The Girls He Adored

The Girls He Adored

by Jonathan Nasaw
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The Girls He Adored by Jonathan Nasaw

For ten years, the charmingly disheveled veteran FBI Special Agent E.L. Pender has been investigating the apparently random disappearances of a dozen women across the country. The only detail the cases have in common is the strawberry blond color of the victims' hair, and the presence of a mystery man with whom they were last seen.

Then, in Monterey, California, a routine traffic stop erupts into a scene of horrific violence. The local police are stunned by a disemboweled strawberry blond victim and an ingenious killer with multiple alternating personalities. Pender is convinced he has found his man, but before he can prove it, the suspect stages a cunning jailbreak and abducts his court-appointed psychiatrist, Irene Cogan.

In a house on a secluded ridge in Oregon, Irene must navigate through the minefield of her captor's various egos — male and female, brilliant and naïve, murderous and passive — all of whom are dominated by Max, a seductive killer who views her as both his prisoner and his salvation. Irene knows that to survive she must play along with Max's game of sexual perversion. Only then will she be able to strip back the layers to discover a chilling story of a shattered young boy — and all the girls he adored.

A sexually charged thriller of extraordinary originality and page-turning suspense, The Girls He Adored moves furiously from the inner recesses of the psyche to its final, startling climax. Jonathan Nasaw brilliantly portrays two equally intense characters — a deviant killer and the expert who can unlock his darkest secrets — and introduces one of the most likable sleuths in recent fiction.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781451613346
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication date: 10/01/2010
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 560,050
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Jonathan Nasaw is the acclaimed author of Fear Itself and The Girls He Adored, both Literary Guild Selections. He lives in Pacific Grove, California.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

"I'll save you some time," said the prisoner, shuffling into the interview room in his orange jumpsuit, fettered and manacled, wrists cuffed to a padlocked belt around his waist, and a scowling sheriff's deputy at his elbow. "I'm oriented times three, my thought processes are clear, and my mood and affect are appropriate to my circumstances."

"I see you're familiar with the drill." The psychiatrist, a slender blond woman in her early forties, looked up from behind a metal desk bare except for a Dictaphone, a notepad, and a manila folder. "Have a seat."

"Any chance of getting these things off?" The prisoner rattled his fetters dramatically. Slight, an inch or so below medium height, he appeared to be in his late twenties.

The psychiatrist glanced up at the deputy, who shook his head. "Not if you want me to leave you alone with him."

"I do, for now," said the psychiatrist. "He may need a hand free later for some of the standardized tests."

"I'll have to be here for that. Just pick up the phone when you're ready." A black telephone was mounted on the wall behind the psychiatrist. Beside it was an inconspicuous alarm button; an identical button was concealed on the psychiatrist's side of the desk. "And you, siddown."

The prisoner shrugged and lowered himself into the unpadded wooden chair, tugging with manacled hands at the crotch of his jumpsuit, as if it had ridden up on him. His heart-shaped face was just this side of pretty, with long-lashed eyes and lips like a Botticelli angel. He seemed to be bothered by a lock of nut brown hair that had fallen boyishly across his forehead and over one eye, so as the guard left the room, the psychiatrist reached across the desk and brushed it back for him with her fingers.

"Thank you," said the prisoner, looking up at her through lowered eyelids. The glitter of mischievous, self-satisfied amusement had faded from his gold-flecked brown eyes — but only for a moment. "I appreciate the gesture. Are you a defense whore or a prosecution whore?"

"Neither." The psychiatrist ignored the insult. Testing behavior, she told herself. He was trying to control their interaction by provoking an aggressive response.

"Come on, which is it? Either my lawyer hired you to say I'm insane, or the DA hired you to say I'm not. Or were you appointed by the court to see if I'm fit to stand trial? If so, let me assure you that I am perfectly capable of understanding the charges against me and assisting in my own defense. Those are the criteria, are they not?"

"More or less."

"You still haven't answered my question. I'll rephrase it if you'd like. Have you been hired by the defense, the prosecution, or the court?"

"Would it make a difference in how you respond to my questions?"

The prisoner's demeanor changed dramatically. He lowered his shoulders, arched his neck, cocked his head to the side, and formed his next words carefully, almost primly, at the front of his mouth, speaking with just a trace of a lisp. "Would it make a dif-fer-ence in how you respond to my questy-ons?"

It was a remarkably effective imitation of her own bearing and manner of speaking, the psychiatrist realized. He had her nailed, right down to the hint of sibilence that was, after years of speech therapy, all that remained of a once ferocious, sputtering, Daffy Duck of a speech impediment. But the parody was more affectionate than cruel, as if he'd known and liked her for years.

"Of course it would," he went on in his own voice. "Don't be disingenuous."

"I suppose you're right." The psychiatrist sat back in her chair, trying to maintain a professional demeanor despite the hot blush blooming in her cheeks. "That was an excellent imitation, by the way."

"Thank you!" Jail garb, fetters, and circumstances notwithstanding, the prisoner's grin lit up the bare room. "Want to see my Jack Nicholson?"

"Perhaps some other time," she replied, sounding to her annoyance every bit as prim as his imitation of her. She caught herself touching the top few buttons of her beige blouse with fluttering fingertips, like a schoolgirl who'd noticed her date glancing surreptitiously at her chest. "We have quite a bit of work ahead of us today."

"Oh! Well then, by all means, let's get on with it." The prisoner flapped his manacled wrists, as if he were shooing pigeons away; his chains rattled musically.

"Thank you." She leaned forward and pressed the power button on the voice-activated Dictaphone. "I'm Dr. Cogan, by the way."

The psychiatrist had been hoping he would respond in kind — thus far the prisoner had refused to give his name to the authorities. But all she got from him was a cheerful "Pleased to meetcha," and a cavalier, if truncated, wave of his cuffed right hand.

She tried again, more directly. "And your name is...?"

"Call me Max."

"I notice you haven't quite answered my question."

"I notice you haven't quite answered mine. Who hired you?"

She'd been hoping he'd let it drop; now she had to answer, or risk losing his cooperation. "The court, indirectly: I was hired by a firm that contracts its services to the county."

He nodded, as if she'd confirmed something he already knew. She waited a moment, then prompted him. "And your name?"

"Like I said, call me Max." He looked up. Really, that's the best I can do, said his embarrassed grin; I win, said his eyes.

The psychiatrist moved on. "Nice to meet you, Max. As you're probably aware, we have some standard tests we need to get through — "

"MMPI, Rorschach, thematic apperception, maybe a sentence completion if you're really trying to pad your hours — "

" — but first let's just chat for a few minutes."

"By chat, if you mean conduct a clinical interview, beginning with a question to be asked in an open-ended manner and designed to elicit the patient's own perception of the problem" — he had to stop for a breath — "or difficulty that has led him or her to seek treatment, let me save you some time: My diagnosis is dissociative amnesia, possibly a dissociative fugue state."

Then you're not really oriented times three, are you? thought Dr. Cogan, breaking off eye contact to look through the manila folder. "I'm curious, Max. You seem to be quite familiar with psychiatric terms and procedures. Might you have worked in the mental health field?"

"Might have." Then, thoughtfully: "Of course, I also might have been a patient in a locked facility. I mean, considering the circumstances under which I was found."

"That sounds like a good place to start. Tell me about the circumstances under which you were found."

"Well, Dr. Cogan, it's like this." The prisoner leaned forward in his chair. His breathing had grown shallower, and the glitter in his eyes was darker and more pronounced. The psychiatrist had the impression that for the first time since he'd entered the room, his interest was fully engaged. "The first thing I remember is finding myself sitting in a car next to the body of a young woman who had recently been disemboweled."

Disemboweled. It struck Irene Cogan as odd how one simple word could be so much more evocative than a three-page coroner's report describing in clinical detail "a semicircular ventral incision beginning one and a half centimeters above the right iliac crest, extending downward to three centimeters above the pubic symphysis, then describing an upward arc to the top of the left iliac crest, with resulting extrusion of both large and small bowel...."

She looked up from the manila folder. The prisoner was waiting for her next question with an eager grin, his gold-flecked eyes shining, looking for all the world like a man enjoying a terrific first date. Momentarily jarred out of her professional detachment, Dr. Cogan switched onto automatic pilot, lobbing one of the interviewee's last words back at him in lieu of a real question. "Recently? How recently?"

The prisoner shrugged easily — or as easily as the fetters would allow. "I dunno, thirty, forty seconds. She was still sitting up."

Copyright © 2001 by Jonathan Nasaw

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Girls He Adored 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 35 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Creepy and bizarre.
SleepDreamWrite More than 1 year ago
4.5 rating for this. Also what do I say after reading this? Of course it would be a suggestion from GR, thanks a lot. Though it helps I heard nothing about this series. Been reading suspense reads lately which was mostly for the Halloween month but now looks like I'm curious as to reading a bunch of these series I started. This was a what did I just read kind of book. And yet I couldn't stop reading. It got weird, it got um what and what just happened moments. Oh and let's add creepy to that list there. That ending especially. So yeah you got FBI agent Pender, therapist Irene and the ever changing multiple personality but at the same interesting Maxwell. And from there, the mystery starts and you wonder where it will go from there. And the book goes there. Descriptions and all that. The writing got to say was pretty good. Even if the book was a little hard to read at times. Still this was an interesting suspense, somewhat fast paced, read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this is so good..its one of those books that you dont really want to end but you want to know how it ends so bad! Bottom line is this book is worth reading and so is the next one as well !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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12PawsAnne More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I've ever read. Gripping and dark.
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JgleJne More than 1 year ago
This was a very creepy book! but well worth the actually made you feel kind of bad for the bad guy in the book for some really wanted to help the characters in the book so badly
MISS_READ_IT More than 1 year ago
Put it this way i usually get my books @ the book exchange but i just finished this book like 3 hours ago and i actually got up and went to the local b&n for the 2nd book but they didnt have it there,or in the next 3 closet b&n so i just order it so I HAVE TO WAIT TO GET THE NEXT ONE!!!! WOW !!!WHAT A GREAT BOOK LOVED IT....GO GO GO BUY IT NOW!
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holls912 More than 1 year ago
I've read a lot of books lately and I came across this one and loved it! You can't put it down and there are so many twists. I would recommend this to anyone who wants an off the wall thriller!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
this was definitely one of those books that once you start reading it you cant put it down until its done. it was a little bit of a nail biter for me at some points but still the best book ive ever read. i have yet to find a book even remotely close to its greatness
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was a great read, you'll never want to put it down. Cant wait to read the 2nd.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a wonderful suprise! I was not expecting what I got and I got ALLOT of bang for my buck!!! I just finished it today - on my lunch break.... I'm leaving work now to get the second one. Yea - a book you can sink your brain into!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I came across this book by accident and boy I am glad I did, this was one of the best books I have EVER read. A must read! Going to the book store to stock up on Nasaws books...See Ya!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Absolutely without a doubt the best book I have ever read! Scarey! If you like Sexually sadistic and twisted serial killers...Read it twice!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Best book I've ever read! never heard of the author but I figured to give a try. CAn't put the book down, now i'm looking for books that's similar! must read book if you have the stomach and imagination!