SOPHIE BARRETT THINKS SHE’S LUCKY TO BE ALIVE. SHE MAY BE DEAD WRONG.
On a sweltering summer afternoon, Sophie Barrett walks into a nightmare. A sniper has opened fire on a college campus. When the carnage is over, three people—plus the shooter—are dead and dozens more are injured. Sophie escapes virtually unscathed. Yet as details emerge from the investigation, she becomes convinced that this wasn’t the random, senseless act it appeared to be. No one wants to believe her—not the cops, not her colleagues at the Delphi Center crime lab, and definitely not Jonah Macon, the homicide detective who’s already saved her life once.
Jonah has all kinds of reasons for hoping Sophie is mistaken. Involving himself with a key witness could derail an already messy investigation, not to mention jeopardize his career. But Sophie is as determined and fearless as she is sexy. If he can’t resist her, he can at least swear to protect her. Because if Sophie is right, she’s made herself the target of a killer without a conscience. And the real terror is only just beginning. . . .
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Parking on campus was a bitch and so was Sophie. Or at least, she was in a bitchy mood. She was hot, hungry, and doomed to spend the better part of her lunch hour waiting in line at the registrar’s office.
But then she spotted it—a gleaming, perfect, gorgeously empty parking space not fifty feet in front of her. The green flag indicating time still left on the parking meter was the cherry on top of her lunchtime sundae.
“Thank you,” she sighed as she rolled past the spot, shifted into reverse, and flipped her turn indicator. She had just started to ease back when an old-model VW zipped up behind her.
“Hey!” Sophie pounded her horn as the Bug driver whipped into her spot while pretending not to see her. She might as well have been invisible.
“Unbelievable!” Sophie jabbed at the window button and leaned out to yell at him. “Yo, Fahrvergnügen! That’s my spot!”
A horn blared behind her and she glanced around. Now she was holding up traffic. She shifted into drive and muttered curses as she scoured the busy streets for another scrap of real estate large enough to accommodate her Tahoe. Of course there wasn’t one. She glanced at her watch. Damn it, she was going to be late getting back to work, and she’d long since used up her tardy passes. With a final curse, she pulled into an overpriced parking garage three blocks downhill from her destination. After squeezing into a spot, she jumped out and dashed for the exit, pressing numbers on her cell phone as she went.
“Mia? Hey, it’s me.” She stepped onto the sidewalk and blinked up at the blindingly bright sunlight.
“What’s up, Soph? I’ve got my hands full.”
“Shoot, forget it, then.”
“I’m at the university,” Sophie said. “I was going to ask you to cover the phones for a few minutes if I’m not back by one.”
“I’ll get down there if I can, but—”
“Don’t worry, I’ll get Diane to do it.” Diane was the assistant evidence clerk at the Delphi Center, where Sophie worked, but she wasn’t exactly known for her cheery disposition. “She owes me a favor, anyway. We’re still on for margaritas with Kelsey, right? Six o’clock?”
“Schmitt’s,” Mia confirmed. “See you there.”
Sophie dropped the phone in her bag and continued uphill. The sun blazed down. Her blouse grew damp. Her tortured feet were a testament to the folly of buying Victoria’s Secret sandals on clearance. After waiting for a break in traffic, she darted across the street and felt the heat coming up off the asphalt in waves. Jeez, it was hot. Thank goodness she was signing up for a night course.
At last she reached the grassy quadrangle and enjoyed a few patches of shade as she neared the registrar’s office. Students streamed up and down the sidewalks, talking with friends and reading text messages. Sophie gazed wistfully at their cutoff shorts and tank tops. Once upon a time she, too, had lived in grunge wear. She didn’t miss the clothes so much as that time in her life, when she’d had nothing more to do than go to keg parties on weekends and cut class to hang out with her boyfriend. Now both those pursuits seemed worse than trivial—they seemed wasteful. How could a few short years make such a difference in her outlook?
She marveled at the irony—here she was plunking down her hard-earned money to attend a class she would have happily ditched just a few years ago. The perfect revenge for her I-told-you-so parents, only they’d never get the chance to say that because she had no intention of telling them she was back in school. This was her private mission, and if she failed to accomplish it, no one would ever have to know she’d tried.
Sophie navigated the busy sidewalks, longing for a pair of Birkenstocks instead of heels. She glanced again at her watch and knew, without a doubt, she was going to be late.
She halted in her tracks.
People shrieked behind her, and she whirled around. Her gaze landed on someone sprawled across the sidewalk. A man. Sophie stared in shock at the jacket, the tie, and the bloody pulp that should have been his head.
Someone’s shooting! The words screamed through her brain as she scanned her surroundings. She was in an open field. She was a clear target.
More shrieks as she bolted for the trees. A staccato of bullets. Clumps of grass burst up at her and she fell back, landing hard on her butt. Before her eyes, a woman collapsed to the ground, clutching her throat. A child in pigtails howled. Crab-walking backward, Sophie glanced around frantically. What was happening? Where was it coming from? Screams echoed around her as people ducked and dove for cover.
She rolled to her knees and lunged for the nearest solid object—a cement block at the base of a statue. She crouched behind it, gasping for breath, every nerve in her body zinging with terror.
Where is he?
More gunfire. More screaming. Sophie cupped her hands over her head and tried to make herself small.
“She lent it to you? That’s the best you got?” San Marcos Police Detective Allison Doyle scowled down at the pimply-faced perpetrator and waited. It didn’t take long.
“She didn’t say that exactly.”
“What did she say, exactly?”
“Well, it was more like understood, you know?” The kid slouched against the door to his dorm room. “Like I could use it long as I wanted, so long as I returned it.”
“I see.” Allison nodded over his shoulder, at the array of loot spread out on his single bed: four iPods, two BlackBerrys, and an iPad not even out of the box—which constituted the reason for her little visit to this room that smelled like gym socks and God knew what else.
“What about the iPods?” Allison asked. “You borrow them, too?”
A girl burst into the hallway. “Someone’s shooting! Oh my God, people are dead!”
Allison yanked out her Glock and rushed down the hall. “Who’s shooting? Where?”
“The quad! Someone’s killing people!”
“Go into your rooms and lock your doors. Now! Stay away from the windows.”
Allison raced across the lobby and out the glass door. It was like stepping into an oven. She took an instant to orient herself, then took off for the university quadrangle just as her radio crackled to life.
“Attention all units! Active shooter on campus! South quadrangle!” The usually calm dispatcher sounded shrill, and Allison felt the first twinge of panic. “Reports of casualties. All units respond!”
Allison jerked the radio from her belt. “Doyle responding.” Jesus Christ. “Where is the shooter? Over.”
For a moment, silence. Then a distant wail of sirens on the other side of town. Allison sprinted across University Avenue and did a double take. Cars were stopped in the middle of the road, doors flung open. The engines were running, but the cars were empty.
“Shooter’s location is unknown,” the dispatcher said. “I repeat, unknown.”
Jonah Macon stared at the dilapidated house where absolutely nothing had happened for the past seven hours. He hated surveillance work, and not just the boredom of it. His six-foot-four-inch frame wasn’t designed to be crammed into the back of a van for days on end.
“If I drink another cup of this coffee, my piss is gonna turn black.”
Jonah shot Sean Byrne a look of disgust but didn’t respond.
“Nice image,” Jonah’s partner Ric quipped, tossing his Styrofoam cup into an empty Krispy Kreme box. Ric Santos had volunteered to bring breakfast this morning, and the doughnut shop was just around the corner from his girlfriend’s place.
So here they all were—bored, caffeinated, and jacked up on sugar that needed to be burned off. Jonah leaned back in his seat and popped his knuckles as he stared at the video monitor.
“Seriously, how late can he sleep?” Sean asked. “I’m about to bust in there and drag his skinny ass out here myself.”
“Movement at the door,” Jonah said, and everyone snapped to attention.
A man stepped onto the porch, finally breaking the monotony. Jonah’s team had been in the van since before dawn, waiting for their subject to kiss his girlfriend good-bye and lead them to the crib where they were ninety-nine percent sure their murder suspect was holed up. Sure enough, they watched onscreen as their subject got some good-bye tongue action before tromping down the rickety front-porch steps.
“Think he’s stepping out for a paper?” Sean asked sarcastically.
“I’m not sure he can read.” Ric eased out of the bucket seat in back and slid behind the wheel while Jonah reached for his radio to give the guys in the car down the block a heads-up.
The phone at Jonah’s hip buzzed. Then Ric’s phone buzzed. Then a snippet of rap music emanated from Sean’s pocket.
Everyone exchanged grim looks as they took out their phones. Jonah answered first.
“Get to campus, ASAP! Where’s the SWAT van?”
“Perkin has it,” Jonah told his lieutenant. “He’s up in Austin at a training op—”
“Someone’s shooting people all over the quad! Get over there and suit up. Grab everyone you can.”
Jonah braced himself against the side of the van as Ric peeled away from the curb. From the look on his partner’s face, Jonah knew he was getting similar instructions.
“What’s your setup?” Lieutenant Reynolds demanded.
Jonah was already leaning over the backseat to do a quick inventory of the cargo space. “Two shotguns, a rifle, and a couple of flash bangs.” His pulse started to pound. “How many shooters?”
“We don’t know.”
“What kind of weapon?”
“We don’t know that, either. We don’t know shit! All I got is a bunch of hysterical 911 calls, someone’s gunning down people on the lawn. Some kid just got shot off his bike. ETA?”
Jonah glanced through the tinted windows as a blur of storefronts raced past. “Two minutes, tops.”
“Okay, then you’re it, Macon. I’m fifteen minutes out. You guys got any Kevlar?”
“Three vests and a flak jacket.”
“Take all of it. And call me when you get there.”
Another burst of cement on the nearby sidewalk. Sophie huddled tighter and looked back at the howling little girl.
“Get down!” Sophie shouted.
From the pavement, an arm reached up and tugged weakly at the girl’s shorts. The arm was attached to a hugely pregnant woman who was lying in an ever-expanding pool of her own blood.
Dear Lord. Someone had to get them out of here, but there was no one. The campus that had been crawling with students just moments ago was now a ghost town. Sophie darted her gaze around. Where was the shooter? She eased up slowly and peered around the base of the bronze statue.
An agonized scream behind her. Sophie recoiled. She peeked beneath her quivering elbow and saw a man hunched at the base of a flagpole, clutching his bloody ankle.
Sophie’s gaze was drawn to the corpse behind her, now baking on the sidewalk. At the edge of the grass, another man lay sprawled across the ground, a backpack beside him. A student. Sophie’s heart jackhammered against her rib cage as she watched the flies already buzzing around him.
This can’t be happening.
The crying intensified. Sophie glanced again at the child, who was hunched over her mother, sobbing uncontrollably. She had to be only two, maybe three years old. The woman twisted onto her side, probably trying to shield the girl with her body. They were behind a large oak tree, thank goodness. But if the child moved too much—
Glass shattered on a building nearby.
Crack. Crack. Crack. One by one, the second-story windows exploded. She thought of those shooting games at carnivals where the targets were little yellow ducks.
Sirens grew louder as Sophie scoured the rooflines for any sort of movement or muzzle flash. She went from building to building all around the quadrangle, searching the red tile roofs and the highest row of windows.
Her gaze came to rest on the white limestone monolith that sat atop the hill, overlooking the entire campus like a giant Sphinx. And suddenly she knew. The gunman was on top of the library.
And from there he could see everything.
© 2011 Laura Griffin
SNAPPED by Laura Griffin
People often ask me where I get my ideas. For SNAPPED, the inspiration was very personal. The story opens with a sniper scene based on a real event at the University of Texas at Austin, where one hot summer day a gunman climbed to the top of the clock tower and started shooting.
I grew up hearing about this terrifying event from an eye-witness--my mother. She was on campus that day in 1966 and, like scores of other students, got caught up in Charles Whitman's deadly rampage. Sixteen people were killed in what came to be known as America's original school shooting.
As a resident of Austin, I live in the shadow of the UT Tower. Each time I see it I remember my mother's account of that fateful day. Many times I've put myself in her shoes and tried to imagine the emotions she must have felt as the incident dragged on. Her perspective helped shaped that of Sophie, my story's heroine, whose quick trip to campus turns into a nightmare when a gunman opens fire.
The hero of the story is Jonah, a member of the SWAT team called in to confront the shooter. Having never stormed a building and taken down an armed gunman, I decided to do a little research on this topic. I interviewed a police sniper whose job it is to train--day in and day out--for the moment when people's lives are at stake and there is only one chance to get it right. Wow, do those guys have a stressful job!
The day I began the book, I went to the UT campus and walked the crime scene, where you can still see marks in the concrete balustrades from the sniper's bullets. After getting a feel for the setting and what I wanted to say, I hiked over to the student union, sat down with my laptop, and wrote the first chapter of SNAPPED.
This book is very close to my heart. I set out to take readers on a journey that begins in a very dark place, goes through twists and turns, and ends in a brighter spot. I hope you will read SNAPPED and enjoy the ride.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I first met Jonah and Sophie in Unforgivable and there was some definite sparks there so I couldn't wait to read their story. I was also very intrigued by the school shooting premise. The whole time I was reading, I couldn't wait to see what was going to happen next--I wasn't sure where the author will take the story especially after the shooter shot himself in chapter three. But take it she did and after the highly charged beginning, I was at the edge of my seat the whole entire time. The characters (main and secondary) were fantastic. But the character that stood out for me was Sophie who was very smart, stubborn and independent. Usually, stubborn and independent heroines tend to irritate me because most knowingly put themselves into stupid situations. Not Sophie. Danger seemed to find her. This girl went through a lot--from being being abducted in Unforgivable to being caught in the middle of a school shooting to realizing that someone was trying to kill her (after she was ran off a cliff and narrowly escaping her car in which the villain had planted a bomb). I knew and understood where she was coming from and why she did what she did. Jonah was great as well and he had his own issues, mainly fighting his intense attraction to Sophie who was convinced that the shooter may have an accomplice. He knew what Sophie had gone through and he didn't want to take advantage of her. She was also a key witness in his case. There is a reason why Ms. Griffin is my go-to author for romantic suspense and it's because she can write a darn good romance amid all the action and suspense--she balances the suspense and the romance so well. There was great chemistry between Sophie and Jonah. They were both fighting their feelings for each other for most of the book but when they gave in and got together, it's genuine and worth the anticipation on my part. I guess my only complaint was that I felt I didn't get to "know" the villain. I felt he wasn't as sinister as I like my villains to be and he wasn't as well-developed as the shooter. Characters from previous Tracer series books make an appearance (like Ric and Mia from Unforgivable) which I like because you get an update on what they have been doing. New characters were also introduced like workaholic, rookie detective Allison Doyle and I hope she'll have her own book in the future. Ms. Griffin takes you on a ride filled with twists and turns that will have you guessing until the end--it has the most twisty plot I've read by the author yet. Snapped is a gripping, action-packed, suspenseful and romantic read you won't be able to put down. 4.5 out of 5 stars
Sophie Barrett's decision to sign up for classes at the local University has a lot to do with her near death experience in her recent past, but as she crosses the campus she walks into a war zone as a gunman opens fire. As the case goes forward she disagrees with the direction the San Marco's PD is taking and decides to do some investigating of her own. What she doesn't know is that she's just opened one huge can of worms and they just might eat her alive. Jonah Macon has seen carnage in his life but nothing compares to the destruction of lives that this gunman did to this quiet college town. He's also relieved that Sophie wasn't one of the unlucky ones, but now she's come up with this wild conspiracy theory while the higher ups in the department want this crime put to bed with the lone gunman scenario. But the more he digs the more she may be right, but that's also putting her right in the line of fire. Now he just needs to keep her safe and that means keeping his hands off her if he can. In 1966 Laura Griffin's mother was in Austin the day that Charles Whitman took the lives of seventeen people at the U of T, she heard the stories growing up from her mom and when they visited the campus she was shown bullet holes and where her mom was when it happened. And so the inspiration for her new novel in her Tracers series was born. In it you will find gripping detail and edge of your seat terror mixed with a perfect birth and nurturing of a romance. Her detailed and vividly described narrative will keep her readers turning pages to find out what happens next while her enigmatic characters will keep them entertained and informed. Her hero and heroine, if you have read the series will not be unknown to you, but here in their own story you'll see them in a different light a more personal and detailed look into who they are. Her romance is wrought with possibilities but the odds are against this couple. Will they make it you'll have to find that out for yourself. The love scenes are visceral and very descriptive and realistic to the effect the events have on our duo. If you're looking for that one great read to end your summer, look no farther. If you want a knock your socks off romance, here it is. If you want a roller coaster ride of a crime drama, pick this one up. Thank you Ms. Griffin for sharing with us a very personal trip down your memory lane and by in turn giving us one heck of a MUST READ. I can't wait for the next in this exciting series.
Delphi Center crime lab employee Sophie Barrett is at the university enrolling in classes when shots ring out. Somebody at the top of the library is shooting; Sophie takes cover next to a dying pregnant woman and her toddler. Four people die including the shooter and over a hundred injured. Homicide detective Jonah Macon came close to catching the killer but the culprit committed suicide. Jonah knows Sophie having saved her life from a psychopath. When they finally ID the killer it is James Himmel. The car he drove was a green VW, but the vehicle that took Sophie's space when she went to the registrar was the car that that belonged to Himmel. Due to the times involved she believes Himmel could not have been the culprit as he could not have crossed the campus to fire the shots. Sophie tries to tell Jonah and other cops, but nobody listens to her except someone who tries to kill her. The attempts on her life has Jonah reconsidering her assertion as they team up seeking a brilliant killer while he struggles to keep the independent woman he is attracted to safe. The fourth Delphi Center Tracers tale (see Unforgivable, Unspeakable and Untraceable) is an exhilarating police procedural with a cute secondary romantic subplot that enhances the whodunit as she becomes willing bait while he wants her safe but she blatantly and brazenly ignores his rules. The mystery is cleverly devised so that the cops, her peers at work and the media believe the mass murderer killed himself; only Sophie has a contrary opinion. Fast-paced, fans of Jayne Ann Krentz will enjoy Laura Griffin's entertaining romantic suspense. Harriet Klausner
I love the books of Laura Griffin. You have to start with book #1. It is a different type of book. You read one book and the next one ties in but in a different way. Check it out.
All of Laura Griffin's books are books that you can not put down. She holds your interest with excitement and suspense throughout the entire book. Excellent writer!
Love the tracers series. Cant wait for the next one to come out
You will not be disappointed!
I am really enjoying the tracers series. Laura Griffin has done her homework and Snapped keeps you entertained and guessing the entire time.
I love passion and the good guys. This in one book of a very good series. The suspense of the crime along with the build up of lust can drive you crazy. Very good book if you like to be on the edge of your seat.
Once again the Tracers series did not disappoint. Unique plot with familiar characters. Great read!
I have enjoyed every one of the Tracers books, but I believe this has been my favorite. It was great how Griffin incorporated Jonah's military background into his current detective/SWAT status, and Sophie was strong and independent. If you haven't read the previous titles in this series make sure you don't miss out!
I started reading the Tracers series because I got the first book at a discount. I had never read Laura Griffin and did not know what I was getting. I was hooked the minute I started to read it. I have purchased everone of her books and and waiting for the next one to come out. GREAT GREAT READS......
Laura Griffin sseries are great
Love all her books can't put them down from the moment I start one. Then can't wait to start the next book. They keep you on the edge of your seat all the way through her book.
I have enjoyed reading Laura Griffin's Tracer Series. I am looking forward to her next book.
Definitely a page-turner. From the opening pages with a sniper on a college rooftop I couldn't put it down until the last page. Sophie and Jonah are an amazing couple and I loved them together.
He steps in.
Marty walks in, looking 'round the schpool., looking for help.
Walks through the hall
The least popular girl in the school. The kind that gets bossed around by everyone. Walks in
Walks in dancing
This was a really great read! I have already bought the next one!
The book kept me reading, the 'who done it?' was written well. The romance subplot was predictable but still good. I enjoyed the authors knowledge of crime scenes.
I absolutely loved this book! Everything about it was fantastic. I couldn't put it down. The story was intriguing, the action was great and the romance was wonderful. Your heart went out to Sophie and what she had been through. The poor girl couldn't catch a break. If I could give it six stars I would!