Once A Killer's Chosen You. . .
At first, the deaths seem random. A young Portland couple brutally murdered in a game gone awry. . .a Chicago woman who plummeted to her death from an office building. . .an aspiring screenwriter asphyxiated in his New York apartment. But the macabre souvenirs television reporter Sydney Jordan receives hint at a connection that is both personal and terrifying.
The Only Thing You Have To Do. . .
After events in her own life went wrong, Sydney fled to Seattle with her teenage son. But instead of getting a fresh start, Sydney is plagued by strange occurrences. Someone is watching, someone who knows her intimately. . .someone who's just waiting to play the next move in a twisted game.
Is Die. . .
She is his chosen one. Every murder is a sign, and soon, Sydney will understand why each victim had to sufferand why she's the next in line. . .
|Product dimensions:||4.10(w) x 7.50(h) x 1.60(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
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
By Kevin O'Brien
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2009 Kevin O'Brien
All rights reserved.
"I swear to God, I'm going to kill her," he whispered.
Erin Travino didn't pay attention to the man seated in the row behind her. She switched on her cell phone, activating the little blue display light. It glowed in the darkened movie theater. Erin punched in the code to check her messages again.
Up on the big screen in front of her, Judi Dench was reprimanding Keira Knightley for something. Erin hadn't paid much attention to Pride and Prejudice. Maybe she should have been. She had a book report due next week, and hadn't even chosen the stupid book yet. If she'd been following the movie more closely, she could have pretended to have read Pride and Prejudice. Her English Lit teacher was a sucker for Jane Austen.
Then again, she really didn't have to try too hard at school lately. Most of her teachers were cutting her some slack. Erin simply had to say she was still traumatized over what had happened last week, and her teachers would grant her an extension or raise her C to a B minus.
Erin intended to milk the situation for as long as she could. Along with Molly Gerrard, and that nut job, Warren Tunny, she was prominently featured in all the newspaper articles. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer even ran a photo of her, the halfway-decent snapshot from her high school ID. At least her wavy, shoulder-length, auburn hair was freshly washed, and the dimpled smile looked natural. Plus she appeared really thin in the picture.
Erin was constantly dieting, even though her friends insisted it was the last thing in the world she needed to do. Tonight, for example, her best friend, Kim, had bought a soda and a large buttered popcorn for the movie. Kim asked if she wanted some popcorn, but Erin just shook her head and sipped her medium Diet Coke. Didn't Kim know that stuff had the fat equivalent of three Big Macs? At least that was what Erin had heard.
She squinted at the illuminated display on her cell phone: NO NEW MESSAGES.
Someone tapped her on the shoulder, startling her.
Erin almost dropped the phone. She glanced over her shoulder.
"Would you mind putting your phone away?" growled the man behind her. He was in his late thirties—as was the lean, Asian guy with him. "The light is very distracting."
Erin shifted in her cushioned seat. "Well, I wasn't talking on it," she whispered, rolling her eyes.
The man glared at her. The light from the movie screen flickered across his handsome, narrow face. "That's the fifth time you've pulled out your phone and switched it on since the movie started. Do you have ADD or something? How about showing a little courtesy for the people around you, huh?"
Her mouth open, Erin let out a stunned little laugh. Suddenly her phone chimed out this ancient tune, "I Just Called to Say I Love You," in ring tones. She'd programmed it by accident last week and couldn't undo the damn thing.
"Shit," she muttered. A few people in nearby seats shushed her. The man and his buddy were frowning and shaking their heads.
Flustered, Erin grabbed her purse and retreated up the aisle toward the lobby. Ignoring the filthy looks from several people seated along the aisle, she pressed the Talk button on her phone. "Hello?" she whispered, pushing at the door with her shoulder. She stepped into the narrow, dimly lit foyer. The door swung shut behind her.
"Hello?" Erin repeated, louder this time.
She heard a click. Frowning, she checked the caller ID: NUMBER NOT LISTED.
With a sigh, Erin headed into the Harvard Exit Theater's lobby. They showed mostly foreign and independent films. Erin got a waft of popcorn smell as she wandered through the large lobby. It had a fireplace, a grand piano, and worn, antique parlor furnishings that were true to the building's 1920s architecture. The concessions stand was in the far corner, and beyond that, a stairway to the restrooms and another theater on the third floor.
Erin paused at the foot of the stairs. She dialed Molly's number and got her machine again. Erin clicked off.
She'd already left three messages. They'd arranged to meet in front of the movie theater tonight. But Molly had never shown.
Molly was one of the most popular girls in Erin's class. She was thin and pretty with gorgeous, long, black hair that was right out of a shampoo commercial. Molly wore designer glasses, and somehow managed to look chic—even in just a sweater and jeans. Molly's stock only went up after what had happened last week. Erin's stock soared, too. Suddenly, she mattered.
The day before yesterday, Molly had asked if she wanted to hang out after school. They went to pick up a new pair of glasses for Molly at this store on Capitol Hill. The glasses had square lenses with tortoiseshell frames, slightly nerdy, very funky. Only someone as popular and pretty as Molly could have worn them without looking like a total dork. While in the optical shop with her new friend, Erin wished she had weak eyes so she could get glasses like Molly Gerrard. Afterward, they had Diet Cokes and shared a plate of cheese fries at the Broadway Grill. Erin ate only seven fries and was still hungry, but it didn't matter. She felt so cool, hanging out with Molly.
Kim was an okay friend. But Molly was queen of the "A" crowd, and being friends with her put Erin in the "A" crowd, too. She was devastated Molly hadn't shown up for the movie tonight. Erin wondered if she'd done something wrong. Maybe Molly didn't want to hang out with her and Kim. Kim wasn't "A" list. But no, that wasn't like Molly; she was nice to everyone.
Erin was still trying to figure out what must have happened when she glanced over toward the lobby and spotted one of the older guys who had been sitting behind her. It was the man's friend, the slim Asian guy. He seemed to be headed for the concessions stand, but his eyes suddenly locked with hers. He passed by the concessions counter and came toward her.
Erin automatically turned and started up the stairs. She wasn't afraid of him; she just didn't feel like hearing another lecture about movie theater etiquette.
Halfway up the stairs, Erin figured she could duck into the women's room and avoid him altogether. But the cell phone slipped out of her hand and skipped down a few steps.
The man paused on the landing—in front of a huge old poster for An American in Paris. He retrieved her cell phone, climbed the stairs, and plopped the phone in her hand. "Well, I know you couldn't live without this now, could you?" he muttered.
Her mouth open, Erin didn't reply.
Brushing past her, the man started up the next flight of stairs—probably to the men's restroom on the third floor. But he paused and glanced back down at her. "A thank you might have been nice," he said. "You know, you're very rude." Shaking his head, he continued up the stairs.
Erin wanted to say, "Well, screw you!" But instead, she just retreated into the women's room. It was dimly lit and slightly creepy. The partition housing the two stalls was painted dark green, and the floor was old, chipped black-and-white tile—little hexagons. The old sink had separate faucets for the hot and cold water, and there were rust stains on the porcelain.
Erin could hear people laughing in the smaller theater upstairs. Some comedy from Italy was showing.
She caught herself frowning in the bathroom mirror. She flicked back her auburn hair. That guy who had just called her rude would have been asking for her goddamn autograph if he knew who she was. Obviously, he hadn't seen the newspaper last week. They called her a hero for what she did. A hero.
It had happened last Tuesday in Mr. Gunther's fifth period study hall. Only about half of the students actually studied or did their homework in study hall; the rest napped, doodled, or tried to pass notes to each other. Gunther, a short, wiry, balding, forty-something wannabe-jock, wouldn't let anyone talk while he lorded over the classroom. He was a real hard-ass. He sat at the front of class with his nose buried in the Seattle Times sports section.
Erin was at her desk by the windows in the last row, listlessly paging through her Us Weekly. Gunther was such a Nazi, he'd assigned seats and wouldn't let anyone switch. Erin was stuck with a view of the faculty parking lot on one side and squirrelly Warren Tunny on the other.
Warren sat hunched over his sketchpad. He was always drawing these weird cartoon monsters that looked like a cross between SpongeBob SquarePants and Godzilla. Erin never admitted it, but she found his drawings fascinating—gory, graphic, and oddly funny. No one else appreciated Warren's artwork—except maybe his geek buddies, if he even had any buddies. Erin couldn't see what he was drawing at that moment. His arm and shoulder blocked her view. He was probably protecting his sketch pad. It was new. The previous week, while Warren had been at his locker, one of the guys had grabbed his old sketch pad out of his hands and torn it up in front of him. Erin hadn't seen it happen, but she heard Warren had cried.
The guys were constantly picking on him and the girls made fun of him. Warren was skinny, with a pale, splotchy complexion and ugly, kinky, rust-colored hair that he parted on the side. Some of the guys called him "Pubes" because of that awful hair. Erin felt sorry for him, but the guy was definitely weird. Warren wore the same green army jacket to school every day—even in warm weather. And he kept it on all day long.
Bored, Erin tried to peek at what Warren was drawing. She still couldn't see the sketch pad. But she noticed something shiny inside Warren's fatigue jacket. It looked like a gun.
Warren stopped drawing and stared at her.
Quickly, she turned away and did her best to look bored. With a shaky hand, she flipped through a few pages of her magazine. After a minute, she swallowed hard and stole a glance over at Warren again. He seemed focused on his artwork once more. She could clearly see it now, the gun handle sticking out of his inside coat pocket.
How the hell had he smuggled a gun past the metal detectors?
Biting her lip, she helplessly glanced around the classroom—at the other students and at Gunther up in front. None of them had a clue.
She was the only one who knew Warren Tunny had a gun.
Squirming in her chair, Erin wondered if maybe— just maybe—the gun was a fake. She tried to catch another glimpse of it. Just then, Warren leaned back, and Erin saw his sketchpad—and what he'd been drawing.
It was a very creepy, detailed rendition of a smiling skull, with a caption underneath it: THEY WILL BE SORRY. Then, below that, he'd drawn a circle with a strange, tilted "V" inside that circle. Below this cryptic image, he'd written in even bigger letters than before, embellished with vines winding around each consonant and vowel: PREPARE TO DIE.
Warren sighed, glanced up at the clock for a moment, and then went back to his drawing.
Erin looked up at the clock, too: 1:05.
She suddenly realized, the tilted "V" inside the circle was supposed to be the hands of a clock. Her mouth open, she watched Warren draw the clock digits around the inside parameter of that circle—1:10 was the time on the clock in his picture. Just five minutes from now.
Was that when he planned to start shooting?
She could be wrong. Still, she wasn't about to wait until he pulled his gun out to know for sure. Her heart pounded furiously, and she could hardly breathe. She had to do something. Her cell phone was in her purse. Gunther didn't allow people to use them during his study hall, and she couldn't pass anyone a note. Warren was her only neighbor.
Biting her lip, Erin glanced around the classroom again—at all her classmates, looking so bored, so unaware that within minutes there could be screams and blood and chaos. Erin glanced at the clock on the wall again: 1:07. Hunched forward, she took her spiral notebook out of her purse, opened it, and jotted down a few words. She glanced over her shoulder to make sure Warren couldn't see what she was writing. Then she tore the piece of paper from the notebook and folded it.
Warren put his pencil down and flipped over the sketch pad. Erin wasn't sure why he'd done that. Maybe his work was finished. He probably didn't want anyone in the class to see it—not just yet. Perhaps it was for later, for the police to discover. Erin felt a chill race through her.
Warren's eyes met hers for a moment. Erin tried to smile, but it was forced, and she quickly looked away. He could probably see her shaking.
Warren sat back at his desk and studied the clock by the classroom door. He seemed to be breathing hard. His hand—black ink and pencil lead on the fingers— slowly reached inside his fatigue jacket.
Grabbing her purse, Erin unsteadily got to her feet. "Mr. Gunther?" she said, hardly able to get the words out. Any minute now, she expected Warren to shoot her in the back. Making her way to the front of the classroom, she approached Gunther's desk. She tightly clutched her purse against her stomach. "Mr. Gunther?" she repeated.
He barely looked over the top of his newspaper. "Go back to your seat," he muttered.
Erin cleared her throat. "Mr. Gunther, I need to use the restroom. I have a—a problem." She handed him the note she'd just written, then started for the door.
"I said, back to your seat!" he barked. His chair made a scraping noise on the floor as he pushed himself back from the teacher's desk. Everyone was looking at them.
Erin headed for the door. She wasn't sure she would make it. Her hand fumbled for the knob, then she swung open the door and ducked out to the hallway. She could hear people murmuring, and Gunther's voice: "All right, enough! I want quiet!"
Erin shut the door behind her. But she still couldn't get her breath. This wasn't over yet. It hadn't even begun.
There was a window in the door—with thin, crisscrossed wire in it. Erin could see Gunther standing at his desk with her note in his hand. But he hadn't looked at it yet. He scowled at everyone in the classroom. "I want quiet!" he repeated. She could hear his muffled voice through the closed door.
Pulling her cell phone out of her purse, Erin switched it on and dialed 9-1-1. It rang twice. Through the window in the door, she watched Mr. Gunther finally glance down at her note.
She hadn't had much time to write anything. All it said was: "Warren Tunny has a gun in his jacket. I'll call 9-1-1."
A click interrupted the third ring tone: "Seattle Police Emergency," the woman said. "9-1-1 operator."
For a moment, Erin was speechless. She was watching Gunther's reaction. Frowning, he set her note on the desk, then glanced in Warren's direction. "Tunny, stand up!" she heard him bark.
Oh, no, no, no, you stupid son of a bitch, she wanted to scream.
Erin became aware of the 9-1-1 operator on the other end of the line: "Police Emergency. Can I help you?"
"Yes, I—I'm not absolutely sure if this is a real emergency," Erin said under her breath. "But—but I think maybe—"
"Could you please speak up?" the operator interrupted.
"What's the nature of your emergency?" While the operator talked, Erin could hear Gunther's voice, raised in anger. Suddenly a girl in the classroom screamed: "Oh, God, no!"Then there were more screams, and it sounded like someone knocked over a chair.
"Oh, Jesus," Erin said, louder this time, her voice cracking. "I'm at—at—James Madison High School, outside room 207, and this guy's got a gun ..."
Through the window in the door, she could see Gunther shaking his head and raising his hands. He looked terrified. Any minute now, she expected to hear the first shot.
The 9-1-1 operator was telling her to remain calm. The woman wanted to know if anyone had been hurt and how many gunmen there were.
"It's just one guy, a student, Warren Tunny. I'm outside the classroom right now, but I can still see them in there. I—" Erin fell silent as she caught a glimpse of Warren and Mr. Gunther in the window. Warren pressed the gun barrel to Gunther's head. The wiry little hard-ass teacher was cringing and trembling.
"Everyone, just shut up and sit down!" Warren screamed. He shook even worse than Gunther. Warren's face was so flushed it was almost matched the color of his frizzy red hair. "I mean it, shut the hell up, all of you ..."
"Oh, my God," Erin whispered into the phone, backing away from the door. "I think he's going to shoot somebody. For Christ's sakes, please, do something! Send the police here ..."
"All right, stay calm and tell me your name," the operator said.
"Erin, I want you to confirm for me that you're calling from James Madison High School on Ridgeway Drive, and right now in room 207, one of the students has a gun and he's threatening people. Is that correct?"
Erin couldn't answer her. She couldn't move or speak, because at that very moment, the door to room 207 was opening. Warren Tunny stood at the threshold, gazing at her—with the gun aimed at her heart.
"Come on back inside, Erin," he whispered. She gaped at him. Tears welled in Warren's eyes. He looked scared but determined.
Erin could hear some girls quietly sobbing in the room. She didn't know where Gunther had gone, but he wasn't in the doorway with Warren.
"Put away the phone, and come here," he whispered.
Excerpted from Final Breath by Kevin O'Brien. Copyright © 2009 Kevin O'Brien. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was my first read of a book by this author. The information on the back cover was enough to make me purchase it. I began reading the book the morning of January 2nd and finished it the afternoon of January 3rd. If you relish a good thriller with well developed characters and an intricate plot, then read this one! Once you begin reading, it is difficult to put it down.
This book isn't new I already read it,it was a good book however they changed cover and made it seem like new book,even publication date had march 15 when this book was originally published was in 2009. I feel this is misleading.I bought it again not knowing it was a old book.very dissapointedi the mis representation making me think was new book very very dissapointed
Fantastic book!!!! I had never read any of his books before but have since bought all his other books. Great writer!!! Highly recommend him as an author!!!!
I've read most off kevin obrien books and they are all page turners this one is especially thrilling has you guessing until the very end I 'm looking forward to his next book.
Once I started reading it I couldn't stop! It keeps you wondering the whole time!
Sydney Jordan is a newswoman for a weekly television show called Movers & Shakers. It is a show about normal people who have done heroic acts of kindness for others. It seems that someone does not appreciate all these different people getting their fifteen minutes of fame. In fact this person knows just how everyone should be rewarded for their acts. You know how you make someone laugh so hard they can¿t stop. Some times that person will say ¿Stop it you are killing me¿, well that¿s exactly what the killer has in mind but this situation won¿t be no laughing matter. Someone is killing off one by one everyone that has ever been interviewed by Sydney for Movers & Shakers. Each time someone dies, that just means the killer is one step closer to killing his ultimate victim Sydney and when the times comes for him to make Sydney a star, he will take great pleasure on acting out the final scene. Because the killer will make sure that the last words coming out of Sydney¿s mouth is her Final Breath.One of my favorite genres to read is suspense thrillers and it will always be one of my favorites, thanks to outstanding, wonderful authors like Kevin O¿Brien. Mr. O¿Brien really knows how to keep his readers sitting on the edge of their seats filled with anticipation for what comes next. I first discovered this author when I read The Killing Spree and ever since then I have become hooked. Whenever I hear of a new book being released by Kevin I know without a doubt that I will be purchasing it. I know that picking up a Kevin O¿Brien book is worth my while as well as a smart investment. I will leave you with just one final thought to ponder ¿Always watch your back, because you never know when you might draw your Final Breath¿!
I am a big fan of Kevin O'Brien's books - although I have not always been kind in reviewing his books. I am thrilled to report that Final Breath is the perfect example of just how good an author O'Brien is. Sydney is a newsreporter - focusing on doing 'feel good/good samaritan' stories for a news show. She has featured some wonderful people, who have done wonderful things. Although it no longer appears to be common knowledge, Sydney knows of what she speaks as she was also a hero when she was younger - having saved a young boy from a raging fire. But now, it would appear that the people featured on Sydney's spots are being brutally murdered and as Sydney finally starts to put the pieces together, she comes to realize that she and her entire family are in danger of being killed by a madman. As I read the first chapter of this book, I felt myself immediately enthralled. This is always a great sign for me - if I can get hooked into the first chapter, then I JUST KNOW that this book is going to be a good read. As I progressed through the next few chapters, O'Brien brings in all kinds of twists and turns, including an intriguing sidestory about ghosts living in Sydney's house - this added a really nice touch of the supernatural (not so much that it turned the story into more of a horror book - but just enough to make it tingling). I just could not figure out how all the pieces fit together and its only toward the very end of the book that it all makes sense. I loved, loved this book. This is what a 'real' thriller should be - O'Brien is in fine form with this one and I can't believe I have to wait another year for the next one!!!
I enjoyed this book much more than One Last Scream. The author kept the suspense high throughout most of the book and didn't give the ending away until the book was actually at the end this time.
I usually enjoy all of this authors books, even though a few were a little strange and lacked the suspense the others had. This one was ok. It held my interest but i had the killer and his motive figured out literally within the first several chapters. This one wasnt creepy or scary or nail biting but it flowed nicely i guess. The ending was not what i wanted at all. This wouldnt be one of his better books id recommend reading, especially for the $7.99 i paid, but if you get a deal on it and enjoyed most of his books in general id give it a read!
It was good but not as good as others by K. O'Brien
Somehow i managed to buy this book twice. The "read" button read "purchuse. So that sucked. The book was good the first time around, but i wasnt ready to read it again.
Could not put it down but the ending was not what iwanted
first book I've ever read of his...page turner....30 pages to go and I can't wait to read another of his books...he is awesome...love this story...really feel like you are right there with Sydney during this story....
Very suspenseful, on the edge-of-your-seat book with a very engaging story line. I'll definitely be reading more of Mr. O'Brien's work.
Another page turner by Kevin O'Brien.
The first book I read by Kevin was Disturbed. Bought it on my nook as the daily find. I had never heard of him until then. I have to say that I love his work. Just finished this book and it was great!!! Had me guessing up to the very end. I have now started Vicious. And I know it will be every bit as good as the other two. RG
This was a great book but has anyone else noticed how all of his stories take place in Seattle?