When a Serial Killer Gets a Taste for Blood . . .
Years ago, the Seattle police were baffled by the Schoolgirl Murders. The killer staged the scenes, dressing his female victims in school girl uniforms and saddle shoes. No woman in Seattle felt safe, until they caught the man responsible, and the case was forgotten . . .
He Only Wants to Do One Thing . . .
Across the country, a killing spree is taking place. The first victim is attacked in a taxi by a mysterious stranger. The next is found strangled in a changing room. A hitchhiker is left by the side of the road, his identity brutally stolen. The murders are so bizarre, so random, no one would think to connect them . . .
Kill and Kill Again . . .
Only Seattle writer Gillian McBride sees the disturbing coincidences between all the murders—and it’s hitting too close to home. Somehow, she is the link between past and present—and to a twisted serial killer who shows no signs of stopping . . .
Praise for the Novels of Kevin O’Brien
“White knuckle action!…takes readers into the darkest corners of the human mind.”
—Tess Gerritsen on One Last Scream
“Scary! Read this page turner with the lights on!”
—Lisa Jackson on Watch Them Die
|Product dimensions:||4.10(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.50(d)|
About the Author
KEVIN O’BRIEN is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over twenty suspense novels. Before his books landed him on the bestseller lists, he was a railroad inspector who wrote at night. He moved from the train tracks to become a full-time author in 1997 when his novel, Only Son, was picked up by Reader’s Digest and optioned for film. Since then, his books have been translated into fourteen languages. Born and raised in Chicago, O'Brien now lives in Seattle, where he is on the board of Seattle 7 Writers, a collective of bestselling, award-winning authors. He can be found online at KevinOBrienbooks.com/.
Read an Excerpt
By KEVIN O'BRIEN
Kensington Publishing Corp.Copyright © 2007 Kevin O'Brien
All right reserved.
Chapter OneAll the crazies were out tonight.
What did he expect? It was Halloween, and the streets of Greenwich Village overflowed with people-drunk, laughing, screaming people, all in their stupid costumes. Tonight he'd seen a husky, bearded man in a nurse's dress and cap; an attractive couple (and boy, didn't they know it) as Adam and Eve, wearing strategically placed fig leaves and nothing else; and innumerable gay guys dressed up as characters out of The Wizard of Oz.
Amid the partyers, one person stood out to him. Wearing thick glasses and a rather nerdish cardigan sweater, the young man walked down the street alone, his hands shoved in his pants pockets. He seemed timid and detached. Strapped around his stomach was what looked like six sticks of dynamite and an alarm clock. Only a few people seemed to notice him, and when they did, they laughed. But it was nervous laughter.
Greg felt a bit like that lonely nerd, like a human time bomb about to go off. If he didn't get out of the Village soon, he was going to explode.
Driving a cab in New York on Halloween night was pure torture.
Greg prayed that his next fare would take him to another part of town, far away from this crazy place. He planned to put one more hour on the meter before going home to his dumpy studio apartment so he could memorize an audition piece for tomorrow. It was a commercial forallergy medication, and he desperately wanted the job. Greg was living a cliché: the struggling thirtysomething actor by day and cabdriver by night. He'd convinced himself two years ago that driving a taxi would give him a chance to study people and better develop his craft. Huh, what a crock. After a few months, the only thing he'd learned was that there were some real jerks in the world.
And a lot of them had come out tonight.
Greg spotted the couple, waving at him from the corner of Hudson and Charles. The guy was dressed up as Zorro-with the cape, hat, mask, and the sword. The girl had gotten dolled up in a Spanish dancer outfit-a yellow dress with black lace, an elaborate headdress, and castanets. Approaching them, he heard her clicking those castanets and giggling. He saw her pretty face light up as he pulled toward the curb. She smiled.
Greg let out a grateful sigh. She looked like an angel.
She had long, light brown hair and a creamy complexion. The sexy-slutty señorita outfit looked so absurd on such a fresh-faced, sweet woman. He guessed she was in her late twenties. The way she weaved a bit, he could tell she was slightly drunk.
"Oh, thanks so much for stopping!" she gushed, climbing into the backseat with her masked boyfriend. "The last two taxis just sailed by-"
"1017 West Thirty-seventh," barked Zorro, interrupting her.
Greg set the meter, then glanced at them in the rearview mirror.
The girl's eyes met his as she settled back in the seat and buckled her seat belt. She grinned and clicked her castanets once more. "Hola! And Happy Halloween. How come you're not wearing a costume?" She worked the castanets again.
"Cut that shit out," Zorro grumbled.
"Huh, grouch," she muttered, slipping the castanets into her little black purse. She gave Zorro a playful pout, then cleared her throat and called to Greg. "I'm having the best time! This is my third night in New York, and I love it! I don't ever want to go back to Portland." She raised her voice as if making a declaration. "I want to live in New York City and write best-sellers!" She laughed, then tapped Greg on the shoulder. "I'm getting a book published next month-my first. I'm an author."
"Congratulations," Greg said. "What kind of book is it? Will it-"
"You don't need to make friends with the driver, dopey," the man interrupted. He pulled her toward him. "Come here." He kissed her neck and cupped a black-gloved hand over her breast.
She squirmed a bit. Greg noticed her looking at him in the mirror. She seemed embarrassed at the way her boyfriend was pawing her. "Quit," she whispered.
"You fucking love it," the masked man replied, pulling away from her for only a moment. He shut the Plexiglas divider between the front and backseat. Then he started fondling her again.
From what Greg could see, she didn't seem to fucking love it. She tried to laugh and push the man away, but his hands and mouth were all over her. Greg saw her wincing. Her eyes connected with his. She seemed to plead for some kind of intervention. The man started to climb on top of her.
Greg had put up with couples fornicating in the back of his taxi before. But in all those cases, the women had seemed pretty damn willing. He could tell this woman wasn't the type. No, not at all. This guy was humiliating her.
Greg thought about stopping the cab, opening the back door, and throwing Zorro out on his ass.
A car horn blared, and Greg suddenly realized he'd drifted into oncoming traffic. He swerved the taxi back into his lane.
He felt someone kick the back of his seat, and heard a muffled cry. Greg checked the mirror again. "Shit," he muttered under his breath.
She wasn't resisting anymore. Zorro was on top of her, and one of her legs had wrapped around him. She clutched at the back of his cape. She had her eyes closed, but her mouth was open and her lips slid along his neck.
Greg was so disappointed in her. For a crazy moment, he'd felt a connection with this sweet, fresh-faced young woman from Portland. He'd even thought he could rescue her. But now, she was letting this asshole screw her in the back of his taxi. And she seemed to be having a swell time of it.
Frowning, Greg stared at the road ahead. Through the Plexiglas divider, he could hear muffled moaning back there. But thank God, the traffic and street noise mostly drowned her out. He didn't want to listen to her in the throes of ecstasy. He just wanted to get them the hell out of his cab. Jerks.
Greg turned onto West Thirty-seventh Street, a block full of little specialty stores with apartments above them. He pulled up in front of the address the guy had given him. It was a travel agency, closed for the night. Was this the right address?
He heard the Plexiglas divider whoosh open behind him. Greg glanced over his shoulder. The pretty brunette numbly stared at him, catching her breath. Zorro had finished with her. "I'm in a hurry," the guy said. "She's paying."
Before Greg could respond, Zorro ducked out of the cab. His black cape billowed as he ran down an alley beside the travel agency. He disappeared into the darkness.
Greg shifted forward in his seat. "That's eleven-fifty, ma'am," he grunted. He checked the rearview mirror.
He couldn't quite read the look in her eyes. She still seemed to be catching her breath. She muttered something back to him, but it was like a whimper. He couldn't hear her past the rumbling motor.
Then he saw the dark red smudges on the handle to the Plexiglas divider. Zorro had opened it with his gloved hand.
Greg saw that she had tears in her eyes, and she was trembling.
"I'm stabbed," she whispered. "Dear God ..."
He swiveled around. Her hands clutched at the front of her yellow dress with the fancy black lace. The material was slashed across her belly-and drenched with blood.
"Police in Manhattan are searching tonight for a man dressed as Zorro," the pretty, Asian anchorwoman announced. She wore a tailored black suit, and behind her was a red, bloody Z, a grisly take on the Mark of Zorro. "He's wanted in connection with the stabbing of a twenty-eight-year-old Portland, Oregon, woman. The victim, whose identity is being withheld pending-"
"Her name was Jennifer Gilderhoff," the man said to the TV. "And she 'wanted to live in New York City and write bestsellers!' Huh, poor, sorry bitch."
"The victim was stabbed in the backseat of a taxicab, during a Halloween celebration in Greenwich Village," the news anchor continued. "She was rushed to Roosevelt Hospital, where her condition is listed as critical."
The man stared at the TV screen. "She's not dead?"
The TV anchor paused for a somber beat. "In Queens tonight, a Halloween prank turned into a four-alarm fire when a group of teenagers-"
He grabbed the remote and switched off the TV. He couldn't believe Jennifer was still alive. Of course, she wouldn't be for long. He'd studied surgical procedures recently, and knew those stab wounds he'd made were fatal. She was probably in a coma.
Half-dressed and with his hair still wet from a shower, he wandered over to the honor bar, and poured himself a Scotch.
On the bed, with its hunter-green and maroon paisley spread, his suitcase was open and almost completely packed.
He chilled his drink with a few cubes from the ice bucket. Beside the plastic bucket on the desk was a paperback thriller, The Mark of Death by Gillian McBride. He'd been reading a passage from it earlier, and used a postcard to keep his place. He'd received the postcard in the mail several weeks ago. It announced the publication of a book by another author, Jennifer Gilderhoff, Burning Old Bridesmaids' Dresses and Other Survival Stories. The postcard showed the predominantly pink book cover, with a cartoon woman brandishing a cigarette lighter wand.
Considering what he'd done to Jennifer tonight, he figured her lighthearted collection of "chick-lit" stories wouldn't fare so well commercially. It certainly had to put a damper on a reader's enjoyment when the author of such cutesy fluff got stabbed to death-or almost to death. He didn't think she'd last out the night.
He sipped his Scotch, and flipped to the page he'd marked with Jennifer's postcard. He tossed the card aside. Moving toward the bathroom, he read the passage in Gillian McBride's The Mark of Death. He was very, very familiar with it:
Her blood was still warm and wet on his hands as he raced toward the alley beside the beautiful estate. His Zorro cape billowed behind him. He listened to the material flapping in the wind. The masked man felt such a rush of adrenaline. He felt like a superhero....
He stopped in the bathroom doorway, and closed Gillian McBride's book. He gazed at the bathtub. The water in it had turned pink. His Zorro costume was soaking. After another rinse or two, all the blood would be gone.
He glanced at the book in his hand. "I did it better," he whispered. "I did it better than you, Gillian."
Chapter TwoMEET THE AUTHOR! read the sign by the desk at the front of the Barnes & Noble store in Woodinville, Washington. GILLIAN McBRIDE signs copies of her new thriller, BLACK RIBBONS: A MAGGIE DARE MYSTERY!
The author photo on the sign showed a beautiful, haughty-looking woman who could have passed for twenty-five. Gillian hated the photo, but her agent and editor were crazy about it. "The picture says, 'I'm savvy, I'm smart, and I have a bestseller-in-the-making here,'" her agent, Eve, had told her.
"I think it says, 'I'm smug, I'm arrogant, and I have absolutely no interests beyond myself, my hair, and what I'm wearing,'" Gillian had countered.
To the photographer's credit, he had taken about ten years off Gillian's age (she was thirty-seven), and he'd erased scores of freckles from her face (they came with being a redhead). But he'd failed to capture Gillian's warmth and vulnerability. The woman seated at the desk, behind a stack of books, looked like the nice, down-to-earth, slightly older sister to that smug ice princess in the author photo.
Gillian wore a lavender silk blouse and black pants. Her shoulder-length, tawny hair was pulled back in a ponytail, and she kept a smile fixed on her face.
Some authors had throngs of rabid fans at their signings, roped-off lines of people around the store impatiently waiting for a brief moment with their favorite scribe. Gillian wasn't one of those authors. She'd been sitting at the desk for over ninety minutes and had sold eight books so far. She'd had one fan show up-a very nice, middle-aged woman named Stella who had read all five of Gillian's previous thrillers and e-mailed her once in a while. Stella had chatted with her for about ten minutes, but had to rush off to meet a friend. Then Gillian was by herself again. "I'm sorry, I've never heard of you," was what people usually said when they stopped by her table to check out one of her books. But most people didn't stop at all. They passed by her table and avoided eye contact-as if she were some panhandler on the street.
So Gillian sat there, forcing a smile, and wondering if anybody saw the desperation on her face. It was like eating alone at a fancy restaurant. She felt onstage-and very pathetic. She'd done these author signings dozens of times before, and knew the score. Just keep smiling.
That was what Gillian told herself as she dealt with this new potential customer, a woman in her early twenties with a ratty, brown pullover sweater, blond hair, and heavy eye makeup. She was on her cell phone as she approached Gillian's desk. She glanced at Black Ribbons, then quickly put it down again. "No way, not if you're gonna get fucking drunk again tonight," she said into the phone. She picked up another one of Gillian's books, and scowled at the back cover. "You do so," the young woman continued on her cell phone. "Why the fuck should I even plan on doing anything, if you're gonna be drunk most of the time? I mean it, you have a problem. I'm fucking serious...."
The blonde went through all six of Gillian's books, barely looking at them. Gillian wondered how many times this cell phone woman said fuck during a given day. She felt like The Invisible Author. Finally, she started drumming her fingers on the desktop and stared up at the girl.
"Well, maybe I need to rethink our relationship," the blonde was saying into her phone. She suddenly glared at Gillian. "Would you mind your own fucking business? Jesus!" She wandered away from the table. "No, I wasn't talking to you," she grumbled into her cell phone. "There's this stupid woman in the bookstore...."
If I was in a relationship with you, sister, I'd be getting drunk every night too! Gillian wanted to yell at the woman. But she said nothing, and kept smiling.
She saw someone else approaching.
"Are you the author?" asked a middle-aged woman with a stiff-looking helmet of black hair. She adjusted her glasses and picked up a copy of Black Ribbons. "I read three books a week. I haven't heard of you."
"Well, I'm Gillian, and-readers like you are my favorite kind of people." She held out her hand, but the woman was studying the back of Gillian's book. Gillian slipped her hand back under the table.
"Black Ribbons: A Maggie Dare Mystery," the woman muttered. "What's this about anyway?"
"Well, Maggie Dare is a seventy-year-old retired police detective," Gillian explained. "She's a 'very tough old broad.' This is my second mystery-thriller with Maggie. This time, Maggie's investigating a series of murders in Western Washington." The woman said nothing, so Gillian continued. "Um, each time this particular killer abducts a new victim, he ties a black ribbon around a nearby tree, post, or landmark. And the body is always found twenty-four hours later-with a ribbon around the neck, in a pretty bow. It's not quite as grisly as it sounds. It's more suspenseful than gory."
The woman frowned. She put the book down on the table as if it were someone else's used Kleenex. "I don't think I care for that at all."
Gillian kept smiling.
"What about this one?" the woman asked, picking up another book.
"That's Killing Legend, my first. It came out two years ago."
"What's the plot?" she asked, scrutinizing the back cover. "I don't understand the title."
"Well, instead of a living legend, this man is a Killing Legend. I was inspired by the rumors after James Dean's death. People claimed he was still alive, but so horribly dis-figured by the auto accident that he'd faked his demise. Anyway, in my book, this legend is a sexy leading man, an overnight sensation in movies. And everyone thinks he's dead after a car accident. So now, he's preying on all the people who made his life hell on his way to the top of the Hollywood heap. There's show business mixed with murder, plus a little-"
Excerpted from Killing Spree by KEVIN O'BRIEN Copyright © 2007 by Kevin O'Brien. 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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I was impressed with this author and the book. I read a lot of horror and suspense books but this is the first one to really keep me guessing who the killer might actually be. There were times when I really became scared and that is saying a lot because I don't scare easily, especially from reading a book. This book has inspired me to read more from this author. I highly recommend it!
I could not put this book down. Definitely one of the best books I've read. It kept me guessing right up to the end. I can't wait to read more by this author.
Although I enjoyed the writing and the story, since I had read the other story with these characters there seemed like a lot of back story, almost more than it being this story
When a serial killer gets a taste for blood...he only wants to do one thing...kill and kill again...Years ago, the Seattle police were baffled by the Schoolgirl Murders. The killer staged the scenes, dressing his female victims in school girl uniforms and saddle shoes. No woman in Seattle felt safe, until they caught the man responsible, and the case was forgotten¿Across the country, a killing spree is taking place. The first victim is attacked in a taxi by a mysterious stranger. The next is found strangled in a changing room. A hitchhiker is left by the side of the road, his identity brutally stolen. The murders are so bizarre, so random, no one would think to connect them¿Only Seattle writer Gillian McBride sees the disturbing coincidences between all the murders ¿ and it¿s hitting too close to home. Somehow, she is the link between the past and the present ¿ and to a twisted serial killer who shows no signs of stopping¿The concept of a serial killer killing people in exactly the same way as they were killed in the books was great. This was my first book I ever read by this author but it was good enough to get me hooked on trying other books by him. If you love suspense/thrillers than you have to try out a Kevin O'Brien book.
Giving it 5 stars even before I read it. I've read all of Kevin O'Brien's books and they are incredible so I'm expecting the same from this one.
I couldn't put it down.
My second K.O. book. I enjoy the writting style and fast pace.
Would read this author agsin, story was a bit much
I have read every one of kevin obriens books my only complaint is I need more.alwsys entertaining and able to keep you wondering what's next he has become one of my favorite mystery thriller writers I would recommend any of his books
Normally I really like this author but this bok is so dull. Im having to force myself to finish it.
One of the worst books ever. You know how you sometimes keep reading just cause its there, well this book is it! It was painful, predictable and something this guy probably spent about a week writing. Sheesh, some of his other books were ok, but dont waste your time or money on this honker.
Gillian McBride is a Seattle-based published author with five thriller books to her credit and even though she is pleased to be in print, she is not a happy person. Her husband Barry walked out on her and their son to avoid being killed by people he borrowed money from to support his gambling habit these loan sharks periodically come around looking in her mail and garbage for a clue to the whereabouts of Barry. On top of that her son is going through an identity crisis because he is attracted to males yet doesn¿t want to be labeled gay. --- A series of murders starts in New York City where a woman was stabbed to death in a taxi by a man wearing a Zorro costume. A man picks up a hitchhiker, drugs him, and murders him and surgically removes his lover jaw and heart in Billings, Montana. In Chicago, a woman is killed in a department store dressing room. All of these scenarios are found in Gillian¿s novels and the killer finds various ways of informing her of each killings. As the killer gets closer and closer to Gillian¿s loved ones, she puts her life on the line to stop him from killing again. --- Thriller readers are going to thoroughly enjoy KILLING SPREE, a tale with many sub-plots that tie seamlessly into the main storyline. There is so much action that the audience never gets a chance the catch their breath. The heroine, who is besieged on all sides, is a strong willed person, who never even whines or whimpers when life gets difficult instead she rises to the occasion to cope with her latest crisis. Kevin O¿ Brien provides a strong thriller. --- Harriet Klausner
...That aren't so fun! Spread awareness!<p>Half of all mental illnesses start before the age of 14.<br>ln any given year, only 20% of children who need treatment for psychiatric disorders actually get it.<br>Schizophrenia, depression, epilepsy, dementia, alcohol dependence, and other substance abuse disorders make up 13% of the global disease burden...surpassing cardiovascular disease and cancer.<br>ln the last 45 years, suicide rates have increased by 60% worldwide.<br>More than90% of people who kill themselves have a dignosable mental disorder.<br><br>Hekp others by sharing your story. #iknowJenny<br><br>Learn more and find help. Watch the official video for "Jenny" by Nothing More for more details and sites. Be the cure, not the reason.<br><br><br><br>~Light&beta<_>lood/L&beta
"Thank you for not hurting them."she mews and licks each of her kits and then looks at the shecat(srry...cant remember ur name) "i can heal my bones. Especially my back"*she mews and takes her kits to camp