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Killer Dreams

Killer Dreams

3.6 40
by Iris Johansen

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#1 New York Times bestselling author Iris Johansen returns with a new suspense thriller guaranteed to keep readers turning pages all night long -- an adrenaline-laced shocker that pits a mother and son against a killer who’s the stuff of nightmares.

If you close your eyes, he’ll get you. Sophie Dunston knows all too well how dreams can kill. As one of the nation’s


#1 New York Times bestselling author Iris Johansen returns with a new suspense thriller guaranteed to keep readers turning pages all night long -- an adrenaline-laced shocker that pits a mother and son against a killer who’s the stuff of nightmares.

If you close your eyes, he’ll get you. Sophie Dunston knows all too well how dreams can kill. As one of the nation’s top sleep therapists, she specializes in the life-threatening night terrors that her ten-year-old son, Michael, suffers from. But she is also an expert in another kind of terror --the kind that can turn a dream life into a living nightmare in the blink of an eye.

Someone is watching. He’s a shadowy figure from out of her darkest fears and he hasn’t forgotten her. In one shocking moment of violence, he’d shattered Sophie’s world forever and left her with only one thing to live for: her son. But the nightmare isn’t over for Sophie Dunston. It’s just begun. He’s been waiting. Sophie was supposed to die the first time around, but fate intervened. This time he’ll make sure that not even a miracle will save her.

It wasn’t a miracle that saved Jock Gavin, but it was pretty close. A semiretired hit man, commando, and jack-of-all-deadly-trades, he knows what Sophie is up against -- and that she’ll need help. But the man he’s chosen for the job is as unpredictable as he is dangerous. Matt Royd is a wild card-hard, cool, merciless -- and putting him into play changes the game completely. But to whose advantage?

Sophie will soon find out. She will have to trust Royd because she has no choices left. Because the bogeyman haunting her dreams is all too real and he’s on the hunt again. Because the nightmare he’s got planned for Sophie won’t end when she wakes up screaming. It won’t end. Ever.

About the Author
Award-winning IRIS JOHANSEN has more than twenty-seven million copies of her bestselling books in print, including On the Run, Countdown, Blind Alley, Firestorm, Fatal Tide, Dead Aim, No One to Trust, and many others. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia, where she is currently working on a new thriller.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bestseller Johansen (On the Run), in her latest thriller full of heavy-breathing romance, turns to mind-control of the Manchurian candidate variety, a state induced by the chemical REM-4 and mysterious sleep-manipulation methods guaranteed to turn regular folk into killer zombies. It promises to be a lucrative technology, as one of the heroes in the novel predicts: "Mind control is just too tempting not to attract the scumbags of the world." The head scumbag is Robert Sanborne of Sanborne Pharmaceuticals, whose goal is to perfect the REM-4 program so he can sell it to the world's evildoers. The heroine, Sophie Dunston, a leading sleep researcher and the original inventor of REM-4, falls hard for Matt Royd, a former zombie who has come to his senses and is trying to kill Sanborne. Royd and Sophie, forced by circumstances to be allies, begin by hating each other and then-no surprise-fall wildly in lust and love. Johansen offers nothing new, but her many fans will overlook a rather improbable premise and be happy with a familiar cast of characters (many from the author's other novels), familiar situations and familiar outcomes. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Sleep therapist Sophie Dunston is about to have a really big nightmare. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"A fast-paced, riveting, suspenseful read, with an underlying sense of romance between the two main characters."—State, Columbia, SC

Product Details

Bantam Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.41(w) x 9.19(h) x 1.36(d)

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Read an Excerpt

Killer Dreams

By Iris Johansen

Random House

Iris Johansen
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0553803441

Chapter One


Two years later
Fentway University Hospital
Baltimore, Maryland

What's going on? You're not supposed to be here."

Sophie Dunston looked up from the chart to see Kathy VanBoskirk, the head night nurse, standing in the doorway. "An overnight apnea study."

"You worked all day and now you're monitoring an overnighter?" Kathy came into the room and glanced at the bed on the other side of the double glass panel. "Ah, an infant. The light dawns."

"Not so much an infant any longer. Elspeth's fourteen months," Sophie said. "She'd stopped having incidents three months ago and now they're back. She just stops breathing in the middle of the night and her doctor can't find any reason for it. Her mother is worried sick."

"Then where is she?"

"She works nights."

"So do you. Days and nights." Kathy gazed at the sleeping baby. "Lord, she's beautiful. Makes my biological clock start ticking. My kid is fifteen now and there's nothing lovable about him. I'm hoping he'll turn back into a human being in another six years. Think I have a chance?"

"Don is just your typical teenager. He'll get there." Sophie rubbed her eyes. They felt as if they had sand in them. It was almost five and the sleep study would be over soon. Then she'd run the errand that was on the top of her list before getting tobed and grabbing a few hours of shut-eye before she had to get back for her first one o'clock session with the Cartwright child. "And he offered to clean my car last week when you had him at the office."

"He probably wanted a chance to swipe it." Kathy grimaced. "Or maybe he wanted the chance to score with an older woman. He thinks you're cool-looking."

"Yeah, sure." Right now, Sophie felt older than her years, frumpy, and ugly as sin. She turned back the chart and checked Elspeth's case history. She'd had an apnea episode about 1:00 a.m. and nothing since. There might be something there that would help her pin down--

"There's a message for you at the nurses' station," Kathy said.

Sophie stiffened. "Home?"

Kathy quickly shook her head. "No. God, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to panic you. I didn't think. The message came in during the shift change at seven and they forgot to give it to you." She paused. "How is Michael?"

"Sometimes terrible. Sometimes okay." She tried to smile. "But all the time wonderful."

Kathy nodded. "Yes, he is."

"But in five years I'll probably be pulling my hair out like you're doing." She changed the subject. "So who left the message?"

"It's from Gerald Kennett again. Aren't you going to call him back?"

"No." She checked Elspeth's meds. Allergies?

"Sophie, it wouldn't hurt to talk to him. He offered you a job that will pay you more in a month than you make in a year here at the university. And he might even up the salary since he keeps after you. I'd jump at it."
"Then you call him back. I like my work here and the people I work with. I don't want to have to answer to any pharmaceutical company."

"You worked for one before."

"When I first got out of medical school. It was a big mistake. I thought they'd free me up to do research full time. It didn't happen. I'm better off doing the research in my spare time." She circled one of the medications on Elspeth's chart. "And I learned more dealing with people here than I'd ever learn in a lab."

"Like Elspeth." Kathy's gaze was on the baby. "She's stirring."

"Yes, she's been in NREM for the last five minutes. She's almost there." She put down the chart and headed for the adjoining door to the test room. "I've got to get in there and remove those wires before she's fully awake. She'll be scared if she wakes up alone."

"When's her mother supposed to get here?"


"Against the rules. Parents are to pick up their children promptly at the end of the session and this one ends at five-thirty."

"Screw the rules. At least she cares enough about the kid to have the tests. I don't mind staying."

"I know," Kathy said. "You're the one who's going to have the night terrors if you don't stop exhausting yourself."

Sophie made the sign to ward off demons. "Don't even talk about it. Send Elspeth's mom in as soon as she gets here, will you?"

Kathy chuckled. "Scared you."

"Yes, you did. There's nothing scarier than night terrors. Believe me, I know." She went into Elspeth's room and went over to the crib. It took only a few minutes to remove the wires. The little girl had dark hair like her mother and her skin was a silky olive now flushed with sleep. Sophie felt a familiar melting as she gazed at her. "Elspeth," she called softly. "Come back to us, sweetheart. You won't be sorry. We'll talk and I'll read you a story and we'll wait for your mama. . . ."

She should get back to work, Kathy thought as she looked through the glass at Elspeth and Sophie. Sophie had picked the baby up, wrapped her in a blanket, and was sitting down in the rocking chair with the baby on her lap. She was talking and rocking the child and her expression was soft and glowing and loving.

Kathy had heard other doctors describe Sophie as brilliant and intuitive. She had a double doctorate in medicine and chemistry and was one of the best sleep therapists in the country. But Kathy liked this Sophie best. The one who effortlessly seemed to be able to reach out and touch her patients. Even Kathy's son had responded to that warmth the one time he'd met her. And Don was definitely a hard sell. Of course, the fact that Sophie was blond, tall, and slim and bore a vague resemblance to Kate Hudson probably had a lot to do with her son's admiration. He wasn't into the maternal types. Unless Madonna was the one on the album covers.

But Sophie didn't look like Madonna any more than she did the statue of the Holy Virgin. In this moment she was very human and full of love.

And strength. Sophie would have had to be strong to be able to endure the hell she had gone through in the last few years. She deserved a break. Kathy wished she'd take the Kennett job, scoop up the big bucks, and forget about responsibility.
Then she shook her head as she glanced at Sophie's expression again. Sophie couldn't shun responsibility, not with this baby, and not with Michael. It wasn't in her nature.

Hell, maybe Sophie was right. Maybe the money wasn't as important as the payback she was getting in there with that kid.

"Bye, Kathy." Sophie waved as she headed for the elevator. "See you."
"Not if you have any sense. I'm on night duty all this month. Did you find any cause for the increase in apnea?"
"I'm changing one of the meds. It's mostly trial and error at Elspeth's age." She stepped inside the elevator as the doors opened. "We just have to monitor her until she grows out of it."

She leaned back against the wall of the elevator as the doors shut and closed her eyes. She was too tired. She should go home and forget about Sanborne.

Stop being a coward. She wasn't going home yet.

A few minutes later she was unlocking the door of the van. She avoided looking at the gun case with the Springfield rifle in the back of the Toyota. She'd checked it earlier to make sure it was in order. Not that she really had to do it. Jock always took care of the weapons and he wouldn't let her go with a faulty rifle. He was too much the professional.

She wished she could say the same for herself. She'd blocked the thought of Sanborne all night but she was trembling now. She leaned her head on the steering wheel for a few minutes. Get over it. It was natural that she'd feel like this. Taking a life was a terrible thing. Even vermin like Sanborne.

She drew a deep breath, raised her head, and started the van.

Sanborne would be arriving at the facility at 7:00 a.m.

She had to be there waiting for him.


She heard a shout behind her.

She skidded down the slope of the hill, fell, picked herself up, and flew down the bank of the creek.
A bullet whistled by her head.


Run. Keep on running.

She could hear a crashing in the brush at the top of the hill.
How many were there?

Duck into the bushes. The van was parked on the road a quarter of a mile from here. She had to lose them before she reached the van.
The branches were whipping her face as she tore through the shrubbery.

She couldn't hear them anymore.

Yes, she could. But they sounded farther away. Maybe they'd gone in another direction.
She'd reached the van.

She jumped in the driver's seat and threw the rifle into the back before she peeled out onto the road.
Her foot stomped on the accelerator.

Get away. It could still be okay. If they hadn't gotten a good look at her.
If they weren't close enough to put a bullet through her head. . . .

Excerpted from Killer Dreams by Iris Johansen Excerpted by permission.
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.

Meet the Author

Iris Johansen is the New York Times bestselling author of many novels, including Killer Dreams, On the Run, Countdown, Firestorm, Fatal Tide, Dead Aim, and No One to Trust. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia.

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Killer Dreams 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 40 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read all of this author's thrillers and really think she should go back to what she does best...ie Eve Duncan forensic sculptor series was excellent but this book and several before it are really not good reading. The plots are way over the top and childish..even the romance subjects don't click! Go back to Ugly Duckling, Then You Die,Face of Deception etc!!!!
harstan More than 1 year ago
Sophie Dunston is close to her parents so she and her son Michael are spending time with them. Out of the blue her dad kills the wife he loves and cherishes and points the gun at his grandson. Sophie gets shot when she steps in between her two men. Later she learns that the sleep therapist her father was seeing was a minion of her first employer, Sanborne. She invented Rem-4, a drug that allowed people to be influenced into doing things while they sleep. When Sophie realized that Sanborne plans to sell the dangerous product to the highest bidder, she left him.-------------- Sanborne believes that Sophie is a loose end that he intends to get rid of starting with what happened to her dad. She proves difficult to kill ever since Royd entered her life as he was once one of Sanborne¿s brainwashed killers who broke through the conditioning. Like Sophie he plans to bring Sanborne down and destroy Rem-4. Sophie and Royd are attracted to one another, but they have a mission that needs to be finished before they can consider exploring a future together.--------------- Once again Iris Johansen writes a thriller that will grip readers so much that they will ignore any other nearby activity. The story-line contains so much action fans will believe they are on a looping roller coaster unable to catch their breath before plunging into the next spin. KILLER DREAMS is filled with adventure, but the romantic subplot between the two protagonists feels right as a natural outcome of what they have suffered, enhancing an adrenaline pumping thriller.------------ Harriet Klausner
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