The Faces of Evil Series: Book 3
Agent Jess Harris is back in another thrilling installment of Debra Webb's Faces of Evil series.
Jess is ready to start the next chapter in her life as the new deputy chief of Birmingham's major crimes division. But with her first love, Chief of Police Dan Burnett, acting as her new boss, it looks like Jess won't be able to put the past behind her that easily.
Jess has decided to focus all of her attention on work when a celebrated ballet instructor is found dead by one of her students. Though Jess's instincts tell her otherwise, the death is ruled an accident, and the case is assigned to another division. Still, Jess can't shake the feeling that there's more to the story, and her investigation leads her into the worlds of Birmingham's gang culture and its powerful elite.
Now Jess's investigation has dug a little too deep, and there's a target painted on her own forehead. Will she be able to solve the crime before her own life is in jeopardy?
"Compelling main characters and chilling villains elevate Debra Webb's Faces of Evil series into the realm of high-intensity thrillers that readers won't be able to resist." New York Times bestselling author CJ Lyons
"Just when you think Debra Webb can't get any better, she does. OBSESSION is her best work yet. This gritty, edge of your seat, white knuckle thriller is peopled with tough, credible characters and a brilliant plot that will keep you guessing until the very end. Move over Jack Reacher - Jess Harris is comin' to town." Cindy Gerard, New York Times best-selling author, award winning author of the Black Ops, Inc. series
"Debra Webb's name says it all..." Karen Rose
About the Author
Debra Webb, born in Alabama, wrote her first story at age nine and her first romance at thirteen. It wasn't until she spent three years working for the military behind the Iron Curtain-and did a five-year stint with NASA-that she realized her true calling. She set a collision course between suspense and romance. Since then she has penned nearly one hundred novels including her internationally bestselling Colby Agency series. Her debut romantic thriller series, Faces of Evil, propelled Debra to the top of the bestsellers charts for an unparalleled twenty-four weeks and garnered critical acclaim from reviewers and readers alike. Don't miss a single installment of this fascinating and chilling series!
You can write to Debra at PO Box 12485, Huntsville, AL, 35815, or learn more at:
Read an Excerpt
By Debra Webb
Grand Central PublishingCopyright © 2013 Debra Webb
All rights reserved.
Cotton Avenue, Birmingham, Alabama
Monday, July 26, 2:45 p.m.
I need an estimate on time of death as soon as possible."
The young doctor who Jess suspected was new to Jefferson County's coroner's office shot her a look from his kneeling position next to the victim. "Chief Harris, I just got here. There's an order to the steps I'm required to take."
Definitely new. Once he'd played his part at enough crime scenes he would understand that there was nothing orderly about murder.
Jess rearranged her lips into a smile that was as far from patient as the harried expression on the inexperienced ME's face. "I'm well aware of those steps, Doctor, but"—she glanced down the long center hall to ensure herself that Sergeant Harper was successfully keeping the potential witnesses away from the French doors and windows that overlooked the mansion's palatial gardens—"I have six little girls out back who are in various stages of hysteria and their mothers are chomping at the bit to take them home. I need time of death so I can question them with some reasonable grasp on the timeline we're dealing with here."
Before their mothers got any antsier and decided to lawyer up, Jess kept to herself.
The fact was she had heard enough rumors about the typical dance mom mentality to understand that once the shock of this tragedy wore off, things would change. Not only would lawyers be called in but the ladies would close ranks to protect whatever secrets they felt compelled to keep, particularly if those secrets carried any ramifications whatsoever on their daughters' placement on the food chain of this exclusive dance studio.
Technically, Jess was supposed to ask if they wanted to have their attorneys present during questioning, but mere technicalities had never hampered her before. With the level of panic among the girls as well as their mothers when Jess first arrived, who would be surprised if she failed to ask if one or more wanted their attorney present?
Unmoved by Jess's explanation, Doctor What's-his-name shifted his attention back to the victim sprawled in an unnatural manner on the unforgiving marble floor. "Like I said, there are steps. I'll get to that one momentarily."
Jess pressed her lips together to prevent saying something she would regret. What was it about this younger generation that prompted such flagrant disrespect? She hitched her bag higher on her shoulder. When she was his age, early thirties she guessed, Jess would never have sassed her elders. She wouldn't do that now, for pity's sake. The notion that she was nearly a decade older than the ME was considerably depressing, but it was a reality she'd learned to deal with since whizzing past the dreaded forty milestone.
Whoever said that sixty was the new thirty was so very full of crap. Forty wasn't even the new thirty.
Well—she pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose—there wasn't a thing she could do about getting older. The insolence, however, she refused to stand for. Just because the still-wet-behind-the-ears ME was cute didn't mean she intended to ignore his attitude. "Excuse me ..." He gazed up at her with egregious reluctance. She lifted her eyebrows in question. "Doctor ...?"
"Schrader. Dr. Harlan Schrader."
"Well, Dr. Schrader, I understand you have steps, but if you would kindly just get your little thermometer out of your nifty bag and give me an approximate time of death I promise I'll be out of your way." She propped her lips into a smile she hoped wasn't too blatantly forged and added the perfunctory magic word, "Please."
"Okay." He held up his gloved hands in a show of dramatic surrender. "I'll do that right now."
"Thank you, Dr. Schrader."
Jess stepped to the door and surveyed the activity beyond the official vehicles cluttering the cobblestoned drive that encircled the massive fountain in front of the house. The historic mansion sat in the middle of seven elegant and rare acres. With any luck the towering oak and pecan trees with their low-slung branches prevented street traffic from identifying the official vehicles ominously gathered. At the street, BPD uniforms guarded the gated entrance to the property in an effort to keep the curious and the newshounds at bay once word hit the airwaves. Having the press show up in droves, and in this posh neighborhood they definitely would, complicated any investigation. Frankly, she was surprised the impressive residence didn't come with its own private security team. Oddly, there was no security, not even at the ornate, towering entry gate, and no housekeeping staff—at least not today.
The crime scene techs had already documented the scene with photographs and video. Prints and trace materials were being collected now in hopes of discovering some sort of usable evidence. Sergeant Harper had gotten the call from BPD's finest at one forty-eight. He and Lieutenant Prescott had rushed over without mentioning that as of today they were no longer assigned to Crimes Against Persons. Suited Jess just fine. Sitting on her laurels until a case was assigned to her new SPU, Special Problems Unit, wasn't how she'd wanted to start off her first week in the department.
Then again, foul play had not been established in this case as of yet. Jess considered the position of the body in the foyer next to the grand staircase. It appeared the victim, Darcy Chandler, had fallen over the upstairs railing to her death. Or she'd jumped. Either way, her death was, to their knowledge thus far, unaccompanied and obviously of a violent nature. An investigation was standard protocol.
When she first arrived Jess had followed the techs up the stairs and checked the landing. Her attention wandered there now. The hardwood floor was clear of debris and substances that might have posed a trip hazard or made it slippery. The railing didn't meet the height criteria for current building codes, but with historic homes, and this one dated back to the mid-1800s, features like the railing were grandfathered in. A good thing for those who appreciated history, not so good for Ms. Chandler.
The only odd aspect of the scene Jess had noted so far was that Ms. Chandler's very expensive fuchsia-colored Gucci pumps, which exactly matched the elegant sheath she wore, sat next to the railing on the second floor. The careful placement gave the appearance that she had removed the shoes and positioned them just so as if she feared scarring her favorite pair of designer shoes while taking her fatal dive. Judging by the meticulous organization of her closets as well as the pristine condition of the house in general, the victim was unquestionably a perfectionist to some degree. That could very well explain the decision to remove and set aside her shoes. Maybe. But in Jess's opinion the shoes merited a closer look.
"I would estimate time of death," Dr. Schrader announced, drawing Jess's attention back to him as he checked his wristwatch, "at between twelve noon and one."
Less than two hours before the arrival of the BPD. "Thank you, Dr. Schrader."
The glance he cast her way advised that her gratitude was not appreciated any more than her pushy approach had been. She'd have to find a way to get back in his good graces another time. Maybe a gift certificate from one of the trendy shops in the Galleria would do the trick since the polo, sports jacket, and stone-washed jeans he wore could have been stripped right off the mannequins adorning the storefronts of said shops.
Right now, however, a woman was dead and that was Jess's top priority. She could make nice with Dr. I'm-Too-Sexy-for-Manners later.
Armed with the vital piece of information she needed, she headed for the French doors at the end of the long hall that cut through the center of one of Birmingham's oldest and grandest homes. She squared her shoulders, cleared her throat, and exited to the terrace that flowed out into the gardens designed by some master gardener who hailed from England. And who, according to a bronze plaque that boasted the bragging rights, descended from the gardener of the royal family.
Only the rich and self-proclaimed fabulous would display the pedigree of the guy who cut the grass and watered the roses. Where Jess lived she was lucky if the guys who wielded the lawn mowers and weed whackers spoke English much less shared their pedigrees. That information would likely get them deported. Not that Jess minded one way or the other as long as the job was done properly. Considering she spent the better part of her formative years in a carousel of foster homes, she wasn't one to judge.
Sergeant Chet Harper met Jess just outside the grand doors. "I don't know how much longer Lieutenant Prescott can keep the girls calm and their mothers compliant. One's already demanded to know if they're suspects."
Jess resisted the urge to groan. "Thank you, Sergeant."
Prescott, the girls, and their mothers were seated in the butterfly garden. As soon as Harper had called, Jess had instructed him to see that the girls did not discuss the incident among themselves or with anyone else. Not an easy task. Particularly once the mothers had started to arrive and to demand to see their children. The girls all had cell phones and had called their mothers while the assistant teacher called 911.
Guess who showed up first? Not the police or EMS. Which guaranteed the scene had been contaminated repeatedly by little fingers and feet as well as curious and horrified mothers.
God, she didn't want to think about it. Whether a murder had occurred or not, the scene should be handled with the same vigilant protocol.
"FYI," Harper added with a knowing glance above his stylish Ray-Bans, "Andrea insisted on calling the chief."
Jess did groan this time. Andrea Denton, Chief of Police Daniel Burnett's stepdaughter from his last failed marriage and a survivor from the first case Jess had worked with the Birmingham Police Department scarcely two weeks ago. Funny, this was the third case Jess had supported since returning to her hometown and Andrea had been a part of all three. The poor girl apparently had a knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"I suppose he's coming," Jess commented, trying valiantly not to show her disappointment. There was nothing like having the boss watching over her shoulder on her first official case as a deputy chief. Even if the boss was Dan—a man with whom she had a difficult-to-define off-duty relationship. Leaving the bureau and returning to her hometown was supposed to have uncomplicated her life. Not.
Clearly she had been delusional to believe for one second that she could exist in the same city, much less department, with Dan and avoid complications.
Marvelous. "Any luck locating the husband?" Darcy Chandler, the one and only daughter of one of the city's most noteworthy families, was married to some apparently equally famous Russian dancer, now retired and teaching ballet classes to the children of Birmingham's who's who. "What's his name again?"
"Alexander Mayakovsky," Harper reminded her. "Haven't located him yet. His cell still goes straight to voice mail."
"Since this is where he works, he's obviously not at work." Frustration and impatience creased Jess's brow. She consciously forced the lines away. She had enough wrinkles, all of which had taken up residence in all the wrong places on her face. Not that there was a right place, she amended. What she didn't have was the vic's husband. The worst part of working an unattended death, whether accidental, suicide, or homicide, was informing the next of kin.
"Go to the vic's parents. Maybe they'll have some idea where he is. Get as much information as you can before you give them the bad news." As coldhearted as that tactic sounded, it was the only way to glean coherent information in a timely manner. And when a person died some way other than by natural causes, he or she deserved a timely investigation. Since Darcy's parents hadn't shown up, there was reason to believe unofficial word hadn't reached them yet.
That would change very soon.
Harper went on his way and Jess steeled herself for entering foreign territory. "You can do this," she murmured.
As she approached the mothers, their prepubescent daughters clinging to their bosoms, all six women started talking at once.
Jess had interviewed every manner of witness and person of interest, including more than her share of sociopaths and a handful of psychopaths, but she'd never dreaded conducting interviews more than she did at this very moment.
Children absolutely, completely, and utterly unnerved her. Give her a run-of-the-mill serial killer any day of the week.
It was true. Though Jess loved her niece and nephew, she had no children of her own and there was a good reason for that. She lacked patience and all those other soft and earthy motherly skills. And at forty-something-or-other she had no desire to deal with the issue.
As if the good Lord wanted to remind her that going against the natural scheme of things made Him less than happy, the children all started whining at once.
Simultaneously, only in louder voices, the mothers wanted to know why they were being detained like suspects. Did they need to provide their fingerprints? Where was Alex, Darcy's husband?
Jess wouldn't mind knowing the answer to that last question herself.
"I know this is difficult," she said above their escalating demands. "But it's imperative that we all stay as calm as possible."
Thankfully the whole frazzled entourage fell silent. "My name is Deputy Chief Jess Harris. At this time it won't be necessary to take any fingerprints, but I will be interviewing each of you, along with your daughters."
Evidently finding her announcement utterly disagreeable or somehow debatable, the women launched more questions.
"As I said," Jess cut them off firmly, "I know this is very difficult, but I need your patience and your cooperation. Ms. Chandler is counting on us to do this right."
The suggestion seemed to calm the mothers. Unfortunately it had a different effect on the daughters. A fresh wave of tears commenced. Jess cringed inwardly at the idea that she'd made the little girls cry again. She really was no good at this.
"Lieutenant Prescott, if you would keep these ladies comfortable while they wait for their turns, we'll get this done."
"Whatever you say, Chief."
Prescott's tone was pleasant enough but the irritation simmering in her gaze didn't quite rise to the challenge. She was not any happier now than she'd been a week ago when word that Jess had gotten the position of deputy chief had flowed along the BPD grapevine like a bad Chianti.
Prescott's subsequent assignment to Jess's unit just seemed like bad karma for them both. Case in point, Prescott had wanted to start the interviews with the daughters before Jess even arrived at the scene.
No, the woman was not happy.
Jess shifted her attention to Andrea, the chief's stepdaughter and the assistant teacher at this ballet school while she was home from college for the summer. "Andrea, if you would come with me to the conservatory, please."
Relieved to escape the mayhem that would no doubt descend as soon as she was out of hearing range, Jess marched toward the conservatory. Andrea followed, still dressed in her black leotard and dance slippers.
The conservatory was a massive addition to the back of the house that had likely been used at one time as a sunroom and a place for entertaining. For the past thirty or so years it had served as a dance studio. First by Darcy Chandler's nationally celebrated grandmother, then, more recently, by her and her famous husband whose name Jess still couldn't pronounce properly no matter that Harper had repeated it to her three times.
When the door was closed, Jess took a moment to survey the space. Gleaming wood floors had replaced what had likely once been tile or stone. A soaring ceiling was surrounded by towering glass walls that allowed sunlight to fill the room. The view of the gardens was nothing short of spectacular. Talk about living like royalty.
With a gesture toward the one table surrounded by chairs near the garden entrance, Jess asked, "Why don't we sit here?"
Excerpted from Power by Debra Webb. Copyright © 2013 Debra Webb. Excerpted by permission of Grand Central Publishing.
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
Reviewed by: Terri N Book provided by: NetGalley Review originally posted at Romancing the Book In this story, there were two very different mysteries going on at the same time which made for a very interesting read. Jess, as usual, throws her self in full force to solve them both. I really like how she is so passionate about her work and once she is on to something, nothing will stop her from following it to the end. I enjoyed the realistic setting and elements of the story, especially the part with the gangs. Being from Birmingham, where the book takes place, I know how scary the city can be at night. When she talks about how the community shuts down when the sun goes down, I can relate. I worked in one those parts of town and it’s exactly what happens. As I read, I continued to be intrigued with Jess. She had a lot of dimensions. She’s tough as nails when she works, nothing or no one intimidates her. Her vulnerable side shows when it comes to Dan. She feels things that she doesn’t want or expect to feel and like the rest of us she has a hard time dealing with it. Although part of her doesn’t care what anyone thinks, another part wants to fit in with the rest of the people in her department. The books in the Faces of Evil series are not your typical Debra Webb books. Things finally heated up at the end of this one and let me just say the scene was outstanding. This book started off slower than the other two in the series and I found myself skimming through the first couple of chapters. However, once the action started, it was fast paced all the way to the end and I couldn’t put this book down. There were some things I was able to figure out before they were revealed in the book, but it’s not too predictable.
This third installment in the Faces of Evil series is awesome! If you like romantic suspense you should definitely check out this series. With twists and turns, this is a thriller you won't want to put down!
No one can bring characterst to life like Debra Webb. The heat between Jess Harris and Dan Burnett makes this a must read. From the first page to the last POWER is a packed with everything romantic suspense should be.
Once again Debra Webb has written a series that is powerful and each book gets better. The third book finds the heroine Jess starting her new job and immediately caught up in the politics of of the Old Boys School. She is taken off of the first case and put on another case but that does not stop Jess from not letting go of that first case of the death of the ballerina. Dan her boss and lover butt heads as she deals with her insecurities and struggles to find a balance to her work and life. As Jess works to solve her case and follow the rules she she cannot help but do things her way. Even if that means getting into trouble. By the end of the book you are left anxiously waiting to read the next book.
R u ok
Shes at fun but you should hurry before she goes off...meanwhile im sorry but my mom is yelling at me to go to bed
Powers: shapeshifter of elements: animal elements, fire, liquid,earth, metalic,and etc ( all of these she can shapeshift into) looks: dirtyblond haired girl ( hair waist length and always in a braid) her eyes that change color of her emotion, she wares jeans and a white shirt and camo jacket and sneakers
Age: 16/ height: 5'3"/ weight: 100 pounds/ powers: fire. Carrier of grey, though she doesnt know it./ gender: female/ appearance: short and very thin. She has shoulderlength blond hair and blue eyes. She wears a green t-shirt and jeans. Anything else, ask.
Name: Samantha Kilen <P> Age: 15 <p> Powers: Basic: Fire Normal: Electricity <p> Looks: Dark ginger hair that hangs in her pale stormy blue eyes on the right side. She is fairly lean, but tends to not each much so isn't very healthy. Usually wears a hoodie, combat boots and her skinny jeans. <p> Personality: Sweet and kind but had a nasty attitude. <p> Bf/Gf: None (Oh the gf or bf was because she's bi.) <p> Crush: No
Name: Bone. o.O<br><br>Age: N/A.<br><br>Appearance: Varies.<br><br>Powers: (Forgive me if I stray from your crappy powers. There's about 4,669 pages of superpowers on Superpower Wikia. Bro, you haven't even gotten close to grazing the surface.) Self-Molecular Manipulation.<br>Capabilities<br>The user can manipulate their own molecular structure to achieve a variety of different effects.<br>Applications (Full List not Posted. The following is for this character.)<br>Self-Density Manipulation.<br>Enhanced Condition -- enhanced Durability, Speed, Strength.<br>Limited Regeneration.<br>Limited Shape-Shifting.<br>Limitations<br>One should be careful with this power or risk dangerous side-effects.<br><br>Bone Manipulation.<br>Capabilities<br>The user has complete control over the bones of oneself, including growing, shaping, manipulating density/weight, using as projectiles/weapons, etc. They can also manipulate bare skeletons or seperate bones.<br>Applications<br>Bone Generation<br>Bone Density Manipulation<br>Skeletal Constructs.<br><br><br>Personality: I am pessimistic, slightly anti-social. I have trouble pin-pointing my exact personality.<br><br>Affiliation: I prefer villain. x)<br><br>Status: Single. I've been like that for a while. But all the peeps here suck at spelling, so don't expect that to change.<br><br>Miscellaneous: I doubt I spelled that right...but the fu<3>ck, right? Meh. My favorite movies are Man of Steel and Despicable Me 2, my favorite book series is Beyonders.<br><br>Ehh...I can't think of anything else to post.
Hero name: Whipwoman Real name: Angelica Age: is 11 but looks 15 Powers: Controls fire and water Weapons: two whips and two katanas and a hidden pistol Appearence: shiny black hair, piercing blue eyes,tanned skin, and scars on one arm from... an 'accident' Parents: Superman and WonderWoman History:.....um... Anything else: just ask
Name: e_O <br> Nicknames: Luna, Lunar <br> Titles: Lithi (meant Moon in her birth language), the Silver One, the Broken Moon <br> Gender: *Facepalm.* <br> Age: Like... 10 or something. Really. <br> Powers: The moon, and pale glows. <br> Weapons: Luna Ecanta (her sword). <br> Appearance: Very pale, long black hair that turns into strands of moonlight in the night, light yellow eyes. <br> Clothes: Crescent moon earrings, black shirt, white jeans, and black Converse.
Name: Rosalie Bryant ..... call me Rose though... <p> Age: 16 <p> Powers: basic~ she can control water | normal~ she has poisonous saliva, and her blood is also poisonous to touch/drink <p> Description: her skin is pale, and etheral, and her eyes are a light, spring green. Her hair is light blond, that is dip-dyed a vibrant blue at the tips. Her average outfit consists of a pair of dark, ripped skinny jeans, one of her favorite band t-shirts(pierce the veil, Sleeping with sirens, ghost town, etc.), and a pair of white converse. <p> Personality: Rose is friendly, despite what people usually think, but can sometimes be a serious b*tch. She has an attitude, but it's generally kept in-check, unless she's in a high-stress situation. <p> Boyfriend: nope... <p> Crush: ummm.. not really... the last retionship she got into didnt work out too well, so she just kind od avoids all that drama... though she is a total flirt <p> Other: she prefers to be a villian
&pi • Name: Steel. • Powers: Fyre & Steel. Can also turn into a Flare & make her skin into Steel. Hair turns into Fyre in Sunlight. Hair turns into very thin Steel strands in Moonlight. • Gender: &female • Looks: Brown hair, Tan skin, & Golden Brown eyes. Eyes can turn Silver. • Personality: Loyal & Intelligent. • &pi •••• &Theta • Name: Shade. • Powers: Shadow & Ghost. She can turn into a Shadow & Ghost anytime. • Gender: &female • Looks: Black hair, Pale White skin, & Dark Violet eyes. • Personality: Dark & Intelligent. • &Theta
Name: Sasha <br> age: 13 <br> power: fire <br> personality: meet me <br> past: family problems only tells you if we are close gets depressed about it sometimes <br> crush:........
Name: ummm... uhh... call me cassi. Its easier. Age: older than you can imagine. Gender: figure it out. Description: always wears a black cloak that shadowed her features. History: i will turn you to dust if you ask. Power: meh, i control energy. Personality: depends who you are. Other: i am proficient in every weapon ever made anywher and am fluent in 99% of the languages in the universe. Dont cross me
She was after the ultimate Power Just as with the previous two books, Power takes up right where Impulse leaves off. Jess scarcely gets time to breathe before the next case hits. This case takes us away from the Player and to a local Birmingham young man that’s disappeared. The fact he’s black and didn’t receive the same immediate attention as the young women in Obsession has the potential to set off a firestorm within the community. Jess has her hands full as she tries to discover who’s on a power trip in the latest Faces of Evil novel. This book will keep you reading long into the night as you try to figure out who-done-it.