Nobody Knows

Nobody Knows

by Mary Jane Clark


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Cassie Sheridan has all a television news reporter could want: an important beat in Washington D.C., a skyrocketing career, and a talent that everyone acknowledges. But then, she makes a critical mistake. Suddenly, her career is in shambles, her credibility is questioned, and her teenaged daughter makes her realize just how much time she hasn't spent with her. The repercussions of ambitious reporting have now derailed the career of KEY News justice correspondent Cassie Sheridan.

Cassie is transferred to Miami, to wait out the end of her contract-separated from her family, her friends, and the familiarity of Washington. But in an unsuspecting south Florida town, a killer is watching...and waiting.

While covering a hurricane that's moving up Florida's west coast, Cassie meets 11-year-old Vincent, who has just made a grisly discovery on the beach. In one week, Cassie traces the connection between Vincent's newfound "treasure" and a secret operation in the dark shadows of sunny Sarasota-a story that has national significance and maybe, just maybe, will win back her reputation. But nobody knows how fierce the coming storm will be. Nobody knows how far a psychopath will go in pursuit of twisted pleasure. Nobody knows if a young woman's murderer will stop at nothing to keep the crimes a secret. And nobody knows if Cassie will get out alive. . . .

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250100399
Publisher: St. Martins Press-3PL
Publication date: 08/01/2003
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 509,622
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.79(d)

About the Author

Mary Jane Clark is the author of five novels, including: Do You Want To Know A Secret, Do You Promise Not TO Tell, Let Me Whisper In Your Ear, and Close To You. She is a producer and a writer at CBS News in New York City and lives in northern New Jersey.

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St. Martin's Paperbacks

Copyright © 2003 Mary Jane Clark
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-312-98383-2

Chapter One

Vincent blinked his brown eyes, groggily adjusting to the early morning light that slipped through the space between the window frame and the frayed vinyl shade. The first thing he heard was the comforting drone of the air conditioner. The second thing he heard was the familiar sound of his brother's cough.

Kicking off the cotton blanket, Vincent sat up, threw his legs over the side of the twin mattress, and stared at his younger brother lying in the companion bed crammed into the small room. Unmindful of his latest coughing episode, five-year-old Mark still slept. Vincent supposed the kid had to sleep through it if he was to get any rest at all. Mark had been hacking through the night, every night, for as long as Vincent could remember.

Many nights the eleven-year-old would listen in the dark to the coughing coming from the next bed. He was afraid that his brother was getting worse. He resented that Mom focused so much of her attention on Mark. He was angry that he had to help with his little brother when every other kid his age seemed to be out playing without a care in the world. He was relieved that he didn't have the same condition that afflicted his brother. And then, ultimately, he felt guilty. Why did Mark have cystic fibrosis? Why had Vincent been spared?

The doctor at the clinic had tried to explain it. Some people unknowingly carried the defective CF gene. Both mother and father had to have the gene and pass it on to their baby. Mark had gotten the sickly combination. Vincent had not. It was just the luck of the draw.

Some luck, thought Vincent as he quietly pulled on his shorts. His brother had an incurable disease, his mother was worried all the time, and he hadn't seen his father since three Christmases ago.

Careful not to make any noise, Vincent stepped gingerly over Mark's inhaler on the bedroom floor. He couldn't wait to get to the beach. He hoped he hadn't missed anything good by not going late yesterday afternoon after the swimmers and sunbathers left. That was the time to go, at the end of the day, the time with the best chance of finding the good stuff. But Mom had to go into work early to cover for one of the other waitresses who'd called in sick and Vincent had to stay with Mark and give him the treatment with the pounder.

Vincent hated the pounder, the electric chest clapper that helped dislodge the mucus that built up in Mark's lungs. But the pounder was a lot better than the old-fashioned way Mom used to do it, clapping and pounding on Mark's chest with her fists. Three times a day for twenty to thirty minutes each time. Little as he was, Mark never complained. In fact, he said it didn't hurt. But Vincent cringed to watch it.

Mom tried to make the time go faster by singing songs with Mark. For Vincent, television was the preferred diversion during the pounding treatments, as much to keep his mind off what they were doing as to distract his brother.

The door to his mother's bedroom was open, and Vincent stepped though the doorway. A ceiling fan whirred over Mom's bed, moving around the sticky air. There was only one air conditioner in the small, rented cottage and the boys had it in their room. Mark's condition demanded it. Vincent supposed that was one plus. Another was the mini-trampoline that lay on the living room floor. Mom had bought that for Mark to jump up and down on to supplement his chest physical therapy, which gave Vincent a chance to play around on it, too.

His mother stirred in her bed and, in her fitful sleep, muttered something that Vincent could not understand. He walked over to the bed. Her blond hair was tangled on the pillow, and there were dark smudges under her eyes left by the mascara she hadn't bothered to wash off when she got home last night. Jumbled together on the floor at the foot of the bed were white sneakers, denim shorts, and a black T-shirt with the bulldog mascot of The Salty Dog stenciled across the front.

Vincent tiptoed to the dresser and counted the carefully stacked bills that lay on top of the chipped paint. Forty-eight dollars. Hardly worth the night's work. But that was August in Florida. During "the season," when Siesta Key was crowded with all the northerners who came down to escape the miserable winters in their home states, a dinner-shift waitress at The Salty Dog could bring home two hundred dollars for serving frosty beers, clam chowder, shrimp poppers, fish-and-chips, and battered, deep-fried hot dogs to the steady stream of customers who came to the informal open-air restaurant.

Mom worked the dinner shift so she could be home with Mark during the day while Vincent was at school. But Mark, already reciting the alphabet and beginning to sound out words, was about to start full days himself. Vincent hoped Mom would keep her promise to work more lunches and, when the snowbirds returned to Siesta Key in November, go back to cleaning houses and condos for extra money so she could stay home with them at night. He didn't want to admit it to anyone, but it was scary sometimes being home taking care of Mark. Scary and time-consuming and distracting. Vincent's grades had fallen over the past year, and the teacher had told Mom that, with the material getting harder, he needed more help with his homework.

Vincent was tempted to wake his mother and tell her where he was going, let her know that he was forced to get up so early to get to the beach and see if he could make up for missing yesterday. Instead, he took a pencil and scribbled a note on the back of the envelope that had the bill in it from the telephone company. One of the many bills lying unopened on the cracked linoleum counter. As he headed out, Vincent stopped to strap on his rubber-soled sandals and grabbed the metal detector propped up next to the front door.

Though the air inside his house was warm, the whirring ceiling fans made it bearable. The air that greeted Vincent outside was oppressive, even at this early hour. The heat and humidity enveloped him as he walked down the front steps and onto the road heading toward the beach. He had gone just two blocks when he felt the first trickle of perspiration drip from his temple. By the time he got to the next corner, the back of his neck was wet.

The streets were quiet. Most mornings there would have been a few joggers out, but today it seemed that not even the most devoted wanted to brave the heat. Vincent recognized the haunting cry of a mourning dove, though he couldn't tell where the eerie coo was coming from. A gecko scampered across the sidewalk in front of him, eager, Vincent supposed, to get off the baking macadam and onto the cooler grass.

Vincent noticed the scattered vacancy signs in front of the rental condominiums and bungalows. August might be a busy time of year at northern beaches but not at Siesta Key. Compared with the winter and spring, summer made a relative ghost town of Sarasota's barrier island.

For Vincent, August meant that vacation time was over and school would soon be starting again. Next week, to be exact. He felt a lump in his throat as he thought about it. A sixth-grader now, he would be going to the middle school, at the lowest rung of the ladder, with all the seventh- and eighth-graders above him. Vincent was keenly aware that he was small for his age, but at least last year he had been on top of the elementary school heap. Now he was going to be at the bottom. He had heard that middle school was brutal. He didn't want to go.

He crossed over Beach Road and passed a trash can full of discarded Budweiser cartons and bottles before he stepped onto the white sand. The sand of Siesta Beach was famous, and Vincent was proud of the fact. One year, Vincent knew, Siesta Key had been chosen Best Overall in the International Sand Contest, competing with exotic places like Barbados, Antigua, and the Grand Bahamas for the title. Siesta Key's sugary sand, composed of billions and billions of tiny crystals, was judged to be the finest and whitest in the competition. Now Vincent scuffed through the prized soft powder and switched on the metal detector.

He had to give it to his mom, he thought, as he swept the detector over the sand. She tried to do the best she could with the money she made. She was always going to garage sales and picking up things he could use. A bike, a skateboard, a tennis racket, a snorkel mask and fins. This metal detector was, with the exception of his bicycle, the sweetest thing she had ever found. She had bought it and put it away and given it to him on his birthday in June, apologizing that it wasn't brand new. Vincent couldn't have cared less. All summer long he had been sweeping the beach. Every day was a treasure hunt.

Mostly the giant wand found lost change. Quarters, dimes, and nickels and pennies that Vincent rinsed off in the water of the Gulf of Mexico and stuffed into his pockets until he went into the village and spent them on chocolate ice cream cones at Big Olaf's or threw them into the empty coffee can on top of the dresser he shared with his brother. The instant money was good, but jewelry was even better. It made Vincent feel like a pirate, finding buried treasure.

So far his summer booty had included a gold cross and chain, a Timex watch, a silver bracelet, and lots of single earrings. One earring had a diamond in it. Gideon had taken him to a jewelry store on the Tamiami Trail and the man there paid fifty bucks for it!

This morning, oblivious to prehistoric-looking pelicans skimming the green water, the gulls pecking in the sand for food, and the cloud-dotted blue sky stretching as far as the eye could see out over the Gulf, Vincent swept the metal detector back and forth over the beach, dreaming of making another great find. The machine sounded off, and Vincent dug beneath the fine grains to uncover a metal comb. He tossed it aside. Next he found a quarter. And then another. He slipped them into his pocket.

He made his way up the beach toward the Old Pier, Gideon's favorite place to fish for pompano and permit. But the old fisherman wasn't there. Vincent cut in across the beach toward the worn, concrete seawall. He'd found good stuff at the foot of the seawall before, stuff that had been swept in by the tide.

A mound of green and black seaweed lay clumped at the bottom of the wall. Vincent passed the metal detector over it, and the indicator went off. Not relishing the idea of picking up the slimy sea grass, he cast around for something to do it for him. The neck of that discarded beer bottle would do the trick.

Vincent squatted down, inserted the brown glass beneath the seaweed, and pulled back. At first he thought what he saw had to be a fake. He bent down closer. No, it was real, all right. The boy took a deep breath and gagged.

Oh, sick! This was nasty.

Nestled in the prizewinning soft, white sand, a gold ring with glittering red stones gleamed in the morning sun. The ring constricted the finger of a swollen human hand.

Chapter Two

The sunrise. Thank God for the sunrise.

At least for a few minutes as Cassie ran to the end of the dock that zigzagged out into Biscayne Bay, the magnificence of the sun rising over the blue-green water into Florida's spectacular sky made everything else seem utterly unimportant. For those few moments every morning, Cassie had the relief of being able to fill her mind with the sunrise and push away the memories of what had happened. Her life was a wreck, and Cassie couldn't see that she'd ever be able to straighten things out.

A stranger passing Cassie on her morning run through the already hot and humid Miami Shores streets wouldn't know the pain she was in by looking at her. Five months into her assignment as KEY News Miami Bureau correspondent, Cassie was in far better physical shape than she had ever been in Washington.

The daily three-mile runs that she took to maintain her sanity and clear her mind had firmed her up and trimmed her down. Though she rarely got to the beach, she had a glowing tan, the result of all the outside work she was doing in her new assignment. In her old life, Cassie never had a tan. As justice correspondent, she'd spent most of her days in climate-controlled offices. She'd gone from reporting from the sheltered FBI headquarters or the Supreme Court on stories with national implications to standing sunburned and thigh-high in muck in El Salvador mud slides or picking through the debris left in Louisiana trailer parks ravaged by tornadoes. Such was the scope of the Miami Bureau. Cassie could be called on to cover anything that happened in the southeastern quadrant of the United States as well as Central and South America.

It would have been a big help if she had spoken Spanish. But she didn't. Her high school Spanish had long since left her, and she hadn't given it much mind. In Washington everyone spoke English, of course, and Washington was where she belonged. Washington or New York, that is.

She had loved her job as KEY News justice correspondent, but she had been ready for a professional change. Covering the Supreme Court, the Justice Department, and the FBI was challenging and stimulating, especially in the months after the terrorist attacks. Cassie's pieces had been on Evening Headlines almost every night, reporting developments in the investigation, describing the new world of anthrax and wiretaps and Level One security alerts, Most Wanted lists of international terrorists and multimillion-dollar rewards for their capture. With the exception of the anchorwoman, Eliza Blake, Cassie had had more airtime since the attacks than any other female correspondent at KEY News. It would have been satisfying to leave the Washington Bureau on such a high note.

Cassie was aware, too, that her clock was ticking. Now that she was thirty-nine years old, the once open vistas of broadcast journalism had begun to feel a bit more limited. The network chiefs could say what they wanted, but they were still more likely to put older men than older women on the prime-time news shows.

Yes, it had seemed just the time to make the switch and move to New York.

But then the Maggie Lynch story had changed everything, making all Cassie's big career plans seem so inconsequential. A young girl was dead, and Cassie had played a part in that. As a mother herself, she could understand Pamela Lynch's agony and rage and her need for justice. The rapist was still out there somewhere, hidden and anonymous, but Cassie was front and center, a target for vengeance. A deserving target.

Cassie winced as she turned her back on the hopeful sun and started across the dock to the shore. She had to get home, if you could call the apartment that. She needed to shower, dress, and force herself to go to a job that was a constant reminder of her failure.


Excerpted from NOBODY KNOWS by MARY JANE CLARK Copyright © 2003 by Mary Jane Clark. 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.

Table of Contents

What People are Saying About This

Fern Michaels

Nobody Knows is as slick as they come. A real page-turner! (Fern Michaels, New York Times bestselling author of Plain Jane)


Non-stop Praise For Mary Jane Clark

Nobody Knows
"As a hurricane approaches and a dead woman's hand washes ashore, Cassie pieces together a bizarre puzzle with pieces tying back to the serial rapist."-Booklist

"Clear, flowing prose...[Clark] has an insider's expertise that adds to the novel's verisimilitude...[Clark] makes ample use of her insider credentials and story lines right out of the headlines...[a] well-crafted page turner."

"An enjoyable read."-Brazosport Facts (Brazos, TX)

Close To You
"Smooth is the word for this expert thriller...moving along effortlessly and unhurriedly, acquiring characters and subplots as it goes, always focusing on the climax the reader knows will come when the killer finally makes his move...Clark's tale deliver the goods...Clark's depiction of the stalkers who plague celebrities disturbs and convinces, and her characters come alive on the page: criminal, sick, genuinely evil, or simply flawed and very human."--Publishers Weekly

"An eerie story [with] a satisfying ending."--Providence Journal

"Gave me chills right from Chapter One...This really is 'behind the camera'-Mary Jane Clark gets the details right."-Vicky Mabrey, Correspondent, Sixty Minutes II

"[An] expert tale...delivers the goods."--Publishers Weekly

"Mary Jane Clark nails it; with every page my heart raced faster."--Gretchen Carlson, Anchor, CBS Saturday Show

"Clark's story retains its suspense throughout."--Newark Star-Ledger

"Mary Jane Clark has brought home the reality that being on television is not always so glamorous: Sometimes it can be downright terrifying!"--ElizabethKaledin, Correspondent, CBS Evening News with Dan Rather

"A frightening-and firsthand-look at the darker side of celebrity."--Sun Herald (Colusa, CA)

Let Me Whisper in Your Ear
"A suspense-charged, absorbing tale of treachery, troubled psyches, and flawed relationships that leaps beyond romantic suspense into the heart's darkest realms...Kept me guessing right up until the final jolting betrayal " --Perri O'Shaughnessy, author of Unfit to Practice

"Mary Jane Clark keeps the reader on the edge of [his or her] seat in Let Me Whisper in Your Ear. The combination of mind-dazzling suspense and nostalgia for the glory days of Palisades Park is a heady one. Lovers of great romantic mysteries will surely want to read the other novels of Ms. Clark."-Romantic Times

Do You Promise Not To Tell?
"Clark, who in real life is a writer and producer for CBS News, understands how to hang on to her audience. Her characters are the sorts with whom many readers identify. Her first book, Do You Want To Know A Secret?, had pluses. It was well told; its characters and plot were compelling. But Promise is stronger is a fun read with some nifty twists." --USA Today

"The suspense never flags, and the killer's identity remains a secret long into the tale...for those who can't get enough of the competitively backbiting world of network news, this novel offers entertaining verisimilitude."--Publishers Weekly

"In news as in life, luck often counts as much as hard work. Clark captures the spirit of an enterprising reporter who relies on both to 'get' the story of her life."--Deborah Norville, anchor, Inside Edition

Do You Want To Know A Secret?
"Clark...spins a tightly knit whodunit with engaging characters and a suspenseful plot."
--Publishers Weekly

"The secret is out: Mary Jane Clark is one of the most exciting novels in America today. Her debut thriller takes us on a suspense-filled insider's tour of the corridors of power in politics and journalism where everybody's got a secret, everybody wants a scoop-and now somebody has murder in mind. Do You Want to Know A Secret? is an unabashed edge-of-the-seat, they-don't-write-'em-like-that-anymore, unplug-the-phone-and-disconnect-the-TV page-turning stunner!"--Dan Rather

"Do You Want to Know A Secret? is a brilliantly structured thriller. The secrets and surprises just keep coming and make perfect sense in the TV media world that Mary Jane Clark has absolutely nailed."--Janet Evanovich, author of To the Nines

"Secrets...ambition...intrigue...Mary Jane Clark knowingly seduces you in this intensely suspenseful behind-the-media-scenes thriller."--Joan Rivers

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