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Dead Run

Dead Run

4.1 31
by Erica Spindler

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"I'm in trouble, Liz. I've uncovered something.… They're watching.…"

That panicked message on her answering machine is the last time Liz Ames hears from her sister Rachel, pastor of Paradise Christian Church in Key West, Florida.

Compelled to uncover the truth about her sister's disappearance, she heads


"I'm in trouble, Liz. I've uncovered something.… They're watching.…"

That panicked message on her answering machine is the last time Liz Ames hears from her sister Rachel, pastor of Paradise Christian Church in Key West, Florida.

Compelled to uncover the truth about her sister's disappearance, she heads to Key West. Within hours of her arrival a successful banker jumps to his death. Then a teenage girl whom Rachel was counseling is found brutally murdered. The ritualistic style of the killing is hauntingly similar to that used by the notorious "New Testament" serial killer—now on death row.

Could the teen's murder be related to Rachel's disappearance? Is a copycat killer at work? And why do the police refuse to help?

For answers, Liz turns to Rick Wells, a former Miami cop who worked the fringes of the "New Testament" investigation. Together they peel away layers of deception to reveal a terrifying adversary—and the unspeakable evil at the heart of this island paradise.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Troubled teenagers, a satanic cult, a serial killer and hurricane-force evil disturb the island paradise of Key West in Spindler's latest chiller. Divorced family counselor Liz Ames relocates from St. Louis to Key West to investigate the disappearance of her sister, Pastor Rachel Howard, who left Liz a mysterious phone message about a teenaged girl, illegal activities and threats to her life. Local police chief Val Lopez does not share Liz's certainty that her sister has fallen victim to foul play, nor is hers the only island mystery confronting police: a wealthy loan officer with deviant tastes has plummeted to his death, a suspected suicide; another bank employee is reported missing before her body washes ashore, a suspected homicide; and just as Liz gets to know her, a teenage girl is brutally murdered and mutilated, her runaway boyfriend the prime suspect. Liz seeks help from Rick Wells, Miami cop-turned-bar owner and close friend of the police chief; Rachel's successor, Pastor Tim; and Heather Ferguson, the blonde bombshell owner of a bikini boutique. Not knowing which locals she can trust, Liz (who's not entirely honest herself) heads into the eye of a hurricane and a classic confrontation between good and evil. Spindler (Bone Cold; All Fall Down) demonstrates the power of faith over satanic forces with campy descriptions of both and embellishes her by-the-numbers thriller with savvy amounts of sex and moral outrage, investigation and confrontation, psychology and romance. Agent, Evan Marshall. (June) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher

"A classic confrontation between good and evil."—Publishers Weekly

"Solid characters, a great setting and a really good plot."—Globe and Mail

"It's time for another pulse-pounding, page-turning, absolutely can't-put-it-down roller coaster ride of a read!" -Lisa Gardner, author of The Neighbor, on Blood Vines

"Intoxicating suspense...Best served with a glass of your favorite wine for a sleepless one-night read." -Alex Kava, author of Black Friday, on Blood Vines

"A masterful thriller that causes serious tingling in the spinal region."
-Daily Record on Breakneck

"The body count rises at a dizzying pace, and Spindler's clean writing style keeps the plot moving along." -Star Magazine on Breakneck

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St. Louis, Missouri
Monday, July 16
8:40 a.m.

Liz Ames watched as coffee dripped from the filter basket into the glass carafe. She yawned, cursing snooze buttons, red-eye flights and coffeemakers that brewed at a snail's pace. She needed caffeine now, not five minutes from now.

She was going to be really late this morning, she acknowledged. What was with her? She used to be so punctual. So…perky. No matter how few hours of sleep she had gotten the night before.

Now she could barely drag herself out of bed.

Jared, her cheating weasel of an ex-husband, had happened to her, she thought, squinting against the light streaming in and around the edges of the closed blinds.

And in response, her personal and professional life had taken a quick, sanity-stealing trip south.

Even Rachel had gone south, Liz thought, thinking of her older sister who had accepted the call from a small nondenominational Christian church on Key West right in the middle of the crisis. She shifted her gaze to her answering machine and its frantically flashing message-waiting light.

She really should call her. They hadn't spoken in nearly a month, and their last conversation had been troubling for many reasons, including the fact they had argued.

Simultaneously, the coffeemaker gurgled, signaling it was in its final throes of brewing, and the phone rang. Liz grabbed her mug with one hand, the phone with the other. "H'lo?"

"Elizabeth Ames?"

The voice on the other end of the line was a man's. Liz recognized his official tone from the many calls she had made and received in her capacity as a licensed clinical social worker and family counselor.

"Yes," she responded. "Could you hold a moment?"

Without waiting for a reply, she set down the receiver, filled her coffee mug then added a splash of cream. She opened the cabinet above the sink and took out the vial of antidepressants her doctor had prescribed. Modern medicine's answer to a cloudy day. She shook one onto her palm, then downed it with the scalding coffee.

Wincing, she brought the phone back to her ear. "Now, how can I help you?"

"This is Lieutenant Detective Valentine Lopez, Key West Police Department. Are you Rachel Howard's sister?"

Liz froze. Finally, she pulled one of the kitchen chairs away from the table and sank heavily onto it.

"Ms. Ames?" the detective said again. "You are Pastor Rachel Howard's sister, aren't you? Pastor Howard from Paradise Christian Church on Key West? She listed you as her next of kin."

Next of kin. Dear Lord, no. "I am," Liz managed to say. "What's…Is Rachel all right?"

"I'm calling because we're concerned about your sister. Have you seen her recently?"

Her heart skipped a beat. "Not since she…since she left for Key West."

"And that was about six months ago?"


"When did you last speak with her?"

Liz closed her eyes, remembering. Rachel had been subdued and evasive. When Liz had confronted her, she had denied anything was wrong. She had claimed her pastoral duties had kept her from calling. "It's been a while. A month or so. We argued. I was angry."

"May I ask why?"

"It's personal, Detective."

"It's important, Ms. Ames."

"I'm going through…was going through a divorce. And one of my patients… I needed my sister and she wasn't available. I was angry." Her words sounded childish to her own ears and she felt herself flush. "What's happened? Is Rachel—"

"And that's the last time you talked with her?"

"Yes, but I don't understa—"

"So, you haven't heard from her in the past seventy-two hours? Not by phone, e-mail or post?"

"No, but—" She brought a hand to her pounding head and glanced at the machine's blinking message light once more. "I've been out of town since last Thursday. I planned to get caught up on messages this morning."

"I'll need you to contact me after you do."

The blood rushed to Liz's head. She tightened her grip on the receiver, suddenly terrified. "I don't think so, Lieutenant. Not until you tell me what's going on. Is something wrong with Rachel?"

"Your sister has disappeared, Ms. Ames. We'd hoped you might be able to offer us a clue as to her whereabouts."

What People are Saying About This

Yong-Myun Rho
Spindler's story allows the reader to feel the actual details of events. She skillfully takes her readers into the subtle areas of crime scenes. (Yong-Myun Rho, M.D., Consultant in Forensic Medicine)
David W. Hunt
Great read. Spellbinding. Could not put it down. Terrific plot. (David W. Hunt, Colonel, U.S. Army, retired)
Chris Rush
I've investigated some horrific crimes in my time. Erica Spindler's forays into the dark side of the human psyche are dead on. Dead Run is a winner. (Chris Rush, International Investigative Consultant)

Meet the Author

Catching a summer cold changed Erica Spindler's life forever.

Up until that fateful malady, Erica planned on being an artist. She had studied for that profession, earning both a BFA and MFA in the visual arts. Then in June of 1982, she stopped at a local drugstore to pick up cold tablets and tissues; the cashier dropped a free romance novel into her bag. She hadn't read a romance in years but once home, with nothing to do but sniffle and watch daytime TV, she picked that romance up--and was immediately hooked. For the next six months she read every romance she could get her hands on. Sometime during those months, she decided to try to write one herself.

The moment she put pen to paper, Erica knew she had found her true calling. Since that day, Erica has published more than twenty novels. Her titles have been published all over the world and Red was turned into both a wildly popular graphic novel and daytime drama in Japan. Critics have dubbed her stories as "thrill-packed, page turners, white knuckle rides, and edge-of-your-seat whodunits" and The Times Picayune praised 2003's In Silence, calling it "Creepy and compelling; a real page turner."

Erica is a USA TODAY, New York Times extended, Waldenbooks and amazon.com bestseller. In 2002, her novel Bone Cold won the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award for excellence. An RWA honor roll member, she received a Kiss of Death award for her novel Forbidden Fruit and is a three-time RITA award finalist. In 1999 Publishers Weekly awarded the audio version of her novel Shocking Pink a Listen-Up award, naming it one of the best audio mystery books of 1998. Praisedby booksellers as "The best suspense novel I've ever read" and "A perfect 10 out of 10," Erica's 2004 release See Jane Die is the story of a woman who must face her darkest fears when her husband becomes the prime suspect in the brutal murders of two women.

Erica and her husband--a man she describes as funny, handsome and way too sassy--met in art school and have been together ever since. They have two sons, born nine and a half years apart. Erica makes her home in the New Orleans area, although she originally hailed from Illinois.

Erica came to her present home in much the same way she came to writing--fate intervened. She and her husband, then college students, traveled to New Orleans to see the King Tut exhibit at the New Orleans Museum of Art. Without advance tickets, they had a choice: wait in line all day or spend the day sightseeing. They chose the latter and fell head-over-heels in love with the city.

Erica is currently at work on her next thriller for MIRA Books.

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Dead Run 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
At first i was unsure if i would like this book and as said in another comment, there were a lot of characters to remember, however all of the characters tie together nicely in the end and i wasnt able to put the book down!
KristenH More than 1 year ago
This is another great thriller from Erica Spindler. When Liz's sister Rachel leaves a chilling message on her answering machine, it was the last time she heard from her sister before she disappeared. Now Liz's compelled to go to Key West and check out the church she was a pastor at. From there, things go awry. Someone commits suicide. And a teen Rachel counseled is found there. It's up to Liz to find out, why isn't everyone helping her find her sister, except for Rick Wells, a journalist who investigated the "New Testament" serial killings. Together, they find the truth of the secret cult in the church, and were shocked to find out who was behind it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I did not particularly enjoyed the first half of the book, the story was 'slow moving' to me and there more drama than mystery..However somewhere around the last 150pp the story got an nice twist that got me interested..Overall this book has 30%drama, 30% mystery and 40% love story.. I think is not as good as the 'Killer takes all' and to be fair I think is 3.5 stars/5
Guest More than 1 year ago
My first book that I read by this author and I couldn't put it down! I thought it was going to take me forever to read it but I finished it in 2 weeks straight. I've already read it 3 times but it still good every time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Erica Spindler is a great writer, and this is no exception. I have read almost all of her books!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was my first Erica Spindler novel and I was really impressed. Very interesting and a good flow from beginning to end. I like the way she writes and will read all her books. Good characters and plots.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is by far one of the greatest books I have ever read. The characters are as intense as the story itself. Definitly worth reading. I would recommend it to everyone!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was excellent reading. Couldn't put it down. Characters were great and the suspense incredible!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dead Run by Erica Spindler was one of the best thrillers I have read. Just when you think you have figured out her plot she changes into something else. It was the first that I have read of hers and I will continue to read on! I liked how she threw in some other aspects other then a thiller to stir things up a bit. It is a must read and I would love to see this novel as a movie!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just started reading this book adn I am almost done after 2 days of reading. I cannot put this book down.. Its great. I never read any of her books but I will start to. She knows how to capture a person so they dont want to put the book down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The behavior by the police officers is ridiculous and the author make her former career in romance novels all too clear, but there is a certain charm in the locale descriptions and I kind of like this author despite myself.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dead Run is the first novel I have read of Erica Spindler, and I am completely hooked. I won't stop until I've read them all. Dead Run grabs you from the very start, and doesn't let go until you've read it's last page. It is definitely one you want to read with all the lights on. Thrilling, chilling, and definitely a great novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Another 'edge of your seat' from Spindler! Hated to put it down! This author has talent!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dead Run is an exotic adventure that takes you into the mind of a satanistic worshiper. Everyone is a suspect, even the most innocent people of the community. It is a book that you will not want to put down, and a story you will want to read again and again.
harstan More than 1 year ago
The Key West, Florida Police Department has quite a sterling record for closing out recent cases. Paradise Christian Church Pastor Rachel Howard vanished, but the cops conclude she went over the edge and just ran away. Island National Bank Vice President Larry Bernhardt is found dead, but ruled a suicide by officials. Others are either missing or dead, but law enforcement seems more laid back than usual in the Conch republic.

Rachel¿s sister Liz Ames comes to town to learn what really happened to her sibling. She runs up against official stonewalling and begins her own inquiries. Only bartender and former Miami cop Rick Wells listens to her. He sees links to a former South Florida case involving the incarcerated New Testament serial killer. As they work closely together, they fall in love and begin believing in second chances, but paradise contains a serpent that will kill both of them if they step any closer to the truth.

Already gaining a strong following for her terse thrillers, Erica Spindler has written her most tense tale to date. DEAD RUN is more a taut chiller than a romantic suspense though love between the lead ¿investigators¿ is intertwined cleverly into the prime plot. The who¿done-it will draw serial killer fans to the novel as clues are provided, but guessing the culprit remains difficult until Ms. Spindler reveals the identity. Fans of romantic suspense and serial killer dramas will take immense pleasure from this rousing cross genre novel.

Harriet Klausner

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When I first read this book, I thought that Elizabeth Ames was a little crazy. The part where Tara was brutally murdered kind of surprised me because I didn't think that the author would describe how horrible she had been killed, but she did. When I came to the part where everyone was suspecting Stephen St. John, I actually thought that it was him who was the killer, but it wasn't. Toward the ending of the book, it surprised me that Valentine Lopez would be the murderer. At first, I thought it was actually a gang of teenagers killing other citizens just for no good reason. Lopez killed one of his coworkers, Carla Chapman because I guess because she would probably learn that it was him and Heather Ferguson who had killed all those innocent people. People who had others that cared for them, and who also probably had families. Tara was pregnant with Mark Morgan's kid, Larry Bernhardt had kids of his own also.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago