First there were roses and the notes in her mailbox signed simply, "Admirer." Then, the accident. One minute Chris Callaway was one of Hollywood's brightest rising stars, starting a new picture that could send her career skyrocketing; the next, she was falling from the unfinished deck of her beautiful new Malibu beach house . . . waking up blind, uncertain whether she would ever see again.
An optimist and a fighter, Chris is determined not to let anyone know she can barely see. But neither Danny Devere, her hairdresser and confidant, nor Jon Larsen, the handsome young detective from LAPD's special stalker squad, can stop the notes that escalate into a chilling obsession. And only a clever trap can stop the madman from stalking her—with beautiful Chris Callaway as the deadly bait.
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About the Author
Stuart Woods is the author of more than forty novels, including the New York Times bestselling Stone Barrington and Holly Barker series. An avid sailor and pilot, he lives in New York City, Florida, and Maine.
Hometown:Key West, Florida; Mt. Desert, Maine; New York, New York
Date of Birth:January 9, 1938
Place of Birth:Manchester, Georgia
Education:B.A., University of Georgia, 1959
Read an Excerpt
The first letter arrived on a Monday. Chris Callaway was annoyed when her secretary told her it had been in the mailbox. It was unstamped.
The tone was friendly, not too worshipful, not too familiar.
Dear Ms. Callaway,
Your work has given me such a lot of pleasure that I felt I had to write to you. Somehow I had missed your films until last week, when I saw Heart of Stone on late-night television. I was so impressed that I saw Valiant Days in Westwood the following night. I have since rented the videos of Mainline and Downer, and I was impressed with your very high standard of work in all of them.
Have you ever had the experience of meeting someone and feeling that you had known him for a long time? I have that feeling about you.
Thank you again for your fine work. You'll be hearing from me.
When Chris had bought this house, she had taken a lot of trouble to keep the address strictly private. All her bills went to her manager's office, and when she found it necessary to give an address, she used a box number. Her friends sent their Christmas cards to the box, damn it, she thought, and now some fan had found her. She handed the letter back to Melanie, her secretary. "Answer it cordially, and refer him to the box number."
"There's no return address," Melanie said, turning over the envelope.
Chris felt oddly frustrated at not being able to reply to the writer. Many of the actors she knew didn't answer their fan mail at all or referred it to a service for handling, but she had always replied to everything, and it amounted to twenty or thirtyletters a month, jumping to a hundred after the release of a new film. Melanie wrote the replies, and Chris signed them.
"Then call the security patrol and ask them to keep a watch on my mailbox."
Melanie gave her the "you-can't-be-serious" look. "Chris, don't you think you're overreacting? It's a letter, not a bomb."
Chris laughed. "You're right." Jesus, she thought, why am I letting a little thing like this get to me?
Melanie glanced at her watch. "You're due at Graham Hong's in twenty minutes for your class, and Danny's doing your hair here at one."
"Right, I'd better get going." Chris grabbed her duffel and entered the garage through the study door. A moment later, she was driving down Stone Canyon, past the Bel-Air Hotel, toward Sunset in the Mercedes 500SL convertible. It amused her that in Bel-Air and Beverly Hills, there were so many of the flashy little cars that she could think of hers as anonymous.
Graham Hong turned out to be big for an Asianover six feet and well-muscled, yet lithe. He taught in his home and it was nothing like a gym, more of a teahouse. Hong greeted Chris with a cup of tea and asked her to sit down.
"Have you ever had any martial arts training?" he asked. His voice was accentless California; no trace of anything Asian.
"None," she replied.
He beamed at her. "I'm so glad."
"Why?" she asked.
"Any dance experience?"
"I started as a dancer, in New York."
"Very good. Do you work out with a trainer?"
"No, I have a little gym at home. I'm in good shape."
"Good, then you will not tire easily."
"Graham," she said, "if I tired easily I wouldn't be an actress."
He laughed appreciatively.
"Why is dance training better than martial arts?"
"I've read the script," he said. "What we want for this picture is not anything ritualistic, but simply dirty fighting. Your dance experience will help greatly with your balance, and ultimately, it will make you more graceful." He stood. "If you've finished your tea, let's begin." He slid back a screen, revealing a good-sized room furnished only with a wall-to-wall mat and a canvas dummy. One wall was mirrored, with a ballet barre.
"First, some basics," Hong said. "Let's say that you find yourself in a fighta fight with a man who is larger and heavier than you. How would you approach this fight?"
"I'd kick him in the crotch," Chris replied.
"Because I've been led to believe that would disable him."
"It might, if you caught him unawares. You might have more success kicking him in the shin, or better, the knee."
"Why there, instead of the crotch?"
"The idea is to inflict as much pain as possible with your first strike. It is the pain that is disabling. There is nothing in the testicles that is inherently disabling, except the pain caused when they are struck. If you are wearing hard shoes, you can inflict disablingor at least, very distractingpain in the shin. But if you kick in the knee, you can actually disable, even while barefoot or wearing soft shoes. The knee is a complex and vulnerable structure."
"Very interesting," Chris said.
"I would not recommend that, in a street scuffle, you kick someone in the knee, simply because you are likely to inflict such damage that lawsuits and serious medical expenses could result. However, if someone attacked you with a weapon or other deadly force, the knee would be an excellent choice." Hong took her by the shoulders and stood her in the center of the room. "Relaxed, weight on both feet, slightly forward, arms at the sides. This is the position from which to either attack or defend."
Chris held her hand up in a boxing stance. "Not like this?"
"That is a defensive stance," Hong said, "unless you are in a formal boxing match. In a street fight, you would only be telling your opponent that you were thinking of hitting him. If you, a woman, are up against a man, surprise must be your first weapon. Watch; this is slow-motion." Hong stood facing her, lifted his left foot, and gently pushed against the inside of her right knee. It buckled, and she fell to that knee.
Hong helped her up. "Now you try, in slow motion. Simply put your left instep to the inside of my right knee."
Chris followed his instructions, and Hong fell to his knee.
"Now," he said from the floor. "This is what you have done. First, if you have kicked me really hard, you have damaged my knee, perhaps so badly that I cannot walk on it again without surgery. Second, because you have buckled the joint and made me fall, I am on one knee and vulnerable to further attack. Third, simply by falling with my weight on my knee, I may have damaged it even further. Someone with experience, when kicked in this manner, would avoid falling on his knee, then roll and come up with his weight on the other leg. Of course, if you have done your work well, he would have to stand on one leg only and would be very vulnerable indeed."
"Gotcha," Chris said.
"Now, can you kick above your head?" Hong asked.
Chris turned and did a high kick for him.
"Very good. What would work very well in your first fight scene would be simply to kick him in the face." He stood facing her and, again in slow motion, demonstrated.
"I can do that," Chris said."
"Then do it," Hong replied. "I want you to kick me in the face as quickly and as hard as you can. Leave it to me to protect myself."
Chris, who was standing ready, whipped out a leg and sent her instep at Hong's chin. To her astonishment, she connected solidly, and Hong flew backward. She rushed to his side. "Jesus, Graham, did I hurt you?"
Hong lifted his head and shook it. "I did not believe you could be so fast," he laughed, spitting out blood. "You are a ruthless woman, and I will not underestimate you again."
When Chris got home there was another unstamped letter in the mailbox.
Look at this," Chris said, handing Danny Devere the two letters. "Can you believe it?"
Danny was brushing Chris's thick brunette hair, shaping it around her shoulders. He put down his hair dryer and picked up a letter. "Well, Sweets," he said feigning a lisp, "looks like you got yourself a fella."
"Not that one," Chris said. "Read the second one."
Danny read the second letter and quoted, "'You're certainly athletic. I'd hate to come up against you in a dark alley.' What the hell does that mean?"
"I just came back from Graham Hong's house; he's training me for the new film. We had this little session and I accidentallywell, not exactly accidentallybut inadvertently dumped him on his ass."
"You dumped Graham Hong on his ass?"
"He asked me to kick him in the face, and I did. He just didn't get out of the way fast enough."
Danny hooted with laughter. "God, I'd give anything to have seen that!"
"The point is, Danny, whoever wrote this letter saw it. The sonofabitch followed me this morning."
Danny read the letter again. "I think you're jumping to conclusions. This guy's just seen you in the movies. Remember when you hit the guy with the bottle in . . . what was it?"
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I am a huge fan of Stuart Woods but this book was a huge disappointment.
this book was insane (in a good way), i've never fell in love with a book within the first chapter before until i picked up this book. everything that happens within the book, it makes you fall in love with it, and you want to keep reading it minutes upon minutes, hours upon hours, days upon days if your a slow reader. the book seems more like a movie than a book to me, because the description of everything that goes on during the entire thing, has you wanting to keep reading, not only because it is such a beautiful book, but because it was so cool to find out what mistakes Larsen had made, and how it turned out for the worse, i strongly suggest this for anyone that loves suspensful and passionate books.
Great storyline and plot. I was surprised that Woods would have such an inept detective. To be a stalker specialist, he sure missed all the clues and was always late giving the help Chris needed. Thank heavens she was such a smart cookie. She should have been the detective and Jon the victim. A good read at the beach or a snowy weekend at home.