“Readers of Harlan Coben will feel right at home here.” –Booklist
At DeRose & Associates Private Investigators in Virginia, Angie DeRose strives to find and rescue endangered runaways—work that stands in stark contrast to her own idyllic childhood. But in the wake of her mother’s sudden death, Angie makes a life-altering discovery. Hidden in her parents’ attic is a photograph of a little girl, with a code and a hand-written message on the back: “May God forgive me.”
“A definite thrill fest.” –Suspense Magazine
Angie has no idea what it means or how to explain other questionable items among her mother’s possessions. Her father claims to know nothing. Could Angie have a sister or other relative she was never told about? Bryce Taggart, a U.S. Marshal, agrees to help Angie learn the fate of the girl in the photograph.
“Has the feel of the start of a new series. Angie DeRose is just too good to leave behind.” –Book Reporter
But the lies she and Bryce unearth will bring Angie’s past and present together with terrifying force. And everything she cherishes will be threatened by the repercussions of one long-ago choice—and an enemy who will kill to keep a secret hidden forever.
|Product dimensions:||6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)|
About the Author
Daniel Palmer is the author of six critically-acclaimed suspense novels. After receiving his master's degree from Boston University, he spent a decade as an e-commerce pioneer. A recording artist, accomplished blues harmonica player, and lifelong Red Sox fan, Daniel lives in New Hampshire with his wife and two children where he is currently at work on his next novel. Visit his website at www.danielpalmerbooks.com.
Read an Excerpt
Nadine had thought about running away for years. She lived in a nice colonial house in Potomac, Maryland, but home was hell. She was supposed to be the child, so why was she the one taking care of her mother? It wasn't fair. No, not right at all. Her mother had always loved to drink, but it was different after Dad left. Wine used to make her giddy, but now it just made her slur her words.
Nadine had begged her father to let her come live with him, but he was too busy with work to look after her, or so he'd said. She'd be better at home with Mom, he'd said. Ha! He should come and see what Mom had become since he'd left them for that bitch.
She tried to tell her father what it was like living with Mom. Weekends spent in bed. Often there was no food in the refrigerator, and Nadine would have to do all the shopping (driving illegally, but always carefully, on her learner's permit) and the cooking, not to mention the cleaning. Mom walked into walls, tripped over her own feet.
Somehow her mother still had a job. She worked for Verizon, doing something in customer service. How she got to work each day, given her evening's alcohol consumption, was nothing short of a miracle. Her get- ready ritual involved a lot more than a shower, some makeup, and breakfast. Her mother needed half the Visine bottle to get the red out. She often turned on bathroom faucets full strength to mask the sound of retching.
She'd come downstairs, cupping what looked like a handful of aspirin in her palm, and bark something unpleasant at Nadine. "Turn down that TV. I have a headache."
Of course you do, Nadine would think.
"Is that what you're wearing? You look like a tramp." It never failed. Mom's mouth would open and something cruel, something cutting, would spill out.
"I made the honors list," Nadine announced on the fifteenth day of March, the day she finally ran away.
Her mother rubbed at her pounding temples as she poured a cup of coffee flavored with Kahlúa. Something to take the edge off, she would say.
"You better, for what we pay that private school," was her mother's reply.
Nadine's chest felt heavy, throat dry, while her eyes watered. She would not give her mother the satisfaction of seeing her cry again. Her mother would pounce if a single tear leaked out.
"Toughen up, Nadine," she'd say. "The world is a brutal place, and you'd best have a thicker skin."
Her mother's jabs always held a hint of truth, which made them hurt even more. Nadine's school was expensive, that was a fact. But her father paid most of the tuition.
Money, it seemed, was the only thing that wasn't a problem in Nadine's life. Dad sent them plenty. He said he was happy to support them, but Nadine knew the truth. He was assuaging (an SAT word she'd recently learned) his guilt.
He didn't want her in his life. He wanted his new, young wife and no kids to hassle them. He wanted to travel and go to all the fancy restaurants he posted on his Facebook feed. One look at her dad's profile page and it was obvious a kid didn't fit into the picture. After the divorce, her father had moved to Philadelphia — Bryn Mawr East, to be exact — with a new executive position at an insurance company and a new woman in his life. He posted a few photos of Nadine, but those were all recent. No "Throwback Thursday" posts (#tbt in Facebook parlance) on her dad's page. No pictures of Nadine aged infant to tween; no evidence of his former life, aka his great mistake as he'd called his marriage during an epic pre-divorce blowout.
That was how he viewed his family. That was all Nadine was to him — a great mistake.
Apparently her mother felt the same way.
Nadine's last meal at home was chicken casserole, which she prepared using a recipe she got off the Internet. Her mother downed a bottle of wine with the meal. In her drunken stupor, she failed to notice the shoes Nadine had left in front of the closet door. Her mother tripped over the shoes and fell to the floor, twisting her ankle on the way down.
Nadine apologized. She had meant to put the shoes where they belonged, but was preoccupied with school, and dinner, and her too many responsibilities.
Her mother was hearing none of it. She went to the couch and applied ice to the injury, then poured herself another glass of wine, allegedly because it helped with the pain.
"Sorry again, Mom," Nadine said. "Are you okay?"
Her mother's eyes were red as her nail polish. "You're so thoughtless, Nadine," she slurred. "How am I going to go to work now? I can't even walk. Sometimes I wish your father would let you go live with him. I know that's what you want."
That was it. That did it. Enough was enough. Her father didn't want her. Neither did her mother. The choice was made not by her, but for her. Nobody wanted Nadine, so nobody had to have her.
After her mother slipped into drunken sleep, Nadine took all of the money they kept in the house — $400-some dollars — and her mother's jewelry and walked out the door with a school knapsack filled with clothes instead of books. She walked to Montgomery Mall, about four and half miles, then took a Metrobus downtown. She had plenty of money to spend, plus whatever a pawnshop would give her for the jewelry.
Pretending to be her mother, Nadine had called in sick to school. It was that easy. Her mother would take the day off to nurse her injured ankle — she'd already sent the e-mail to her boss. She'd wake up late and hung over, and think Nadine was at school. She'd think that until five o'clock rolled around.
Then she'd wonder. Maybe she'd call some of Nadine's friends. It would be seven ... and then eight ... and then panic. Maybe panic. Or maybe not. She'd probably be happy. Relieved to be rid of Nadine once and for all.
Nadine didn't know what her mother was thinking. She'd been gone for three days without calling home. She'd found a motel on the far side of the city that didn't bother to check ID, didn't care that she was a sixteen- year-old girl out on her own.
The question was what to do with all the time on her hands. She enjoyed school and did her homework diligently. She loved English especially, loved to escape into other people's happy or miserable lives and forget about her own for a while. She found a used bookstore off Dupont Circle and bought several books, including the entire Testing Trilogy by Joelle Charbonneau. She devoured all three volumes in the span of two days. But something was missing. Idle time to read had in some ways diminished the pleasure.
She was wandering aimlessly in Union Station, admiring the shops and all the things she had no money to buy, wondering how to pass the day, when a man approached.
He was tall and good-looking for an older man, with a nicely round head sporting a buzz cut like Jason Statham's, and a clean-shaven face. His most notable feature was a pair of piercing blue eyes. He carried a bag from Heydari Design, which Nadine knew sold women's clothing and accessories.
"Can I ask you something?" he said to her.
He had a foreign accent, Nadine thought. But it was subtle. Something distinct — sophisticated was the word that came to mind — something like a count would use. He was dressed sharply in a tailored navy suit, blue oxford underneath, no tie. His shoes were polished black loafers.
Nadine gazed at the man, unable to speak before finding her voice. "Yes," was all she said. Why is he talking to me? What could he want? Did Mom put out a missing persons report? Does he recognize me? Am I in trouble? Will he call the police? Will they take me to jail? Worse, will they take me back home?
"I just bought something for my daughter. She's about your age. But after I left the store, I was hit with doubt. I could use a second opinion. She likes the color blue, if that helps any."
From inside the Heydari bag, he removed a twilight blue linen-blend scarf, fringed at the ends for a touch of sophistication. It was lovely, something Nadine would have bought for herself if she had money to spend on such purchases. Books and food were all she could afford to buy. Plus she needed money for her motel room. Where else was she going to sleep? There was a lot more to running away from home than she had contemplated.
"I think she'll love it." Nadine meant it, too. To her surprise, her chest suddenly felt heavy. Here was a dad doing something lovely and thoughtful for his daughter. Her father gave her birthday presents, but always mailed them. It was never anything she wanted because he didn't take the time to get to know her tastes, her color palette.
Her father was nothing like this one, she decided.
"Thank you. I feel a bit more confident now."
That accent, where was it from? European? "You're welcome," Nadine said.
The man nodded his thanks, turned to leave, but stopped. He seemed to be appraising her in a way that made her feel vulnerable. "This is going to sound odd," he said as he took out his wallet.
Does he think I need a handout? Nadine was mortified to think she looked so bedraggled (another SAT word) that he suspected she was homeless and in need.
To her great relief, he took out a business card instead of cash. "I run an entertainment agency, and I'm always on the lookout for new talent. If you don't mind my saying, you have a great look. Almost like a Jennifer Lawrence type."
Nadine had to suppress a laugh. JLaw? Her? Come on. Nadine didn't think herself exceptional in any way. She was average at everything — height, weight, academics, sports. Name it, and she fit smack dab in the middle, undistinguished and undistinguishable from her peers. Her hair color was brown, eyes brown, and that's what it would say on the missing person posters if her mother bothered to file a report. Weight 118, height 5'3". Average. Perfectly average.
"I'm not saying you look like her exactly," the man explained. "But there's something about you that's very compelling. I'm not kidding. I find talent for TV, movies, reality shows. It's a booming business these days with so many places for content."
Nadine shrugged. She didn't know what to say. She looked down at the card. STEPHEN J. MACAN. MACAN ENTERTAINMENT. No address, no phone number, no website or e-mail. It felt secretive, which made the business seem more exclusive. He had to find you; you couldn't find him.
"Have you ever had headshots done?"
Before Nadine could answer, the man's cell phone rang. A smile came to his face as he answered the call. "Hi honey. I'm still at the mall shopping for Megan." He pulled the phone away and mouthed the words my wife for Nadine's benefit. He held up his finger, an indication he wanted her to stay.
For some reason, she did.
"I'll be home soon. Want me to pick up something for dinner? I could grill up salmon, if you'd like."
A pause while his wife said something in response.
"Great. Oh, and I got the opinion of a girl about Megan's age, so I think I did well with my gift. We shall see." He gave a little laugh.
Some inside joke about how difficult Megan could be to shop for, Nadine supposed. The joke was made with love, not malice. It was so obvious Megan's dad adored her.
Nadine's heart turned. Why can't I have the same sort of relationship with my father?
"I'll be home soon. Love you. Bye." The man's attention went back to Nadine. "So are you interested in becoming famous?" His smile was warm, genuine.
Nadine wondered if his daughter Megan had the right look. The man, this Stephen Macan, seemed so certain Nadine did.
He wouldn't lie about something like this.
It was all happening too fast for her to process. A little tickle in the gut told her to be cautious. She handed the man back his card. "I don't think so."
The man looked resigned and a little disappointed, but offered no hard sell. "Just so you know, there's no second chances. This business is too hard for any self-doubters. We look for people who think they were meant for something more. I thought I had it right with you." He shrugged. "Maybe all this shopping has dulled my instincts. Anyway, I wish you the best of luck." He stuck out his hand.
As soon as she shook it, Nadine felt numb all over her body. She wasn't sure what she was feeling. Ashamed? Disappointed in herself? What were his words exactly?
People who think they were meant for something more.
That struck a chord. Despite her parents, she thought she was worth something more. She could make something out of her life and show them all. That's right. Become somebody and get on Ellen or Good Morning America and have a tear-filled reunion on live TV while her parents apologized to their celebrity daughter for years of mistreatment. Wouldn't that show them!
She watched Stephen Macan walk away, swinging the bag that contained a beautiful scarf for his daughter, who wasn't pretty enough for a movie career of her own. He wasn't creepy at all. She got no vibes like that from him. He had a wife to whom he spoke sweetly and a kid about her age. It was happenstance that he saw her and asked a very reasonable question about the gift, and then luck that he saw something in her.
It was the real deal, Nadine decided, a genuine opportunity that she let pass by. And think! The next time her mother might see her could be on TV or in the movies. She tried to imagine her expression. It would be priceless!
The man was a good distance away, almost out of sight.
Nadine took a determined breath and went running after him.
Four weeks later
Angie DeRose arrived on foot at the Columbia Firehouse to have lunch with her parents at the scheduled time, on the scheduled hour, on the scheduled day. Given the fluid nature of her job, that was a minor miracle.
Angie loved the work, though. A good thing because it was all consuming. The phone rang day and night. No one took vacations when kids ran away, and run they did, twenty-four by seven by three sixty-five.
The calls varied. Sometimes it was a crisis with a child custody case, or surveillance work that might require her to spy on a cheating spouse, or follow a lead on a possible parental child abduction. Maybe an irate spouse had gotten wind that their ex was headed off to party — and who was going to watch little Joey while Mom or Dad did the Harlem Shake with a shot of tequila in one hand and a beer chaser in the other? An anxious parent didn't care one iota what time of day it was, whether or not it was a holiday, or if Angie had plans to meet her parents for a meal. Thus was life as a private investigator. She wouldn't have it any other way.
The restaurant, a renovated fire station with exposed brick walls, served quality American eats. It was a favorite of the DeRoses. Angie and her mother Kathleen ordered salads and soda water with lime, while her father got the salmon special. It was easy to meet for lunch because her parents lived near her office, still in the same house in Arlington, Virginia where Angie grew up.
Having lunch with her parents grounded Angie. Since founding DeRose & Associates at twenty-eight, five years ago, she had struggled with orbiting so closely to the dregs of humanity. She had gone into the business with a purpose, but had been naïve about the depth of human cruelty. The deplorable ways parents could treat each other or treat their precious children were too numerous to count and endlessly gut-wrenching. Each case was like turning over a rock to see what sort of horror might slither out.
Most difficult were the surveillance gigs to get proof of child abuse. Those hit her the hardest, but they were also the best way to get a kid out of danger. Some of her colleagues — the men, mostly — could shut it off, go to bed without seeing the cigarette burns dappled on a young kid's arm. Not Angie. She took it all to heart, carried with her the emotion of what she saw every day.
When it was a runaway or a child custody case, she went overboard to get results, to get proof, in order to protect the child. She lived and breathed it. Her wheels were constantly going, just like her office phone. Hell, somebody had to make sure the kids ended up safe or with the right parent.
Over the years, Angie had seen squalor that made a cardboard box on some desolate street corner look like an upgrade. Malnourished children. Beaten children. Children terrified of abuse. Neglected children. Drug-addicted parents who preferred the pipe to their kid. Out-of-control teens who raged against authority and railed against their terrified and despondent parents.
For the most part, Angie saw the world as a broken place that could never be properly fixed. In the presence of her parents, that world shone a little brighter.
Excerpted from "Forgive Me"
Copyright © 2016 Daniel Palmer.
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
Having read all Mr. Palmer has written it's hard to believe he can get better. He can and did with his latest. It's sure to be on the best seller list. It truly is a can't put down book. He obviously did his homework on run away kids. WARNING: be prepared to lose sleep once you start this, because you will not want to stop turning pages. Highly recommend!!!!!!
Angie, a private investigator, thinks her life is a normal life until after her mother dies. That's when she finds a photo of a child in the attic in a wooden jewelry box she has never seen. On the back of the picture are two initials and several numbers and the words "forgive me". Angie's life is never the same again once she starts investigating. This was one wild ride. I can't really say too much without giving it all away, but I can say that I was not disappointed at all during the time I was reading this book. There were so many strange things involved in getting to the bottom of all of this. There is no way you can guess what happens in the end or what even happened in the beginning. It was another one of those that I just could not put down because I had to know - what the heck was going on? And there was a lot. I would definitely add this to your TBR pile if your into mystery and suspense, because there's a lot in here! I want to thank Kensington Books and Net Galley for approving and sending me an e-galley in exchange for an honest review.
Angie DeRose is a woman on a mission to find and rescue every missing child, stemming from a traumatic experience as a child. Now a private investigator, she takes the cases that can be heartbreaking, the ones with endings that may not be happy, the ones that uncover the ugly scars we try to keep hidden. On the trail of Nadine, a teen runaway, Angie finds herself caught up in more than she had bargained for when the death of her mother uncovers hidden secrets from long ago, secrets that became lies, lies that became poisonous and lethal. Lies that she has unknowingly lived for years. Determined to find and bring Nadine home, Angie will go as far as it takes and then some, but her mind is also latched onto a picture of a young girl with her mother’s heartbreaking plea on the back. Who is this girl? What secrets are kept hidden in a simple photo? The nightmare has only begun as Angie enlists the help of a U.S. Marshall and even his contacts chit a brick wall in discovering who the mystery girl is and what happened to her. Daniel Palmer’s Forgive me is a razor sharp tale of intrigue, filled with unspoken secrets that were never meant to come to light. As he builds his world, we find ourselves working alongside a strong character. Angie has brains, grit and a fierce determination to save the world, one case at a time. The tension runs high throughout as we go from watching the life Nadine has found herself in to the desperate hunt that Angie is on to find her before it is too late. Weaving Angie’s own mystery into an already taut tale layers even more intrigue onto an already well-plotted story. With a strong voice throughout, there seems to be a stutter-step a t the end, one that feels like it needs more life, more dimension because it has the potential to blast this tale into greatness or to even open the door on more about this amazing heroine. A nailbiter throughout, still an entertaining and twisted tale of suspense! I received an ARC edition from Kensington Books in exchange for my honest review.
Forgive Me started out really strong. I was immediately drawn into Angie’s search for a runaway girl. As Angie is searching for the girl, her own mystery pops up. As the first story line peters out, and we are drawn into Angie’s own story, there’s a bit of a lull that was tough to get through. Then it’s somewhat of a rush job to finish the book. I feel this book could been constructed in a different way to help keep the reader interested throughout the entire story. That being said, there’s only a bit where I can say I was bored. There’s lots of action in this book, unfortunately a lot of it scary and negative. I think my favorite part was talking about the various ways Angie tracks down missing children. I appreciate the details about Angie’s work with runaways – it seems like the author did a lot of research and we were reading about how it really is in this world. I feel like I gained some pointers about what to look out for with my own children to keep them safe. When we finally get into Angie’s personal life, it’s a pretty quick read to the end, which includes a devastating chain of events. Angie finds out a lot about her family that she never knew, as well as about her parents’ friends. The pieces all do fall into place, leaving the reader feeling satisfied, if sad. I liked Forgive Me. This isn’t my usual genre but I’m glad I branched out to read it. I was given a free copy of this book as part of my involvement with Netgalley. All thoughts are my own.
Angie is a Private Investigator whose specialty is finding and rescuing endangered runaways. This both actually follows two stories that somehow converge at one point. Nadine is a runaway. Her mother is a drunk, her father is too busy to even acknowledge her. She decides she has had enough and bails. Young and naive, she falls for the man who says she could be a star ... only to find herself locked in a dark basement filled with other young girls .. and plenty of beds to carry on their 'owners' wishes. Nadine's mother has turned to Angie .... as the police cannot promise to do anything except keep a look out. Too many real crimes keeps them all busy. Angie, with the help of her associates get a lead to follow. Unfortunately the man who has Nadine, is also a major crime figure and cops have an undercover guy that they have to protect. In the middle of all this, Angie's mother dies. And what Angie finds after the funeral is going to change everything she's known and the life that's built lies upon lies. Hidden among the mementos in her parents' attic is a photograph of a little girl, with a code and a hand-written message on the back: "May God forgive me." Bryce Taggart, the US Marshal working with her agency, agrees to help Angie learn the fate of the girl in the photograph. Angie's past and present meet head on ... leading her straight to someone who will do what it takes to silence the truth. Daniel Palmer has a real story-telling talent. His characters are believable. Emotions and suspense rolls off the pages. Makes for a terrific read! Many thanks to the author / Kensington Books / NetGalley who provided a digital copy in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
I have to say that though I am seldom surprised by books this one definitely surprised me. I had not a clue what the photo that Angie found in her mother’s things would lead her to and was definitely stunned by what she ultimately found out. This book is definitely a BOOK. When you buy it you will get your money’s worth because you are getting more than just one story but instead more like three in one. You have the story of Nadine – the runaway, Angie – the private eye looking for Nadine and finally the mystery surrounding the photo and what is unveiled through research surrounding that photograph. My first thought when I started the book was that 15 year old Nadine and early thirties aged Angie had the same “voice” and sounded the same age. That began to change as I progressed further into the book. I had trouble believing that any young woman would choose to believe a “stranger” would make them a star and be willing to go anywhere alone with them in their car but it has been a long time since I was a teenager. Nadine’s story was as horrible as it was supposed to be and sometimes difficult to read but I am sure that living it would be more difficult than reading about it. Angie seems to be a dedicated person that has reached her early thirties without a man by her side and a family to care for. Her focus has been work that involves finding missing and at risk children. She has an interesting team that works with her and parents that love her. I don’t want to have spoilers in this review. I will say the book was fast-paced, well written and filled with suspense. There definitely was a mystery to be solved. The characters were fleshed out and had interesting personalities. The bad guys were definitely bad. And, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I can’t give a full five because I can’t believe Nadine would have fallen in line with the predator so easily or have fallen for Ricardo’s seduction. Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for the ARC of this riveting book in exchange for my honest review! I will definitely be on the lookout for other books by this author!!! 4.5 Stars