Don't I Know You?

Don't I Know You?

by Karen Shepard


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Gina's son, Steven, caught only a fleeting glimpse of the killer as he fled. If only, he wonders again and again.

As Lily Chin prepares for her upcoming wedding, a mysterious woman appears to inform her of her fiancé's secret life—which may have included Gina Engel.

Louise Carpanetti received a phone call from the dying Gina. Now, more than a decade later, she is forced to finally acknowledge a shocking possibility: the killer might be her emotionally disturbed son. . . .

Told through three distinct yet interconnected narratives, Karen Shepard's Don't I Know You? is an intricate, dazzling, and devastating psychological drama that absorbs and thrills as it examines the complexities of the human heart.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060782382
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/12/2007
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Karen Shepard is the author of the novels An Empire of Women and The Bad Boy's Wife. Her work has appeared in Atlantic Monthly, Self, Bomb, and other publications. She teaches writing and literature at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, where she lives with her husband, writer Jim Shepard, and their three children.

Read an Excerpt

Don't I Know You?

A Novel
By Karen Shepard

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Karen Shepard
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060782374

Chapter One

It was just a Tuesday. Steven's key worked like it always had.

His mother was lying between the living room and the front hall. He saw her feet first. They were bare, and at first he thought she was doing her yoga.

She was on her side. Her bottom leg was straight. Her top one was bent. One arm was stretched above her. Her head was resting on it. Her other arm was bent across her middle. Her hand was in a fist.

Her dress was up around her waist. Her panties were ripped. He could see her blue birthmark below her belly button. There were scratches on her thighs. There was a lot of blood.

The green rug from the hall was bunched underneath her hip and bloody. The phone was on its side next to her. It was bloody.

The windows were open. Down there on the corner of 102nd and West End, Ramon and Jimmy were sitting on their overturned crates drinking beer, smoking, trying to stay cool. He could hear them. The fans were on. She smelled wrong. The TV was on. The sound was off.

He stood there. He'd been up high on a catwalk for the spring musical. It felt like that now.

His body was shaking as if he were freezing, but sweat beaded under his bangs and between his shoulder blades.

Kitty came fromsomewhere down the hall and circled his legs. He tried to pet her, but couldn't stop the trembling.

Manuel's voice came up through the windows. "Not in a minute," he was saying. "Now. Before now. Yesterday."

He walked by her, closing his eyes, to the TV. A nature show. He turned it off and watched the screen until the dot in the center disappeared. The shaking was going away. He was still cold. They'd had this TV for a hundred years. When Starsky and Hutch walked toward him they looked like people in a dream. Yesterday, he'd been after her about getting a better one.

Hot air blew around him from outside. He felt like the guy on Wild Kingdom getting licked by cheetah cubs.

He sat cross-legged across the room from her for a minute. Kitty leaned against his knee, making her small engine sounds deep in her throat.

He couldn't tell where she'd been stabbed. He was sleepy.

He'd spent the day in the park, climbing rocks and breaking sticks with Juan. They'd eaten peanut-butter-and-honey sandwiches and shared a Yoo-hoo. There'd been a dead pigeon in the sandbox. "Don't touch it," Juan had said. "You'll get rabbis."

His mother was Greek; sometimes she got words wrong.

They'd poked at it with a stick, and then they'd washed their hands anyway, proud of their good thinking. He had used the water fountain. Juan had used the puddle around the sprinklers.

He wasn't thinking the things he was supposed to be thinking. He'd only been home for a few minutes. He asked himself what he was feeling. None of this was happening.

Outside, it was getting darker. Inside too. He was crying.

Her black hair was still in its ponytail. It was spread out like she was jumping. She was making a face that he didn't like to look at. He thought about touching her, but didn't.

Down the hall, a quiet thud and two creaks.

His feet and hands tingled. Get out, he thought. He stood; his knees cracked, and he headed toward the front door. The sound of something heavy being lifted and put down again. He was still crying. He started down the hall. He couldn't believe he was doing it.

There was blood. Streaky patches of it. And then it stopped. His foot hit something that rolled. Glass beads. He recognized them from the necklace she liked to wear.

Her bedroom door was open a little. Shadows moved behind it.

He ran the last few feet. His head felt like he'd been holding his breath too long. "Hey," he called. "Hey."

One leg was disappearing out the window onto the fire escape. Jeans. A white sock. Adidas sneaker. White with green stripes.

The room was a mess, but there was no blood.

"Hey," he said again. "You," he called, hating himself for being stupid and twelve and sounding like a girl.

He stuck his head out as far as he could. His mother didn't like him to. He saw someone running. A man in a white T-shirt. It was too dark to see anything else. He couldn't even tell what color hair the guy had.

The bed looked like someone had made it and then run back and forth across it. Everything else looked the same.

He felt like he was looking at things through a ViewMaster. His stomach was cramping. His head felt cut in half.

He went and stood in her closet. When he was little, he would sneak in there in the middle of the night. He would sit on the floor on top of her shoes and handbags and dirty clothes. He was supposed to be able to spend the whole night in his own room. His doctor had told her that. If she had to, he'd told her, she could always put a latch on the outside of the boy's bedroom door. "What's the worst that could happen?" he'd said. "He'll fall asleep crying by the door."

She never did. So he'd fall asleep in her closet, and she'd find him in the morning. One night he opened the door and there was a sleeping bag and pillow. The sleeping bag was unzipped partway and turned down. After that, he didn't go in there anymore.

The closet smelled like dust and blankets and sweaters and her. Sometimes when she'd had a long day, she'd stay in the shower, standing under the hot water for way longer than it took to get clean. She said that on days like those it was just the best place to be. Under the water, by herself.


Excerpted from Don't I Know You? by Karen Shepard Copyright © 2006 by Karen Shepard. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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What People are Saying About This

Dave Eggers

“Riveting and deeply felt and true.”

Ron Hansen

“A chilly, disquieting mystery in which the answer to the title is always ‘no.’”

Tim O'Brien

“This is a book that haunts and tantalizes and possesses us long after the last page is turned.”

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