Karin Yapalater's pulsating debut novel, An Hour to Kill, is an unforgettable psychosexual thriller set in the dark heart of New York City
When a series of brutal murders takes place in the desolate wintry landscape of Central Park, a pair of unlikely colleagues, New York City detectives James Gurson and Didi Kane, are sent to investigate. The assignment turns personal, however, when they discover the victims' deaths resonate within their own lives. The first victim, Charlene Leone -- found burned beyond recognition -- is a fellow officer, and Kane's ex-lover. The other, Orrin Gretz, is a prominent New York psychiatrist whose grisly death in a '57 Mercedes Gullwing with a .25 automatic at his side mirrors the suicide of Gurson's father.
A psychology buff and a rising star in the department, Gurson is trying to recover from a painful divorce and become a better parent to his young son. Kane, his beautiful partner -- well known for her high-octane obstinacy and her brilliance -- is barely coping with the circumstances of her former lover's brutal end when her grief is compounded by her own shocking implication in the murder. To solve the bizarre slayings the detectives must embark on an investigation that will take on eerie undertones, immersing them in a labyrinth of Freudian reverie, Jungian dreams, unconscious truths and conscious deceptions, visceral sex, and sadistic violence. Ultimately, they will transcend their professional partnership, becoming unconditional confidants in order to unveil the truth, and pull each other out from under their own personal wreckage.
Chilling, intricate, and provocative, An Hour to Kill brilliantly captures the disturbing flip side of psychoanalysis, while twisting unpredictably toward an explosive denouement that will stun readers everywhere.
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About the Author
Karin Yapalater earned a BA from New York University and an MFA from Columbia University's Graduate Writing Program. She lives in New York City and Bridgehampton with her husband and children. An Hour to Kill is her first novel.
Read an Excerpt
An Hour to Kill
Friday, March 20
"I'm uncomfortable talking about it. "
"All the more reason to talk about it. "
"I don't know. "
"Go on. "
She tilted her head to the right, shifted in her chair, uncrossed her legs. She wore a tight button-down blouse, black, a short wool skirt to match. Her jet black hair, flecked with auburn highlights, tousled on her shoulders. "If you think it matters."
He looked at her, felt the saliva well up under his tongue.
She brazenly met his gaze, then looked right past him, over at the cat on the windowsill. She laughed. "Looks like your cat's gonna kill himself."
The cat was not the point.
He focused his eyes on the tip of her nose. Then her lips. Cherry red. She was young, too young for the life she'd led. "Notice how you've just changed the subject?"
She brushed a hair from her face, then slouched back. She rubbed her palms up and down her thighs, offering a view of one black garter.
"Tell me how you've been. "He crossed his arms, his rolled-up shirt-sleeves revealing the muscular forearms of an avid sportsman.
She fingered the gold pendant that rested like an amulet between her breasts. She arched her back. She stared up at him, then looked down at her hands. She exhaled loudly. "There's that look on your face again. You're losing patience with me."
They'd been at it for six months now. This was no ingénue from Kansas seeking the talking cure. In need of a fix, she was blurring boundaries, again. An accomplished tease who had tempted him out of his chair. It had begun with a reassuring caress. An empathetic gesture extended after a particularly intense exchange. A gut-wrenching outpour about incest with her dear father. He could remember wiping her tears. Then, their bodies in close contact. Her lips on his. A mistake? An indulgence.
Subsequent episodes followed. Fondling. Prolonged good-byes. The brush of a hand making contact with the contour of a breast, a thigh, her ass. Regular meetings took place. In the park. In his car. Couldn't resist the game of taboo.
"No smoking, huh?" She huffed.
He usually discouraged smoking, anything that would take a patient away from the self, away from dealing with their truth. But with her, the rules did not apply.
"Go on." He wanted out, out of this mind-set, out of the room. The heels on her boots just high enough, her skirt just short enough.
"One?" Her look was coy, well rehearsed. She fiddled with the buttons on her blouse as she'd done so many times before, nonchalantly opening one more, the curve of each bare breast summoning his cock to attention. She smiled when he nodded his approval. She reached into her well-worn leather jacket, got the pack and shook one out. She offered him one.
At first, he refused. Joining in a smoke was her idea of connection.
But then he lit up, and she let go -- a stream of smoke propelling her to carry on. "I keep having the same dream. You know the one. I'm with my father. Front seat of his car. He passes me a bottle, tells me to drink up. He has me strapped in. He's laughing. Like it's all some big joke. And then he's between my legs, sucking there ... like a baby. And it's bad, you know, I want it to stop. And then I look down, and ... "
"Yes." He lifted his chin, his eyes caught the light.
"And then I look down. And ... it's ... you."
He offered his best impression of neutrality. His self-control was a hard thing to shake, but she had a way of making him spin. He let the silence moderate.
"I wake up, but then I'm back to sleep ... I can see the car ... doors all locked, and the car ... the car's on fire." She paused. "You're in there ... and I'm watching you burn up and die."
If he had a gold coin for every one of his patients' fantasies. To be him, to fuck him, to kill him. "Tell me how you feel."
At first she looked disappointed. Her eyes so vacant, he wondered if she had heard him. "About the dream or about you?" She probably could have convinced anyone but him that she'd forgotten.
He rubbed his chin. "Both."
She looked away, toward the wall. Framed diplomas and citations. Yale. Prestigious psychoanalytic societies. Outside, the winter wind howled, but here, inside these walls, it was hot as hell. "I don't like this. You know everything about me and I know nothing about you."
"I'm here to listen. That is what you said you wanted?"
She said something under her breath, coughed it away.
"What is it you want to know?" He pursed his lips, furled his brow.
"Will you tell me the truth?" She smiled.
"I am prepared to accept whatever you tell me as truth."
"I said, will you tell me the truth?"
He nodded yes.
She twisted in her chair. "I mean, don't you think we should talk about us ... "
He glanced at the clock on the wall. Quarter past four. He heard a faint ringing in his ears. A day's worth of stale air and an invisible force field stood between them. "I'm afraid we haven't ... "
"No. It would be better to ... "
He looked at her mouth, could imagine himself kissing her. He cleared his throat, stayed the course. "It would be better to discuss your dream."
"I want something to stop these dreams."
In his mind's eye she had her mouth around his cock now. He clenched and unclenched his fists. Imagined his hands cupping each of her breasts. Her tongue communicating in ways absolutely forbidden here. He took a deep breath, exhaled, blew the image away. "How about going to detox?"An Hour to Kill
A Novel. Copyright © by Karin Yapalater. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
For all the hype on the jacket I was extremely disappointed. I thought the author relied too heavily on jargon... the character's all had major attitude, no discerning characteristics. Very little discriptions (exposition) were provided about the characters personalities, scenery, ect; Far too much dialogue! The book read like a showcase of knowledge for jargon and police procedure... It was difficult to relate to the character's. Personally I didn't find the character's realistic with no positive qualities. At first the excessive jargon was extremely annoying but I gave it the benefit of the doubt hoping it would improve only to be disappointed in the end.
I really didn't like this book. The characters were boring, and you needed to keep track of all of them to understand the ending. Half the time I didn't know the motive of some of the character's actions, and the ending was lame.
In Central Park Police Detectives James Gurson and Didi Kane investigate the burned body of former cop Charlene Leone found in the Brambles and the apparent asphyxiation suicide of Dr. Orrin Gretz in his Mercedes buried in the snow. Charlene used to be Didi¿s lover and partner before being fired for drug use. Orrin¿s chosen weapon of death mirrors that of James¿ father, a cop who did his job well until the unfair charges that could have led to jail time did lead to his suicide in the family garage. Soon Gurson, a psychology major, and Kane find themselves making inquiries amongst Manhattan¿s analyst world, a close mouthed group unable to answer as opposed to asking questions. As they dig deeper, ties to their personal lives surface beyond the already known obvious. However, Kane begins to wonder if her funky partner, as a means of enacting vengeance on the former ADA who played his father false, might be orchestrating one link. AN HOUR TO KILL is a superb psychological police procedural that rips into the world of analysts especially those who use patients for sexual pleasure. The key is the believability of the cast from the dedicated but emotional hurting cops to the analysts pulling the wagons around in a siege mentality even though one who may have committed malpractice is dead and connected to a homicide. Though the very end feels more like a couch trip, readers, except psychoanalysts, will appreciate Karin Yapalater¿s strong debut. Harriet Klausner