From the New York Times bestseller Brenda Novak comes the next installment of Dr. Evelyn Talbot and her murderous home for psychopaths in Hello Again.
SHE CAN MAKE SENSE OF A COMPLEX CRIMINAL MIND.
Evelyn Talbot, a psychiatrist at a maximum-security prison in Alaska, studies some of the world's worst serial killers. But she’s about to meet her most elusive patient at Hanover House yet: Dr. Lyman Bishop, AKA the Zombie Maker given his fondness for performing ice-pick lobotomies on his victims. A brilliant cancer researcher, Bishop is either the most cunning psychopath Evelyn has ever encounteredor he is wrongly convicted.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A CRIMINAL CAN SEE INTO HER OWN?
When a new ice-pick fatality occurs, it seems Bishop really was wrongly convicted. Except...Evelyn has a personal connection to the victim and that suggests the killer may be someone from her own past: Jasper Moore, her high school boyfriend who tortured her and left her for dead when she was only sixteen. Jasper also murdered three of her friendsand was never caught. Is he trying to send a message with this copycat crime? The only thing Evelyn knows for sure is that if Jasper is on her trail, she might not be able to escape again . . .
About the Author
BRENDA NOVAK and her husband, Ted, live in Sacramento and are the proud parents of five children-three girls and two boys. When she's not spending time with her family or writing, Brenda is usually working on her annual fund-raiser for diabetes research. Brenda's novels have made The New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists and won many awards, including three Rita nominations, the Book Buyer's Best, the Book Seller's Best and the National Reader's Choice Award.
Brenda is the author of the Dr. Evelyn Talbot Novels, including Hello Again and Her Darkest Nightmare.
Read an Excerpt
We are all evil in some form or another.
The Night Stalker made that statement. Although Dr. Evelyn Talbot had never interviewed Richard Ramirez personally, like she had so many other serial killers, and the opportunity was now lost to her since Ramirez died of cancer in 2013, she'd watched video footage of the interviews he'd done with others. In her opinion, he'd been pandering for the camera when he tossed out that little nugget, had been hoping to sound profound, far deeper than he actually was.
She ran into that a lot. So many of the psychopaths she studied pretended to be more than they were. Most weren't smart enough to pull off the charade. Even those who'd gone years before being caught and punished for their crimes hadn't done so because of any great intelligence. Often it was sheer luck, basic survival instinct or a lack of solid police work that got in the way. Or they looked completely benign — like Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy.
But the newly convicted Lyman Bishop, the inmate she'd just met with ... She found him to be far more unnerving than any of her other patients. He was brilliant and so calculating — she grimaced at the pictures in his file, which lay open at her elbow — not to mention absolutely unflinching in his brutality. They called him the Zombie Maker, and for good reason.
Taking off her glasses, which she used now and then to avoid eyestrain, she leaned her head on the back of her chair and stared up at the ceiling of her office. It wasn't quite lunch and yet she felt like she'd put in a whole day. She'd been up late last night, preparing for her interview with Lyman Bishop. She had to stay one step ahead of him where and when she could, or she'd earn his contempt instead of his respect. If that happened, she might as well have him transferred somewhere else, because he'd do her no good at Hanover House. If she couldn't develop some type of rapport, she'd never learn who he really was.
He'd merely toy with her. He'd probably try to do that, anyway.
With a sigh, she put her glasses back on and continued typing up her thoughts and impressions. Although she typically welcomed every inmate who was transferred to Hanover House upon his arrival, yesterday she'd been in Anchorage with Amarok, her boyfriend and Hilltop's only police presence, visiting his father, who was ill. Lyman Bishop had spent his first night, Sunday night, at Hanover House before she could meet him. And whether this would be good or bad in the overall scheme of things she couldn't say, but he was everything she'd expected him to be.
When I tell a new acquaintance what I do for a living, I hear the name Hannibal Lecter far more than I do B.T.K. or John Wayne Gacy or that of any psychopath who ever really lived, she wrote. Everyone seems to associate "psychopath" with Silence of the Lambs. I've always eschewed that fictional representation. The men who commit murderfor the sake of enjoyment are typically much more mundane. Even though I've met many dangerous men over the years, men who have committed stomach-turning atrocities, none has ever reminded me of Thomas Harris's character. Until Lyman. He's the only killer intelligent enough to elicit the association.
She paused to remove her high school Homecoming picture from her top drawer. Jasper Moore, her first boyfriend, smiled back at her from twenty-one years ago. Young. Handsome. Seemingly guileless. So unlikely a killer. By looking at him, no one would believe that a short time later he'd murdered her three best friends and tortured her for days before slitting her throat and leaving her for dead. He'd been seventeen, she sixteen. That she'd survived was nothing short of a miracle. She'd been alive to name her attacker and to say what he'd done to her, and yet he'd slipped away, had never been apprehended in the two decades since, despite all her efforts with private detectives and the full focus of police.
She had her theories about how he'd managed such a feat; his wealthy parents must've gotten him out of the country right away. But with or without help, he was the only other psychopath she'd ever met whom she would categorize as being as smart as Lyman Bishop. Which was what made Lyman so intriguing and frightening to her. After hundreds of disappointments — like Anthony Garza, who'd exhibited similar behavior even if he wasn't quite as intelligent — having the opportunity to examine a mind so similar to Jasper's was thrilling.
At the same time, as Victor Hugo once said, Nothing is so terrifying as this monologue of the storm.
Was there a new storm on the horizon that had nothing to do with the massive cold fronts that routinely socked Alaska this time of year? When she'd met with Lyman, she'd gotten the bone-chilling sensation that he would change her life in some way....
He made me feel there is nothing I can do to stop him and others like him, which plays into my worst fear, she added to her notes. That what I've been through will be for naught. That what I'm doing, sacrificing Boston and the association of the family and friends I have there to live in this frozen wilderness, will, in the end, mean nothing.
The intercom on her desk buzzed, startling her, she was so deep in thought. With a glance at the clock, she pressed the button that would allow her to communicate with her receptionist, four-foot-nine Penny Singh. "Yes?"
"Jennifer Hall is here."
Right on time. "Send her in."
Sliding away from her computer, Evelyn stood in anticipation of greeting her guest. These days, she didn't visit with many victims or their families, not since she'd opened Hanover House a year ago. Working in the small, remote town of Hilltop, an hour outside of Anchorage, made her less accessible. And now that she'd accomplished her goal of establishing the institution, where she and a team of five forensic psychologists plus one neurologist could study the "conscienceless" in great depth, she didn't have to appear on television quite so often, was no longer constantly in the public eye, lobbying for the necessary funding. She'd dedicated her life to unraveling the mysteries of the psychopathic mind. Now that she was free to pursue that goal as she had envisioned, she was consumed by her work and rarely let anything else interrupt. But when Jennifer Hall, the sister of Jan Hall, one of Lyman Bishop's victims, contacted her several weeks ago just before Christmas, Evelyn didn't have the heart to refuse to see her. Having been a victim herself, she couldn't help identifying with the suffering of others. She wanted to offer what peace and support she could, even if that didn't amount to as much as she wished.
"Dr. Talbot, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with me," Jennifer said the moment she entered the room.
Only twenty-five, with long dark hair and wide brown eyes, Jennifer was attractive, but Evelyn barely glanced at her face. Almost instantly her gaze fell to the other woman's swollen belly as if dragged there by magnetic pull. That Jennifer was expecting had nothing to do with their meeting, which was, no doubt, why she hadn't mentioned it, but Evelyn was transfixed. She'd been thinking about babies a lot lately. Amarok had mentioned marriage for the first time a month ago. She'd pretended not to hear him when he made the comment — something about getting her a ring if she'd ever agree to marry him — and he hadn't brought it up since, but she'd been contemplating whether she could make that commitment. To him. To anyone. She was thirty-seven. If she was going to have a family, she needed to do so fairly soon. She'd just never imagined such a traditional future for herself. Not with Jasper still on the loose. The most heartbreaking thing she could imagine would be for him to come after one of her children....
"No problem," she said. "I can't believe you were willing to make the trip."
"Jan was more than my sister. She was my identical twin."
Fortunately, Lyman's file contained no postmortem photographs of this particular victim so Evelyn didn't have a terrible image of a murdered Jan Hall pop into her head. He'd been convicted on circumstantial evidence alone. He'd been in the area and didn't have an alibi. He'd kidnapped and murdered other girls who looked similar. And Jan's underwear had been found in his house with his other "trophies."
"I understand," Evelyn said. "And I'm sorry. I can only guess at how painful it must be for you to ... to carry on without her."
Jennifer blinked rapidly. "Sometimes I wake up at night and I'm positive she's alive, you know? It's like I can feel her, feel that tight connection. Then morning comes and ..."
With it, reality. Evelyn knew all too well how that went. Despite the passage of so many years, she still had dreams of talking and laughing with her best friends from high school, all three of whom were gone, thanks to Jasper. "And you lose her all over again."
"Yes," Jennifer said quietly.
Evelyn gestured toward the proof of her pregnancy. "When are you due?"
"I have only a month left."
"And your doctor let you travel so far from Minneapolis?" "I didn't consult him. I had to meet you, and I knew it would be easier before the baby than after." Her attention briefly shifted to the window, which showed another cold and dreary day. "I couldn't imagine bringing something as pure and innocent as a newborn into this place, where there're so many evil men, even if they are behind bars."
Evil. Once again, Evelyn was reminded of Richard Ramirez's words and the question that drove her: What made some people more evil than others? And why did those people enjoy inflicting pain on the innocent? "I hope I can help in some way. Please, sit down."
As Jennifer levered herself into the chair across the desk, Evelyn perched on the edge of her own seat and smiled to ease the younger woman's anxiety. "What can I do for you?"
Propping her purse on what little remained of her lap, Jennifer leaned forward. "I need to know where my sister's body is. I need to reclaim it, to give Jan a proper burial. Then maybe I'll get to feel she's in a good place, at peace. And I'll have somewhere I can go to grieve and say good-bye. I need to create an ending for this terrible chapter in my life."
Evelyn clasped her hands in front of her. She hated to disappoint her earnest visitor, but if Lyman Bishop hadn't provided this information to date, chances were good he had a reason — if only to continue to torment those he could. The police would've asked him, would've made every effort, including offering to let him serve his time somewhere other than Hanover House. Most inmates weren't excited to be sent to such a cold and foreign place, so far from friends and loved ones. "Dr. Lyman is ... difficult to deal with."
"Difficult?" Her bitter laugh sounded slightly hysterical.
"An understatement, for sure," Evelyn agreed, but she hadn't been referring to his behavior as she knew it. So far, he hadn't acted badly in front of her. She'd been referring to his complexity and how hard he was to read.
"He wouldn't tell the police anything. The day they captured him, he asked for a lawyer and said nothing more. Wouldn't speak to the media. Wouldn't testify in his own defense." Jennifer grew earnest again — or maybe "determined" would be a better word. "But there must be something that can be used to ... to entice him. Something he wants."
"From what I've heard, having money can make an inmate's stay much more pleasant, and he's used to the finer things of life. He's some kind of foodie, from what I've heard. I don't have a lot, but I'm willing to give anything I've got."
"He just arrived here at Hanover House. Those luxuries will become more important as he grows weary of doing without them. Until then, I doubt he'll be sufficiently motivated."
"You're saying ... we should wait?"
"I think that would be smart. Give me time to get to know him, to figure out what makes him tick — as much as that might be possible. Once he and I fall into a routine, maybe I'll be able to determine what, if anything, will give us the best chance." If she could find a chink in his armor, she'd exploit it. But she wasn't confident she'd be able to get additional information out of him. Gaining any leverage on someone who was incarcerated for life and had nothing to lose wasn't easy.
With a wince, Jennifer closed her eyes. "It's been two years since she went missing," she said when she opened them again. "I'm glad her murderer has been caught and that he's in prison. I know I'm luckier than most, that there are those who never get justice. You–you're one of them, and I'm sorry for that. But I have to ... I have to be able to put her to rest. For my own peace of mind."
Evelyn closed Lyman's file, in case Jennifer happened to realize whose it was. This distraught young woman didn't need to see the photographs it contained — although she'd probably seen some of them at his trial. "Trust me. I'd love to be able to help. But dealing with a man like Lyman Bishop is a bit of a chess game. If he figures out how badly we crave the information, he'll be sure to withhold it. He might even taunt us with the fact that he has something we want but can't get."
"Why?" Jennifer cried. "What pleasure could he possibly get from keeping the location of Jan's remains a secret?"
"It's not pleasure so much as power," Evelyn explained.
"So you can't reason with him? Can't bargain with him?"
Evelyn scrambled to come up with something that might ease Jennifer's mind without promising more than she could deliver. "I can try, but it would be a mistake to offer him incentives or concessions right off the bat. He'll surmise the level of our desperation, and then we may never get what we want."
Dropping her head, she pinched the bridge of her nose.
"Jennifer, what is it?" Evelyn asked, trying to catch her eye.
She looked up. "What do you mean? I just told you."
"We could've discussed this over the phone. What made you come all the way to Alaska at eight months pregnant?" Tears welled up, but she set her chin and wiped them away. "My mother's been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer."
More tragedy ... "I'm sorry to hear that."
"So am I. My father died of a heart attack when I was fifteen. Then Jan fell into the hands of that ... that monster you have here. And now this. My entire family will soon be gone."
"You'll have your baby," Evelyn said, hoping to encourage her.
Her hand covered her extended abdomen. "I may not keep her. I haven't decided. She'd probably be better off with someone else. I don't have a lot to offer."
"It's a girl?"
"According to the ultrasound."
"And the father? He isn't in the picture?"
"No. He got his ex pregnant about the same time I found out I was expecting and went back to her." Fresh tears caught in her eyelashes, a few even slid down her cheeks, but she stubbornly dashed them away.
"That must be heartbreaking."
"I'll deal with it. Somehow. I just ... I can't stand the thought of my mother dying before we can get Jan home and buried. We should be able to share that moment, to have the chance for all three of us to be together one last time. It's her dying wish."
Evelyn would love to help fulfill that wish. But they were talking about Lyman Bishop, someone she already knew she'd have to handle very carefully. "How much time does your mother have left?"
"The doctors have given her three months."
Which was an estimate, of course. She could die sooner as easily as later. "I'll do the best I can, look for any angle, every opportunity. I promise. Just ... give me a couple of weeks."
"A couple of weeks? With only a sentence or two from him this could all be over. In seconds!" "And yet most of these guys carry that sort of information to their graves." Evelyn stood so that she could hold out the box of tissues she kept on her desk.
"What if I were to talk to him?" Jennifer asked. "What if ... what if I were to make a personal appeal? Would that make any difference?"
"I doubt it. You have to understand what most psychopaths are like. They do what they do because they are the only ones who matter to them. If they want something, they take it, even if it means lying, stealing or manipulating anyone and everyone around them. If inflicting pain gives them pleasure, they see no reason they shouldn't have the gratification. Unless they choose to, they feel no empathy."
Jennifer dabbed at her eyes, smearing her mascara in the process. "What about his sister?"
Excerpted from "Hello Again"
Copyright © 2017 Brenda Novak.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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