by Kevin O'Brien

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The houses in Willow Tree Court are sleek and modern—the kind designed to harbor happy families and laughing children. No one would guess the secrets that lurk beyond the neat lawns and beautiful facades.


Molly Dennehy is trying to fit in to her new surroundings, though her neighbors are clearly loyal to her husband's ex-wife. But that's the least of Molly's worries. Her stepson's school has been rocked by a brutal slaying, and a psychopath known as the Cul-de-Sac Killer is murdering families in Seattle homes. Homes just like Molly's.


With each passing day, Molly grows more convinced that someone is watching her family, someone consumed with rage and vengeance. On this quiet road, a nightmare has been unleashed, and the trail of terror will lead right to her door. . .

Praise for the Novels of Kevin O'Brien

"Deftly woven plot twists. . .the pace of the novel is strong and the story intriguing." –Publishers Weekly on Vicious

"Scary! Read this page turner with the lights on!" —Lisa Jackson on Watch Them Die

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780786021376
Publisher: Kensington
Publication date: 05/01/2011
Pages: 528
Sales rank: 439,081
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

KEVIN O’BRIEN is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over twenty suspense novels. Before his books landed him on the bestseller lists, he was a railroad inspector who wrote at night. He moved from the train tracks to become a full-time author in 1997 when his novel, Only Son, was picked up by Reader’s Digest and optioned for film. Since then, his books have been translated into fourteen languages. Born and raised in Chicago, O'Brien now lives in Seattle, where he is on the board of Seattle 7 Writers, a collective of bestselling, award-winning authors. He can be found online at KevinOBrienbooks.com/.

Read an Excerpt




Copyright © 2011 Kevin O'Brien
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7860-2137-6

Chapter One

"Erin ... sweetie, eat your waffle," Jeff Dennehy told his six-year-old daughter.

There were four curved-hardback chairs around the circular, pine table with a lazy Susan in the middle of it. On top of the lazy Susan was a hand-painted vase with a bouquet of pipe-cleaner-and-tissue daisies. The creator of that slightly tacky centerpiece was seated beside Jeff. The cute, solemn-faced blond girl gazed over her shoulder at the TV and a commercial for toilet paper—something with cartoon bears. They'd been watching the Today show on the small TV at the end of the kitchen counter.

"C'mon, Erin," Jeff said over his coffee cup. "Molly made the waffles from scratch, and you haven't even put a dent in them."

With a sigh, Erin turned toward her plate, curled her lip at it, and pressed down on the waffle with the underside of her fork. "It's mushy," she murmured. "I want waffles from a toaster."

Dressed in a T-shirt, sweatpants, and slippers, Molly had her strawberry-blond hair swept back in a ponytail. She leaned against the counter and sipped her coffee. She thought maybe if her stepdaughter hadn't drowned the waffle in a quart of maple syrup, it wouldn't be so mushy. But Molly bit her lip, set down her coffee cup, and retreated to the refrigerator. She opened the freezer in search of some Eggos, anything to put an end to the father–daughter standoff. She didn't need the aggravation this morning.

"You know, peanut," Jeff was saying patiently. "Fresh waffles are better than ones from the toaster. Good waffles aren't supposed to have the consistency of old drywall."

Of course, Jeff wouldn't touch a waffle—fresh, toasted, or otherwise—if his life depended on it. He was having his usual bran flakes to help maintain his lean, muscular build. Molly's husband was a bit vain—and had good reason to be. Dressed for work in his black Hugo Boss suit, crisp white shirt, and a striped tie, he looked very handsome. He was forty-four, with a light olive complexion, brown eyes, and black hair that was just starting to cede to gray.

"C'mon, just a few bites," he coaxed his daughter. "Molly cooked this breakfast, special for you and Chris. You don't want to hurt her feelings, do you?"

Molly couldn't find any Eggos in the freezer, so she fetched a box of Corn Pops from the kitchen cabinet.

She and Jeff had been married for ten months. Whenever Erin and her seventeen-year-old brother, Chris, returned from a weekend with their mother, Molly felt extra compelled to show them what a great stepmother she was. So she'd cooked bacon and homemade waffles for their breakfast this Monday morning.

Molly had her theories, but still didn't know exactly why Angela Dennehy had moved out of her own house, surrendered custody of her kids, and settled for visitation rights. One thing for certain, Angela didn't want her kids warming up to their dad's new and younger wife.

Molly was thirty-two and still adjusting to stepmotherhood. Obviously, her breakfast strategy wasn't scoring points with Jeff's younger child. Molly poured some Corn Pops and milk into a bowl, took away Erin's plate, and set the cereal in front of her. She patted Erin's shoulder. "Eat up, honey. You don't want to miss your bus."

Jeff gave his daughter a frown, which she ignored while eating her Corn Pops. On TV, Matt Lauer announced that Today would be right back after a local news break.

Molly set Erin's plate in the sink, and then unplugged the waffle iron. With a fork, she carefully pried a fresh waffle from the hot grid. "Chris!" she called. "Chris! Your breakfast is ready!"

Her stepson hadn't yet emerged from his bedroom. This elaborate breakfast—at least, elaborate for a weekday—was mostly for him. One of the first breakfasts she'd cooked in Jeff's house had been waffles, and Chris had proclaimed they were "awesome." Maybe he was just being polite, or perhaps Jeff had told him to say that. Nevertheless, Molly always unearthed the waffle iron when she wanted to get in her stepson's good graces.

"Chris, breakfast!" Molly set the plate in front of his empty chair. "I made waffles...."

"Okay, in a minute!" he shouted from upstairs.

On TV, Molly glanced at the pretty, thirtysomething Asian anchorwoman with a pageboy hairstyle. "Seattle's Arboretum became the site of a grisly murder early this morning," she announced.

Molly reached for the coffeepot and refilled Jeff's cup.

"Thanks, babe," he said, wiping his mouth with his napkin. "C'mon, Chris, your breakfast is getting cold!" he yelled. "Molly's gone to a lot of trouble this morning!"

She didn't want him browbeating the kids on her account. That was no way to win them over. "It's no biggie," Molly murmured, moving to the counter, and topping off her own cup of coffee.

On the television, they showed an ambulance and several police cars encircling a small parking lot. Yellow police tape was wrapped around some trees at the edge of the lot. It fluttered in the breeze. Paramedics loaded a blanket-covered corpse into the back of the ambulance. "The victim, according to early reports, was robbed and then shot execution-style after his car broke down along Lake Washington Boulevard," the anchorwoman explained with a somber voiceover. "He has been identified as forty-two-year-old, Raymond Corson, a former guidance counselor at James Monroe High School ..."

"Oh, God, no," Molly murmured, stunned. For a moment, she couldn't breathe.

She forgot she was holding the quarter-full coffeepot. It slipped out of her hand and crashed against the tiled floor. Glass shattered, and hot coffee splashed the front of her sweatpants. But it didn't burn her. Molly glanced down at the mess for only a moment. Then she went right back to staring at the TV—and that covered-up thing they were shoving into the back of an ambulance.

Ray Corson had been Chris's guidance counselor at the high school—until he'd been forced to leave last December. Chris still blamed himself for that. He blamed her, too.

She was barely aware of Jeff asking if she was all right or of Erin fussing about the glass and coffee on the floor. All Molly really heard was the anchorwoman on TV: "Ray Corson left behind a wife and two children...."

"God, no," Molly whispered again, shaking her head.

"... Corson telephoned Triple-A, reporting car trouble shortly after one o'clock Monday morning," the handsome blond-haired TV news correspondent said into his microphone. He was in his mid-thirties and wore a Windbreaker. He stood in front of a parked police car; its red strobe swirled in the early morning light.

On the TV in Chris's bedroom, another local station covered the same news story Molly had viewed down in the kitchen just two minutes before. She recognized the crime scene, a small parking lot by the Arboretum.

Molly stood in his doorway. With the curtains still closed, Chris's bedroom was dark. Swimming trophies, graphic novels, and waggle-headed Family Guy figurines occupied his bookcase. On his walls were movie posters for Old School and Inglourious Basterds. One wall panel was cork-board—on which he'd tacked college pennants, pictures of him with his swim team buddies, and about a dozen family photos. Of course, while his mother was in several of the snapshots, Molly wasn't in any. She often had to remind herself this was his bedroom, and he was free to decorate it any way he wanted. Still, would it kill him to put up one lousy little photo of her? It didn't even have to be one of her alone, either. She'd be happy if he tacked up a photo of her and Jeff, or her with Erin, or even one with her in the background, for pity's sake. Throw me a bone here, Chris, she wanted to tell him. Then again, she wasn't in his bedroom much—except briefly, to put his folded laundry on the end of his bed every few days. Molly told herself that he was a nice kid and certainly polite enough to her.

The TV glowed in one corner of the room, where Chris had a beanbag chair close enough to the set to ensure he'd go blind by age fifty. But he wasn't sitting in that chair right now. He stood barefoot by his unmade bed, his eyes riveted to the TV screen. He was tall and lean, with unruly brown hair and a sweet, handsome face. His rumpled, half-buttoned blue striped shirt wasn't tucked into his jeans. He didn't seem to notice Molly in his doorway.

On TV, they showed a station wagon—with the driver's door open. Two cops lingered nearby, discussing something. "According to Brad Reece, the Triple-A responder, he pulled into the parking lot here off Lake Washington Boulevard at the Arboretum at 1:45," the reporter was saying. "He found this empty station wagon. Reece tried to call Ray Corson's cell phone, but didn't get an answer. Then he noticed something down this trail...." The camera tracked along a crooked pathway, through some foliage until it reached a strip of yellow police tape stretched across the bushes. In bold black letters, the tape carried a printed warning: CRIME SCENE—DO NOT PASS BEYOND THIS POINT. The image froze on that police barrier—and the darkness that lay beyond it. "Reece discovered the victim a few feet past this point. Ray Corson had been shot. I'm told the police found his wallet in a field just north of this spot. The cash and credit cards were missing. Investigators are still searching for the cell phone Corson used to call Triple-A." The solemn-faced reporter came back on the screen again. "Reporting from Seattle's Arboretum, I'm John Flick, KOMO News."

At that moment, Chris seemed to realize someone else was there. He turned and gazed at her.

"Are you okay, Chris?" she asked, still hesitating in his doorway.

"I'm fine," he said, his voice raspy. He started making his bed.

"Listen, if you don't feel like going to school today, I can call and tell them you're sick," Molly offered.

"It's okay, I'm fine," he murmured, straightening the bed sheets. He looked at her again and blinked. "What happened to you?"

She glanced down at the coffee stains on the front of her gray sweatpants. "I dropped the coffeepot. Your dad's still cleaning up the mess. There might still be some glass on the floor. So—ah, put your shoes on before you come down to the kitchen, okay?"

He just nodded, then pulled the quilted spread over his bed. He stopped for a moment to wipe his eyes again.

"I made waffles," she said, suddenly feeling stupid for mentioning it.

"Thanks, Molly, but I'm not really hungry," he murmured.

She wanted to hug him, and assure him that what happened to Mr. Corson last night had nothing to do with him—and it had nothing to do with the messy business at school five months ago. But the front of her was soaked with cold coffee, and besides, Chris wasn't big on doling out hugs—at least, not with her. So Molly just tentatively stood in his doorway with her arms folded.

He finished making the bed, then sank down on the end of it, his back to her. "I'll be down in a minute," he said, his voice strained. "Could you—could you close the door?"

Molly nodded, even though he couldn't see her. Stepping back, she shut the door and listened for a moment. She thought he might be crying. But she only heard the TV, and the weatherman, predicting dark skies and rain for the day ahead.

In a stupor, Chris wandered downstairs to the kitchen.

Molly was still up in the master bedroom, changing her clothes. Erin sat at the breakfast table, finishing a bowl of cereal and staring at the TV. Chris's dad was cleaning up the broken glass and spilt coffee. He had his suit jacket off, sleeves rolled up, and tie tucked inside his shirt to keep it from getting soiled. One faint streak of brown liquid remained on the tiled floor. You missed a spot, Chris wanted to say, as his dad straightened up and set a soaked paper towel on the counter.

He wiped his hands and gave Chris a hug. "Molly said you were watching the news about Ray Corson," he whispered. Obviously, he didn't want Erin to hear. "How are you holding up? Are you doing okay?"

"I'm fine, thanks, Dad," he muttered, starting to back away.

But his father held on to him and looked him in the eye. "You know I wasn't a big fan of his, but still, I'm—I'm sorry this happened. Do you want to talk about it?"

Chris shook his head. "Not really."

I don't want to talk to anybody, he felt like saying. I just want to be left alone. He still couldn't believe his former guidance counselor and friend was dead. If it weren't for Mr. Corson, he never would have made it through last year. The only person he wanted to talk to right now was Mr. Corson, and he couldn't.

His dad hugged him again. He always smelled like the Old Spice cologne Chris gave him every Father's Day. "Thanks, Dad, I'm okay," he murmured. He grabbed his books and his jacket.

He heard the car horn honking—four times. That was Courtney's signal. His ride to school was here. Molly called to him from upstairs to take a couple of her Special K breakfast bars "to keep body and soul together" until lunch—whatever the hell that meant. She had some weird expressions—like that one, and beats having a sharp stick in the eye, and six of one, half a dozen of the other, and a bunch more. Maybe they were Midwestern expressions or something. He wasn't sure.

His dad had married Molly less than a year ago, and it had seemed way too rushed for Chris. He'd still been adjusting to his mother moving out and his parents divorcing, and then wham, his dad got remarried. Suddenly, this pretty artist was taking his mother's place. Nice as Molly was to him, Chris still couldn't get used to her constant presence in the house.

He yelled upstairs to her that he wasn't hungry; then he hurried out the front door.

"Did you hear about Corson?"

It was Courtney calling to him from the open window of her red Neon.

Chris was halfway up the driveway, but he could see the iPhone in her grasp. Courtney Hahn was always texting or Twittering. That damn iPhone was practically glued to her hand. It didn't matter to her that it was against the law in Washington state to operate a handheld phone while driving. Courtney considered herself the exception. Her and her iPhone—it was one of several things about her that drove him crazy for the two months they dated last year. Still, she was blond, pretty, and popular—so for a while, he'd convinced himself that he was damn lucky to be her boyfriend. Well, maybe not that lucky. Except for feeling her breasts on a few occasions, and three intense make-out sessions during which he'd come in his jeans, they'd never gotten very far in the sex department. They'd had a pretty amicable breakup, probably because they hadn't been all that crazy about each other in the first place. But Courtney was a good kisser—and a good sport. As part of her campaign that they remain friends, she still gave him a lift to school in the mornings.

"Did you hear the news about Corson?" she repeated, glancing up from her iPhone keypad for a moment. "Somebody shot him...."

Chris nodded glumly, and then he opened the passenger door and scooted into the front seat.

"If you ask me, it just proves Corson was a major perv," Courtney's best friend forever, Madison Garvey, remarked from the backseat. "The guy probably went to the Arboretum last night to have sex in the bushes or something. Ha! He went there to get blown, and got blown away instead."

Chris buckled his seat belt and sighed. "Gosh, Madison, think maybe you could wait until lunch—or at least third period—before you start making bad jokes about our guidance counselor getting murdered last night? I don't think his body's cold yet."

"Yeah, Maddie, shut up," Courtney said. With a tiny smirk, she glanced in the rearview mirror at her friend.


Excerpted from DISTURBED by KEVIN O'BRIEN Copyright © 2011 by Kevin O'Brien. Excerpted by permission of PINNACLE BOOKS. 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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Disturbed 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 162 reviews.
marianne68 More than 1 year ago
Good suspense, great story with good twists. Worth the money
honoliipali More than 1 year ago
This book was my first by Kevin O'Brien and was an advance copy provided free in exchange for a review. What a good deal for me! This mystery/thriller was absolutely marvelous. There are numerous twists in the plot with new characters. The author was able to keep the story line fluid without miring down the reader with character additions. I was able to follow all the characters because they were made human and interesting. I never felt my mind wandering as I was engrossed in the story. When I first received the paperback copy, I wondered why an established NY Times Bestselling Author would send out free copies. After reading the book, I understood why. I will now read the rest of his books. Highly recommended to anyone that likes thrillers or mysteries.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I agree with anonymous, May 31 about the page long reviews. Look up the word review in your dictionary. It's not about telling the story, it's about whether you like the book or not. I don't know if B&N can do anything about this anymore than they can do something about the ignoramous people who use the review space for their own personal code words. Don't ruin a good thing. I depend a lot on the reviews whether to buy or not.
sfc98 More than 1 year ago
I have read Kevin O'Brien books in the past, I have always liked them, but I forget about him as an author and don't look out for his new releases...I MUST CHANGE THAT!!!!! This is one of the best mystery/thrillers I have read in a long time (and it is my first choice in genres). This had it all, thrills, revenge, plot twists, serial killers, you name it. If you live on a cul-de-sac, you may not want to read this one! I was impressed with character development, the plot twists and really cannot say enough about this one, truly one you have to read!
catloverMJ More than 1 year ago
This is the 2nd book I have read by Kevin O'Brien and I am going to read more of them. This book will keep you guessing until the end. I highly recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I haven't finished the book yet, but I am finding that I have to force myself to put it down! Every time I think I have things figured out, I end up doubting myself. This is one of the best books I have read in quite a while. If you like mysteries, suspense, or thrillers, you need to read this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Before reading this book I had never even heard of this author. I just happened to be looking for something a bit different to read and came upon this in the B&N top 100. Suffice it to say, this author is definitely on my must read again authors. This story was as scary if not more than any Stephen King or Dean Koontz book I have read and I have read many! It is also way more affordable! I will not give away the story because I do like when people do that in a review, but what I will tell you is that every single time I thought I had the mystery solved, I was so wrong! And wait until you see the curve ball the author throws as the ending!! Enjoy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why does harriet klausner persist in giving away the entire plot line of a book? It ruins it for those of us who would like to read it and be surprised. Please bn, do something about reviews that reveal entire plotd.
ThePoet73 More than 1 year ago
I have read all of Kevin O'Brien's books, and like the rest, this one was not disappointing. I read this book all the way through in 1 day. I literally couldn't put it down. I stayed up way too late because I just kept saying to myself...one more page...one more page. If you like being scared and on the edge of your seat, read this book.
Jessica Arrant More than 1 year ago
Could not put this book down!! Very suspenseful! This is my second book by this author and i am hooked!
Jeanie Montalvo More than 1 year ago
Pay attention to the story cuz it moves long with ins and outs. I enjoyed it. While reading through some parts I found myself going around to make sure all my windows and doors were locked. I have to admit i was a little scared and yet i couldnt wait to find out what was going to happen next. I really like scary mysteries and this one didnt disappoint.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I stumbled across this book and thought it sounded interesting. I thought i had it figured out early on but there were several key twists in the plot that kept me guessing until the end! I highly recomend if you are a fan of mystery
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What an entertaining read! My first book by this author...but will not be my last! Worth every penny, and more! Many twists and turns and just when you think that everything is resolved......there is the epilogue!
priestess_75 More than 1 year ago
This book keeps you guessing till the end. Right when you think you have it all figured out, another wrench is thrown it to keep you guessing. Excellent Read.
Jalinena More than 1 year ago
Kevin O'Brien really brought it with this book--lots of fun, fantastically written, and really well put-together. One of the best of his I've ever read.
kelly young More than 1 year ago
His books are always full of twists and turns and this one did not disappoint. Nice twist at the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An amazing book! A thriller this is! If you like twists and turns and crazy plots, read this. I liked this a lot!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Will have to read more from this author for sure
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Definately a page turner from the first page. Couldn't put this book down after reading the first few pages.....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This started out slow for me but after a couple of chapters into it, it really took off. I couldnt wait to get home from work everyday to read it. I would read it at night in the dark so that really made it scarey. Which was all the better. If your looking for a fast read with twists and turns and some spookyness well this is for you... RG
grumpydan More than 1 year ago
The story begins with the frolicking of two teenagers in a lake. Fast forward to the present and a school councilor is murdered at the same lake. Molly Dennehy marries a man she met a few months earlier, and he comes with baggage (not that she doesn't have any); his ex-wife and children. They live on a cul-de-sac, which make Molly nervous since there is a serial killer on the loose. Not only does she worry about the killer, she worries that her step-children don't like her and her neighbors don't with (they still care for the ex-wife). And then her neighbors start showing up dead. The beginning of this novel gripped me and pulled me in, but it is one long story with so much going on, that I started not caring about the characters (some were so phony). I wanted to know the outcome and was disappointed that it didn't succeed in answering my questions, and tied up some things just a little too nicely. Yes, it was suspenseful and kept me reading for two days, but I was taken in by what turned out to be a run-of-the mill soap opera.
Kevinbw309 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Disturbed is a thriller filled with murder, hate, and revenge. When Ray Corson, a former high school guidance counselor, is found murdered in an empty parking lot, seventeen year old Chris Dennehy can't help but feel like it's his fault. He still blames himself for for Mr. Corson being fired. Little does he know that the death of his once close friend and guidance counselor sets in motion a series of events which will end in tragedy and bloodshed. So much bloodshed.Seattle is being terrorized by a ruthless maniac known as the Cul-de-sac Killer. Murdering entire families and ceremoniously leaving their corpses in closets, all cul-de-sac families are on edge, including Molly Dennehy, her husband Jeff, and her step children, Chris and Erin. When Molly's cul-de-sac starts being riddled with tragic accidents and terrifying phone calls, she shrugs it off as coincidence. But as the body count rises and the accidents start hitting closer to home, she can't help but feel that someone is out to get them.  And she realizes that if she doesn't fond a way to put an end to all of this misfortune, then an end will be put to her.Disturbed is the darkest and most complex thriller I have ever read. And with its well developed characters and abundance of suspense and misdirections, it is a must read for any thriller fan. This is the first work I have read by Kevin O'Brien, but it certainly won't be the last. But if you are looking for a fairytale ending, this book is not for you. Like I said, this book is dark and, if you are feint of heart, may leave you feeling disturbed.
bookluverxoxo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed it. Once I started it was hard to put down. There were plenty of twists that kept me interested.
judithrs on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Disturbed. Kevin O¿Brien. 2011. In this mildly, minor suspenseful novel, a neighborhood is terrorized by a serial killer. Molly is living in the same house her husband lived in with his now ex-wife. All of the neighbors were great friends with the ex and make Molly¿s life miserable so Molly must cope with the hostility of the neighbors as she attempts to make a life with her step-children. Read only if you like other books by this author or want a mindless book