in his earlier years by a mother whose shoes had wafer-thin soles because she walked so many miles behind the counter of the Westwind Bar and Grill.

"You take care of yourself, honey," she'd said, touching him lightly on the shoulder and slanting him a sad smile. "I'll be home late, so lock the door. Your daddy, he'll be home soon." A lie. Always a lie, but one he never questioned. She'd brushed a kiss across his cheek. Alice Moran had always smelled of roses and smoke, a mixture of cheap perfume and bargain brand cigarettes. For years the top drawer of her dresser had been filled with coupons from the backs of cigarette packs, collected and used to buy something special other than the barest of necessities. Most of the Christmas and birthday gifts Kane had received had been compliments of his mother's nicotine habit.

But that had been a long time ago, when life, though lean, had been simple for a boy of eight or nine. Right around the time of Pop's accident, when their sorry lives had changed for the worse.

There wasn't much reason to dwell on the past, so he ignored the raw anger in his gut as well as the pain in his hip. He found a yellowed newspaper from fifteen years ago and felt like he had as a gawky, rebellious teenager — horny as hell and burning with a need for more from life, a taste of better things, a desire to be as good as the Hollands and the Taggerts, the richest families on the lake, the social elite of this tiny coastal burg as well as the city of Portland, some ninety miles to the east.

And he'd wanted Claire. With a brain-numbing lust and a fire between his legs he'd fantasized about her — the rich, unavailable daughter of Dutch Holland.

He wadded the old newspaper in his fist as he remembered how many nights he'd lain awake, trying to devise plans to be with her, none of which had materialized into anything more than a frustration that had caused sweat to bead on his upper lip and his cock to become stiff as a flagpole on a windless day.

He didn't want to think about Claire. She'd only complicate things, and he'd never been good enough for her anyway. No. She'd had her adolescent sights set on Harley Taggert, son of her father's biggest competitor. Except for one time. One magic morning.

"Hell," he growled, trying to chase her image from his mind. Despite the rain, he threw open the windows, letting in a harsh, wet breeze that carried the scent of the Pacific Ocean. Maybe the cold air would blow away the lingering sense of despair and lost hopes that clung, like stubborn cobwebs, to the faded curtains and scattered pieces of cheap furniture in this dump.

He let the door stand open as he made one more trip to the Jeep for his briefcase, cell phone, laptop computer, and pint of Irish whiskey, the label of which boasted his father's favorite cheap blend. It was ironic, him drinking the same liquor as Pop, a man he'd detested, but it seemed fitting somehow. Hampton Moran had been a miserable son of a bitch, mean to the bone and, after the accident that had left him wheelchair-bound, he'd become a violent drunk, filled with self-pity and seething rage. Before the fall that had crippled him, he'd drunk too much and beaten his wife and boy. Afterward with only Kane to take care of him, Pop had been reduced to a bitter shell of a man who sought solace and relief from the bottle. Black Velvet, when he could afford her, became his favorite lady, Jack Daniel's a sometime but too expensive friend. More often than not he was left with rotgut Irish whiskey to fuel his broken dreams.

No wonder Kane's mother had left after a while. She'd had no choice. A rich man had wooed her, promised her a better life as long as she left Hampton and her son. The man didn't need the extra baggage of a wild boy; he had half-grown kids of his own. And a wife. Kane had never known the bastard's name, but every month, like clockwork, a money order for three hundred dollars in Kane's name arrived in the mailbox. Hampton, sober for the first time in thirty days, would wait for the mail carrier, have Kane retrieve the letterless envelope, and force him to cash the anonymous check. Pop was generous. He gave Kane five dollars, and the remainder would tide him over for the rest of the month.

"You've heard of blood money, haven't you boy, well this is jizz-money — earned by your mother for spreading her legs for that rich son of a bitch. Remember that, Kane; no woman is worth losing your heart or your wallet. Scourge of the earth they are. Whores. Jezebels." And then he'd begin to quote scripture, mixed-up verses that made no sense.

Kane remembered the day his mother had left. "I'll be back," she'd promised, tears running down her cheeks as she'd hugged her son, clinging to him as if she knew she'd never see him again. "I'll be back to take you away from him."

Pop had been sleeping, snoring away last night's bender.

Kane hadn't so much as lifted his hands to hold her or wave goodbye. When she stepped into the long black car with its grim-faced driver, Kane had only stared at her with eyes accusing her of being a failure and a traitor.

"I promise, honey. I'll be back."

But it hadn't happened. Her untruth had been just one more link in the tarnished chain of broken promises that had been Kane's life. He'd never seen her again, never bothered to find out what had happened. Until now.

And the truth stung — it stung like a bitch.

He didn't bother with a glass, just opened the bottle and took a long pull, then brushed off the chipped Formica with his coat sleeve, plugged in the computer, and sat at the metal-legged table where he'd taken most of the meals of the first twenty years of his life. The electric company must've come through and reconnected the old wires because the screen flickered and the laptop hummed in readiness.

Snapping open his briefcase, he pulled out a file, thick with notes, clippings, and pictures of the Holland family. He dealt the photographs out like cards from a well-worn deck. First card faceup was the king of diamonds, old Dutch Holland, patriarch and would-be governor of the state, a man who claimed to be of the people, but, Kane knew, was more twisted than a sailor's knot.

Second was a picture of Dutch's ex-wife Dominique, still model-beautiful, but living out of the country these days and, presumably, a source who might, for the right amount of cash, help him with his quest. Then there were the glossy prints of two of Dutch's daughters, Miranda and Tessa. The final photograph, a snapshot, was of Claire.

Too bad she was involved, and, he guessed, involved to her teeth.

His jaw hardened at the two faces staring sightlessly from poses encouraged by some nameless but expensive photographer. He dropped the pictures of Miranda and Tessa, the oldest and youngest onto the table's surface to join their parents, but he studied Claire's picture more closely, a snapshot that he'd committed to memory long before. She was astride a painted pony, only the back and neck of which were visible. But Claire was caught square in the camera's lens. His camera's lens.

Clear eyes, straight nose, wide cheekbones, and loose cinnamon brown curls framing an oval face. God, she was beautiful. Her smile was shy and enigmatic, a naive turn-on. Hell, he still felt it, that slightly elevated beat of his pulse whenever he thought of her, the girl who had everything, who had looked at him with disdain and pity.

But not anymore.

Now the tables had turned. He was the one in control. A twinge of conscience spiked his brain because he knew that what he was about to do might expose Claire to the most brutal of scrutiny. Her life would be turned inside out and shaken until all the dirt fell out, all the hidden secrets exposed like the bleached bones of a desert carcass.

Too bad. If she got hurt, well, that was just part of life. The breaks. Sometimes pain couldn't be helped. A man was dead, sent to a watery grave years before by someone who had lived in the house of Holland. Kane was determined to find out who had crushed Harley Taggert's skull and hidden the crime for over sixteen years. He had personal reasons for this vendetta, reasons that went far beyond his pressing need to make a living, reasons that included his sincere belief that Harley might not have been the only victim in the lies and deceit that were hidden beneath the still surface of Lake Arrowhead.

He flipped through a few pages of notes, then positioned the computer in front of him. Fingers moving deftly, he typed out the first page:

Power Play: The Murder of Harley Taggert by Kane Moran


He took another swig from his bottle and started writing. Even though his investigation into all the skeletons tucked discreetly away in the Holland family closets was just beginning, he realized that before he was finished, Harley's murderer would face charges on a sixteen-year-old crime. Dutch Holland, the bastard, would have no chance of becoming governor of Oregon, and every single member of the Holland family, including Claire, would despise Kane Moran.

So be it. Life wasn't easy, and it sure as hell wasn't fair. He'd learned that painful lesson years ago, and Claire had been one of his teachers. Besides, this, his exposé of the Holland family, was to be his revenge and catharsis.

A new start.

He tipped the bottle back again. A swallow of whiskey burned a fiery path to his stomach, and Kane wondered why, instead of a sense of elation, he felt a premonition of dread, as if he'd unwittingly taken his first step into hell.


"I don't care if you have to kiss Moran's ugly ass or tie him up in lawsuits for the rest of his life. Find out something that we can use against him. Bribe him or kill the stupid bastard with your bare hands, Murdock! Just find a way to squelch the damned book!" Dutch slammed the car phone into its cradle. "Spineless cretin," he growled, though in truth, Ralph Murdock, his attorney and campaign manager, was one of the few people in this world whom Benedict Holland trusted.

Clamping down on the cigar jammed between his teeth, he floored the accelerator and his Cadillac shot forward, tires skimming on the narrow road winding through this stretch of old growth timber. The speedometer inched past sixty and mossy-barked fir trees swept by in a blur.

Who would have thought that the ghost of Harley Taggert would rise now at this critical point in his life? And who the hell did Kane Moran, the man penning the story surrounding Harley's death, think he was? The last time Dutch had seen him, years ago, Moran had been a mean-tempered kid with a chip on his shoulder the size of Nebraska, a hoodlum always in trouble with the law. Somehow he'd scrounged his way through college and he'd become a risk-taking fool of a journalist who, because of some damned wound, had decided to settle down back home in Oregon to write a book about Harley Taggert's death.

As his car shot over the summit, Dutch experienced the tightening in his chest again, that same old sense of panic that squeezed him whenever he thought of the night the Taggert kid died. Deep in the darkest reaches of his heart he suspected that one of his daughters had bashed in the boy's skull.

Which one? Which one of his girls had done it? His firstborn, Miranda, a lawyer working for the district attorney's office, was ambitious to a fault, her pride unbending. She looked so much like her mother it was spooky. Randa had inherited Dominique's thick dark hair and sultry blue eyes. He'd heard comments that Miranda was haughty, that she had ice water running through her veins, but she certainly wasn't cold enough or stupid enough to have murdered the Taggert kid. No, Dutch wouldn't believe it; Randa had been too self-possessed, a woman who knew what she wanted out of life.

Claire, his secondborn, had been the quiet one, a romantic by nature. As a kid she'd been gawky, plain in comparison with her sisters, but she'd grown into her looks, and he suspected that she would be the kind of woman who, as the years passed, would look better and better. At the time of Harley's death she'd been a soft-spoken athletic girl, the middle sister, one to whom he hadn't paid much attention. She never gave him any trouble except that she'd fallen in love with Harley Taggert. Then there was Tessa. The baby. And the rebel. There was no reason she would have wanted Harley Taggert dead. At least no reason Dutch knew about. And even now that thought settled like a stone in his gut.

Until recently, Dutch hadn't lost much sleep over the Taggert boy's demise.

Now, his fingers grew sweaty around the steering wheel. Claire, with her haunted eyes and smattering of freckles, wasn't a killer. She couldn't be. Christ, there wasn't a mean bone in her body. Or was there? What of Miranda? Maybe he didn't know his eldest as well as he thought he did.

The sun was hanging low over the western hills, blinding him with its bright rays. He flipped down the visor. The road split and he turned toward the small town of Chinook and the old lodge he'd bought for a song.

The Caddy shimmied as Dutch took the corner too fast, but he barely noticed as he slid over the center line. A pickup going the opposite direction blasted its horn and skidded on the gravel shoulder to avoid collision.

"Bastard," Dutch growled, still lost in thought. His youngest daughter, Tessa, was and always had been the maverick in the family. Blond and blue-eyed with a figure that, at twelve, had been obscenely curvaceous, Tessa had forever been the wild card in the deck that was the Holland family. Whereas Miranda had tried to please, and Claire had faded into the woodwork, Tessa had brazenly and willfully defied Dutch whenever she could. Knowing she was his favorite, she'd rebelled at every turn. Trouble — that's what Tessa had been, but Dutch couldn't believe, wouldn't, that she was a killer.

"Damn it all to hell," he muttered as he chewed on the end of his cigar. If only he'd been fortunate enough to have sired sons. Things would have been different. Far different. God had played a cruel trick on him with these girls.

Daughters always gave a man grief.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Whispers by Lisa Jackson. Copyright © 1996 Lisa Jackson LLC. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

LISA JACKSON is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than seventy-five novels, including After She’s Gone, Close to Home, Tell Me, Deserves to Die, You Don’t Want to Know, Running Scared, and Shiver. She has over twenty million copies of her books in print in nineteen languages. She lives with her family and three rambunctious dogs in the Pacific Northwest. Readers can visit her website at www.lisajackson.com and find her on Facebook.

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Whispers 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 172 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a Lisa Jackson fan, I have read many books by her and Whispers is just one of my favourites. hope there will be more
charisme2003 More than 1 year ago
I read this book in two days, could not put it down. I have read almost all of Lisa Jackson's books and I love her books. I had not read this series yet and got it before I left for vacation and was glad I did. Great book it grabbed your attention at the beginning and you just want more of it.
paldo More than 1 year ago
I hadn't read lisa jackson for a long time and decided to give this a try after a friend reminded me of her books. so glad i took her advice..I had forgotten what a great story teller she is. Couldn't put this book down.
Tamy Zorn More than 1 year ago
This was an okay read, but nit up to lisas usual quality and the book short story description (on back of book) matches NOTHING in the book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was a great book. I was guessing all the way to the end. A great mix of mystery, murder, and sexy romance. Very good book!
Anonymous 8 days ago
Christ what a slow moving story. Several of the chapters seem to be the same scenario over and over again with building up tension that goes no where. I'm sorry, but I gave up halfway through. Not enough here to make me keep wanting to read or to hold my interest. None of the characters have any redeeming qualities that make you want to root for them. The first chapter was an excellent hook and well written though.
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I like Lisa Jackson's books Whispers was very good.
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idk bbt
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ATHENIAN CONSTITUTION!!!
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