The future looks bright for Boston couple John Bodine and Ruby Dawes. John’s online gaming business is growing, and they’re planning a family. But when Ruby receives a life-changing diagnosis, and their insurance won’t cover her treatment, John makes a risky move. He steals a customer’s identity and files a false medical claim. It works perfectly—until the customer contacts John with a startling proposition . . .
If John and Ruby play a little game he’s devised, he won’t report their fraud. The rules of “Criminal” are simple: commit real crimes. But if they fail, there will be fatal consequences. John assumes it’s a sick joke—until people start dying. Now John and Ruby can’t disappear—and they can’t go to the police. Their only option is to keep playing, while trying to outwit a psychopath who has no intention of letting them leave this game alive.
“Tight, twisty and terrific, it further establishes Palmer as a force to be reckoned with.” —The Providence Journal
“Unrelentingly suspenseful.” —Publishers Weekly
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Read an Excerpt
By DANIEL PALMER
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2013Daniel Palmer
All rights reserved.
Let me tell you how it feels to learn that your wife is going to die. It's like you've swallowed something bitter, something permanently stuck in your throat. In an instant, the future you've been planning together is gone. The sadness is all-consuming. Trust me, a heavy heart is more than an expression. You try to act strong, sound reassuring. You glom on to statistics, study the odds like a Vegas bookmaker. You say things like, "We can beat this thing. We're going to be the twenty-five percent who makes it."
At night, darker thoughts sneak past your mental defenses. You imagine your life after the inevitable. You think about all the holidays and birthdays that will come and go without your beloved. You cry and hate yourself because you're not the one who is dying.
My name is John Bodine. I'm twenty-nine years old. I'm married to the love of my life. And no matter what it takes, or how far I have to go, I'm not going to let her die.
Eight weeks earlier ...
I'm like a dog. Soon as I heard the sound of keys jangling in the front door lock, my heartbeat kicked into overdrive. I got all excited. Five years of marriage hadn't dulled my pleasure. The sound of keys meant Ruby was home. I glanced at the electric stove, the only working clock within eyesight. Twenty minutes until midnight. Poor Ruby. Poor sweet, tired—no, make that utterly exhausted—Ruby. God, I was glad she was home.
I greeted Ruby in the cramped entranceway of our one-bedroom apartment with a mug of mint tea at the ready. Ruby's strawberry blond hair, cut stylishly and kept shoulder length, glistened from a light nighttime rain. She shivered off the cold and inhaled the sweet mint smell emanating from the steaming mug.
"My hero to the rescue," Ruby said.
Ruby cupped the mug in both hands and let the aroma warm her bones. She kissed me sweetly on the lips. Her eyes, the color of wan sapphires, flashed her desire for a more prolonged kiss with a lot less clothing. But her shoulders, sagging from the weight of her backpack stuffed with textbooks, told me otherwise. For an acupuncture and herbal medicine school that taught the healing arts, Ruby's education took an extraordinary physical and mental toll.
"Hold this," Ruby said. She handed me back the mug of tea, slung her backpack from off her shoulder, and then knelt down to unzip it on the floor. From within she pulled out a brown paper bag. The second I saw it, my eyes went wide.
"You went to Sinful Squares?" I asked, feeling my mouth already watering.
"That's why I left so early this morning. I'm sure you forgot, but it's your mom's birthday on Thursday. I mailed her a dozen of her favorite brownies, and it just so happens that I knew they were your favorite, too. Don't eat them all at once."
She gave me a soft kiss on the lips.
"Ruby, Sinful Squares is way out of your way. You didn't have to do that."
"Well, I love you, and I love your mom. So, happy birthday to us all."
We shared a brownie. Heaven.
"Want to watch TV?" Ruby asked.
"You know it."
We didn't have cable, way too expensive on our limited budget. We had cut back on most all expenses now that we had tuition to pay. But I like to please Ruby, so I rigged Hulu up to our thirty-inch television. Now she could watch her favorite shows anytime she wanted. Ruby didn't have much time for TV, but after a late-night study session, it helped her clear the brain, decompress.
As I expected, Ruby wanted to watch her favorite HGTV show, Designed to Sell. She sank deeply into the soft sofa cushions, almost vanishing between them. I always watched with Ruby, even though I'm an ESPN sort of guy, and this episode, one we'd never seen, featured a three-million-dollar Beverly Hills mansion in desperate need of a makeover before going on the market. Ruby spread her long and beautifully toned legs across my lap.
"Wait," I said, after watching a minute of the show. "The challenge is to redesign an enormous mansion with a few-thousand-dollar budget?"
"Yeah. Cool, isn't it?" Ruby said. Her voice drifted off, as if she was already in a dream.
"Well, it seems a little bit odd," I said. "I mean, they live in a mansion. You'd think they could spend a bit more, is all."
"That's not the point of the show. The point is to teach people how to do more with less."
"So if our one-bedroom got featured, they'd redesign it for what? Fifty bucks?"
Ruby dug her toes between my ribs until I cried out in mock pain. Actually, it felt pretty darn good.
"The show doesn't use a sliding scale, darling. And besides, our place doesn't need to be redesigned. I like it just the way it is."
"Small," I said.
"I prefer to think of it as conducive to closeness."
"Oh, in that case ..."
I changed position and kissed Ruby, long and deep. Ruby responded in kind as best she could, but tonight her romantic mood had the life span of a mayfly.
"Baby, I want to," Ruby said. Her voice sounded as sweet as the mint tea tasted on her lips.
"All right, then, let's go," I whispered between gentle kisses planted on her freckled cheeks.
"But I need you to quiz me."
I sat up.
"Quiz you?" I said. "Ruby, it's after midnight."
Ruby surprised me by breaking into song. "And we're gonna let it all hang out," she sang.
The melody was to the tune of one of our favorite Eric Clapton covers. Ruby held up a finger for me to see. That was her way of marking the musical reference as being worth one point in our longstanding game. A point could be earned if either of us completed a song lyric, tune required, from something the other had said. We didn't keep a running tally, because it was obvious Ruby possessed an insurmountable lead. Let's just say if Jeopardy devoted an entire board to trivia about music and bands, she'd clear it without giving the other contestants a chance to buzz.
Ruby got off the sofa to grab her schoolbooks.
As I waited, I ran my hands through my hair, half expecting to feel the long locks I had chopped off after the Labuche Kang tragedy. A lot about my appearance had changed in the aftermath of that day. My face still looked young but had weathered, with newly formed creases and crevices, which Ruby thought made me ruggedly handsome. My eyes had grown deeper set, too, and like mountain river streams, changed color with the day or my mood. Sometimes they were clear like a well-marked path, but at other times they'd cloud over, and Ruby would ask, "What are you thinking?" Ruby was the only person who could see through my haze, burrow into me, to get beyond the surface layers I allowed others to see. After the shock, the therapy sessions, the black depression, it was Ruby who brought me back from the brink. She held the map to my soul.
Ruby returned with backpack in hand.
"You can't really be serious about wanting me to quiz you," I said. "How can your brain even function?"
"Remember when I said that I loved how small our place is?" Ruby asked.
"Well, not entirely. I do like being close to you."
"We could be closer," I said with a wink.
"Come on, baby. Just a quick quiz tonight."
I pretended to have fallen asleep, and Ruby needled me again in the ribs, this time with her fingers.
"I'm up! I'm up!" I said, feigning alertness.
Ruby ruffled through her backpack, looking for her notes, but something else caught her eye. "Oh, I almost forgot," she said. "I went to the computer lab and made you something today.
Excerpted from STOLEN by DANIEL PALMER. Copyright © 2013 by Daniel Palmer. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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
A good mystery novel makes for a good read but one that frightens and warms you at the same time is rare. Daniel Palmer, in his novel Stolen does exactly that. He starts you off near the summit of a frozen mountain where protagonist John Bodine, chilled to the bone, is faced with the wrenching decision of killing one friend to save another. As the story progresses, you are taken into Bodine’s heart and passion for wife Ruby who is diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. Unlike the horror on the mountain, to save the love of his life will only require a little identity theft. But, as often happens in life, one wrong decision leads to other problems; in the case of John, creator of an online game in which players act in a virtual world he finds himself forced to play an online game in which the players are real and so is the torture and murder. Throughout the story John is faced with the question of how far he will go to save the one he loves. He finds himself as the right person doing the wrong thing for the right reason; and it very well may cost him the life of his wife. Stolen is exciting, well-written, and will make you think – long after you put the book down – just how far you would go.
Daniel Palmers third book, Stolen has just become my absolute favorite. Once I started reading I was unable to put it down until the book was complete. He characters come to life on and I found myself as in love with Ruby as John Bodine the hero of the story. What would you do to save your true love...This book is for anyone that enjoys an exceptional thriller. Daniel is an incredible story teller and you will love this book!
STOLEN was a great book. Had me hooked from the get go. It does make you wonder what lengths you would go to for those you love. It also scared the hell out of me thinking that it is so easy for someone to get all of your information! Read this book!
Reviewed by Donna Wharton for Readers' Favorite Cancer was all John could think of though he had to help his wife. Ruby was his priority and he didn’t want her to die. What a roller-coaster ride! Kudos to Daniel Palmer for "Stolen". I had not yet read any of his books, but I have to tell all of you, if you are looking for suspense, this is the book for you. Throughout the book I began to think there should actually be places where it would be good for DP to place “Stop Here” for a break so that you could catch your breath for a little and slow down your heart rate. Otherwise, I was going to hyperventilate. In this book the chapters are short and very well described. If they had been any longer I would not have persisted until the end of each one. The only thing I could do at times was to hold my breath for 2 pages. DP has definitely got an extremely well-rounded way of detailing suspense: twisting and turning so that you are confused or maybe not confused because that is what the killer wants you to think. You might feel even dizzy because you have been turned around too many times. It took me 2 hours after finishing "Stolen" before I could write a review because I had to come down from the culmination of everything DP had in place. I was exhausted, but exhilarated, thankful at the last words when it was finally OVER and I was released from the suspense that held me in its tight grasp for so long. Thank you very much Daniel Palmer for a book so well-written that it kept me captivated and second-guessing until the vvery end as to how everyone would fare.
A very suspenseful book that grabs the reader by the throat and does not let go till the very end. I would only pull about half a star, making this one fit into a realistic four and a half star review. The loss of half a star was because the author did make it bit transparent to this reader who the real culprit was. Yet the author really does create a tense situation where I even felt myself tense up every time the damn phone rang in the book. Very good stuff that makes me want to read more from this author.
STOLEN is a story anyone with an illness can relate to. When you get to that deserate point, the unthinkable comes to mind. Here are 2 good people that get there. STOLEN had me at the word go. It was full of twists and turns. Some horrifying. John and Ruby have no idea what will happen now that they took that first step. An idea to save a woman he loves deeply goes where John should have stayed far away from. STOLEN is a must read in Daniel Palmer's novels. If you've never read his books before, this stand alone book will hook you in. STOLEN will have STOLEN your time when reading because you will not be able to put it down!
I found this book to be just ok...... the story was not all that suspenseful nor frightening to me. It had it's good parts and it's not so good parts meaning some parts I found to be boring. I kept reading just to find out who the killer was. I can say even though this story is fiction it gives the reader a small real-life lesson about stealing in other words No matter the situation don't ever steal anything from anyone because it may cost you your life!
John and Ruby Bodine are living the typical American life. John is trying to launch his online game, One World, and Ruby is a struggling college student. John has also finally emerged from a deep depression after an incident that happened during a mountain climb with his buddies. A trip that left one of them dead and the two survivors just learning to cope with what they had to do. Even though John and Ruby struggle to live day to day, their love is the shiny beacon guiding them to what they know their future can be. Then one day, John discovers a strange patch of skin on Ruby’s foot that sets into motion something they never planned on. Ruby has an aggressive form of cancer and there is only one treatment. Unfortunately the generic version is unavailable and their current insurance won’t cover the name brand. John feels he has only one option, steal the identity of one of his gamers whose insurance will cover the treatment. He finally finds the perfect one, Elliot and Tanya Uretsky. They pack up and leave their life behind and begin to live their new life as the Urtesky’s. One day John gets the phone call that he could never dream would happen. The caller says, “My name is Elliot Uretsky, and I believe you stole my identity.” Elliot wants to play a game called Criminal and he wants John and Ruby to be the main players. They can continue using his insurance but they have to pass his tests. They start out easy and John and Ruby think that it is all a prank and they decide not to play this fiend’s game. That is when the bodies start to show up, brutally murdered, they know this guy means business. From here till the end is a tale of suspense and terror. The things that Elliot makes this couple do will blow your mind. Daniel Palmer’s mind is something I would not want to be living in but I am thankful he is able to put it to paper. Even though this couple commits insurance fraud and as the game goes on some pretty devious things, you as a reader start to cheer for them to somehow win and outsmart the devious villain. Every page is a new twist thrown into the plot and the storyline keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering how far John and Ruby will go. Palmer has really outdone himself in his third novel and has solidified himself among some of the great mystery/thriller writers, in my opinion. I know he isn’t going anywhere and I look forward to what his next project will be. (ARC was provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review)
A good thriller.
Well worth your time. Great book.
It is definitely vague. There are ways of ignorance without being so vague you know. Just gotta word everything just right ^^ Takes patience. I find it a bit short still (then again my chapters last two results, lol. Maybe l'm biased on that point) but still good. Thank you for posting that where l rp because l would have forgotten. Could you post at the second result of 'night fallen' the location of this story perhaps? So l definitely remember to read it more. ^^ Would love to see how this progresses.
Now it makes sense! Very well written. Here are some writer cheats(if you want to use them! No spaces!)-<p>< br > = next line<p>< p > = skip a line<p>first ex<br>first ex<p>second ex<p>second ex<p>Hope this helps!<p>ShootinSeven
AMAZING!!!!! I ENJOYED EVERY TWIST, TURN, AND BUMP THAT THIS NOVEL TAKES YOU THROUGH. I COULD NOT READ FAST ENOUGH TO FIND OUT WHO THE KILLER WAS. THEY SAY DESPERATE TIMES CALLS FOR DESPERATE MEASURES, WOW HOW TRUE THAT IS WHEN IT COMES TO THIS STORY LINE. JOHN AND RUBY BECOME SO DESPERATE FOR HELP THAT THEY FIND THEMSELVES DOING SOMETHING TOTALLY WRONG, BUT FOR VERY GOOD INTENTIONS. WELL UPON DOING SO ALL H ELL BREAKS LOOSE AROUND THEM. THIS IS ONE THRILLER THAT WILL NOT DISAPPOINT!! SO SIT BACK, RELAX AND GET READY FOR A ROLLER COASTER OF A RIDE YOU WILL NOT SOON FORGET. ENJOY!!!!
This is the third novel written by Daniel Palmer (son of one of my favorite authors, Michael Palmer)and it is far and away the best of the three. Of course, it is a murder mystery but it is a mystery with so many twists and turns that it's impossible to figure our what's going to happen until the end of the book. I was fortunate enough to win an ARC (advance reading copy) of the book which is not due to be released until April 30, 2013. In this story, John Bodine is an avid climber, mostly of mountains. In the opening he has to make an chilling and horrifying decision, a life or death decision. Years later, married and now a budding entrepreneur, his life is turned upside down when his wife contracts a rare and very deadly form of melanoma. I won't give the plot away any more than this but in his quest to save his wife's life he falls into the clutches of an inhuman monster. As I previously said, the twists and turns of the story take you from conclusion to conclusion, all of which (in my case) were wrong. There were several times when I thought I knew who the culprit was only to have one theory after another dashed to pieces. Daniel Palmer continues to get better with each new book. I am looking forward to his next book with eager anticipation. He is on a par with his father, whose books I have loved for years. Kudos to Daniel on a very well-written, suspenseful and exciting novel!! (And thanks for the ARC!!)
I received an Advance Reader Copy from following Daniel Palmer on Facebook. In my comment on his post I told him that I would love to read the book and would post a review - anywhere & everywhere - if I really liked the book. So? I LOVED THIS BOOK! I won't go into great detail here, too many others have written wonderful reviews, much more eloquently than I can. What I WILL say is that I couldn't put this book down! I read every moment of free time I had, and had I started it on a weekend I would have read it in one sitting! You must read John and Ruby's story. It's am amazing, scary, wild ride, from the first page to the last!
Thank goodness I am lucky enough to have decent health insurance that covers my family. I am lucky. What if I did not and a member of my family needed the coverage. What would I do? The main character in this thrilling novel faces that very question. His choice of how to deal with that question, and the unintended consequences, make for a scary, unrelenting and satisfying ride. As I read Stolen I kept thinking about what I would do in the same situations. Would I make the same choices as Palmer's character did? Thankfully I do not have to make these choices. In the end this is a book which is well worth reading. Fast paced. Intense. Thrilling. What more could a reader want?
This book is 9 :50 on kindle!!