A serial killer is turning the Big Easy into his personal playground. The victims are killed in pairs--no connection, no apparent motive, no real clues. It's a very sick game, and it's only just begun.
The Fear Is Real
Abby Chastain left New Orleans long ago and for good reason. Now she's back where she feels watched, as if the devil himself is scraping a fingernail along her spine. It doesn't help that Detective Reuben Montoya is convinced she's somehow the key to unlocking these horrible crimes--a mystery that has something to do with Our Lady of Virtues Mental Hospital, a decaying old asylum where unspeakable crimes were once committed, and a human predator may still wait.
The Truth Is Deadly
As more bodies are found in gruesome, staged scenarios, Montoya and Abby are in a desperate race to stop a killer whose terrifying crimes are bringing them ever nearer to a shocking revelation. For the past is never completely gone. Its sins must be avenged. And a twisted psychopath is getting close enough to make them. . .
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By Lisa Jackson
Kensington BooksISBN: 0-7582-1393-X
PrologueTwenty years earlier Our Lady of Virtues Hospital Near New Orleans, Louisiana
She felt his breath.
A presence that caused the hairs on the back of her neck to lift, her skin to prickle, sweat to collect upon her spine.
Her heart thumped, and barely able to move, standing in the darkness, she searched the shadowed corners of her room frantically. Through the open window she heard the reverberating songs of the frogs in the nearby swamps and the rumble of a train upon faraway tracks.
But here, now, he was with her.
Go away, she tried to say, but held her tongue, hoping beyond hope that he wouldn't notice her standing near the window. On the other side of the panes, security lamps illuminated the grounds with pale, bluish light, and she realized belatedly that her body, shrouded only by a sheer nightgown, was silhouetted in their eerie glow.
Of course he could see her, find her in the darkness.
He always did.
Throat dry, she stepped backward, placing a hand on the window casing to steady herself. Maybe she had just imagined his presence. Maybe she hadn't heard the door open after all. Maybe she'd jumped up from a drug-induced sleep too quickly. After all, it wasn't late, only eight in the evening.
Maybe she was safe in this room, her room, on the third floor.
She was reaching for the bedside light when she heard the softscrape of leather against hardwood.
Her throat closed on a silent scream.
Having adjusted to the half-light, her eyes took in the bed with its mussed sheets, evidence of her fitful rest. Upon the dressing table was the lamp and a bifold picture frame; one that held small portraits of her two daughters. Across the small room was a fireplace. She could see its decorative tile and cold grate and, above the mantle, a bare spot, faded now where a mirror had once hung.
So where was he? She glanced to the tall windows. Beyond, the October night was hot and sultry. In the panes she could see her wan reflection: petite, small-boned frame; sad gold eyes; high cheekbones; lustrous auburn hair pulled away from her face. And behind her ... was that a shadow creeping near?
Or her imagination?
That was the trouble. Sometimes he hid.
But he was always nearby. Always. She could feel him, hear his soft, determined footsteps in the hallway, smell his scent-a mixture of male musk and sweat-catch a glimpse of a quick, darting shadow as he passed.
There was no getting away from him. Ever. Not even in the dead of night. He received great satisfaction in surprising her, sneaking up on her while she was sitting at her desk, leaning down behind her when she was kneeling at her bedside. He was always ready to press his face to the back of her neck, to reach around her and touch her breasts, arousing her though she loathed him, pulling her tightly against him so that she could feel his erection against her back. She wasn't safe when she was under the thin spray of the shower, nor while sleeping beneath the covers of her small bed.
How ironic that they had placed her here ... for her own safety.
"Go away," she whispered, her head pounding, her thoughts disjointed. "Leave me alone!"
She blinked and tried to focus.
Where was he?
Nervously she trained her eyes on the one hiding place, the closet. She licked her lips. The wooden door was ajar, just slightly, enough that anyone inside could peer through the crack.
From the small sliver of darkness within the closet, something seemed to glimmer. A reflection. Eyes?
Maybe he was inside. Waiting.
Gooseflesh broke out on her skin. She should call out to someone, but if she did, she would be restrained, medicated ... or worse. Stop it, Faith. Don't get paranoid! But the glittering eyes in the closet watched her. She felt them. Wrapping one arm around her middle, the other folded over it, she scraped her nails on the skin of her elbow.
Scratch, scratch, scratch.
But maybe this was all a bad dream. A nightmare. Wasn't that what the sisters had assured her in their soft whispers as they gently patted her hands and stared at her with compassionate, disbelieving eyes? An ugly dream. Yes! A nightmare of vast, intense proportions. Even the nurse had agreed with the nuns, telling her that what she'd thought she'd seen wasn't real. And the doctor, cold, clinical, with the bedside manner of a stone monkey, had talked to her as if she were a small, stupid child.
"There, there, Faith, no one is following you," he'd said, wearing a thin, patronizing smile. "No one is watching you. You know that. You're ... you're just confused. You're safe here. Remember, this is your home now."
Tears burned her eyes and she scratched more anxiously, her short fingernails running over the smooth skin of her forearm, encountering scabs. Home? This monstrous place? She closed her eyes, grabbed the headboard of the bed to steady herself.
Was she really as sick as they said? Did she really see people who weren't there? That's what they'd told her, time and time again, to the point that she was no longer certain what was real and what was not. Maybe that was the plot against her, to make her believe she was as crazy as they insisted she was.
She heard a footstep and looked up quickly.
The hairs on the backs of her arms rose.
She began to shake as she saw the door crack open a bit more.
"Sweet Jesus." Trembling, she backed up, her gaze fixed on the closet, her fingers scraping her forearm like mad. The door creaked open in slow motion. "Go away!" she whispered, her stomach knotting as full-blown terror took root.
A weapon! You need a weapon!
Anxiously, she looked around the near-dark room with its bed bolted to the floor.
Get your letter opener! Now!
She took one step toward the desk before she remembered that Sister Madeline had taken the letter opener away from her.
The lamp on the night table!
But it, too, was screwed down.
She pressed the switch.
No great wash of light. Frantically, she hit the switch again. Over and over.
Click! Click! Click! Click!
She looked up and saw him then. A tall man, looming in front of the door to the hallway. It was too dark to see his features but she knew his wicked smile was in place, his eyes glinting with an evil need.
He was Satan Incarnate. And there was no way to escape from him. There never was.
"Please don't," she begged, her voice sounding pathetic and weak as she backed up, her legs quivering.
"Please don't what?"
Don't touch me ... don't place your fingers anywhere on my body ... don't tell me I'm beautiful ... don't kiss me ...
"Leave now," she insisted. Dear God, was there no weapon, nothing to stop him?
"Leave now or what?"
"Or I'll scream and call the guards."
"The guards," he repeated in that low, amused, nearly hypnotic voice. "Here?" He clucked his tongue as if she were a disobedient child. "You've tried that before."
She knew for certain that her plight was futile. She would submit to him again.
As she always did.
"Did the guards believe you the last time?"
Of course they hadn't. Why would they? The two scrawny, pimply-faced boys hadn't hidden the fact they considered her mad. At least that's what they'd insinuated, though they'd used fancier words ... delusional ... paranoid ... schizophrenic ...
Or had they said anything at all? Maybe not. Maybe they'd just stared at her with their pitying, yet hungry, eyes. Hadn't one of them told her she was sexy? The other one cupping one cheek of her buttocks ... or ... or had that all been a horrid, vivid nightmare?
Scratch, scratch, scratch. She felt her nails break the skin.
Humiliation washed over her. She inched backward, away from her tormentor. What was happening to her was her own fault. She'd sinned somehow, brought this upon herself. She was the one who was evil. She had instigated God's wrath. She alone could atone. "Go away," she whispered again, clawing more frantically at her arm.
"Faith, don't," he warned, his voice horrifyingly soothing. "Mutilating yourself won't change anything. I'm here to help you. You know that."
Help her? No ... no, no, no!
She wanted to crumble onto the floor, to shed her guilt, to get away from the itching.
Fight! an inner voice ordered her. Don't let him force you into doing things that you know are wrong! You have will. You can't let him do this to you.
But it was already too late.
Close to her now, he clucked his tongue again and she saw its pointy, wet, pink tip flicking against the back of his teeth.
In a rough whisper, he said, "Uh-oh, Faith, I think you've been a naughty girl again."
"No." She was whimpering. There it was ... that horrid bit of excitement building inside her.
"Oh, Faith, don't you know it's a sin to lie?"
She glanced to the wall where the crucifix of Jesus was nailed into the plaster. Did it move? Blinking, she imagined Jesus staring at her, his eyes kind but silently reprimanding in the semidarkness.
No, Faith. That can't be. Get a grip, for God's sake.
It's a painted image, that's all.
Breathing rapidly, she dragged her gaze from Christ's tortured face to the fireplace ... cold now, devoid of both ashes and the mirror above it, now an empty space, the outline visible against the rosebud wallpaper. They said she broke the mirror in a fit of rage, that she'd cut herself. That her own image had caused her to panic.
But he'd done it, hadn't he? This devil whose sole intent was to torture her? Hadn't she witnessed the act? She'd tried to refuse him, and he'd crashed his fist into the looking glass. Mirrored shards sprayed, hitting her, then crashed to the floor like glittery, deadly knives.
That's what had happened.
Or not? Now, feeling the blood beneath her nails, she wondered.
What's happening to me?
She stared at her bloodied hands. Her fingernails, once manicured and polished, were broken, her palms scratched, and farther up, upon her wrists, healed deep gashes. Had she done that to herself? In her mind's eye she saw her hands wrapped around a shard of glass and the blood dripping from her fingers ...
Because you were going to kill him ... trying to protect yourself!
She closed her eyes and let out a long, mewling cry. It was true. She didn't know what to believe any longer. Truth and lies blended, fact and fiction fused, her life, once so ordinary, so predictable, was fragmented. Frayed. At her own hands.
Excerpted from Shiver by Lisa Jackson 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.
Heart to Heart Interview with Lisa Jackson
Heart to Heart: Congratulations on your success with Fatal Burn and on your hardcover debut with Shiver. What does it mean to you as an author to have your first original hardcover publication?
Lisa Jackson: Thanks! The hardcover was always a goal, and so it's gratifying to see it happen. But the story is the story no matter what, and I'm looking forward to readers responding in the same genuine way they've responded to my work in the past. What's most important to me is that the hardcover is another way to reach new readers. Shiver will have two lives! Now, and then in mass market. Some people have a real preference for one format over the other. And there are some retailers and libraries that simply feature more of one than the other. Shiver will reach more people in more places, and readers get a choice of the two. What more could I ask? I love that.
Shiver is my first hardcover because it brings together a lot of threads from earlier stories, develops them in new directions, and highlights protagonist Reuben Montoya -- whom readers and I both wanted to get to know better.
HtoH: Readers are always intrigued with plotting -- but with yours especially, since your characters develop over time and many of your books seem to go in pairs. I'm thinking especially of detective Reuben Montoya, whom we first met in Hot Blooded, then Cold Blooded, and who is the hero of Shiver. Tell us about this character, how you thought of him, and how he's developed over the arc of these books.
LJ: Montoya just kind of came to me. I wanted a young buck of a cop, one who broke the rules, one who was cocky and sexy and a good balance to his older, more staid partner, Rick Bentz. I never intended Montoya to develop into the hero of a book. But the longer he was in my head and the more questions readers asked about him (especially women readers), the more he came to life and began to flourish and develop as a character. After discussing Montoya's persistence with my editor, we both knew that when the time was right, "Diego" would have his own book.
HtoH: Shiver centers around the very grisly crimes of a serial killer in pre-Katrina New Orleans. This character really gave us the chills, and yet his motives seemed coherent within his own disordered personality. How do you go about profiling such a character?
LJ: Creating the killer is always a challenge. I struggle with the killer's motivations and his viewpoint. I just work it and work it until something "clicks" in my mind and I see the world through his eyes. (Talk about scary!) Once I know what makes him tick, his actions follow a natural course.
HtoH: What's coming up next? What books are you working on? And what will be published next?
LJ: I've got a couple of ideas I'm working on. The first is untitled but will follow up on some of the people and action of Shiver. That will be out in hardcover next April. I've also gotten caught back up in the lives and characters of If She Only Knew, a book that readers have really embraced and which my publisher says is one of my most popular. No title for that one yet either, but I'm working on it, and the book will be out as a mass market paperback original sometime in the summer of 2007. Meanwhile, Twice Kissed, an earlier work, is being republished in August as a mass market paperback.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
With her first originally published in hardcover romance/suspense novel author Lisa Jackson introduces an over the top psychopathic villain who not only murders but does so in grisly scenarios, leaving scenes that appal even the most jaded investigators. Who he is and why he's doing this is the pivotal question in Shiver. Set in pre-Katrina New Orleans a prologue paints a terrifying scene. The place is Our Lady of Virtues Mental Hospital where lovely 35-year-old Faith Chastain is incarcerated. She is told that she's delusional, and now she's beginning to believe that's true as the sisters stare at her with 'compassionate, disbelieving eyes......And the doctor, cold, clinical, with the bedside manner of a stone monkey, talked to her as if she were a small, stupid child.' Still, she knows someone is in the room and that he will touch her. She panics and tries to escape as she feels his hands upon her. There is only one avenue to freedom - out the window and to the ground below. It is her birthday, and her young daughter, Abby, has come bringing a gift only to see her mother plummet to her death. Segue now to 20 years later. Abby and her sister, Zoey, are adults - the same age as when their mother died. Abby has married and divorced. Luke had been a confirmed womanizer who even had an affair with Zoey while engaged to Abby. Thus, the sisters are estranged. Abby lives with her cat, Ansel, and makes her living as a freelance photographer. She is haunted by memories of visits to Our Lady of Virtues and her mother's sudden death. Detective Reuben Montoyo, whom we met in Hot Blooded and Cold Blooded, appears when he is called to one of the most gruesome crime scenes he has ever encountered. Two people are dead - Luke has been shot and a young woman dressed in a bridal gown lies on top of him. Some would like to consider this a murder/suicide, but Montoyo knows better - and so does all of New Orleans when another double murder scene is found. The detective's only clues lead him to Abby, Luke's widow, and the now deserted mental hospital. Who or what could be capable of such heinous crimes? Voice performer Joyce Bean delivers a taut, tension filled reading, especially in the opening scenes where Abby is alone in her isolated home and feels that someone may be watching her. Author Jackson keeps listeners and readers on the edges of their chairs, totally engrossed by a compelling plot line. She's a pro at blending romance with suspense, which continues to earn fans. - Gail Cooke
I enjoyed this book, especially the characters. I enjoyed it so much that I purchased the 4th book Absolute Fear which was also excellent.
It was a good book i couldn't but it down.I'm reading the sequel Absolute Fear. It keeps you in suspuse page after page
This was probably one of Lisa Jackson's best books. It took hold of you from the first page. Could not put it down. I truly have never been disappointed with any of her books.
I really enjoyed this book and recommend it. I have liked a lot of Lisa Jackson's work but I think this is the best so far.
Chutzpah comes to Abby Chastain¿s mind when she learns that her former husband ridiculed her on his radio show as a frozen spouse. Still feeling rage and humiliation she is further stunned when her husband is killed in a double homicide. New Orleans Homicide Detective Reuben Montoya questions her as the wife would be the prime suspect in normal circumstances, but this time she has an extra motive. --- He quickly concludes she did not commit the murders, but fears she is connected in some way that could make it unsafe for her. Montoya also fears that his desire for Abby might be prejudicing his view. Meanwhile another double murder occurs, which Reuben tries to tie to the deaths of Abby¿s spouse and his girlfriend. Montoya begins to believe that Our Lady of Virtues Mental Hospital, an asylum closed for years, is the connection a place where Abby¿s mother either was murdered or committed suicide. However, the motive and whom remains unknown to the sleuth. --- Fans have waited a long time for Detective Montoya¿s tale to be told the wait was worth it as SHIVER is a fabulous romantic police procedural. The story line is action-packed from the moment Montoya begins the homicide investigation and never slows down until the final climax. The cold-blooded serial killer is cleverly shadowy enough to frighten readers as Lisa Jackson provides a powerful spine-chilling thriller. --- Harriet Klausner
Easy, fun read with interesting twists & turns
I read the book that brought about this series and it was good so I read the first, second, and now the third in this series. The book is good if it is the first one you read. If not, then you will understand why I am going to write the following. This is the same story as told in the prior books with minor changes. The "killer" is affiliated with the same mental hospital as the others, he has the same "feelings" towards the intended victim, and is a religious type. The author has a fondness for the same words, using them over and over (sinewy as one). I recommend one of these books, but please don't do as I did and read them all thinking they will be different. If you loved one, stop there.
I enjoyed this book. Lisa Jackson is a very good writer, with good story lines, good characters and believable characters. It was hard to put down. I like the New Orleans series and look forward to reading her next novel. I highly encourage anyone who likes mystery and suspense to check out her books.
I love the way the stories keep the charachters together mostly.
I'm glad i used my gift card for this book it was such an awesome book to read.my beat friend suggested it and i'm glad i took her advice on it. I loved the romance and the mystery to it.it held my attention throughout the entire book.
Great book !
This, the 3rd in Lisa Jackson's New Orleans series was great. Of course the characters are growing on me, and the plot was great. On to reading the 4th in the series.