Graven Images

Graven Images

by Jane Waterhouse


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Graven Images by Jane Waterhouse

"Her prose flows like molten silver." Cleveland Plain Dealer

"An ambitious, compelling thriller." San Francisco Chronicle

Bestselling true crime writer Garner Quinn is drawn into a murder investigation when enigmatic artist Dane Blackmoor, a man with whom she shares a complicated past, is accused of dismembering women and hiding their body parts in his unsettlingly lifelike sculptures. Is Blackmoor a depraved killer or is he being framed? To find the truth, Garner must confront her darkest secrets and delve into the disturbing legacy of her late father, a celebrated criminal defense attorney who helped a guilty killer go free. Her relentless search for the truth leads to a devilishly surprising, action-packed climax that will leave you shaking.

"Waterhouse's writing is as lyrical as a lullaby and as eerily hypnotic as a cobra's dance. Her plot is profound and disturbing. An outstanding book." Booklist

"If you like nail-biting, edge-of-the-seat, up-all-night-suspense, you will love Graven Images." Jan Burke, Edgar and Agatha Award winning author

"A stylish, powerful tale of suspense. Her nuanced writing, fully-realized characters, and concern for human frailties add up to an absorbing read." Publishers Weekly

"A smooth and suspenseful ride you won't want to end." John Lutz, Edgar and Shamus Award winning author.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781941298954
Publisher: Brash Books
Publication date: 03/24/2016
Series: Garner Quinn Series , #1
Pages: 362
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.81(d)

About the Author

Jane is scriptwriter, award-winning playwright, and the author of four thrillers, including Graven Images, the first of three adventures featuring true-crime writer Garner Quinn.

Read an Excerpt

Graven Images

By Jane Waterhouse

Brash Books, LLC

Copyright © 2016 Jane Waterhouse
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-941298-95-4


Just a fly on the wall. That's how I always put it. Go on with your business, I'd tell them. Forget that I'm here. Pretend I'm a fly, just a fly. It always surprised me how easily people bought into the concept. Personally, I've never met a fly I liked.

Jeff Turner was my fourth. Fourth true-crime book, fourth trial.

I had the part down pat. Clothes serviceable yet subdued. Expression distracted. This distraction acted as a sort of tinted windshield. I could see out, but they couldn't see in. After years of practice I'd perfected slowing down my body rhythms like a person under ice. It's a conscious process, a sleight of hand of the outer skin. Inside, all your senses are going full-tilt: registering, weighing, filing, judging — but on the surface, you're a speck in a busy landscape, transparent as glass. A fly.

Sometimes I wonder if that's how God feels. Overlooked. Underestimated. Biding His time.

Turner's defense attorney, Nick Shawde, called the room to order. As the breed goes, I'd rank Nick in the top percentile. That's an educated opinion. My father was an attorney. Most of the people I grew up around were attorneys. My ex-husband was an attorney, too.

By then, you'd have thought I'd know better.

"Listen up, people." Nick tapped the edge of the desk with his clipboard. It was time for the pre-courtroom pep talk.

I enjoyed these lunchtime stratagems. I'd come of age in the sixties, before the dawn of girls' sports. Listening with the others while Shawde outlined his latest game plan for the defense — tie loosened, Doublemint snapping like a fast towel against a hard fanny — was the closest I'd ever come to high-fiving a huddle of palms in some sweaty locker room. Strangely enough, it made me feel at home. Or as close to at home as someone who doesn't feel at home at home can feel.

"Here's what we gonna do." Shawde cracked his gum. "Weinstein's gwan keep our boy and his mama real, real quiet. No talky-talky around the teevee cameras, yes? Leave that to Sistah Cox."

Weinstein shouted "Amen," and everyone laughed. I took a bite of my sandwich, focusing on Nick, trying to see him fresh, as though his every mannerism wasn't already indelibly etched in my mind. That adolescent habit he had of using any hard surface, including his thighs, as a drum pad. His braying hee-haw of a laugh. The way he squinted behind his wire rims as though he might need a stronger prescription.

Details that would make him really come to life on the printed page.

He glanced down at his clipboard. "Oh yeah — who the fuck slicked the kid's hair back, anyway?"

"He did it himself," Maria Lombardi replied, adding sarcastically, "They don't exactly have hairdressers in the Richland County Jail."

"In there long enough, they all turn hairdresser." Nick shrugged. More laughter, from everybody but Lombardi. "Slip him a note," he told her. "That choirboy cowlick of his works for us."

The woman attorney shot him a withering look. It came to me suddenly, like the jolt of a neon sign lighting, that they were sleeping together. I found it vaguely disturbing that I'd missed the signs before. I wondered if Shawde's wife knew. And, in spite of myself, I wondered why he hadn't hit on me.

As if reading my thoughts, Nick called out my name. "Hey, Quinn!" I looked up from my sandwich, uncomfortable with the attention. "Just sit back, babe" — he blew me a kiss — "and decide who you want to play your part in the movie."

That was the joke.

True crime meant big money in Hollywood. One of the legal assistants had started up a pool where you could bet your buckwheats on the cast, and a director had actually flown in from the coast to do lunch with Shawde. Nick had rolled his eyes and yucked it up. But he went. Which was more than I would've done, even for a free meal in the best restaurant in South Carolina.

Let them make movies out of my books if they wanted, as long as they didn't bother me with the details. In my view that was why, on the fourth day, God created agents and lawyers, along with the other creeping things.

"Humina, humina, humina." Nick Shawde's beady eyes scurried across the page. He ran a line through the last entry on his clipboard. "That about does it for me. Anybody else?"

A chorus of nos sounded around the room. He dropped his clipboard onto the desk with a clatter. "It's the end of the fourth quarter, folks," Shawde told his staff solemnly. "And we're gonna give the ball to Susie Trevett."

Susan Trevett Cox. The bombshell who would blow the prosecution's case apart, and set young Jefferson Turner free. But I didn't want to think that far, to the end of yet another project, to that hollow, empty feeling I'd be left with; so I closed my eyes, the better to pretend we were a team, and Nick was our coach, and we were ahead.

The snap of gum accentuated Shawde's words like the plosive pops of an African dialect. "Stay tight, stay sharp, stay tuned, because one way or another, by next week this pig'll done be crisped."

There was no dodging it, the sense of something big drawing to a close. Earlier in the trial everyone would've been rushing off in all directions — hustling over to the courthouse, making phone calls, fielding reporters, ferreting out information. Today, however, they hung around in the hotel suite, ambling over to see what was left of the cold buffet, kicking back the dregs of diluted Pepsi from plastic cups, trading barbs, nudging shoulders. Gone was the familiar litany of complaints. There's nowhere to get a decent pastrami. Southerners are too fucking slow. Southerners are too fucking hospitable. The weather outside is too fucking hot. The air-conditioning inside is too fucking cold. Days shy of turning the case over to the jury, on the verge of confirming their return flights, it was as though everyone had suddenly decided that these last six months in Columbia, South Carolina, hadn't been half bad.

A ukulele inexplicably materialized out of thin air. Shawde picked it up and, perched on the edge of a desk, began strumming "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida." Maria Lombardi stood next to him, laughing too loud. For some reason the sight of the two of them acting like goofy teenagers ticked me off.

I forced my attention toward the midday news program playing soundlessly on the television set in the corner. A short, barrel-chested man in a uniform was being questioned by a reporter. Without warning, the hair on the back of my neck rose and tiny prickles cakewalked down my spine.

He was just a guy, weightlifter arms dangling parenthetically at his sides, a con-man squint; but it was as though I knew everything about him. This sometimes happened to me, this hyper-alertness at the sight of a stranger. It was as if an ever-vigilant, always-working part of my brain had already reduced him to six neat pages of print in a book I'd yet to write.

"Turn that up, will you?" I motioned for Weinstein to adjust the volume.

The sound popped too high for a moment, cutting short conversation around the room. Shawde stopped strumming.

"— we was carrying the artifact up these stairs in the art gallery, see, and it felt kinda funny," the man told the reporter. "So I says to my partner, I go, 'Ange, this statue don't feel right.' And, bango! The thing nosedives. Breaks into like a million pieces, an' inside there's this hand ... a real hand ..."

Cut to a woman, well dressed, lots of jewelry. "The piece was" — her hands fluttered to her face nervously — "is called Lady Sitting. It's an excellent example of Blackmoor's sculpture technique, in which he wraps a model with plaster bandages and lets them harden into a mold —"

"You hear this, Shawde?" Weinstein called.

Nick put down the ukulele. "Yeah," he said. "Word has it he's goin' for the Gold."Diana Gold. I'd heard that she and Shawde had shared an ongoing rivalry based on competition and atrophied lust since their law school days. "Wonder if ole Tight Thighs'll loosen up under the Blackmoor mystique?"

The television reporter's voice continued to drone on as the scene shifted to another location. A limousine was pulling up to a curb. The door swung open, and a man emerged, face down, his Armani raincoat cut for sudden movements. Some camera jostling. Reporters cried out like a crowd of hysterical teens in the presence of a rock star. Someone said, "No comment."

The raincoated man's eyes suddenly connected with the camera. I pictured reams of celluloid curling at the edges, searingframe after frame until it was smoldering ash, disintegrating the videotape, turning it into smoke.

If such a thing could happen from a simple look.

"He doesn't appear very upset for a guy just accused of murder," Maria Lombardi observed.

"Who said murder?" Shawde asked. Lombardi raised two perfectly plucked eyebrows. "A missing hand don't necessarily mean a missing corpse, chile," he reminded her. "Who's to say one of his models don't like it rough? Maybe she's walkin' around with a stump, not complaining."

"They'll find something in one of his other sculptures," Lombardi predicted.

"Ten to one it'll be the heart." The words tumbled out of my mouth before I could stop them.

"Oh, so you know him, Garny?" From where I sat in the back of the room I could see Nick's antennae going up.

"We've met."

He whistled low. "Ladies and gents, looks like our Ms. Quinn has found a subject for her next book."

"Forget that. Haven't you heard?" I managed a smile. "I'm retiring."

"Come on, Garner. You ain't no more retiring than you are shy," Shawde guffawed. "In fact, I looked up the word driven in the dictionary, and your picture was there. Right next to your daddy's." High praise, in Nick's eyes. To ruthless young attorneys like him, Dudley Quinn III was an icon, a living legend, someone to admire and revere.

I held a different opinion of my father, one which I kept mostly to myself.

"Check that dictionary again," I told Nick lightly. "Because once this case is over, you can kiss me goodbye."

"A tempting thought." He hiked his eyebrows suggestively, another of his adolescent mannerisms. The next moment he was glancing at his watch, all business. "Better get moving, folks."

I stayed put as they scattered, taking a last bite of sandwich, chewing thirty-six times while Shawde slid into his silk suit jacket.

"Admit it, angel face. As soon as I leave, you'll be on the phone, making your bid for a Blackmoor exclusive." He shoved a sheaf of papers into his briefcase. The metal hasps snapped shut viciously, like teeth. "You can't help yourself. You're insatiable."

"I don't have to bid for books, Shawde. Especially not his." I tossed my crumpled napkin at the wastepaper basket. It missed.

"I sense some personal history here." He stood over me, his glasses, his face, his suit, all shiny and gleaming. "Tell Uncle Nicky what happened. You slept with him, didn't you?"

"He was a guest at Dudley's beach house a couple of times," I scoffed, "a million years ago, when I was a kid."

At the doorway, Shawde stopped and turned. "The question still remains, Garny," he taunted softly, "did you sleep with him?" I heard his laughter, out in the hallway, even after the door closed.

I waited a few seconds, then plopped myself down behind his desk and dialed the phone. I was surprised when Temple answered on the first ring. "What are you doing home this time of day?"

"I didn't go to school. Throat's sore."

"Did Cilda call the doctor?"

"Uh-uh. I'm better now," Temple croaked hoarsely. "What's the latest down there? Have they put Susan on the stand yet?"

"Probably not until Monday," I replied, impatient with the question. It frosted me how often conversations with my fourteen-year-old daughter centered around this damn trial. "I should be able to get an early flight."

"Can I fly back with you after the weekend to watch her testify?"

I sighed. "We'll see. Look, I have to go, honey. Buzz Jack for me, will you?"


"I love you."

"Love you, Mom." The connection was bad. She sounded very far away. When she put me on hold, there was so much static on the line, for a moment I expected to get disconnected; but then I heard Jack's voice, accentless and pleasant. "Hey, boss." I imagined him sitting at his desk, leaning back in the chair, his feet up.

"Temple doesn't sound too good," I said.

"It's nothing serious," he assured me. "Cilda's keeping an eye on her."

"Listen, book me on ..." I checked my watch, "the six o'clock, and arrange for a limo at the airport."

"I could pick you up."

"No," I replied, pleased just the same, "that's after-hours for you." He didn't pursue it. "Anything new?"

"An invitation just arrived," Jack said, "hand-delivered by messenger from Manhattan."

The place I called home, and its adjacent office, was a secluded estate in a small, out-of-the-way town on the Jersey shore, forty miles from New York. I wondered who would go to such trouble. "What kind of an invitation?"

"A gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art this weekend," he said, then, inflecting a deeper meaning into his words, "the Dane Blackmoor retrospective." When I said nothing, he asked, "What should I tell them?"

I sank back into the cushioned leather of Shawde's chair. "Nothing," I said crossly. "I've got more important things than art galas on my mind — or have you forgotten I'm down here fighting for an innocent man's life?"

"Silly me." Jack's quiet sarcasm crackled over the telephone line. "And here I thought you were just writing another book."


I saw him at a distance, towering above the other people in the corridor outside the courtroom. There were only two alternatives. Payphone. Or the rest room. The phone was closer, but I was afraid it wouldn't give me enough cover.

"Hey, Quinn!"

I managed a look of surprise. "There he is," I said, pulling out the all-purpose phrase I used whenever a name escaped me.

"Just the person I want to see." He was one of those people who always seemed to edge you into walls or doorways.

What was his name? B something.

Billy, or Bobby, or Brendan. He freelanced for People. A group of early birds walked by us. He turned to do a quick check in case someone more important was among them, and I used the interim to search my memory.

He'd interviewed me just before my third book, Dust to Dust, came out. The house was being built then; and that's where they took my picture — in faded jeans and a thermal undershirt, hair flying — standing under the newly framed entranceway as belligerent waves flapped over the seawall in the distance.

"Why build a house," he'd asked, "with the ocean beating down your door on one side, and the river on the other?"

"I like to live dangerously," I'd told him, hoping he knew good copy when he heard it.

He had. The article began, "True-crime writer Garner Quinn has built her home, and her career, on dangerous ground." I still remembered those words, but his name was mostly a blank.

He turned back to me, satisfied that I was his best bet for the moment. "All over but the shouting, eh, Quinn?"

"We'll see." Something about him reminded me of a sardine. Long and sallow. Tapering at the head and feet. Oily.

"Of course, it probably doesn't matter much to you which way it goes now." He flashed a sardinish smile, teeth narrow and pointy. "Royalties being royalties." This was my punishment, I decided, for dawdling in the hotel suite, for wandering away from the pack.

"How's the Nickster bettin'?" asked the B Man.

"He thinks Pacino'll play him in the movie." I stepped back to let a young woman pass.

"Mmm-mmm, can't get enough of that South'n fried chicken." The reporter licked his lips in the direction of the girl. It pissed me off that he considered me one of the guys, someone he could cuss with, and leer at other women around.

"See you in court," I said.

He grabbed my sleeve. "Be a pal, Quinn. Come on, between us." I kept my face impassive, committing nothing. "No matter what she says, you don't really think he's innocent, do you?" A loud commotion saved me from having to answer. Microphones waving, cameras jockeying for position, the press ebbed and flowed down the hall like a giant amoeba. At its nucleus, looking serene and untouched, was Susan Trevett Cox.

"Mrs. Cox! Susan — !" a jumble of voices yelled at once. The B Man from People moved toward the Susan Cox Story reflexively, like a weed toward the light.


Excerpted from Graven Images by Jane Waterhouse. Copyright © 2016 Jane Waterhouse. Excerpted by permission of Brash Books, LLC.
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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Graven Images 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
booklover- More than 1 year ago
Body parts of a murder victim being showing up in the lifelike sculptures of artist Dane Blackmoor. Best-selling true crime author, Garner Quinn, thinks she knows the killer ... after all, they have a shared past. A past, that she would like to forget. Dane Blackmoor is being investigated and accused to dismembering women and hiding their body parts inside the sculptures that he is so well known for. She's just coming off another investigation for another of her books and instead of being able to spend more time with her daughter, she's going to be spending time with another suspected murderer. Blackmoor says he's innocent ... but Garner's not so sure. She's going to have to face her own past, her own contentious relationship with her father, an esteemed criminal defense attorney who helped a guilty murderer go free. Her search for the truth leads her to her childhood .. the summer she was 12 years old. Her father's criminal case at that time is what led her to her present occupation. I really got a lot out of this book! Love, hate, anger, mystery, suspense... and a cast of many who all seem to be hiding something .. even her own assistant ... and her daughter. The ending was fast, brutal, action-packed ... and a shocker. Hang onto your hat when the ending begins ..... This is a 3-book series written in the 1990s. I will definitely be looking for Books 2 and 3. Many thanks to the author and Brash Books who provided a digital copy in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
jayfwms More than 1 year ago
This is an outstanding story with action taking place on many levels. It combines a mystery thriller with intense psychological development, several character studies and a little romance. Garner Quinn, a true crimes author, is the protagonist, but several other characters are treated in depth and add to the entertainment value of the book. Garner's father is a famous lawyer with no time for her. She suspects a famous artist is her real father at one point. She has her own daughter who feels left out of her mother's life, and a family caretaker who bridges three generations. All the loose threads and subplots come together in a suspenseful ending guaranteed to get your pulse pounding.
BrandieC More than 1 year ago
I've commented before about how much I love Brash Books and its mission to "publish the best crime novels in existence." With the publication of Jane Waterhouse's Garner Quinn trilogy, beginning with Graven Images, Brash Books has exceeded (if that's possible) that lofty goal. Garner Quinn is a female true-crime author. I have wracked my brain for another crime series featuring a true-crime writer, rather than the ubiquitous current or former cop or serviceman/private detective/thriller writer (not to mention the cooks and innkeepers of the cozy mystery world, of which I am not a part), and have been unable to come up with one. Waterhouse's choice of lead is inspired; the book blends the real-life reportage and legal wrangling of true crime with the mystery and suspense of crime fiction to create a novel and gripping point of view. Garner knows how bad her subjects can be, so when they invade her personal life, her fears are well-founded. In describing Graven Images to fellow members of the Goodreads Mystery, Crime, and Thriller Group, I said I "inhaled" the book, and that is an accurate description of the book's effect on me; it has permeated my consciousness to such an extent that other mysteries seem dull and their protagonists lacking in personality. Garner virtually leaps from the page, and her voice is dry but not cynical. Here she is, describing another character she meets at a costume party dressed as Shakespeare's Juliet (Garner, of course, is wearing a red dress): "She wasn’t quite the ingenue she’d masqueraded as at the museum gala. Elizabeth Rice had been around the block a couple of times. In the rain. During humid weather." I can't wait to see who she skewers next. Verdict: Be poised over the "buy now" button when Graven Images hits the shelves on May 23. I received a free copy of Graven Images from Brash Books in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I initially thought this book had abandoned unique plot but it got confusing...lots off interesting details regarding art sculpture but lacking in true character evolving today keep it going.