Before I Wake

Before I Wake

by Dee Henderson


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Before I Wake by Dee Henderson

The sheriff of Justice, Illinois, is hunting a killer. Women visiting town are being murdered, tourists in nice hotels, money still in their billfolds, jewelry still on the dresser. Quiet kills—they go to sleep and never awaken. The sheriff is not pleased to find the new detective in town, Rae Gabriella, working the case on behalf of one of the families. She's staying in the same hotel as one of the victims—and her looks suggest she could be the next victim.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781414308159
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date: 10/28/2006
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 216,674
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.20(d)

Read an Excerpt

Before I Wake



Copyright © 2006 Dee Henderson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1-4143-0815-9

Chapter One

Rae fingered the edge of the worn business card as she drove, her handwritten directions on the back faded after lying on the car dash in the sun. She turned the card over and read the raised black type.

Bruce Chapel Chapel Detective Agency II Justice, Illinois

Bruce's cousin, Sam Chapel, had formed the first Chapel Detective Agency over in Brentwood years before. Bruce had decided a few years ago to follow in his footsteps. If working for Bruce was anything like dating him, she was heading into unpredictable terrain.

She didn't have to do this. She looked at herself in the rearview mirror, into calm blue eyes that masked the accumulated turmoil of the past few years, and accepted that she had to do something.

She needed somewhere quiet to let the stress of the last years drain away, and it didn't get more anonymous than working for Bruce in a small town she'd struggled to find on the map.

The town of Justice was south of Chicago and east of the Mississippi River; it had a population of twelve thousand six hundred four, and had the distinction of also being the county seat for Justice County: it sounded like a good place to disappear.

She reached around to the boxes in the backseat for another CD. Years of FBI service had been reduced to afew private files, paperwork on her future pension, phone numbers of friends and colleagues, and a pile of past daily calendar books noting appointments she could no longer remember. At least the music CDs were still useful. Rae pushed aside the regrets. If she had to start life over again at least it would be with a friend.

Justice, Illinois.

At least it had the sound of being an interesting town.

* * *

Justice was a quiet town; all his friends said so. Sheriff Nathan Justice drove down Main Street watching a group form on the east side of the street in front of city hall. He slowed.

Teenagers congregating on corners were his normal problem on a Saturday morning, but today it was the adults. He scanned the backs of jackets for union logos and sought out faces. Several were long-term union members and in the center of the closing circle was the union treasurer.

Nathan pulled over to the curb and let the squad car idle. He watched his patrol commander Chet Peterson leave the coffee shop and walk over to join the group, his bulk and uniform parting the crowd.

Chet had been a union member before joining the police force, and his presence had the desired influence. The group spread out even as the discussion grew louder. The strike at the tile plant had entered its fifteenth day and stress was growing in proportion to the days without a paycheck. The union contract had expired, a new one to replace the rolling extensions wasn't in place, and emotions were rising.

Chet glanced his direction and quietly motioned that he had it covered. Nathan put the car back in gear. May the day just end without violence....

Nathan parked in the nearly empty parking lot behind the Justice Police Department and unbuckled his seat belt, but he did not open the door. He sat and looked at the chipped paint on the hand railing leading to the back entrance and he waited, hoping for any sense of optimism to return.

The town bore his family name and he was the one on duty watching it crumble.

If only he were wealthy and wise, he'd buy the tile plant and keep it open, keep employees paid, and keep this community together. If the plant closed, the stress of losing fifty-two direct jobs, as well as the work that fl owed to local businesses, would decimate the town economy and trigger a cascade of business failures.

Those failures would ripple through the downtown area, forcing people to move to find work, collapsing housing prices, and weakening the tax base. The mayor was his mother; Nathan knew in excruciating detail how the plant's closing down would impact the town budget.

If there was optimism to be found, he couldn't find it. He pushed open the car door. Someone had to keep the peace and he had sworn the oath to do so. He just hoped this didn't end with his having to arrest his friends.

Nathan entered the police department and took the stairs two at a time up to the second floor where officer desks dominated the open space. His small office tucked into the corner had a door for privacy, but it was open, a box fan in the doorway turned on high. Winter outside meant the building's old furnace created a sauna inside. He stepped around the fan. His deputy chief was waiting for him.

"I heard it was a bad wreck," Will Rickker said, offering the transfer sheet Nathan had come back to sign.

"The SUV went down the embankment on the east side of the river and slammed into the railroad bridge. The gas tank punctured, and the fireball scorched the wood to the second level of crossbeams. It could have been a disaster. I've got railroad engineers out there now assessing the damage."

Nathan shed his gloves but not his coat and searched for a pen. "If we don't get warning lights ahead of that curve, it's only a matter of time before there's another fatal accident out there. The state highway department is promising action before the end of next week, but I've heard that before. I want us to step up patrols and start issuing speeding tickets a mile ahead of that curve until the problem is resolved."

"I'll talk to patrol."

Nathan scrawled his signature approving Noland Reed's application to the county narcotics task force. Every department in the area was vying for the precious slots on the task force, for once there, an officer had access to better resources and his salary was paid for by a federal grant. He hoped Reed got accepted.

Drugs flowing from the south up to Chicago were coming through the county in ever increasing volume and it was creating a cottage industry of safe houses and homegrown labs. Nathan had been diverting ever larger portions of his department's budget to keeping the problem out of his community. He handed the papers back to Will.

"The posting for the opening is going up at ten and I'll be there to hand over the paperwork," Will promised.

"You could send Carol."

"I could, but we need the radio upgrades and shifting Noland's salary is how we pay for it. If there are problems with the paperwork that I can't solve on the spot I'm tracking you down."

"I'll stay reachable."

Nathan moved around to the credenza to pour himself a cup of coffee. He'd fixed the pot at 1 a.m. and it was almost gone. "What's the latest here?"

"The contract talks broke down about twenty minutes ago. The union team walked out first. Adam looked mad as a hornet and he pushed through the gathered men without stopping to comment."

"He'll go steam somewhere in private rather than spread that anger to his men. What about management?"

"Zachary paused to make a short statement to the newspaper. The bottom line is still the health-care cost increases. There was some pushing and shoving between the picket-line guys and the company guys when word spread there were no new talks scheduled."

Nathan drank his coffee and let himself worry. "There's going to be trouble."

Will nodded. "The union is riding close rein on their guys, but if no new talks get scheduled soon, we're going to start losing control. We've already had some minor vandalism of plant trucks: graffiti and slashed tires. We need to avoid either side having a press conference and digging in their positions."

"I'm more worried about management trying to bring in strike breakers next week. Can we get through Monday with the officer rotations we have now?"

"We've got three officers at the plant, another two monitoring the picket lines, and we've stepped up patrols around the homes of the negotiators and plant managers. Short of having to start making arrests, we can handle it."

"How's morale?"

"Officers are wondering when this will end, but for the most part keeping their opinion of the strike to themselves and doing their jobs."

Nathan studied the duty board. The names ran out before the assignments did. He had four ladies with protection orders against ex-husbands and boyfriends, two unsolved rapes, five open burglaries, and the county task force suspicion that there was at least one clandestine meth lab operating somewhere in his area.

He had more problems than he did men to solve them. The department only had twenty-six officers and some of those were part-time. "I don't want to ask for more overtime unless it's a crisis; we're already pushing the men hard. What else happened in town overnight?"

"We had three calls reporting a prowler out on Kerns Road that haven't been resolved. Someone took Goodheart's pickup again; officers found it out of gas down by the lake pavilion. Overall, it was a pretty quiet night."

"We needed one. I need to have a frank talk with the union steward today. If a man can't pay his bills, he gets angry. If a man can't feed his kids, he gets desperate. The other side of desperate is dangerous. We need a better handle on how guys on the picket lines are doing."

"I'll see what I can arrange."

Nathan spotted the chief dispatcher. He leaned out the office door. "Eileen, how's your voice doing?"

"Raw, but there. Just don't come near me and catch this."

"The pharmacist has your prescription refill ready. Call over, and he'll deliver it here."

"What did you do, bribe him?"

"Anything to keep my favorite lady answering my radio calls."

She laughed. "Thanks, Nathan."

He looked at the clock. "Will, after you deliver that file, why don't you head home and get some sleep. You can spell me around dinner."

"I can take tomorrow morning for you."

"I'll take you up on it." Nathan had yet to find a substitute to take his Sunday school class of junior high boys and the last day he had off-it had been before the strike started. "If you need me in the short term, I'll be patrolling on the highway, keeping speeds down while they clear that wreck. After that, I'll be over at the plant."

Will nodded. Nathan pulled on his gloves and headed back out to patrol.

* * *

Death was such an interesting process. Nella's eyes flickered open. She tried to focus on him. Her eyes began to water as they widened. Her hand pushed against the blanket to slide out but didn't have the strength to push the heavy weight aside. Her breath began to come in gasps. He watched, interested in the way her nerves reacted as the seizure hit. Her neck stiffened and tilted back. Her blue eyes filmed over as membranes broke. She bit her tongue. As seizures went, it was small and lasted less than a minute.

Her breathing stopped.

He watched for death changes, in her eyes or in her muscles, and saw her go slack. A double dose of the new formula killed; there was no surprise there. The tougher question would be to find a dose that gave the euphoric high without killing as it wore off.

He turned away and swung his legs to the floor, sitting on the side of the bed and stretching. He picked up his shirt.

He tugged against her weight to free the sheet; her limp body settled into the bed and pillow. He tossed the blanket back up and made his presence in her bed less obvious. He buttoned his jeans and bent to pick up his shoes.

He had to force the window to get it to rise in the aged frame. The window screen had numerous tears in the wire mesh; he used his finger to widen a few of them. He let the window come down under its own weight and it jammed off center, half an inch from closed. He rocked the frame with his hand and it just jammed tighter. Good. Let the bugs come in.

He turned on the ceiling fan and closed the bedroom door. In the hallway, he turned the thermostat to eighty-four. Nella liked to keep her rooms warm; she complained to everyone about the heating bills and how her poor circulation gave her cold feet. He'd attest to the fact that her feet were cold; it had annoyed him for the last four years.

In the kitchen he retrieved the last of the wine he'd brought and poured himself another glass. He walked to the window. The rising sun left the woods between the house and the town of Justice in dark relief.

He could go home or back to work or to meet the guys at the union hall. He considered that and the absolute senseless way this weekend was going. Had she just been able to keep her mouth shut, he could have had another couple hours of sleep. But she liked to talk to strangers.

He finished the wine, took the bottle with him, and closed the front door, letting it lock behind him.


Excerpted from Before I Wake by DEE HENDERSON Copyright © 2006 by Dee Henderson. Excerpted by permission.
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.

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Before I Wake 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 38 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Story was very interesting, but I was shocked when I turned last past and the story just ended. Who was the cook/killer? Why was there no ending, or at least the promise of a part two?
Widsith_the_Blogger More than 1 year ago
FBI agent, Rae Gabriella, needs a career change. Her last undercover investigation ended disastrously, shaking her confidence in herself and in God. Moving to small-town Illinois, Rae joins her ex-boyfriend, Bruce, in his business as a private investigator, hoping the slower pace of life will provide the shelter and healing she needs. However, a major strike at the town's tile plant and the murder of an out-of-town reporter give Rae, Bruce and Sheriff Nathan Justice a more dangerous and perplexing challenge than any of them expect. This is a great plot. It started a little slow, but I was hooked by chapter two, and shortly thereafter the suspense kept the book glued to my hands. I couldn't wait to know what clues (or bodies) would turn up next. Dee Henderson also opened my eyes to the politics of labour negotiations, the cutthroat business of illicit drugs, and the thankless job of fighting crime. I was a fascinated student from beginning to end. They say conflict keeps a story moving, but it was Rae, Bruce and Nathan's gentle friendships, with relaxed dialogue and realistically-paced personal growth, that drew me in. Dee fashioned the characters as normal people with challenging relationships, troubled pasts, and tough questions about God, making the story reminiscent of real life without feeling mundane. Some of the book's spiritual questions are left open, allowing readers to pursue their own answers about God's sovereignty in the midst of tragic circumstances. Some questions are too complex to ask and answer in a single book, and I'm grateful when Christian fiction acknowledges this. The only point on which I'm left wanting is the romantic tension between Rae and the two men. Attraction is clearly alluded to throughout the novel, but the characters seem slightly too passive and the story-telling feels too ambiguous on this dimension. I also wonder why Nathan's parents aren't more involved in the conflict between him and his grandfather, but that's a minor point. Overall, I felt inspired by the characters' relationships, and I gladly recommend the book. Note: This is a voluntary review! It is not part of a blog review program or in any other way solicited.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read several of Henderson's books, and like her style. This one was on the boring side though..the OMalley series was much better. I wish she would get some help with basic sentence structure and editing. Every once in awhile you have to read a sentence several times because it is written poorly and hard to understand.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was disappointed in the abrupt ending.....
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read all of Dee Henderson's books - this one was not up to her standards. It reads more juvenile than her other reads. The conversations were sometimes corny. From the beginning it was compeling but by the end, which was such a let down, it was ordinary and questions were not answered. Maybe she plans a sequel. It seems the writer was preoccupied or in a hurry.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book, but couldn't believe when I got to the end that there were unanswered questions. I always love Dee's books, but this left me wondering. Please give us a sequel so we have some answers to the mysteries. I was wondering if it was just me, so I came here to read the reviews. Would've given it five stars if it hadn't left me hanging at the end. I think Dee got tired of writing this story, and just stopped.
MamaKatTX More than 1 year ago
Overall I liked this book. I agree with the others that I was disappointed with the abrupt ending and not finding out who our "cook" was. My biggest complaint about Miss Henderson is her bad grammar. You never, EVER, end a sentence with "at" and she does it all the time. "Where are we at?" etc. I also caught several instances when she used "your" instead of "you're" You would think her editor would have caught and corrected such blatant errors.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book leaves with an open ending, like there should be a second book if that is true, come in Dee! Be out the sound Justice book!
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I've been a fan of Dee Henderson since the O'Malley series (which I've read and re-read countless times), and I enjoyed the Uncommon Heroes series as well; but I feel as if her writing has gone downhill in the book she's written since. I couldn't finish Full Disclosure, and while the plot of this book kept me interested I almost threw it against the wall when I got to the last page and found NO. CLOSURE. If there had been a plan for a sequel I wouldn't have minded. However - the book has no ending to speak of. The reader is left having no idea what's going on with the relationship between Rae and Nathan OR Rae and Bruce; but there's no closure to the case at all! Who is the cook? Does he just move to a different town and start over? What the heck?? Overall, I was seriously disappointed, and I doubt I'll continue to read any of Henderson's future work. Sad.
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I enjoyed reading this book. It was fast paced and easy reading - great writing and good plot. I would recommend this book.
quaso More than 1 year ago
This story about a town is Justice, Ill. For me was a little slower that her usual books. Or maybe tha i come to expect much more frome Dee. But as always it's a plausibe book that can happen anywhere in America or anyplace else People are always tryimng to creat a new drug or something that brings instant gratification. When actuality people when one thinks about it, Gods lovecan fill any need when sought. Through the books that Dee Henderson writes a person can feel the truth of how God cares for his people and is with them always. Even when sometimes a person maynot believe. God uses every situation possible for letting people know that he trule loves them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago