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4.0 21
by Jan Burke

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On the heels of her soaring bestseller Flight, Edgar Award-winning author Jan Burke reaches new heights of suspense in this ingenious novel of hard-hitting justice and cold-blooded murder.
Los Angeles County Homicide Detective Alex Brandon lives to bring killers to justice — but when unknown assailants begin systematically killing off the FBI's


On the heels of her soaring bestseller Flight, Edgar Award-winning author Jan Burke reaches new heights of suspense in this ingenious novel of hard-hitting justice and cold-blooded murder.
Los Angeles County Homicide Detective Alex Brandon lives to bring killers to justice — but when unknown assailants begin systematically killing off the FBI's Most Wanted suspects, Alex sees no cause for celebration. The vigilante slayings eerily echo the work of a serial killer from a decade ago, and convince Alex that "the Exterminators," as a grateful public has dubbed them, are more ruthless and sadistic than their victims. As the attacks mount, it is the ninth target that pulls Alex into a case that is quickly spiraling into deadly territory — where justice is no longer enough.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
People A deviant, often bloody dash through the killing fields of Burke's richly imagined Los Angeles.

Sun-Sentinel (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) Enthralling.

The Orlando Sentinel (FL) Nine is a perfect 10.

The Barnes & Noble Review
In Jan Burke's popular mystery series featuring reporter Irene Kelly and her detective spouse Frank Harriman, the boundaries between good and evil are clearly delineated. Nine explores murkier areas, where some people are bad, some worse, and even the best may be responsible for tragic mistakes in the past.

The novel introduces Los Angeles homicide detective Alex Hartwick, who is investigating the brutal murder of a notorious drug dealer. It soon becomes evident that this is just the first in a series of murders whose victims are all on the FBI's Most Wanted list, and Hartwick is plunged into a complicated case that's somehow connected to Kit Logan, a young man still tormented by horrific abuse at the hands of his serial-killer stepfather years earlier. From Hartwick's search for answers to the vigilantes' pursuit of their next Most Wanted victims, the story unfolds using numerous characters and many different points of view, racing toward unexpected revelations and a terrifyingly imaginative climax.

While Hartwick is Nine's central protagonist, Logan is its most compelling character. We root for the healing of his damaged psyche and observe with interest his relationship with a young female runaway he has taken under his wing, as well as his tentative romance with another woman. The flashbacks to young Kit's abuse are chilling, making his recovery even more remarkable. Like most Burke villains, the vigilante ringleader is truly evil and completely amoral, but all of the other characters in Nine are multidimensional and understandable, despite their atrocities. Suspenseful and original, this is a non-formulaic thriller that weaves a complicated plot and satisfyingly ties everything together in a story of survival, justice, and redemption. Clare Martin

The Los Angeles Times
A gang of incredibly wealthy ruffians chases after less wealthy knaves to eliminate the FBI's 10 most wanted and a few extras on the side. What the ruffians are doing is illegal, but they're ridding the country of some of its worst criminals without costing taxpayers a dime. If there weren't a lot of self-indulgent sadism about the enterprise, they might deserve the high regard in which fellow Americans come to hold them. — Eugen Weber
Publishers Weekly
Award-winning mystery author Burke (Flight; Sweet Dreams, Irene) takes a break from her Irene Kelly series to test the waters of stand-alone mainstream thrillers, and proves she can swim with the sharks in this tale of vigilante justice. The members of Project Nine, an exclusive club of deranged boys, create havoc for homicide detective Alex Brandon, the L.A. Sheriff's Department and the FBI, since their gruesome project involves eliminating the outlaws on the FBI's Most Wanted List. Brandon has a dark family history, to say the least, and grimly tolerates his partner, Ciara Morton, a good detective with a bad attitude. The leader of Project Nine, Everett Corey, began assembling his task force including Cameron Burgess, Morgan Addison and the delightfully vain Frederick Whitfield IV at Sedgewick, a rich kids' reform school in Malibu. The team's hero, haunted genius Kit Logan, whose nightmarish past includes the killing of his stepfather, serial killer Jerome Naughton, attended the same school. Ninth on the Project's list of targets is yet another Malibu alum: Kit's friend Gabe Taggert, whose involvement in a botched robbery/ homicide has driven him into hiding. Gabe's sister Meghan has history with both Everett and Kit, further complicating the mix. Brandon was involved with the Naughton case 10 years earlier and has dealt with some of the Sedgewick boys; while this makes him uniquely suited to solving the case, it also puts him at risk. Burke does an excellent job with her diverse, bustling cast which includes Spooky, a 13-year-old firebrand in Kit's care, and Chase, Brandon's troubled nephew providing plenty of background without short-changing the absorbing and inventive plot. Agent, Philip G. Spitzer. 13-city author tour. (Nov. 6) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
LAPD homicide detective Alex Hartwick finds himself at odds with the feds when criminals on the FBI's Most Wanted list start dropping like flies in his jurisdiction. From an Edgar Award winner. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Although the public cheers on the vigilantes who have splashily eliminated several of the miscreants on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list, Alex Brandon, a homicide detective with the LA Sheriff’s Department, isn’t quite so comfortable with their efforts. Murder, after all, is murder, even if the victims deserved to die. To compound the problem, the FBI is bickering with the LASD over who has jurisdiction; Brandon’s cantankerous law-and-order partner Ciara Morton continues to antagonize cops and suspects alike; and someone is leaking information to the vigilantes that gives a new edge to the term Most Wanted, getting the free-lancers to the alleged perps before the cops arrive. Soon the only one left on the FBI list is not-quite-so-bad-guy Gabe Taggert, who’s hiding out somewhere while his sister Meghan, his old buddy Kit Logan, Brandon, and the bloodthirsty vigilantes all compete to find him. The chase leads to the Sedgewick School for problem kids, where the bell tower has been rigged with explosives and the real targets of the vigilantes, Kit and Brandon in all their gore-soaked pasts, ultimately confront their demons. Burke (see above), who’s considerably less sanguinary in her Irene Kelly series (Flight, 2001, etc.), trowels on the torture, sexual depravities, and child abuse. In between Grand Guignol moments, Brandon, his uncle, his nephew, and a scruffy pooch develop some interesting relationships.

Product Details

Pocket Books
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.20(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chatper 1

SUNDAY, MAY 18, 1:17 P.M.


A black-winged bird swooped past Kit's left shoulder, and he shied away from it, crouching down low, half losing his balance. The heavy bundle he carried fell from his arms, landing on the leaf-strewn path with a soft thud. This seemed to him another ill omen, and he quickly and silently apologized to the canvas-wrapped form. He cowered there for a moment, cringing as the raven circled back — but the bird flew higher this time and soon was gone from sight. He waited in vain for his fear to follow it.

What did it mean, a raven coming so close to him?

Make sense, he warned himself. Don't think crazy thoughts about birds.

But fear proved tenacious, and his mind caromed through a maze of remembered terrors. He began shaking.

He made a determined effort to steer his thoughts toward the logical. The raven was a bird, not a supernatural creature. The raven had been attracted to the burden Kit carried into the woods.

You are not a boy, he told himself. You are a twenty-six-year-old man. Don't act like a child.

He told himself it was the chill of the autumn air that made him feel cold — not his dread, not his superstition. Not that he had dreamed the digging dream just last night.

A beetle moved over the canvas, and he brushed it away, then gently lifted the bundle again. "I'm sorry," he said once more and continued into the woods.

When he was first deciding on a place for the burial, Kit had thought of one with a view. But no one knew better than he did that killers often buried their victims in such places, and so he had searched for a location only he could find again, where the markers would not be so obvious to anyone else.

When he came to the chosen site, he carefully set the bundle aside and steeled himself for the next chore.

The digging.

The ground was not as hard here as in other places in the woods, but he found this task so difficult to begin, he nearly decided to choose some other way. A glance at the canvas bundle brought back his resolve — the other choices were not fitting.

Inside his leather gloves, his hands were slick with perspiration. He took hold of the small spade. The grating ring of its first stab into the earth made him dizzy, but again he took himself to task. He looked at the hard muscles of his arms, his large hands, his booted feet. He fitted his strength into a harness of remembered movement — thrust and step and lift and swing, thrust and step and lift and swing — settling into a rhythm divorced from thought, a familiar cadence that lulled him into the mindless completion of his work.

Still, he was weeping by the time he settled the small body into its resting place, and wept as he covered it. He placed a layer of stones within the grave when it was half-filled, to discourage scavengers. This he covered with soil. When he finished, he gathered leaves and spread them over the surface, so that it blended in with its surroundings. He stood back and looked at the grave from several different angles. When he felt confident that it was unlikely to be found, even by someone who was looking for it, he packed the spade away.

He had a kind of expertise in burial.

As he reached the ridge, he saw smoke coming from the cabin's chimney. He began running.

Spooky had found the matches.

Copyright © 2002 by Jan Burke

Meet the Author

Jan Burke is the author of a dozen novels and a collection of short stories. She is the founder of the Crime Lab Project and is a member of the board of the California Forensic Science Institute. She lives in Southern California with her husband and two dogs. Learn more about her at JanBurke.com.

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Nine 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Nine' was a surprisingly excellent read. As an avid reader of mystery and thriller novels, I must say this one is right up there. Just when you think you've had everything figured out, Jan Burke pulls your feet right out from under you. But still, the journey through the book is exciting and suspenseful. The characters are versatile, and storyline comes together like a jigsaw puzzle at the end. Highly recommended for those who love the genre. Burke is an automatic entry onto my author list.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fantastic book. A 100% must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book...highly recommend it. The story & characters were exceptional.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time!!! What a page-turner!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Whether good, evil, semi-good, or just confused, the characters in Nine are wonderfully complex and three-dimensional. Together with a tight, twisting plot, this is a read you wish would not end.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The word I'd use to describe this book is 'Phenomenal.' I dont normally read fiction, but this book really did it for me. It was an exciting, fast paced thriller. I had a very hard time putting it down. It should be made into a movie. I fell in love with Kit Logan and Det. Alex Brandon. I wish men like that really existed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is only the second book I have read by this author. All I can say is "I'm hooked" plus i love the fact that she is not afraid to wtite more than 300 pages. Its like everyone else wants to get it done so they can get paid. Cant wait to read the next one. Thanks for a GOOD book Jan
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldn't put this one down and, as a result, lost a couple nights of sleep. If you like crime novels, you'll love this one. After reading it, though, you'd better keep the lights on for a while.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ye. ((Reset my app
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I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone who wants more from a novel than a ridiculous plot filled with one-dimensional characters.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Jan Burker's NINE has it all. First, there's intriguing character development. Alex, a homicide detective with complicated family relationships, investigates a murder where a large numeral 9 is left painted on the wall. Secondly, a gripping plot -- the 9 goes on to be a 7 and 8 meaning there's a serial killing in progress. What could NINE mean? Sobering scenes come together to show how and why Project Nine came to being. An unusual twist adds to the dark flavor of the book.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Malibu, California is the location of Sedgewick a school where the rich send their offspring who get in trouble with the law. These juvenile offenders bought their way out of jail time and while Everett Corey was there he put together a gang that stayed close friends once they left the school. These wealthy adults are, with the help of friends in very high places, kidnapping and killing the members on FBI¿s ten most wanted list.

They are not doing this for altruistic reasons but for the adrenaline high and to thumb their noses at authority. The group is also going after people they have a grudge against including LAPD homicide detective Alex Hartwick, Meg Taggert and former Sedgewick student Kit Logan. To lure this enemy threesome into a trap, they use the people that the trio care most for as hostages.

NINE is a dark and gritty urban noir crime thriller that is nothing at all like the author¿s Irene Kelly series. For the most part readers don¿t care about the villains or heroes one way or another. The good guys and gals are remote and distant while the villains are simply nasty so it is difficult to relate to anyone, yet the story line is very exciting and is full of action packed high drama and adventure.

Harriet Klausner