The Faces of Evil Series: Book 4
When Jess Harris moved back to her Alabama hometown, she thought she'd left her past behind her. But the blood bath the new Major Crimes deputy chief finds at a murder scene is beyond even the savagery of Eric Spears, the serial killer who now haunts Jess's life with terrifying text messages. Amid eerie echoes of the Charles Manson massacre, Jess investigates the dismemberment of a cop's wife while her baby lay sleeping down the hall.
The discovery of two more headless victims makes Jess wonder if it's a gang-related slaying, a personal vendetta . . . or something else. And the sudden reappearance of her ex-husband makes her question her future with Chief of Police Dan Burnett. Now as the net widens to include a shocking suspect, Jess realizes that the identity of the killer may lie with an autistic eight-year-old boy. With inner-city tensions at an all-time high and the community calling for blood, Jess must race to save an innocent child-and prevent a final, horrifying act of rage.
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.
Five Points, 7:35 a.m.
The appearance of those two words on the screen of her cell phone should not have stolen her breath or weakened her knees, but they managed to do both in the space of a single heartbeat, forcing her to wilt down onto the toilet seat.
Jess Harris shoved a handful of damp hair behind her ear, then hugged her knees to her chest. It wasn't really the words that had her crouched on the toilet seat of the cramped bathroom. It was the identity of the sender.
Eric Spears ... the Player.
Jess curled her fingers into her sweaty palm to stop their trembling. She pressed her fist to her lips and fought the trepidation howling inside her. Answer him! This might be the last time he reached out to her if she didn't do something.
She touched the text box on the screen and prepared to enter a response. Before she tapped a single letter another bubble of words appeared.
I watched you on the news last night. Your ex has impeccable timing. I can't wait to see who wins this round.
Pulse fluttering wildly with an infusion of anger, she considered telling Spears that, as he was no doubt aware, his current location could be tracked via this connection and that she intended to promptly inform the bureau.
But that would be a lie. Worse, he would recognize the lie. Spears knew her far too well.
Using the pad of her thumb she tapped one letter at a time until she'd filled the text box with the message she wanted to send the sociopath who had murdered dozens of women, maybe a hell of a lot more, in his sadistic career as a serial torturer-murderer. Jess smiled as she reread the words she hoped would prompt his need to grow ever closer to her.
One thing's for sure, it won't be you. I'm the one who got away, Spears. Guess that makes you a loser and a coward.
After hitting send, she reveled in the idea that her words would burrow under his skin and fester like boils until he just had to claw at the itch. Eric Spears's malignant narcissistic side wouldn't deal well with failure. Not only did he not like to lose, he hated the idea of being wrong about anything or anyone. He'd made several mistakes of late. Skating so very close to getting caught was one of them. Allowing Jess to live was another.
Whatever it took, she would get him.
Her cell clanged that old-fashioned tone, announcing an incoming call. She jumped. Nearly dropped the damned thing. Spears wouldn't dare ...
Harper calling appeared on the screen, banishing the stream of conversation between her and Spears.
"Jess, you are truly pathetic." She swallowed back the lump of undeniable fear that had risen into her throat and forced herself to breathe normally. "Harris."
"We have a homicide, Chief. Shady Creek Drive off Columbiana Road."
Jess dropped her feet to the floor and banished thoughts of Spears. "How many victims, Sergeant?"
"Just one ... but ..."
The silence that filled the air for several endless seconds had Jess's pulse revving with the surge of adrenaline charging through her veins.
"It's bad, Chief. Really bad. It's the wife of one of our own. Lieutenant Lawrence Grayson's wife, Gabrielle."
Oh damn. "Crimes Against Persons isn't working this one?" No need to start the week off like the last one, in a pissing contest with Deputy Chief Harold Black, bless his ornery heart. Today's staff meeting was supposed to clarify some ground rules and cement the team spirit to ensure better cohesion as they moved forward. That meeting likely wouldn't happen now. Couldn't be helped. Justice was the last thing the dead should have to wait for.
"I got the call since the first officers on the scene felt the murder might be connected to the Lopez situation," Sergeant Chet Harper explained. "The wife was decapitated and there's a message including some of the buzz words from this weekend's hit on your place."
"Jesus Christ." Jess scrubbed at her eyes with her free hand. Images from the destruction that had been her room at the Howard Johnson Inn flickered through her mind. They had to get a handle on this escalating gang situation. It was turning into a blood bath and resurrecting the ugly memories of the city's violent, racially unjust past.
The MS-13 clique operating in Birmingham, once lorded over by Salvadore Lopez, was at war with a faction that had split off to follow his younger sister, Nina. The sister was currently in custody for kidnapping Jess, among other charges. Salvadore had gone into protective custody with the promise of rolling over on his infamous father, Leonardo. The elder Lopez was the messiah-like leader of the West Coast's rampant and ruthless MS-13 activities. Every three-letter agency in the country wanted him to go down, and now they had their chance.
Squaring her shoulders, Jess began the process of tuning out her personal frustrations with the whole damned Lopez family and the regret for the loss of life—particularly an innocent life—that would only get in the way. "Is Captain Allen on the scene?" Allen headed up Birmingham PD's Gang Task Force. His insights would be invaluable if a gang connection was substantiated.
"En route as we speak."
"I'll be there shortly, Sergeant. You know what to do."
Jess ended the call as she pushed to her feet and headed for the door. She caught her reflection in the mirror over the pedestal sink and paused mid- stride. Her damp hair would just have to dry on its own. She shoved her phone into her robe pocket so she could pile her blond locks into a manageable mass that was annoyingly curly when wet and snapped a claw clip in place. Makeup she could take care of en route. A flick of mascara and a dab of lip gloss would do.
She silently repeated the mantra she'd clung to for the past thirty-six hours or so. I'll be okay. It would take more than being kidnapped by some ditzy, power-hungry teenybopper and having her place and her things destroyed to knock Jess off her game.
The tone that accompanied an incoming text had her rummaging for her cell.
I'm deeply wounded, Jess. I thought by now you would miss me as much as I miss you. See you soon.
"The sooner, the better," she grumbled. Jess Harris was not afraid of anything. Except maybe the possibility of failing to get Spears before he added more victims to his heinous résumé.
With renewed purpose she deleted the conversation and emerged from the bathroom to find Lori, on her cell, probably getting the news about the murder. Jess grabbed the one suit that had survived last night's kill-the-deputy-chief's- stuff episode and ripped it free of the dry cleaner's plastic. She'd failed to pick it up from the dry cleaner on Friday, which was the only reason it had been spared from the carnage.
Since her Audi had been at the lab for processing related to her abduction—and still was, damn it—the car and this one suit were about all that remained of the belongings she'd rolled into Birmingham with. Well, except for the dress and the turquoise pumps she'd been wearing last night. The pumps would just have to do until she had time to shop.
"You need a cup of coffee to go?" Lori asked as she headed for the kitchen with her own mug. Her Five Points studio was one big room with a small bath and closet carved out of the already-tight floor space. Any level of privacy was basically impossible.
"That'd be great." Jess stepped into her pumps while she picked through the bag of undergarments, cosmetics, and necessities she'd purchased at Walmart late last night. Living out of a plastic bag was no fun, and though Lori insisted she was happy to have her as a guest, Jess was anxious to get a place of her own. She liked Lori a lot, and was proud to have the detective on her team, but staying on Lori's couch was going to get old, fast. Maybe it had something to do with being in her forties and set in her ways, but having alone time felt immensely important, especially when she hadn't had any in about forty-eight hours. She needed her space. Along with a new wardrobe and almost everything else a woman required to operate on a day-to-day basis.
Unfortunately, all of that would have to wait.
She had a homicide to get to.
Shady Creek Drive, 8:30 a.m.
"Whoa." Lori surveyed the crowd gathered as she turned off Columbiana Road. "This is going to be complicated and"—she blew out a big breath—"messy."
News vans cluttered the intersection of Columbiana and Shady Creek. Birmingham Police Department cruisers lined the street on either side of where they needed to turn. This tragedy had befallen one of their own and a show of strength was expected. The gesture was heartfelt, but there was no place for crowds at a homicide scene. At least not until after complete scene documentation and thorough evidence collection. The potential for contamination and/or loss was far too great with every warm body that entered a crime scene.
"Do you know Lieutenant Grayson?" His name sounded familiar but Jess couldn't recall meeting him. She'd been introduced to so many of Birmingham's finest since her arrival scarcely three weeks ago that she couldn't say for sure whether she'd met him or not.
"I've seen him around but I don't really know him." Lori powered down her window and showed her badge to the uniform controlling access to the block. When he'd waved her through, she went on, "Grayson is with Field Operations, South Precinct."
Still didn't click for Jess.
"What kind of reputation does he have?" As wrong as it seemed, close family members were always the prime suspects in a case like this until evidence and alibis proved otherwise. Lawrence, aka Larry, Grayson was a cop, so the fundamental steps in a homicide investigation would be no surprise to him.
"A good one as far as I know. I've heard his name a few times when accommodations were handed out." She glanced at Jess. "If you're asking me if he would kill his wife, I don't know him that well, Chief."
"I guess that's something we'll need to learn." They were on duty now. Jess was the deputy chief of SPU, Special Problems Unit, and Lori Wells was one of her detectives. Their ability to be friends and step back from those roles as needed fascinated Jess. After nearly two decades doing investigative work, this was her first time to have friends, in the true sense of the word, on the job. She'd certainly never been the houseguest of a coworker.
Maybe an old dog could learn a new trick.
The houses along Shady Creek were modest Brady Bunch –style ranches and split-levels, circa the seventies; it was a typical blue-collar neighborhood. Good folks who were forever stuck on the low end of middle class while being overworked and underpaid. Crime scene tape circled the yard, using trees and shrubs for support and announcing that bad things had happened to those who called this address home. Outside that gruesome yellow line a host of cops had surrounded an emotionally distraught man and were struggling to get him into the passenger seat of a sedan.
"That must be him." He looked vaguely familiar, but Jess still couldn't say for sure if she'd met him.
"Yeah. Damn." Lori shook her head. "Looks like he's lost it."
Jess grimaced at the emotionally charged scene. "Who wouldn't?" She steeled herself in preparation for what was to come. No matter how experienced the investigator, when murder hit this close to home—a fellow cop—it was difficult to take in stride.
"You see any sign of the coroner's wagon?" Between the cruisers and all the other vehicles crowding the street, not to mention what looked like a brigade of cops and no shortage of neighbors, it was difficult to see beyond the driveway.
Lori guided her Mustang as far to one side as possible considering the middle of the street was about all that was left in the way of unoccupied pavement and shut off the engine. "It's the van right behind that Camry riding my bumper."
Jess craned her neck to see. There appeared to be a male passenger but, with the sun glinting on the other side of the windshield, she couldn't see the driver. Opting to jerk to a stop in the middle of the street, whoever was at the wheel of the van didn't seem to care if more of a bottleneck was created.
Jess climbed out of the low-slung Mustang. Instantly the heat crushed around her. The humid air was as thick as molasses. Last night's storm had ensured a sweltering morning and that little or no viable evidence would be found outside the home.
With one more glance behind her, she checked to see if the ME had climbed out of the van yet. She probably wouldn't be lucky enough to get Schrader again. For all she knew Dr. Harlan Schrader could be on his way to the job offer at the Mayo Clinic by now. They'd worked a case together last week and not having to go through that awkward first time business again so soon would be nice.
The driver's side door of the van opened and a female emerged. Shoulder-length brown hair, pale complexion. No one Jess had met so far, that she recalled anyway. The woman wore a lavender wrap dress with matching strappy stilettoes. Her sophisticated—scratch that—arrogant body language confirmed they had not met. Jess was one hundred percent certain she would remember that cocky stride, not to mention the haughty tilt of the woman's chin.
"This should be interesting," Lori murmured as she moved up to the front of the Mustang, where Jess waited.
"What's that?" At the scene perimeter, Jess showed her badge to the uniform.
"That's the associate coroner, Dr. Sylvia Baron. She's the lieutenant's ex-wife." Lori ducked under the crime scene tape and Jess followed. "She's a little pushy. No one likes getting stuck on a case with her."
Pushy or not, sounded like a conflict of interest to Jess.
An older man had gotten out on the passenger side of the van and joined the woman's purposeful movement toward the house as Jess and Lori made their way up the sidewalk. He looked vaguely familiar. Sixty maybe. Tall. Broad-shouldered. Blond and tanned. All he needed was a diamond stud in one ear and he'd have the whole Harrison Ford thing going on.
At the front door she and Lori stopped long enough to drag on shoe covers and gloves. "Who's the man with her?"
"That's Dr. Leeds."
That was Martin Leeds, the Jefferson County chief coroner? Jess really had to find some time to get to know the various chains of command in Birmingham. She was woefully uninformed. In her own defense, she'd held the position for only two weeks and she'd been embroiled in murder and mayhem all fourteen or so of those days. Well, maybe she'd had a small break here and there. The unbidden memory of steamy, stolen hours spent between the sheets with Daniel Burnett the weekend before last had butterflies taking flight in her belly.
Those frantic and breathless minutes in his fancy Mercedes just last night wouldn't exactly be dismissed any time soon either. Particularly since he was her boss.
"I don't want that bitch anywhere near my wife!"
Jess's attention snapped back to the street as Lieutenant Grayson's angrily shouted words reverberated in the impossibly thick air. Those closest to Grayson were trying to calm him, but he was having no part of it.
Jess decided that an introduction to Leeds and the former Mrs. Grayson could wait until they were inside and had surveyed the crime scene. The situation outside was a ticking bomb and it wasn't going to get any calmer until Lieutenant Grayson had been removed from the scene. The man's wife had been murdered. The ability to think clearly or to reason was long gone.
Inside the house the atmosphere was somber and cold. Jess shivered. It was a sweltering dog day in August here in Alabama but she was wishing she had a sweater just now. Her nose twitched. Even the frosty temperature couldn't completely conceal the distinct odor of coagulated blood hanging in the air as if she'd stepped into a meat locker rather than a home where a family lived.
Excerpted from Rage 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.
What People are Saying About This
"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
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Rage is the fourth installment in Debra Webb's Faces of Evil series. This is not a stand alone book, you really need to read the previous three to understand the dynamics of this book. That being said, this is a great thriller! There are so many dynamics at play here. Not only the romantic struggle between Jess and Dan, but Jess and Eric Spears, the serial killer that has defined her career. The intricate side plots are woven beautifully with the main plot of Jess on the trail of the murder of a Birmingham P.D.'s wife. These books flow really well and are incredibly quick reads. I highly recommend this series to anyone looking for a great thriller.
I have lived every book in this series and cannot wait for the next book. Be sure to start with book one. Excellent writing.
This is the fourth book in the series and Debra Webb draws you deeper into Jess Harris' life as she solves a heinous murder and has to find a kidnapped boy who is the only one that saw the murder. Along the way the secondary characters in the series are brought a little more to life as well. And in the end there is a twist you will not see coming. This series just keeps getting better and better.
This series is by far one of the BEST series I have read. Every book keeps you wanting more. You won't be disappointed its defiently ***5 STAR**.
another nail biter in this faces of evil series. I can literally not put them down! then i'm sad because i have to wait for the next one. In this installment Jess must find who shot one of their owns spouse.with the help of her trusty team she waids thru small town bigotry male egos and gang members just wanting to chat. then there is her complicated relash with police cheif,Dan Burnett whats a girl to do especially when,gasp,all her shoes get blown up?
Nothing works better than a woman on a mission who carries a badge Fresh off a nightmare case that found her kidnapped and still being hunted, Jess Harris is back on rotation and embroiled in a horrific murder case. The wife of a beloved member of the police force who has been deemed a saint by anyone that knew her is found brutally murdered. If you have no enemies who would not only want you dead how does Jess reconcile the anger that fueled this crime. At first glance all appearances point to a vengeance killing which rattles the gang issues that have been boiling to the surface, but still none of those pieces fit together cohesively either. The questions outnumber the answers with the largest one poised as the possibility that this is a spur of the heated moment crime. Too many questions and no answers appear to jump at her until Jess looks right at a potential witness. The problem with the witness is a set of circumstances Jess can relate to and resolve, but right now wants to focus on just what the person saw that has them so frightened. When the questions turn from speculation to resolution the only objective Jess has is to stay one step ahead of the murderer. While trying to win over the people that report to her, juggling a complicated personal life, and still dodging a crazed killer still set on taking her out Jess is beginning to think sleeping with her boss is the least of her problems. This is a stand a book where the day it is available you are standing outside the book store waiting for it to open up to get started reading kind of series
In this installment of the faces of evil Jess and her team needs to find out who murdered a cop's wife and stole a little boy who witnessed the murder. Jess has more than murder on her mind she has her boss Dan on her mind and she has to deal with working and falling for him, he is seeing a new side of her dealing with people she has been showing her motherly instincts and I think Dan likes that and Jess is noticing how she feels. Jess also has someone threatening her its up to Dan and Jess to find out who. Is it the gang she was previously was involved in? or was it someone from the new murder? Time will tell. I really loved this book it was awesome it was nice seeing Jess hugging people and interacting with children, I wish her and Dan were more serious so there would be a baby in the future. She wasn't as emotional in this book as she was in the last book. I can't wait to read the next installment Debra you Rock!!!!
Romantic Suspense does not get any better than the imitable Debra Webb's Faces of Evil series. The primary reason that this series succeeds is that Ms. Webb manages to combine action-packed plots with character driven ones, no easy feat. There are recurring characters coping with their flaws, personal growth, and intimate relationships at the same time that they are dealing with murder and mayhem. The main characters, Jess Harris and Dan Burnett, were lovers twenty years ago. Jess, a former FBI profiler, returns home to Birmingham, principally, to escape serial killer, Eric Spears, who is obsessed with her. After assisting him on a case, Dan, the Birmingham Chief of Police, offers her a position as deputy chief of the new Major Crimes unit of the Department, and she accepts. Dan becomes her lover as well as her boss. Jess is an acutely intelligent, independent, and driven heroine determined to do things her own way, even if they are outside of police protocol and, conveniently, unknown to Dan. In her three weeks home, Jess has lead the investigations of one heinous crime after the other. But nothing prepares Jess for the gruesome murder scene of Gabrielle Grayson, wife of Police Lt. Lawrence Grayson. Mrs. Grayson had been beheaded and stabbed numerous times while her baby slept in his crib down the hall. There is no shortage of potential suspects, someone seeking vengeance against Lt. Grayson, the fixated serial killer who continues to send threatening text messages to Jess, the drug gang which has beheaded two people for moving in on its territory, the Graysons's pool guy and, always the number one suspect when a spouse is killed, her husband. As the investigation progresses, Jess discovers that her only witness may be Devon, an eight year old autistic boy, who lives next door to the Graysons. Just as she closes in on this lead, Devon goes missing and Jess suspects foul play. Focusing on the rage required to commit such a murder, Jess realizes that to solve the murder, she must find who hated Gabrielle Grayson enough to kill her in such a diabolical manner. Ms. Webb smoothly weaves the personal lives of the characters into the story. While Dan and Jess are working on the case, they learn more about each other and try to accommodate, to the extent that they are able, the other's needs. Dan tries to be less protective, or at least not show it. Jess shows Dan a vulnerability that belies her tough exterior. Just as things seem to be working out for them, Jess's ex-husband arrives from California clearly intent on winning Jess back. Who will she choose? There is sufficient deceit, betrayal, unknown killers, and twists to keep the reader captivated. Rage is the fourth book in this series. While it is a stand-alone read, the reader may prefer reading the predecessors, Obsession, Impulse, and Power, before Rage. I guarantee that if you read Rage first, you will go back and read the earlier books. I highly recommend Rage, and the other books in the Faces of Evil series, to any reader who genuinely enjoys Romantic Suspense, that is, a balance between the two genres.
Rage is the next book in the Faces of Evil series. I have been reading Debra Webb, for a while. She writes the most suspenseful books, and you will find yourself wanting to know what will happen in the next book. The two main characters (Jess Harris-Dan Burnett) in this story will keep you on pins, and needle, wondering what is happen between them, and what dangers that will come around the next bend for them. This is number four, in this series, and more to come. But if you haven’t read Debra Webb, before than you need to start to now. She is an author who I have come to enjoy reading her books, because there are so many twists and turns in her books, so that you can’t put it down. That is what happens to me, now I can’t wait for the next book in this series.
This is the 5th book of Debra Webb's that I have read this week. I like this series. I had read the first three books years ago and just reread them. I still like them . Rage does not let you down. These books so far have followed right after each other. I think they only cover a couple of weeks . Rage has a lot of the same characters as far as the main police officers. With lots of new characters and suspects. Jess Harris has been back home now in Birmingham, Alabama. She has a new job as Deputy Chief of Special Unit. Jess is recently divorced. Quit the FBI. Her ex-fiance of twenty years ago is the Chief of Police and her boss. Everyone is watching them. They are still attracted to each other and single. Her new case someone has killed a detective's wife very violently. Making it look like a gang killing. Someone is trying to kill her. Everything she has in Birmingham was destroyed. Jess has been making friends and enemies while she has been home. This is a dark heavy police novel. There is a lot of crime. There are a few love scenes. Jess is a good detective and she is blunt. I like her and can;t wait to start the next book in the series and see what happens next in her life. I was given a ARC copy of Rage to read for free in exchange of a honest review.
She couldn’t control her Rage. I’m beginning to feel a little sorry for Jess Harris. She doesn’t but finish one case and another lands in her lap. Rage once again focuses on the case the week as opposed to the Player. This case brings Jess a beheaded cop’s wife and a missing eight-year-old boy who may have witnessed the murder. Jess must navigate the tricky waters of the death of one of their own to solve this case. A new character joins the cast in Rage: Dr. Sylvia Baron, Assistant ME. She’s very similar to Jess and initially the two women clash. However, they are able to bond over the missing eight-year-old. I can’t wait to see the relationship between these two women develop over future books. Once again, Webb hits it out of the park.
Excellent book can't wait for the #5 to come out. I would highly recommend this series to anyone. I loved the 1st and couldn't wait to read the next one each time I finished one.