Don't Say a Word

Don't Say a Word

by Beverly Barton

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Cross Your Heart. . .

One by one, they will die. He has waited patiently, planning their final moments. Their tortured screams, their pleas for mercy—all will be in vain. . .

And Hope. . .

Homicide detective Julia Cass has witnessed plenty of crime scenes. But the murder of a Chattanooga judge is shocking in its brutality. Teamed with FBI agent Will Brannock, Julia delves into an investigation that soon unearths more bodies—all mutilated in the same way, all left with a gruesome souvenir of a killer's ruthless rage. . .

To Die. . .

The only way to stop the slaughter is to predict the next victim. But when you're dealing with vengeance at its most ruthless, one wrong move can make you a target. . .and the next word you utter could be your last. . .

Praise for the novels of Beverly Barton

"A shivery read. . . Tight twists and hairpin turns will keep readers racing through the pages." —Bookpage on Don't Cry

"Barton delivers a solid mix of romance and terror in her latest thriller." —Publishers Weekly on Don't Cry

"Masterful!" —New York Times bestselling author Linda Howard on Cold Hearted

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781420110371
Publisher: Kensington
Publication date: 07/31/2012
Pages: 416
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Beverly Barton was an award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of more than 50 novels, including Silent Killer, Cold Hearted, The Murder Game, and Close Enough to Kill. Readers can visit her website at

Date of Birth:

December 23, 1946

Date of Death:

April 21, 2011

Place of Birth:

Tuscumbia, AL

Place of Death:

Tuscumbia, AL

Read an Excerpt




Copyright © 2012 Beverly Beaver
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4201-1037-1

Chapter One

Will Brannock awoke to some very warm lips nibbling on his bare shoulder. He turned over, more than willing to spend another hour or two in bed with Pam Ford. She was scheduled to fly out again to New York and then on to Rome, and Will meant to enjoy her until her plane took to the air. A flight attendant, Pam rarely got assignments in Chattanooga—every two or three months—but when she did, they always spent time together. She was an old friend, a real beauty, who made it crystal clear up front that she wanted no strings attached, just a good time together when she came to town. All of which suited Will just fine. The last thing he wanted was a committed relationship. It was out of the question. But Pam didn't care. She was always hot and eager and highly imaginative in bed. Will couldn't argue with that.

"Wish I could stay a few more days," Pam whispered in her husky voice, her tongue licking at his earlobe. "It's been so long this time. I've missed you."

"Me too." That was only partially true. He liked her, she was as desirable as any woman he'd been with, and they always had fun together. But spending more than a day or two in a hotel room with her was too much of a good thing. The occasional tryst suited him just fine. And if it never happened again, that was fine, too.

"We've still got some time," she said, rubbing her soft naked body against his bare chest. Pam turned him on, no doubt about it, with all that curly, dark red hair and those clear grass-green eyes. A dedicated runner like he was, Pam was built, toned and tanned and always ready. He'd met her through his sister, Colleen, who worked for the same airline, and they'd enjoyed these short romantic interludes ever since. No ties, no promises, no cohabitation, but a hell of a lot of fireworks between the sheets.

Will rolled on top of her and tangled his fingers in her hair. She laughed, but she was more than ready and so was he. He brought his mouth down on the hollow of her collarbone and heard the familiar weak moan. Pinning her hands over her head, he felt the growing need inside himself. So when his cell phone dinged on the bedside table, he muttered a low curse and pulled away.

"No, let it ring," Pam said, her pouty voice full of erotic promises.

"Can't do that. Hang on. Don't move."

Will let go of her and sat up on the edge of the bed. He grabbed his cell phone on the second ring. The screen identified the caller as J.D. Cass, one of Will's fellow special agents at the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. He hit the button.

"Yeah, J.D. What's up?"

"Hey, you busy?"

"You could say that." Will glanced over his shoulder at the way Pam was moving her body around provocatively. She held out her arms for him.

"Too busy to do me a huge favor?" J.D. was saying.

J.D. wasn't one to ask favors, huge or otherwise. The guy was always on the job, always working a case, completely dedicated to his career. Will liked and admired him, although they'd only been in the Chattanooga field office together for about a year and a half. Last year, J.D. had solved one of the biggest cases the city had ever seen. The Rocking Chair Murders had been horrific for everybody concerned. Four women had died at the hands of a serial killer before J.D. and Will managed to take him down in the basement of an old church. They barely got there in time to save the last victim. J.D. was still involved in wrapping up that trial.

"I'm down at the criminal courts," J.D. continued. "The damn trial's gone into recess again. Now they're discussing the admissibility of defense witnesses. Tam and I have both been waiting for hours to be called."

Tam Lovelady was the detective with the Chattanooga Police Department who had worked that serial killer case alongside J.D. Both were subpoenaed to testify and had been cooling their heels while the trial motions went on and on. "Bummer. Okay, J.D., sure. What'd you need?"

Will felt Pam's mouth on his back, her tongue tracing patterns, and he shut his eyes as she slowly kissed her way up to the side of his neck.

"My kid sister's coming in today out at the airport. I'm supposed to pick her up, but there's no way I can get away. I know you took a few days off, and I hate to ask, but is there any chance you can break loose and go get her for me and drop her off out at my house? I'd owe you big, Will."

Why not? J.D. was in a jam. Will was taking Pam out to the airport in a couple of hours, anyway. "Sure. When's she due in?"

"Any minute now. Her name's Julia. You've heard me mention her, right?"

"Yeah, the Julia with the marksmanship medals. Okay, no problem. What's her flight number?"

"Flight eight twenty-four out of Miami. US Airways."

"Is she expecting me?"

"I can't get through. She must've turned off her cell on the plane. Or forgot to charge it. She has a tendency to do that."

"What's she look like?"

"Long, dark hair. Five foot seven. Pretty. Actually, she looks a lot like Zoe. You'll like her. She's a real sweetheart. She just signed up with the Chattanooga PD homicide division. Man, it's going to be great to see her. Even better that she's going to live here in town."

"Right. I'll get out there as soon as I can." Will watched Pam purse her lips in disappointment, get up, and move off toward the bathroom. She looked as good from behind as she did from the front.

"I appreciate it, Will."

"No problem. Don't worry about it."

"Tell her to turn on the damn phone and give me a call."

Will punched off and stood up, stretching as he walked toward the bathroom. Julia Cass could wait a little longer. He probably wouldn't see Pam again for months, and he intended to give her a proper good-bye.

Julia Cass was mightily ticked off but trying her best not to show it. God knew, she wasn't the most patient sort in the world, and J.D. should've been here to pick her up nearly an hour ago. Not that she was surprised. How many times had he left her sitting at school or the library or the mall, when they both still lived at home? Back then, either his job kept him overtime, or one of the floozy types he liked to date in his younger days. She glanced at her white wristwatch again. Everybody from her flight had cleared out, and the next round of passengers was beginning to check in.

Her cell phone battery was low, so she couldn't call him, and the nearest pay phone was out of order, so she spent her time watching the travelers rushing around and willing herself to be patient. She loved her older brother dearly, she truly did. He had practically raised her since their mother had left the family when Julia was too young to remember. Her father died when she was fourteen, and after that, J.D. was father, mother, and brother to her. He had worked nights to support them, until he graduated from college and then the police academy. The only thing she hadn't liked back then was his choice of women. They were all sexy and alluring and trashy. Certainly not the kind of women J.D. wanted her to hang around with. But he had always been there for her, and he was the major influence that brought her into a law enforcement career.

"J.D., I am absolutely going to kill you if you don't get here soon," she muttered under her breath.

Watching the people on the concourse, she searched yet again for her brother's tall figure. She didn't see hide nor hair of him, but she did notice a tall, good-looking guy walking past her with a striking redhead hanging all over him. J.D.'s type of gal before he met Audrey Sherrod, she thought. Bored, she watched the couple move away toward the gate across from Julia. He was a hot guy, all right, but she had a feeling he knew it, too, and all too well. The red-haired girl was dressed in a tight-fitting Delta flight attendant's uniform and pulled a black, wheeled suitcase. The guy was wearing a black University of Alabama T-shirt, dark jeans, and black running shoes. He was obviously seeing his ladylove off to work, and was he ever.

Julia watched the pair step behind a pillar and succumb to a blatant and totally inappropriate make-out session, which Julia could still see all too well in the window reflection. The lengthy embrace was mostly brought on by the woman, who, yes, was all over him. The kiss that followed wasn't exactly G-rated, either. In other words, they liked each other mucho much and didn't mind showing it.

Not particularly into PDAs or voyeurism, Julia glanced away and watched the other passengers rushing hither and thither to catch flights. She'd give J.D. ten more minutes, and then she was catching a cab out of there. Her bloodhound, Jasper, was waiting somewhere down in baggage claim, and he didn't like being caged up anymore than she did. She wasn't a teenager anymore, and she didn't have to wait on her big brother's whims. He would be mad, but so what. So was she.

Glancing back at Mr. Romeo in the black T-shirt, she watched him give Red one last, lingering kiss. It looked to Julia like he was now itching to end the perpetual and steamy I-really-really-mean-it farewell, and she would bet a dollar he was relieved when the flight attendant finally extricated herself from his clutches, rolled her suitcase to the desk, and with one last wave and blown kiss, disappeared down the tunnel en route to her plane. Her handsome Lothario sauntered away and leaned back against the pillar, looking around as if searching for somebody to take her place.

My God, was he really on point for a new squeeze? she thought. Fascinated by him, largely because she had nothing better to do, Julia watched a blond flight attendant hurry past and then head straight for the same guy. Dapper Dan grinned and hugged her, then kissed her on both cheeks. Good grief. Two-timing jerk, she thought, glancing away in disgust.

Ten minutes passed. Julia spent most of that time watching I'm-So-Hot-And-Know-It waving and smiling at one flight attendant after another. Oh yeah, this guy had found a good hunting ground for guileless female prey. All he needed was a quiver and two dozen Cupid arrows. Jeez, some guys were just so full of themselves. He looked good, that was for damn sure; she couldn't deny that. He looked to be about six four or five, maybe even six foot six—really tall, probably even taller than J.D. His hair was dark blond and short, gelled a little on top, and he had one of those chiseled GQ model faces. High cheekbones, square jaw, lean muscular body like a pro athlete—a basketball player, maybe. If not, she bet he was a marathon runner or a long-distance swimmer, and she had a feeling he was a man who enjoyed himself more than anyone else possibly could. Unfortunately, he reminded her of J.D., back when he was young and stupid and slept around with anything that wore a skirt.

As the next flight departing from her gate was announced over the intercom, Julia stood up. Okay, she'd waited long enough. Time to think for herself. Jasper, poor baby, was going to be mad as hell at her. She picked up her purse, glanced once more at the guy, and found him staring hard at her. He gave her THE FATAL GRIN, and let that be one written in all caps. She resisted fainting dead away, not that she was a woman who ever would. She watched him amble over her way, all easy charm and appreciative smile. Julia stared at him. Surely he wasn't going to try his luck with her, too. She almost laughed. Fat chance of that, she thought.

He stopped in front of her, that deadly grin back in place and meant to melt her into a deeper puddle than the Wicked Witch of the West. In fact, she bet he had to wear boots, he left so many puddles in his wake.

"Hi there," he said to her in a deep, Josh Turner kind of voice. "Are you sitting here waiting for somebody to pick you up?"

"Not you, if that's what you're trying to do."

The guy laughed, genuinely it seemed, and then he seemed to realize that she really did think that's what he was up to. After that, he did have the decency to look sheepish. Up close and personal now, Julia saw that he had big brown eyes that were looking her over pretty good. He also had a killer dimple in his chin. Oh yes, God had been good to him, abundantly so.

"I didn't mean it that way, trust me. If your name is Julia Cass, though, I'm your ride."

Oh great. J.D. sent a practiced womanizer, out on the hunt, to pick her up. Julia was not thrilled, but it beat sitting there waiting forever. "J.D. sent you, I presume?"

"Yeah. He's tied up at the trial."

Julia knew about the ongoing trial for the Rocking Chair Murders. J.D. had told her it was just getting started and would probably last for a month or more. Well, at least J.D. had a good excuse for not showing up. She picked up her leather handbag and black carry-on, ready to get out of the crowded airport.

"Well, what d'you know. Will Brannock himself, in the flesh, and lookin' fine. How're you doin', sweetie?"

Julia looked at the petite and busty little flight attendant with the Deep South accent, who headed straight over, rose onto her tiptoes, and gave Will Brannock a quick peck on his cheek. Just one cheek—guess she didn't measure up to two-cheek status yet. The auburn-haired girl and Will Brannock chatted for a couple of minutes about the nice day and how long it'd been since they'd seen each other. She promised to call him soon before she hurried off and joined several other flight attendants who were just disembarking from a plane out of Charlotte, North Carolina. Julia waited until the girl was out of earshot.

"You got those flight attendants taking numbers, or what?"

Will Brannock laughed again. He found her funny, it seemed. "It's not what you think. Most of them are friends of my sister."

"So your sister's a flight attendant, too?"

"Nope. She's a pilot. Delta."

Well, that wasn't the answer Julia had expected.

"My name's Will Brannock, by the way. I work with your brother."

"You're a TBI special agent?" She couldn't help the skeptical tone. He didn't seem like a cop. She'd expected him to be the aforementioned GQ model.

Will placed his hand over his heart, assuming a feigned hurt expression. "That's right, Ms. Cass. No need to be so shocked. I'm old enough to shoot a gun and everything."

"I figured you were twenty-one, at least. Well, let's go. I've got a mad dog to pick up."

Julia headed off down the concourse, Will Brannock striding along beside her. Although she thought he was a man on the prowl, somehow she found him a rather amusing man on the prowl, which usually didn't happen. Nevertheless, J.D. was really going to get an earful for sending a flirt out to get her.

Trailing Julia Cass down the concourse, Will Brannock decided J.D. Cass's sister was a bit prickly but not bad-looking. In fact, she was pretty much spot-on gorgeous with all that thick, straight, black hair and those big brown eyes. She reminded him of that film actress, Catherine Zeta-Jones. Too bad she was the little sister of his best friend. Hooking up with her wouldn't do, not at all, and especially since Julia Cass was going into law enforcement right there in Chattanooga. Nope, that would not be a good idea. He never dated a woman who lived in the same town. That way nobody ever got too close to him, and more importantly, never found out anything about his past.

Too bad, though. Julia Cass was indeed a looker, even in her loose black T-shirt and faded jeans. She was fairly tall—five seven, J.D. had said—and had a strong, lean body, at least from what he could tell. He liked tall, lithe women. He had never dated a policewoman, but Julia Cass just might be worth it, if she wasn't J.D.'s sister. Since she was, though, and J.D. was his partner, he needed to make an effort to be friendly. Small talk was definitely in order.

"You have a nice flight, Julia?"

"Yes, it was fine. We landed about an hour ago, I'd say. It's a good thing these airport chairs are so damn comfortable."

"I'm sorry I'm late." He was, but couldn't say he regretted the extra time with Pam, either.

Julia Cass glanced up at him. "Look, I'm sure you have a good reason for being late. And I do appreciate your coming out here to get me. I'm sorry if I'm coming off rude. I'm just tired. It's been a long week."

"You're not coming off rude," he lied. On the other hand, he rather liked her. Why, he did not know. There was just something about her that made him want to smile. Something that he'd better shake off ASAP. She's a no-no, he thought. Yep, a definite no-no. But that didn't mean he couldn't lust after her like all the other guys he saw turning around and taking second looks as they passed by.


Excerpted from DON'T SAY A WORD by BEVERLY BARTON Copyright © 2012 by Beverly Beaver. Excerpted by permission of ZEBRA 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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Don't Say A Word 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
ldosch More than 1 year ago
Awesome thriller! When Homicide Detective Julia Cass transferred to the Chattanooga Police Department to be near her big brother, FBI agent J.D. Cass, she didn’t realize that she would be grabbing her first case on the way home from the airport and that she would be teamed up with her brother’s partner, Will Brannock. The guy looked more like a GQ model than an FBI agent, but once they get to the scene of the grizzly homicide, Will is all business. The killer is definitely trying to send a message cutting out the tongues of his victims. He is exacting vengeance with these murders and Julia and Will need to figure out what the victims have in common if they will have any chance in catching the killer. Another incredible murder mystery which will keep you on your toes. I don’t want to go into too much since the best part of murder mystery is to solve the crime along with the characters, so I don’t want to give anything away. From what I have read recently, I am definitely going to have to throw more thrillers into my TBR pile. :) This is a well written, engrossing story with just a touch of attraction/romance between the main characters to keep things interesting. I usually have a problem when there are too many POVs in the story telling it usually drags the action down, but in this case it was mostly our two main characters and the killer, with only brief changes over to some of the other characters. Nothing that killed the momentum of the story. I will say I only have it a 4 ½ stars since Beverly Barton’s writing is very descriptive, which although it is usually good story writing, but for a thriller I felt taking too much time for example, to describe the decorating of the room where the murder took place, wasn’t really necessary and took your attention away from the important things, like the dead person in the room and the fact gathering. That added to the fact that it was 392 pages. Again, not that the story was not enjoyable and engrossing, but for a thriller, a description of “the furnishing screamed money” would have sufficed rather than the detailing of the damask used on the bedspread.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a well written, engrossing story with just a touch of attraction/romance between the main characters to keep things interesting. I usually have a problem when there are too many POVs in the story telling it usually drags the action down, but in this case it was mostly our two main characters and the killer, with only brief changes over to some of the other characters. Nothing that killed the momentum of the story. I was a great fan of Beverly Barton and mourn the loss the reading public has lost. In my opinion the writing of this, her last book, was very much Beverly Barton style; and I thank her family and fellow author Linda Ladd for their contribution in getting it published. This is another incredible murder mystery which will keep you on your toes. I don't want to go into too much since the best part of murder mystery is to solve the crime along with the characters, so I don't want to give anything away. Fantastic sequel to Don't Cry. When Homicide Detective Julia Cass transferred to the Chattanooga Police Department to be near her big brother, FBI agent J.D. Cass, she didn't realize that she would be grabbing her first case on the way home from the airport and that she would be teamed up with her brother's partner, Will Brannock. The guy looked more like a GQ model than an FBI agent, but once they get to the scene of the grizzly homicide, Will is all business. RIP Beverly Barton.           
nerdyewe More than 1 year ago
This book was not written by Beverly barton. It does not have her tone or style. After reading the first sentence, I stated the words did not seem like they were crafted by Ms. Barton. I trudged my way through the book and sure enough at the end was the thank you to Ms. Ladd for completing the manuscript. I am upset that this book was published. I would have preferred to reread the great works that Ms. Barton had put out while living, than to be left with the taste of this mediorce remembrance of a great storyteller.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great Book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great plot storyline & luv to see a new series w/ these 2 main characters. Ive read all of her books but these characters together are def in my top favorites!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was very saddened to hear of Beverly Barton's death. Her books have always been immediate buy, read and keepers and this was no exception. The plot kept me in suspense and the identity of the killer was a total surprise. The emotonal connections between the leads were very believable. A book not to be missed, but an author who will be greatly missed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was disappointed in this book. The story line about the serial killer was good, and the identity of the villian was a good twist that was unexpected. The writing was just not always up to par. There was no need to refer to the main characters by first and last name as much. I like Beverly Barton's thrillers, but not this one as much as the Cherokee Pointe ones.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Alice D. for Readers Favorite Will Brannock from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation picks up his friend J.D. Cass's sister Julia and her bloodhound Jasper at the airport. Julia has joined the Chattanooga police department as a detective. She finds Will to be attractive but she doesn't want to be attracted to him as she had her partner and love die in her arms three years ago. Nonetheless, she and Will find they are soon working together, tracking down a serial killer who kills his victims, one by one, cuts out their tongues, then hangs them, and leaves part of the victim's tongue and a stack of thirty dimes on a scale just under their dangling feet. First to die is Federal Judge Lucien Lockhart who is as corrupt and double-dealing as they come. Then next on the killer's list is shock-jock radio commentator Roc VanVeter. Meanwhile, the killer is still seething but smiles to himself as he sits in a nearby cave. He tapes the tip of each victim's tongue under their picture in a scrapbook he has put together. The late Beverly Barton was a master at writing first-rate thrillers that left readers on the edge of their seats as each page of her books was read and even reread. "Don't Say a Word" is no exception. The characters of Will Brannock, Julia Cass and her brother J.D. and all the many other persons in "Don't Say a Word" are totally believable and work well with each other. The character of the Tongue Slasher, the serial killer, makes complete sense as some never get over horrific losses and strike out as their revenge. The plots' twists and turns are totally believable and the story's ending ties up loose ends perfectly. Linda Ladd should be complimented for helping Beverly Barton's family complete this most excellent of thrillers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book with twists that will keep you guessing.
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It was terrible
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First off i love all of mrs, Barton's books up to this one!! This book does not feel like her writing!!! I belive a previous review may be right, i feel this book was written by someone else!! I was very dissapointed in this book!! Don't cry , the prequel to this book was Awsome!! Read her earlier books, they are great reads, skip this one for sure!!!
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After hearing of beverly barton's passing and finishing the griff and nic series, i was sad i wouldnt have anymore books to read from her. Then this book came out and i was ecstatic! I loved it as i do all her books, seeing as i live in the south, anc i just hope there are more manuscripts that other authors will help complete :)
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