Tabula Rasa

Tabula Rasa

by Shelly Reuben

NOOK Book(eBook)

$2.99
View All Available Formats & Editions
Available on Compatible NOOK Devices and the free NOOK Apps.
LendMe® See Details
Want a NOOK ? Explore Now

Overview

Tabula Rasa by Shelly Reuben

State Trooper Sebastian Bly and his brother-in-law Billy Nightingale are called in to investigate a house fire that killed two young children. Suspicious details at the fire scene – and the discovery of a baby hiding underneath the porch – put them on the trail of a murderous mother and lead to Sebastian and his wife, Annie, raising baby Meredith without revealing her dangerous and frightening past.

Meredith grows up to be a promising young ballerina – her ambitions fueled in part by the fictional history that Sebastian, Annie, and Billy have invented for her. But the truth threatens their charmed family circle as Merry’s biological mother returns to finish what she started.

Tabula Rasa is not only a gripping and entertaining crime novel but also a sensitive, warm exploration of the deeper issues of what defines a family and an individual.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780966286878
Publisher: Bernard Street Books
Publication date: 08/17/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 237
File size: 756 KB

About the Author

Shelly Reuben is the author of Tabula Rasa, Origin & Cause, Spent Matches, the Edgar-nominated Julian Solo, and Weeping. She is a licensed private detective and a certified fire investigator who has been investigating fires and arson for more than twenty years. She lives in New York.

Read an Excerpt

NOT ALL BABIES are created equal.

Some gurgle and coo.

Some cry.

Some demand unconditional affection. These are the ones whose tiny hands are drawn to your fingers like a magnet, and curl around them with a grip like a gorilla.

Then there are those other babies. The very rare, perhaps only encountered-once-or-twice-in-a-lifetime babies; they seem to have been born thinking, calculating, evaluating, making judgments.

These are the babies who stare.

You've seen one. Surely you have. Think back. It might have been on a bus or in a supermarket. A lone, strange child surrounded by adults murmuring the appropriate noises.

What a darling!

She has your eyes!

Such delicate ears! I forgot how small ears can be!

No one, however, will comment on the baby's beautiful smile.

The baby doesn't smile. Not at all.

And the baby doesn't cry. Not at all.

The baby stares.

You stare back, mesmerized by the tiny mind behind the tiny eyes.

Your eyes lock.

You are captivated.

Something is happening between you and this tiny, helpless infant.

The baby holds your eyes for five seconds. Ten seconds. A lifetime.

Then the infant releases your eyes and moves onto something else.

The bond is broken.

Your brain does a double take.

What just happened?

You walk away from the baby carriage. Away from the admiring adults.

Away. Away.

But feeling as though you had somehow made contact with an alien life force.

Of such stuff and substance was the baby who lived in the ugly house-for that is what the townspeople called it-just beyond theintersection of Mabel Newton Road and Route 18 in the village of Sojourn.



"SHE'S SO QUIET, that one. Sometimes I don't know if she's alive or if she's gone and died on me."

Words to that effect had been spoken on many occasions in the ugly house by Edith Tuttle, the mother of the infant, whom, from a discreet distance, we have been observing.

After giving birth to this child, Edith occasionally was overheard making off-hand comments that indicated she was at least marginally aware that her new baby was in some respect different-more like a changeling than anything she and her husband, Wilbur, could have been expected to produce.

"Hell, there's so much to do around here, a body's got to make herself heard if she wants to get my attention. Never a peep out of that one, though. I swear, if it weren't for Gabe and Minna, it'd never get fed, never get its diaper changed. Them two fuss over her like they was her ma and pa instead of me."

The "Gabe" in question was Edith Tuttle's youngest son, Gabriel Cotter Tuttle. Gabe was a freckle-faced youngster with hair the color of apricot jam and eyes that crinkled when he liked you-and he liked everybody. Gabe was the kind of a boy who would be likely to carry around a toad in his pocket because he loved animals and to jump off the garage roof because he thought he could fly (he wanted to be an astronaut when he grew up). He had a voice like a golden thread stretched out in the sun, so pure and pretty that it inevitably doomed him to playing the angel whenever Christmas plays were performed.

Minna, his sister, was much plainer. She was the only one of Edith and Wilbur's children who hadn't been given a middle name. Minna was a sweet, nondescript child, tall and lanky for her age. She had long, mousy brown hair, blunt bangs, and a please-like-me smile that should have gone right to the heart of any adult who happened to cross her path, but somehow didn't.

It was Gabriel and Minna who got their sister up in the morning. Dressed her. Fed her. Bathed her. Loved her. Without them, she probably would have starved to death long before she had reached her first birthday. Because of them, she made it. But just barely.

When Edith Tuttle was enthroned against the pillows on her bed in the maternity ward, she had been given a form with an empty slot provided where she was to fill out her newborn's name. Instead, she wrote the words BABY TUTTLE, and told the nurse that she would think of a "real nice name" later.

But she never did.



BABY TUTTLE.

Sometimes Edith called her "the baby," almost in the same tone that a person would refer to "the refrigerator" or "the mail box."

Sometimes, she would refer to her youngest as "it," as in "did anybody remember to feed it?" or "I'm sure it was in the bedroom before I came downstairs."

Usually, she didn't refer to it at all.

Baby Tuttle was quiet, pensive, and judgmental. She had a habit of linking eyes with a chosen few adults.

And physically, she was precocious.

She was crawling at two months, walking at six, and climbing before she was eight months old.

Wherever she was, she wanted to be someplace else.

She was active without being hyperactive. A small, determined, ambulant universe unto herself opting to endure the ministrations of her brother and sister as if she knew that she had to be fed, clothed, bathed, and groomed in order to be launched.

A moment of docility was the price she was willing to pay for the reward of movement, freedom, self-determination, and escape.

And those who had seen her in action speculated that it was probably this particular characteristic, more than any instinct for survival or unconscious response to danger, that saved her life.

Yes. She did walk, tumble, toddle, or fall out of the ugly house's front door and down the steps to the gravel and dirt driveway.

Yes. She did flee the fire that killed Minna and Gabriel.

But she would have escaped anyway.

With or without the fire.

Because leaving the ugly house was the one ineradicable constant of her existence.

That is all that she had ever wanted to do.

Copyright © 2005 by Shelly Reuben

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Table of Contents

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Tabula Rasa 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Maggie_the_Reader More than 1 year ago
This is a book about nature vs. nurture as it affects a small child. State Trooper Sebastian Bly and Fire Marshal Billy Nightingale rescue a baby who escapes from an arson fire set by her own mother. They arrest the mother, and then Sebastian, his wife Annie, and her brother Billy set about to raise the child. What happens next has a fairytale-like quality of good people determined to slay the dragons of fate. Can they create a fictional mother so innocent, talented, and beautiful that her mythical essence is stronger than the reality of a biological mother so evil, that she is still determined to extinguish the life of her last child? Tabula Rasa is a page-turner with a heart.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved it. Loved the tone. So entertaining! Such fun! And it's a horror story besides with a truly frightening person lurking. Very engaging story with people you will love. The author is an honest-to-goodness Private Eye who specializes in arson, so the theme is Fire, and while you are enjoying the story, you'll learn a lot about fires, too.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Give Shelly Reuben, author of Tabula Rasa, a blank slate and watch out! Her latest novel will have readers clamoring for moral support before they are able to face the climax of this multilayered, complex, thoughtful, heart tugging, mind numbing, finger biting mystery. Reuben¿s tale of arson is a mystery in more than just the conventional whodunit sense of the word. Tabula Rasa explores the mystery of enduring love, unflinching loyalty, and above all, hard gained wisdom. Reuben reminds us good can be found everywhere if only one is prepared to look for and nurture it. Reuben¿s book leaves us spellbound by the triumph of beauty, happiness, and life itself. From the darkness, she leads the reader and her characters to the light that will warm us until they appear again with the publication of her next book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Shelly Reuben has struck out into new territory in her latest novel Tabula Rasa. The characters are strikingly zippy: evil and good jump off the page in a plot that is energized by high octane fuel. Indeed, they are characters any reader will want more of and I hear that there will be a sequel. I can't wait!
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I began to read Tabula Rasa I expected another one of Shelly Reuben's great fire procedurals. That would have been enough to please me. This new book, though, is both as good as her previous thrillers and, frankly, much better--even more of a page turner. Her devoted readers will love it because Shelly Reuben continues to give us new things to learn about arson. But she will get a whole raft of new readers who will appreciate her fabulous new intriguing characters. The stunning Annie brings you into her sophisticated but also earthy orbit. Merry is gorgeous, difficult, and captivating. Her husband and brother, fireman and cop respectively, are characters the reader wants more of (and I hear that there will be a sequel to this book--I am really excited). Shelly's use of the Red Cross is ingenious as a device for revealing clues to this mystery. Mystery, yes! But more than a mystery at the same time. Shelly Reuben has written a gripping novel that shows she is the match not only for the best mystery writers, but also for those that transcend the particular genre. A must-read!