Don't Tell a Soul

Don't Tell a Soul

by David Rosenfelt

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Don't Tell a Soul by David Rosenfelt

Tim Wallace's wife died in a boating accident several months ago. Tim was the only eye witness, and one New Jersey cop is sure he killed her. He didn't, but even if the police eventually clear his name, he'll never get over this terrible tragedy.

On New Year's Eve, his two best friends and business partners finally convince him to go out for the first time since Maggie's death, and at their neighborhood pub just a few minutes before midnight, things in Tim Wallace's life go from bad to worse. "Can you keep a secret? A really big one?" a drunken stranger asks him. Before Tim can say anything or turn away, the man confesses to a months-old murder, even offering as proof the location of the woman's body. "Now it's your problem," he says and walks away.

When the man turns out to have been telling the truth, Tim's life and work are put under the microscope again by the cops, and this time they're not giving up. But neither is Tim, even when things keep getting worse for him, and eventually he realizes he's the only person who can figure out what's really going on---even if it kills him.

David Rosenfelt, popular author of six Andy Carpenter mysteries, including the recent hit Play Dead, delivers his first standalone with Don't Tell a Soul, combining the suspense and great characters of his mystery series with an unputdownable, thrilling read.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781429929189
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 06/24/2008
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 63,678
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

David Rosenfelt is the Edgar and Shamus Award--nominated author of six novels featuring lawyer Andy Carpenter, most recently Play Dead. He and his wife live in California with their thirty-seven golden retrievers.

DAVID ROSENFELT is the Edgar-nominated and Shamus Award-winning author of several stand-alone thrillers and more than a dozen Andy Carpenter novels, including Outfoxed. He and his wife live in Maine with their ever-changing pack of rescue dogs.

Read an Excerpt

Don't Tell A Soul

By David Rosenfelt

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2008 Tara Productions, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-2918-9


It's "the little things that change your life. They change your life, Timothy Wallace."

Whenever Tim Wallace's mother, Carol, had something important to tell him, she ended it with "Timothy Wallace." She always called him Tim, everybody called him Tim, but when she was imparting some special wisdom it was "Timothy," as if his formal name would lend it some additional credibility and significance.

She was a small woman; by the time he was eleven Tim had matched her height of almost five two. But she would put on her most solemn face and stare straight at him. The sadness in her eyes would make Tim want to look away, but to the best of his recollection he never did.

"The little things can change your life, Timothy Wallace."

What she was really talking about was fate, and how fate was dictated by moments you could neither expect nor control. And then she followed it with the story he had heard so many times. If her friend Donna hadn't taken a bus downtown that day, if she had taken a cab instead, she wouldn't have met Charlie, the man Donna eventually married.

And then, since Donna would not have known Charlie, he could never have fixed Carol up with Kenny Wallace. And then Carol and Kenny would never have had their son, Tim. And Kenny couldn't have abandoned them when Tim was only six months old, never once contacting them in all the years since.

So Donna's deciding to take the bus that day was the "little thing" that changed Carol's life for the worse, but in turn literally gave life to Tim.

That was what was strange about the "little things," and how they changed your life. They could be good or bad, and sometimes you didn't always know right away.

For Tim, and especially for Maggie, the "little thing" was the hat.


It was an important, even symbolic, moment for both of them. Tim and Maggie had been married for almost five months, and while Tim had sworn "for better or for worse, in sickness and in health," that hadn't as yet included his boat. His pride and joy. His sanctuary.

He had owned the modest thirty-foot motorboat for six years, having bought it for himself on his twenty-fourth birthday. It was his place to decompress, to read, to be alone, to think, to get away from whatever might be bothering him, or to focus and reflect on that which was good.

Tim's close friends, Danny and Will, had been out on the boat with him a few times, but never a woman. Not even Maggie.

Not until that day.

The fact that this milestone didn't happen for the first four months after their marriage was more a function of the calendar than anything else. It isn't until early May that things start warming up on Long Island Sound, which is where Tim kept the boat. He was waiting for a decent day, and while the weather forecast for this one wasn't perfect, it would have to do.

"Why don't you keep it docked down there?" Maggie had asked on more than one occasion, pointing down at the Hudson River from the window of their twenty-third-floor apartment in Fort Lee, New Jersey.

Fort Lee is living proof of the old joke that the three most important things in real estate are "Location. Location. Location." It wraps around the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge, and is therefore wildly valued for its proximity to, and view of, New York City.

It was inevitable that high-rise apartments would spring up along the water, and just as inevitable that the prices would rise even higher. Tim and Maggie lived in Sunset Towers, as prestigious an address as Fort Lee possesses, and used that vantage point to take easy advantage of the theater, restaurants, and energy that New York provided better than any city in the world.

They were just leaving their apartment when Maggie unveiled the hat. He assumed it had to be a hat, because it was sitting on her head. But in reality it looked like a manhole cover on steroids, with a round brim so large that the Third Infantry could find shade under it.

"What the hell is that?" he asked, when she put it on. He knew that sounded a little harsh, so he added, "Honey."

"My new hat," she said, turning slightly to show it off in its full glory. "They only had one left."

"So other people beat you to that?"

She nodded. "Isn't it great?"

"And your plan is to carry that around on your head all day?"

"I'm sensing that you don't like it."

"No, I like it," he said, smiling. "It's just that it's among the ugliest things I've ever seen."

She nodded. "That's good, I was afraid you'd want to borrow it."

The drive out to the pier, with no traffic, was about forty-five minutes. Of course, as far as Tim was concerned, this was merely an untested theory, since there had never yet been a day in New York without traffic.

On this particular day it took an hour and fifteen minutes, much of it spent on the Cross Bronx Expressway, though the name "expressway" must have been given by someone with a particularly cruel sense of sarcasm. During the ride, Tim suggested Maggie hold the hat in her lap in deference to the fact that they were in Tim's convertible. Were it to blow out into the open road, he opined, it could take out a tractor trailer.

So instead Maggie's hair blew in the wind, and she was characteristically unconcerned about it. Maggie had dark, curly hair, and in Tim's view it would look good even if she put her head through a car wash. In fact, he always thought she looked best when she got out of the shower, when her hair was wet and unbrushed. Of course, she was also naked then, and that may have contributed to his bias.

Halfway into the ride, Maggie reached out, took his hand and squeezed it. "Did you tell Danny and Will you were taking me on the boat today?" She was referring to Danny McCabe and Will Clampett, Tim's best friends, who often mocked his "sanctuary" concept.

He shook his head. "No, I didn't tell anyone. I figured I'd surprise people after the fact."

Once they arrived at the pier, Maggie was so anxious to see the boat that she kept walking ahead of Tim. It wasn't completely logical, since there were hundreds of boats lined up, vertically par ked along the pier, and she had no idea which one it was. She therefore had to keep waiting for him to catch up, and since he was carrying lunch and other supplies, he wasn't moving that quickly.

But when she happened upon it, she recognized it instantly. He'd had the idea the week before, and hadn't told her, relishing the surprise. He had renamed the boat The Magster, his nickname for her, and she stood there staring at the inscription on the hull.

Finally, still looking at the name and not Tim, she said, "You think I'm going to cry? Well, I'm not. I love it, and I love you, but I'm not going to cry."

"I wouldn't expect you to," he said. Maggie had a thing about crying; she wanted to save it for the "really important stuff." Which had always been fine with him.

As soon as they got on the boat, Maggie made it very clear that she wasn't there as a passenger. She wanted to know how it all worked, and insisted on doing everything from starting the motor to steering out into the Sound. She seemed to relish the entire experience and got thoroughly into it, even calling out "Ahoy!" to a nearby boat as they navigated out on the water.

After the first hour they just relaxed out there, drifting with the motor off, and reading the Sunday Times. They each had their own favorite sections; Tim was a Sports and Week in Review guy, while Maggie started with News, and then moved on to Arts and Leisure. Tim had once commented that this routine made them seem like an old married couple, and Maggie said that one day they would be, so they might as well start now.

Not long after, the wind started to pick up, and knowing what Tim did about the weather patterns on the Sound, he was aware that there was a chance the day would have to be cut short. He suggested they have lunch, and Maggie got up to prepare it.

Tim was the type that could happily eat his dinner standing next to the refrigerator, but to Maggie each meal was an event. It always amazed him; he had a constant struggle with his weight, stuffing 180 pounds onto his five-foot-eleven frame, while the five-foot-seven Maggie wouldn't weigh 120 pounds if she were carrying a barbell.

Maggie's insistence that each meal be treated as something special was actually one of the few areas of friction between them. Tim wanted to be far more casual about it, to eat pretty much whenever he felt like it, and to watch TV or read the paper while they ate. Maggie viewed mealtime differently, considering it an important time to talk and connect with each other. Tim had once pointed out the illogic of this; it made no sense for people to talk at the exact times they were filling their mouths with food. Of course, the observation got him nowhere.

Within five minutes the small table was set with an enormous amount of food. There was a dazzling array of dishes to sample, each in its own special serving piece. No plastic containers for Maggie. She even brought champagne to toast a new, substantial federal contract that Tim's construction company had won recently.

She looked at the table with satisfaction. "What do you think?" "I think it should be enough," Tim said. "Actually, if a navy destroyer floats by, we can invite the crew to lunch."

"What about them?" Maggie asked, pointing to a large boat about five hundred yards away. She waved in their direction, but there didn't seem to be anyone out on the deck. Tim had seen it periodically during the morning. It was a boat he was very familiar with, a ninety-foot Oceanfast 360, retail price close to two million five. He had a dream of owning a boat like that, albeit not painted an ugly green with a white stripe as this one was. It was a goal that was only slightly more likely than his dream of becoming a Super Bowl MVP.

"Anybody who would paint a boat like that such an ugly color doesn't deserve lunch," he said. "Besides, they're rich enough to buy their own. Let's eat."

Eat they did, and after Tim had consumed enough food to sink The Magster from his weight, Maggie asked, "You want some dessert?" "I can't," he said. "I do not have a single cubic inch of internal space left."

"That's a shame. I made crème brûlée."

"Unless I use my emergency space," he allowed. "That's always an option."

She nodded her understanding. "If this isn't an emergency, what is?" Maggie got up and walked over to the cooler to get the dessert, but as she leaned over, a gust of wind blew the hat off her head and out into the water.

"Damn!" she yelled, as she reached out but just missed catching the hat.

"Don't worry about it," Tim said, looking at the huge hat floating on the water. "A freighter will find it and tow it back to shore. Or I'll get you another one."

"I like that one."

He nodded. "And it was indeed beautiful. But as you can see, it's going off on its own. All we can do is wish it well."

"Tim, it's right over there." She pointed to the hat, which by that time was already almost thirty yards away.

He tried to put on his most incredulous look. "You mean you want me to go out there ... to get that ridiculous hat?" "Of course, I do," she said. "Come on, Tim, it's drifting away."

"Maggie ..." he said, though he was going to have to come up with something a lot stronger if he was going to get out of this. He looked up at the gathering clouds as if for inspiration.

"It's going to start raining soon."

She nodded. "Don't worry about it; you'll be wet from getting the hat anyway." She pointed behind them. "Besides, there's still sun, you'll dry out fast."

Logic like that was hard enough to deal with, and then she came in with the clincher. "I'll give you my undying love."

He muttered, "I thought I already had that." This was not a battle he was going to win, so he walked over to start the engine. The hat was moving away from them, taunting him, and he would at least pull the boat as close as he could before jumping in. The water was getting slightly choppy from the increasing wind.

He restarted the engine, and was not happy that it made a strange noise. He made a mental note to get it checked once they went back to the pier. He pulled the boat about ten yards from the hat, and prepared to go in to get it.

"Put on your life jacket," Maggie said.

"What for? I can swim like a fish."

"Tim, please put it on."

He sighed his continuing defeat, and put on the bright orange jacket, fastening the straps under her watchful eye. He jumped in the water, which sent a cold chill through him, and swam with powerful strokes toward the hat. It had already moved another fifteen yards away; clearly the hat was trying to elude capture.

In the distance Tim could see the Oceanfast 360, and hoped that the people on board did not see him. This hat retrieval was embarrassing, and not his finest moment on the high seas.

When Tim finally reached the hat, he put it on his head and turned back toward the boat so Maggie could see him wearing it. "What do you think?"

Maggie wasn't looking at him; she was standing near the side of the boat, looking at the motor. "Tim," she called out, "I think there's something ... Tim, there's something wrong with the motor!"

"TURN IT OFF!" he yelled. "TURN IT OFF!"

"It's smoking!"


The next thing he saw was a flash of white, so quick that it almost didn't register.

And then nothing.


It went South." That was the entire message that came in the form of a handwritten note, slipped to Roger Blair in the prison mess hall during dinner. He was seated at a long table, twelve seats on each side, and he looked around at the other inmates seated with him. No one seemed to be interested, which was not surprising. In this place, it took all available energy to worry about yourself.

"It went South."

That's all it said, but Roger didn't need any further explanation. He realized immediately that it meant something had gone terribly wrong. It also meant something else, an unwritten, secondary message that Roger also understood very well.

He was going to die.

It was the kind of death sentence from which there was no appeal, no "habeas corpuses," or whatever the hell else his asshole attorney always talked about. And no anti–death penalty liberals were going to march outside the prison when he died; he was going to go unnoticed.

There was nowhere to go for help, no stay of execution that could be granted. Roger even smiled to himself at the prospect of going to the prison authorities for help; if anything, that would hasten his demise.

The only remaining questions were when and how. Roger hoped it was soon; days spent in prison waiting to die were days not really worth living. The "how" was almost certain to be a sharp blade in the back, or across his neck, or maybe a garrote. Whatever was chosen, his killer would certainly have a different technique than the state; there would be no "lethal injection," no offered "last meal."

For the rest of the day he looked around warily, waiting for them to make their move. He did this although he was not sure he even wanted to see them coming; it might be better if he were unaware. That way it would be quicker, and hopefully less painful.

Roger worked in the prison laundry, which was considered to be a relatively good assignment by the inmate population. Well, Roger knew, pretty soon there was going to be an opening, and like all prison jobs, this one was going to be filled "in-house."

For the first time in a very long while he thought about his wife, and felt the urge to talk to her. Not that he had the capability of doing so; she had stopped coming to see him a while back, and his attempts to find her had turned up nothing. With the end approaching, he wasn't feeling resentful toward her; he just wanted to say goodbye.

Nothing happened the entire afternoon, which in itself was not a great surprise. These things were better done in darkness than in light; no one would be around to witness it. No matter when it was done, Roger knew, no one would be around who cared.

As always, lights went out at ten o'clock, leaving Roger lying on his bed, alone and awake. He listened for an approach, but it was not forthcoming, and he drifted off to sleep.

The cell was seven by ten, and at this hour was completely dark. But somehow prison darkness never fazed Roger. He thought it must be because this place in which he spent every minute of every day was always so grey, so dreary, that pitch-blackness seemed only a shade darker.

With no clock in the room, he did not know what time it was when he heard the cell door rattle slightly. The lock was sufficient to keep him in, but he harbored no illusions that it could keep them out.


Excerpted from Don't Tell A Soul by David Rosenfelt. Copyright © 2008 Tara Productions, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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 Tell a Soul 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 42 reviews.
smsnow1 More than 1 year ago
Really good pace & really good mix of suspense and action. i truly loved this book. but i don't think i did it justice. i started it a few months ago, then shelved it after having other books to read. i just got back to it last night, and couldn't wait to finish it this morning!! i was shocked. this was one of those random 'picked up at walmart on my way out' books. but now i want more from this author. so many twists and turns. go get it!!!
scubaroro More than 1 year ago
This was a story with many twists and turns that kept you enthralled and guessing throughout the story. At times, unbelievable, scary, yet also believable. The author's writing style is engaging and you feel like you know the characters. I read this book in one day because I just needed to kinow the next thing that was happening.
bobbewig More than 1 year ago
Being a big fan of David Rosenfelt's Andy Carpenter series, I thought I'd give his first stand-alone novel, Don't Tell A Soul, a read. Basically, the book's plot concept involves Tim Wallace being convinced by his best friends and business partners to go with them to a bar on New Year's Eve, which is the first time he has gone out socially since his wife died in a boating accident several months ago. A death that one particular New Jersey cop is convinced was not an accident, but a murder that Wallace committed, despite his being cleared of any wrong doing. While at the bar, a drunken stranger asks Wallace if he can keep a really big secret, and before Wallace can say anything, the stranger confesses to murdering a woman and offers proof of the location of the woman's body. Then, he tells Wallace that "Now, it's your problem" and walks away. From that point on, Wallace's life becomes topsy-turvy. Having now finished the book, my opinion is that, overall, Don't Tell A Soul is a generally entertaining read that is comprised of a smorgasbord of good and bad elements. On the positive side of the smorgasbord, Don't Tell A Soul provides a fast-paced page-turner, has a plot that offers several red herrings and suspense, and delivers a sufficient amount of humorous dialogue and narrative that Rosenfelt has become known for in his successful Andy Carpenter series. On the negative side, unlike the strong characterizations evident in this author's series, the characters are mostly thinly developed, the dynamics between Wallace and the police are highly stereotypical and predictable, the high-pitch level of suspense created so effectively during the first half of the book turned into just as high level of implausibility in the second half of the book -- with a conclusion that went beyond my ability to suspend disbelief, and Carpenter left some threads untied that left me hanging. All in all, despite its flaws I think you'll find Don't Tell A Soul to be entertaining and similar in some ways (but not as good as) Harlan Coben's Tell No One. Don't Tell A Soul is a book you might want to consider when you're in the mood for light, escape reading and don't want to do much thinking. However, it is not a book I'd recommend that you rush out to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the book...Love David Rosenfelt, but was disappointed when I realized the book didn't have the same primary characters as his previous books. I was looking forward to learning more about Andy, Laurie & Tara. But...yes, this was a great book. David Rosenfelt is a fantastic author.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Timothy Wallace still mourns the shocking death of his wife Maggie. It is not just her sudden death that has shaken Tim it is also how she died. Several months ago, she died in a boat explosion on Long Island Sound in which he was the prime suspect in her death.--------------- While getting drunk at a local dive on New Year's Eve, another intoxicated customer tells Tim a stunner re his late wife¿s death. Tim is further stunned when he becomes the prime person of interest in a second woman¿s suspicious death and the cops, especially Police Detective Jonathon Novack, looks closely at him again for Maggie¿s death. Tim tries to ignore being the focus of Novack who believes the widower is a cold blooded murderer by concentrating on his successful security construction firm that is working on the development of Newark¿s Federal Center unaware others watch him and the work for odious reasons.------------ Readers will agree with Novack that Tim murdered his wife as increasingly the evidence points towards him even Tim who knows whether he killed her and another woman or not wonders what the hell is going on. The story line is fast-paced and filled with twists and plausible red herrings especially enlightening is the underlying denotation that politics means avarice, graft, and abuse. David Rosenfelt provides his audience with a one sitting thriller with a dedicated stubborn cop looking at a widower who is looking at how a construction deal ties to his wife¿s death.------------- Harriet Klausner
Guest More than 1 year ago
In the space of the first two chapters, Tim Wallace is almost killed by an explosion on his boat and then he meets a mysterious man who confesses a murdering a woman to him. Thus Rosenfelt's first thriller (other than the Andy Carpenter legal mysteries) immediately grips you and keeps you. As the story progresses rapidly, Tim leads the police to the body that the man told him about and things start pointing to Tim. Little by little it appears to the police and especially to a 'Javert-like' officer that Tim may have murdered both women (his wife was on the boat what it had exploded). Tim has to go into hiding and get his life back and find out who is setting him up. The book is exciting from start to finish and I didn't give it the full five stars because the author uses the 'friend with the convenient out of the way house that could be used for a hideout routine' which has been done too many times. Additionally, the bad guys depend on learning a computer's security system as part of their master plan and the way they do this is very implausible.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would have given this book 5 stars except for the profanity throughout. The plot has many twists, the characters are well-developed and the pacing lends excitement.
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SCARY!!!!! exhilarating read
Josie03 More than 1 year ago
Very gripping, couldn't put it down. A must read. You won't be disappointed.
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1katie More than 1 year ago
Don't Tell a Soul is a taunt, well-crafted thriller written with flair and humor that will have you on the edge of your seat and laughing out loud at the same time. This is my first David Rosenfelt novel and I definitely plan to read more of this author.
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RomeoRomeo More than 1 year ago
I loved the Andy Carpenter series and ordered this one to see what Rosenfelt could do without Andy. Wow, was I disappointed! The book is simply terrible. Inadequate character development, meandering and incoherent plot, numerous loose ends and the requirement to suspend disbelief well beyond normal. And it wasn't funny.
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I really enjoyed this book. It was fast paced and hard to put down. --K--