Want it by Wednesday, October 24
Order now and choose Expedited Shipping during checkout.
Same Day shipping in Manhattan. See Details
Dan Wells introduced us to John Wayne Cleaver in the chilling novels I Am Not a Serial Killer and Mr. Monster. In I Don't Want to Kill You, Cleaver faces his toughest challenge yet.
John Wayne Cleaver has called a demon-literally called it on the phone-and challenged it to a fight. He's faced two monsters already, barely escaping with his life, and now he's done running; he's taking the fight to them. As he wades through the town's darkest secrets, searching for any sign of who the demon might be, one thing becomes all too clear: in a game of cat and mouse with a supernatural killer, you are always the mouse.
In I Am Not a Serial Killer we watched a budding sociopath break every rule he had to save his town from evil. In Mr. Monster we held our breath as he fought madly with himself, struggling to stay in control. Now John Wayne Cleaver has mastered his twisted talents and embraced his role as a killer of killers. I Don't Want to Kill You brings his story to a thundering climax of suspicion, mayhem, and death.
It's time to punish the guilty.
And in a town full of secrets, everyone is guilty of something.
About the Author
Dan Wells is the author of I Am Not a Serial Killer and Mr. Monster. He lives in Orem, Utah, with his wife, Dawn, and four young children.
Read an Excerpt
I Don't Want to Kill You
By Dan Wells
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2011 Dan Wells
All rights reserved.
The phone rang four times before someone picked up. "Hello?" A woman. Perfect.
"Hello," I said, speaking clearly. I'd muffled the receiver with a sweater to mask my voice, and I wanted to make sure she could understand me. "Is this Mrs. Julie Andelin?"
"I'm sorry, who is this?"
I smiled. Right to the point. Some of them babbled on forever, and I could barely get a word in edgewise. So many mothers were like that, I'd learned: home alone all day, eager to talk, desperate for a conversation with anyone over the age of three. The last one I'd called had thought I was from the PTA and talked to me for nearly a minute until I had to shout something shocking just to get her attention. This one was playing along.
Of course, what I had to say was pretty shocking regardless.
"I saw your son today." I paused. "He's always such a happy kid."
How will she react?
"What do you want?"
Once again, right to the point. Almost too practical, perhaps. Is she scared? Is she taking this too calmly? I need to say more.
"You'll be pleased to know little Jordan walked straight home from day care — past the drugstore, down the street to the old red house, then around the corner and past the apartments and straight home to you. He looked both ways at every street, and he never talked to strangers."
"Who are you?" Her breathing was heavier now; more scared, more angry. I couldn't read people very well over the phone, but Mrs. Andelin had been kind enough to answer the phone in the living room, and I could see her through the window. She looked out now, wide eyes peering into the darkness, then quickly wrenched the curtains closed. I smiled. I listened to the air go in and out of her nose, in and out, in and out. "Who are you?" she demanded.
Her fear was real. She wasn't faking — she was legitimately terrified for her son. Does that mean she's innocent? Or just a really good liar?
Julie Andelin had worked in the bank for nearly fifteen years, her entire adult life, and last week she had quit. That wasn't suspicious in itself — people quit jobs all the time, and it didn't mean anything except that they wanted a new job — but I couldn't afford to ignore even the smallest lead. I didn't know what the demons could do, but I'd seen at least one who could kill a person and take its place. Who was to say that this one couldn't do the same? Maybe Julie Andelin was bored with the bank, but maybe — maybe — she was dead and gone and replaced by something that couldn't keep up the same routines. A sudden change of lifestyle might be, from a certain point of view, the most suspicious thing in the world.
"What do you want with my son?"
She seemed genuine, just like every other mother I'd talked to over the last two months. Sixty-three days, and nothing. I knew a demon was coming because I'd called her myself — I'd literally called her, on a cell phone. Her name was Nobody. I'd told her I'd killed her friends, that they'd terrorized my town long enough, and now I was taking the fight to the rest of them. My plan was to take all the demons like that, one by one, until finally we would all be safe. No one would have to live in fear.
"Leave us alone!" Julie screamed.
I lowered my voice a bit. "I have a key to your house." It wasn't true, but it sounded great on the phone. "I love what you've done with Jordan's room."
She hung up, and I clicked off the phone. I wasn't sure whose it was; it's amazing the kind of stuff people drop in a movie theater. I'd used this one for five calls now, so it was probably time to get rid of it. I walked away, cutting through an apartment parking lot, popping open the phone and taking out the batteries and the SIM card. I dropped each piece into a separate metal garbage can, wiped my gloves clean, and slipped through a gap in the back fence. My bike was half a block away, stashed behind a Dumpster. I scrolled though my mental list while I walked, checking off Julie Andelin's name. She was definitely the real mother, and not a demonic impostor; it had been a long shot anyway. At least I hadn't spent much time on this one; I'd "stalked" her son for barely five minutes, but that's all it took if you knew the right things to say. Tell a mother something creepy like "your daughter looks good in blue" and the maternal instinct will kick in instantly — she'll believe the worst without any extra work on your part. It doesn't matter if her daughter has ever worn blue in her life. As soon as you get that intense, honest, fear reaction, you've got your answer and you move on to the next woman with a secret.
I was starting to realize that everyone had a secret. But in sixty-three days I still hadn't found the secret I was looking for.
I pulled out my bike, shoved my gloves into my pocket, and pushed off into the street. It was late, but it was August and the night air was warm. School would start again soon, and I was starting to get almost unbearably nervous. Where was Nobody? Why hadn't she done anything yet? Finding a killer is easy — aside from all the physical evidence you leave behind, like fingerprints and footprints and DNA, there's a mountain of psychological evidence as well. Why did you kill this person instead of that one? Why did you do it here instead of there, and why now instead of earlier or later? What weapon did you use, if any, and how did you use it? Piece it all together and you have a psychological profile, like an impressionist portrait, that can lead you straight to the killer. If Nobody would just kill someone, I'd finally be able to track her down.
Yes, finding a killer is easy. Finding someone before they kill is almost impossible. And the worst part about that was the way it made me so much easier to find than the demon. I'd already killed two people — Bill Crowley and Clark Forman, both demons in human form — so if she knew where to look and took her time, she could find me so much more easily than I could find her. Every day I grew more tense, more desperate. She could be around any corner.
I had to find her first.
I pedaled toward home, silently noting the houses I had already "cleared." That one's having an affair. That one's an alcoholic. That one turned out to have a massive gambling debt — Internet poker. As far as I know she still hasn't told her family their savings are gone. I'd starting watching people, going through their trash, seeing who was out late and who was meeting who and who had something to hide. I was shocked to find that it was almost everybody. It was like the whole town was festering in corruption, tearing itself apart before the demons had a chance to do it for them. Do people like that deserve to be saved? Do they even want to be saved? If they were really that self-destructive, then the demon was helping them more than I was, speeding them along in their goal of complete annihilation. An entire town, an entire world, slitting its vast communal wrist and bleeding out while the universe ignored us.
No. I shook my head. I can't think like that. I have to keep going.
I have to find the demon, and I have to stop it.
The trouble is, that's a lot harder than it sounds. Sherlock Holmes summed up the essence of investigation in a simple sound bite: when you remove the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. Great advice, Sherlock, but you never had to track down a demon. I've seen two and talked to a third, and everything they did was impossible. I've watched them rip out their own organs, jump up after a dozen gunshot wounds, assimilate other people's limbs, and even feel other people's emotions. I've watched them steal identities and faces and entire lives. For all I knew they could do literally anything; how was I supposed to figure them out? If Nobody would just freaking kill someone already, then I'd have something to go on.
I was almost home, but I stopped halfway down my block to stare up at a tall beige house. Brooke's house. We'd gone on two dates, both cut short by a dead body, and I'd really started to ... like her? I didn't know if that was even possible. I'd been diagnosed with sociopathy, a psychological disorder that meant, among other things, that I couldn't feel empathy. I couldn't connect to Brooke, not really. Did I enjoy her company? Yes. Did I dream about her at night? Yes again. But the dreams were not good, and my company was worse. All the better, then, that she'd started to avoid me. It wasn't a breakup, because we'd never been "together," but it was the platonic analogue of a breakup, whatever that's called. There's really no way to misinterpret "you scare me and I don't want to see you anymore."
I suppose I could see her side of it. I came at her with a knife, after all — that's a hard thing to get over, even if I did have a good reason. Save a girl's life by threatening it and she'll have just enough time to say thank you before she says good-bye.
Still, that didn't stop me from slowing down when I passed her house, or from stopping — like tonight — and wondering what she was doing. So she'd left me; big deal. Everyone else had. The only person I really cared about, really, was Nobody, and I was going to kill her.
I pushed off the curb and rode two doors down, to the mortuary at the end of the street. It was a biggish building, with a chapel and some offices and an embalming room in the back. I lived upstairs with my mom in a little apartment; the mortuary was our family business, though we kept the part about me embalming people a secret. Bad for business. Would you let a sixteen-year-old embalm your grandmother? Neither would anyone else.
I tossed my bike against the wall in the parking lot and opened the side door. Inside was a little stairwell with two exits: a door at the bottom that led to the mortuary, and a door at the top that led into our apartment. The light was burned out, and I trudged upstairs in the dark. The TV was on; that meant Mom was still up. I closed my eyes and rubbed them tiredly. I really didn't want to talk to her. I stood in silence a moment, bracing myself, and then a phrase from the TV caught my ear:
"... found dead ..."
I smiled and threw open the door. There'd been another death — Nobody had finally killed someone. After sixty-three days, it was finally starting.
Day one.CHAPTER 2
The demon killed a priest.
It was right there on the news — a pastor found dead on the lawn of the Throne of God Presbyterian church. I closed the door and walked to the couch, sitting down next to Mom as we watched in silence. It was too good to be true. A reporter was interviewing Sheriff Meier as he described the scene: The pastor was sprawled flat on his face with two long poles sticking out of his back — a mop with the head broken off, and a flagpole stripped of its flag. They had been stabbed between his ribs just inside his shoulder blades, one on each side. I leaned forward to get a better look at the TV, too surprised to hide my eagerness.
"Can you believe this?" asked Mom. "I thought we were through with all this!"
"I know this killer," I said softly. Recognition was dawning slowly, but it was definitely there.
"This is a real killer."
"Of course it's a real killer, John, the pastor is really dead."
"No, I mean, this isn't just a local guy — I read about this exact crime scene a few years ago. Did he take the hands too?"
The news anchor looked grim. "In addition to the poles in the back," he said, "the killer also cut off the pastor's hands, and removed his tongue."
"Ha!" I said, half laughing.
"John!" said my mom sternly, "what kind of reaction is that?"
"It's the Handyman!" I said. "He always does this to his victims. He cuts off their hands and tongue, and leaves them outside with sticks in their backs." I stared at the blurred crime-scene photo, shaking my head in wonder. "I had no idea he was a demon."
"He might not be," said Mom, standing up and carrying her dinner plate into the kitchen. She'd seen the first demon, and she knew about the second, but she was still very uncomfortable discussing them.
"Of course he's a demon," I said. "Crowley was a demon, Forman was another demon who came looking for him, and now another demon has come looking for him."
Mom was silent for a moment.
"You have no way of knowing that," she said at last. I still hadn't told her about my phone call to Nobody; she'd only get in the way by trying to protect me.
"Do you have any idea of the odds against three unrelated serial killers in a town this size?" I asked, following her into the living room. "And why on earth would the Handyman, whose attacks have all been in Georgia, show up in Clayton County, North Dakota, for no reason at all just two months after the last demon disappeared?"
"Because this town is cursed," she said adamantly, moving back into the living room.
"I thought you didn't believe in supernatural stuff?" I asked.
"I don't mean literally cursed," she said, turning back to me, "I mean ... I don't know what I mean. They're demons, John! Or something just as bad! I don't ... I don't know how much longer we can stay."
"We can't leave," I said quickly. Too quickly. Mom stared at me a second, then pointed at me angrily.
"Oh no," she said. "No no no no no. You are not going to chase after this one like you did with Bill Crowley. You are not going to play superhero and risk your life like an idiot."
"I'm not an idiot, Mom."
"Well you do some awfully stupid stuff for a genius," she said. "Crowley tried to kill you. Forman almost succeeded, and he almost got Brooke too. And Curt. This is not a game."
"I didn't realize you were so worried about Curt's life."
"I don't want him dead," she shouted, "I just want him out of our lives. He's an arrogant jerk, yes, but you can't just kill him."
"Then it's a good thing I didn't," I said, growing angry.
"No, but because of your obsession with these ... whatever they are ... somebody else almost did. How many people have to die before you back down?"
"How many more people will die if I do back down?" I asked.
"That's what police are for."
"The Handyman's been killing for five years at least — probably centuries more, now that we know he's a demon. If the police are so awesome, why haven't they stopped him yet?"
"You are not going after him," Mom said firmly.
"The police have no idea how to fight a demon," I said, struggling to keep my voice calm. "They have no idea what they're up against. I do. I've already stopped two of them, and if I can stop this one I can save ... I don't know, maybe hundreds of lives. Maybe thousands. Do you think it's just going to kill a couple of people and then go away forever? This is how these things live, Mom — it's going to kill and kill and kill until it doesn't have any victims left."
"He," said Mom firmly, locking my eyes with her gaze.
"You called him 'it,'" she said, exerting all her authority. "You know that you are not allowed to say 'it.' Say 'he.'"
I closed my eyes and took a breath. One of the hallmarks of a sociopath, particularly a serial killer, was that they stopped thinking about people as people, and saw them only as objects. When I wasn't thinking, or when I got excited, I started calling people "it." This was against my rules.
But the rules were designed for humans.
"It's a demon," I said. "It's not a person, it's not human — I can't dehumanize it if it's not human."
"He is a living, thinking creature," said Mom, "human or demon or whatever. You don't know what he is, but you know who you are, and you will follow your rules."
My rules. She was right. "I'm sorry," I said, calmer now. "He. Or she," I added quickly. "This might turn out to be a woman."
"What makes you say that?"
Because the voice on the phone was female. "Nothing," I said, "I'm just saying that we don't know." I put on a face of mock indignation. "Are you implying that all psychopaths are men? Or that all men are psychopaths?"
"I'm not in the mood for jokes," she said, turning off the TV. "I'm going to bed. No more news, no more killers; we'll talk about this in the morning."
I walked sullenly back to the kitchen and poured a bowl of cereal while Mom got ready for bed; I rarely went to sleep before 2:00 A.M., so there was still plenty of time to study the situation.
I'd read about the Handyman before. He was an unorthodox killer from Macon, Georgia — or at least that's where his first and third known victims were found. He traveled all over Georgia, killing every nine months or so, and every crime scene matched our new situation: the victims were killed inside, usually in their place of business or at home alone, and there the body's hands and tongue were removed. Then the body was carried outside, the poles were stuck into its back, and the killer disappeared. They had yet to find any real evidence of who the killer might be, though they could guess some things just by analyzing the crimes themselves. First of all, everyone assumed it was a man, based on two things: the sheer physical strength involved in hacking off the hands, carrying the bodies outside, and driving the wooden poles into their backs, and the simple fact that almost all serial killers are men anyway. Neither of these were especially strong evidence, but psychological profiling is more of an art than a science. They took the information they had and went with the answers that made the most sense.
Excerpted from I Don't Want to Kill You by Dan Wells. Copyright © 2011 Dan Wells. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
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
John Cleaver faces off against one last demon in this explosive end to the trilogy that won't soon be forgotten. It all starts off with the suicide of a student at his school named Jenny. She wasn't too popular, and it didn't really show up on John's radar. What did show up on his radar? A series of teenage girls killing themselves in the same fashion as Jenny. What else? A raving religious zealot serial killer meticulously murdering his victims, cleanly removing their hands and tongue, then unleashing a tightly-wound band of fury on their backs with lacerations galore. John notices all the insanity going on around him and takes initiative to hunt for the Handyman, the infamous killer that once plagued Georgia, but made his way to Clayton County to continue his spree, and Nobody, a much more elusive killer; the actual demon in the story. Nobody has to be the most intriguing demon in the series. It (because Nobody really has no gender, it's really just...nobody) was able to elude the ever so clever John Cleaver for most of the story, even leading John to believe that there was only one terror plaguing Clayton County. Writing-wise, this novel keeps up the same whiplash pace as the other two, which always makes for a fun, wild ride through the frantic world of this little sociopath. The story is a tightly-wound ball of intensity that is ready to snap at any moment. The one slight drawback to the story is the numerous amount of typographical errors. There are quite a few throughout that at times can detract from the story, but fortunately, the story is so engaging that a few minutes later, the errors are soon forgotten. The editor should have kept a closer eye out for that I guess. The ending of the novel is sweet, touching and incredibly sentimental, even for our little protagonist, but it fits and feels natural. There could have been no better ending for the series.
In Clayton, sixteen-year-old social outcast John Wayne Cleaver works at his mother's mortuary, but knows that is not what makes him different from his peers. John understands he has the classic profile of a serial killer. To keep his Mr. Monster side under control, John developed a rigid set of rules that he strictly adheres to. Ironically it is Mr. Monster that enables John to protect the townsfolk who stay away from him as if he has the plague. He killed two ancient monsters (see Mr. Monster) and knows at least one more evil predator exists from the phone he took from one of the dead malevolence. Now he is trying to trick the third monster a Demon coming in sixty three days and counting to kill it; the first death being a priest the demon beheaded. However, his biggest problem is adapting to his feelings for his only friend Brooke beyond her lying still on his mom's work table. Talk about coming a long way from the doubting teen psychopath of I Am Not A Serial Killer, John has become a full fledged monster hunter albeit still somewhat a psychopath but Brooke has him reconsidering his assessment of himself. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with non stop action, but contains plenty of angst as the hero discovers he has a heart; he knows he has guts. This is a super demonic serial killer thriller. Harriet Klausner
This is the third and last book in the series. In my opinion, we need more John Cleaver books. At first, I was reminded of the Dexter series of books in a tangential way. Later, I realized that John is like no one else. He can hold his own with this adult reader. Nobody was the most difficult demon John has faced. I thought she was the most frightening of them all. She was well written. I liked that this book spent a lot of time perfectly divided between girlfriends, family, and demons. Very well put together. The ending was schocking and truly horrifying. I admit that I cried for him in those last 50 or so pages. Now that it is over. I ask Mr. Wells to consider continuing with the John Cleaver series. I cannot wait to see what happens next! Please write more for us to enjoy. Highly recommended. This was a memorable book in many good ways. Give the series a try. But, do start from the beginning. This book's conclusion would not be as intense and heart rending, if you had not read the other two books first. -AvidReader
I really enjoy this Dan Wells serial killer series. However, the 'demon' killers referred to in his books make a good crime fiction series almost a ridiculous and unbelievable fantasy story. I keep waiting for a twist on the narrators psychology that the 'demons' he kills are, in fact, actual people and he really *has* become the serial killer he swear he isn't. But the twist never comes and they keep going with this 'serial killer killing serial killing demons' thing. I'm not sure if there will be a fourth book in the series, but if there is I would appreciate some wrap up for this 'demon' plotline Wells has gone through with.
John Wayne Cleaver is not normal. John tries hard to be normal but working in a mortuary with his Mom and aunt doesn't help. In this third book we see a different side to the demons. John is dating and hunting demons while going to school. Very exciting third book.
Hold on to your hats people. While I don’t expect every book in a series to be better than the previous ones, I do expect to see characters grow and plots thicken. Never fear, as this one is every bit as good, if not better, than the others. It’s been a month since John’s last otherworldly encounter and he’s feeling more in control of his urges. Enough to challenge a demon to come and get him. The demon accepts his challenge and the consequences are dark indeed. The author through me a curve ball here. You’ll see what I’m talking about when you give this one a listen. Lots more than meets the eye. So much of this story reads as genuine. Almost creepy at times how that happens. It’s told in 1st person from John’s own mind. And with him being a budding sociopath, it gets twisted. He’s not only juggling normal teenage hormones and angst, he’s also dealing with a controlling mother and doubts about his own set of rules. It’s compounded by a girlfriend, Marci. He didn’t expect to have a romantic relationship, and she’s something he can’t categorize and ignore. I, for one, think she’s a perfect fit for him. Dan keeps the story tight, no fluff, all business. And the business is sordid and dark. Especially the ending. I hoped for one thing, got something else, and while it was devastating, it was the right way to go. All I could think was, I want some more, please. Narrator Kirby Heyborne Kirby continues to do well narrating this series. I’ve noticed that when I’m reading a book, my mind jumps forward, anticipating what might be about to happen and sometimes spoiling the surprise. Funny how that happens. While narrating, Kirby stays on course and the inflections come at the right times, so anticipation builds as the action increases. A great choice and fit for this thrilling series. Thanks so much to Tantor Audio for this complimentary copy. My review is voluntarily given.
This book had to be the saddest, craziest, and most exciting book in the series. Hopefully it doesnt end here.
absolutely amazing, i almost called in sick for work to finish reading it.
While, in my opinion, not as strong as the second book, I still loved this story. I enjoyed that John had someone he could talk to, though I felt his frustration that he couldn't talk about everything to any one person. His relationship with his mother, while strained and so far from perfect, was really well done and made part of the ending so hard to take for me. I'm not sure what it is, exactly, but something in the way John's emotions are presented at the end doesn't ring true to me, but I'll either come to terms with it or figure it out in future reads. Definitely a book (and series) I would read again and recommend as well.
In general I am a military sci-fi buff, so I did not know what to expect when I looked up Dan Wells. From the first book all the way to the end of the last , this was my most favorite series ever. I really enjoyed ALL the characters along with all the "who done it". The story flowed like a swift stream but and not overwhelming descriptions like some do. Any more like this and he may be moved up to my favored authors to watch. John Wayne Cleavers shoes will be hard to fill and I hope Mr. Wells can do it.