In Fox's sophomore thriller, the follow-up to last year's Malicious Intent, Aussie physician and freelance forensic pathologist Anya Crichton returns with a temporary gig as acting director at a center for sexual-assault victims. When a number of victims come to the center bearing signs of similar attacks, Anya begins to suspect a serial rapist-and it isn't long before the rapist's m.o. turns to murder. The lead suspect in the police investigation is Geoffrey Willard, a convicted child rapist just released from 20 years in prison; meanwhile, Anya's own investigation throws doubt on Geoffrey's culpability-and also attracts the murderous attention of the real madman. Fox, a physician with a mind for forensic medicine, provides plenty of authentic, grisly detail and has a real talent for carefully plotted mystery. Though the action can occasionally drag in the name of scientific accuracy, Fox keeps the suspense high, the down-under prose fun and her readers guessing, making this a captivating thrill ride with a great kicker. (July)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Without Consentby Kathryn Fox
Forensic pathologist and physician, Dr. Anya Crichton does not just examine the dead. She also treats survivors of sexual assault, and the women she now sees compel her to follow the trail of a violent serial rapist—who is becoming more brutal with each attack. When two new victims are stabbed to death, suspicion immediately falls on Geoffrey Willard,
Forensic pathologist and physician, Dr. Anya Crichton does not just examine the dead. She also treats survivors of sexual assault, and the women she now sees compel her to follow the trail of a violent serial rapist—who is becoming more brutal with each attack. When two new victims are stabbed to death, suspicion immediately falls on Geoffrey Willard, recently released from twenty years in prison for the vicious rape and murder of a teenage girl.
As the community demands justice, Anya faces the greatest ethical dilemma of her career. If Willard is innocent, her forensic evidence will destroy a respected pathologist's reputation. If Anya is wrong, she has ensured not only that a seasoned killer goes free, but that he remains unstoppable.
Only the killer knows a mistake has been made. One that is about to prove fatal . . .
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By Kathryn Fox
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2007 Kathryn Fox
All right reserved.
Temporarily blinded by the flashing bulbs, Geoffrey Willard stepped through the gate. Immediately, the onslaught began.
"Over here," a man called.
"No, this way," cried another.
"Geoff! What's it like to be free?"
A microphone lurched forward and grazed his chin. The impact caught him off balance.
"Do you think you're rehabilitated?"
"Mate, look this way! Show us those baby blues."
"Sunny, over here!"
Geoffrey instinctively shielded his eyes, the ones that caused inmates to nickname him Sundance, after Robert Redford, only before he turned old and wrinkly. With his forefinger, he touched a bit of newly shaved scalp and took half a pace backward, wishing he could retreat to the safety of prison.
More flashes exploded in the twilight. Not knowing which way to turn, he hid his face with his knapsack. What felt like a fist plunged into his side. As he pulled away with the pain, someone shoved from the other side.
The prison guard held out a baton and opened a narrow pathway. "Come on, back off. Give the guy a break."
"Yeah, like he did for Eileen Randall?"
Geoff tensed his considerable shoulders and clenched his fists.
"Everyone settle down," the officer warned. "We don't want anyone getting hurt."
More camerasfired and someone lunged forward and yanked at his pocket, almost pulling the trousers down in the process. He didn't even see her face, just a mop of dark shiny hair. Shielding his eyes from a spotlight coming from where they were headed, he called out, "Someone make them go away."
"We'll take it from here," boomed a deep voice. "Car's waiting." Geoffrey saw two men in suits holding back the throng. They looked like cops.
"I didn't do anything," he said.
"This is for your own protection," the deep voice growled. This man sounded even angrier than the others.
Suddenly, Geoff felt a whack on his back and stumbled, landing with a thud on both knees. A boot quickly caught his right thigh. The tattered knapsack fell just out of reach.
Bodies and legs surged forward. He could barely breathe.
"Bring back the death penalty!" a woman screamed, and a cheer went out.
Hands dragged him to his feet and forced him, limping, to a white sedan. The door opened from inside and Geoffrey felt a sweaty weight on his crown, shoving him into the back seat. The bag of special belongings followed. The door slammed and he felt safe—like a fish in its bowl. Not safe enough, though, to show his face.
"Stay down," the huge man beside him growled through closed teeth and swiftly clipped Geoff on the right ear. "And put this on."
A black cap struck his face.
The front doors slammed and the car screeched away before anyone had time to put on a seatbelt.
"It's our job to take you to a safe house," the ear-clipper said.
"Are you taking me to see Mum?" Geoff's ear burned with pain as he put on the baseball cap.
"The press found out where your Mummy Dearest lived and beat the community into a frenzy. Seems no one wants you in their neighborhood."
"Is my mum okay?"
"Fellas, Mumma's boy is all upset," the driver sniped.
Geoffrey plucked at his trousers, provided by the social worker for his first day of freedom. They were far too loose around the waist and thighs. "Stop making fun of me! Stop it!" He covered his ears, and started humming.
The suit in the front passenger seat turned around, red-faced. "Listen you motherfucker!" His nostrils got bigger and a thin top lip disappeared. "If it were up to me, I'd have let that mob tear you to shreds. Now, shut the fuck up!"
Geoffrey kept his ears covered but stopped humming. He didn't like these men. They were assholes.
"Reporters two cars back," the driver announced. "White van and a blue hatchback. Hang on."
The car braked at an amber light then sped through it, turning with a skid into a side street. Geoffrey sat in silence as the car weaved through traffic, like something out of a TV cop show. He didn't recognize this area with tall buildings and people everywhere. It was nothing like the old home in Fisherman's Bay. No sand, no water and no trees. This place sucks.
He pulled a cigarette from his shirt pocket and fumbled for the lighter.
"Not in here, you don't." The hand next to him snatched and crushed the last of Geoffrey's nicotine supply. "Looks like we lost them," the man added, peering out the back.
The car felt hot and stuffy, like solitary confinement, but Geoff didn't dare open the window. He thought about his mother. She hadn't made the trip to visit last week. She'd said she was getting things ready. He began to grind his thumb along the palm of his other hand, over and over again.
He wasn't supposed to get out until tomorrow, but this afternoon an officer had ordered him to get his things and see the social worker. No one ever explained why. He didn't even get to say goodbye to his friends, the blokes who'd kept an eye out for him for so long. His thumb moved faster and deeper. Who were all those people outside the prison and why were they all so angry? It was just like in Fisherman's Bay before he went to jail, only he had known most of them back then.
After a long time, the car slowed outside a row of weatherboard houses. They drove past then did a U-turn and parked in the driveway of a gray house with a dead lawn at the front. A lady with streaky brown hair in a long ponytail came out and opened the car door.
"Hello, Geoffrey, I'm June Bonython, a friend of your mum's. Best not be seen hanging around out here too long."
The woman sounded kind—nothing like the dickhead police.
"She's waiting inside."
Excerpted from Without Consent by Kathryn Fox Copyright © 2007 by Kathryn Fox. Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
Kathryn Fox is a medical practitioner with a special interest in forensic medicine. Her bestselling debut novel, Malicious Intent, received international acclaim and was awarded the Davitt Award for adult fiction. Kathryn currently lives in Sydney, Australia.
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