You're Next: A Thriller

You're Next: A Thriller

by Gregg Hurwitz

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You're Next

Gregg Hurwitz

Mike Wingate had a rough childhood—-he was abandoned at a playground at four years old and raised in foster care. No one ever came to claim him, and he has only a few, fragmented memories of his parents. Now, as an adult, Mike is finally living the life he had always wanted—-he's happily married to Annabel, the woman of his dreams; they have a wonderful young daughter; and his successful construction company guarantees a solid future for them all. Until Mike's past comes back to haunt him.

Menacing characters are starting to surface in Mike's life…and when he reports them, the police seem more interested in Mike's murky origins than in protecting the family he has now. With no one left to turn to, Mike calls on Shep, a truly dangerous man—and Mike's only true friend—-from their childhood days together in foster care. Together, the two of them will do whatever it takes to protect Mike and his loved ones against a hidden enemy who comes with a deadly warning: You're Next

This edition of the book is the deluxe, tall rack mass market paperback.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250005892
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 03/27/2012
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 560
Sales rank: 248,814
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 7.50(h) x 1.90(d)

About the Author

Gregg Hurwitz is the critically acclaimed, internationally bestselling author of eleven novels, most recently, They're Watching and Trust No One. His books have been translated into twenty languages. In addition, he is a screenwriter, television producer, and writes for Marvel and DC Comics. He lives in Los Angeles.

Read an Excerpt

You're Next

By Gregg Hurwitz

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2011 Gregg Hurwitz
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-8741-7


Mike lay in the darkness, his gaze fixed on the baby monitor on the nightstand. He had to be up in three hours, but sleep wasn't coming any easier than it usually did. A blowfly had been circling the bedroom at irregular intervals as if to ensure his continued alertness. His mother used to say that a blowfly in the house meant that evil was stalking the family — one of the only things he remembered about her.

He took a moment to catalog some less morbid memories from his early years. The few imprints he'd retained were little more than sensory flashes. The scent of sage incense in a yellow-tiled kitchen. His mother bathing him. How her skin always seemed tan. Her smell, like cinnamon.

The red light bars fanned up on the monitor. A crackle of static. Or was that Kat coughing?

He nudged the volume down so as not to wake Annabel, but she shifted around beneath the sheets, then said hoarsely, "Honey, there's a reason they call it a baby monitor."

"I know. I'm sorry. I thought I heard something."

"She's eight years old. And more mature than either of us. If she needs something, she'll march in here and announce it."

It was an old argument, and Annabel was right, so he muted the volume and lay morosely staring at the damn thing, unable to click it off altogether. A little plastic unit that held a parent's worst fears. Choking. Illness. Intruders.

Usually the sounds were just interference or crossover noise from other frequencies — a charge in the air or the neighbor's toddler snuffling from a cold. Sometimes Mike even heard voices in the rush of white noise. He swore there were ghosts in the thing. Murmurs from the past. It was a portal to your half-conscious mind, and you could read into its phantom whisper whatever you wanted.

But what if he turned it off and this proved to be the night Kat did need them? What if she awakened terrified and disoriented from a nightmare, sudden paralysis, the blowfly's evil spell, and lay stricken for hours, trapped alone with her fear? How do you choose the first night to take that risk?

In the early hours, logic and reason seemed to fall asleep before he did. Everything seemed possible in the worst kind of way.

He finally started to drift off, but then the blowfly took another loop around the night-light, and a moment later the red bars flared again on the muted unit. Kat crying out?

He sat up and rubbed his face.

"She's fine," Annabel groaned.

"I know, I know." But he got up and padded down the hall.

Kat was out cold, one slender arm flung across a stuffed polar bear, her mouth ajar. Chestnut hair framed her serious face. She had her mother's wide-set eyes, pert nose, and generous lower lip; given her looks and whip-smart demeanor, it was sometimes hard to tell whether Kat was an eight-year-old version of Annabel or Annabel a thirty-six-year-old version of Kat. The one trait that Kat had received from Mike was at least an obvious one — one brown eye, one amber. Heterochromia, they called it. As for her curls, who knew where she got those?

Mike leaned over her, listened for the whistle of breath. Then he sat in the glider chair in the corner and watched his daughter. He felt a stab of pride about the childhood he and Annabel had given her, the sense of security that let her sleep so soundly.

"Babe." Annabel stood in the doorway, shoving her lank hair off her forehead. She wore a Gap tank top and his boxers and looked as good in them as she had a decade before on their honeymoon. "Come to bed. Tomorrow's a huge day for you."

"Be there in a moment."

She crossed, and they kissed quietly, and then she trudged off to bed again.

The movement of the glider was hypnotic, but his thoughts kept circling back to the unresolved business of the coming day. After a time he realized he wasn't going to be able to sleep, so he went into the kitchen and made a pot of coffee. Back in the chair, sipping contentedly from his mug, he soaked in the pale yellow walls, the raft of dolls on the floating shelf, his daughter in angelic repose. The only interruption was the occasional buzz from the blowfly, which had stalked him down the hall.


Kat skidded through the kitchen, her ponytail loose and off center. Annabel paused above the omelet pan and regarded the fount of curls. "Your father did that, didn't he?"

Kat shoved her stuffed polar bear into her backpack and climbed onto a counter stool next to Mike. Annabel slung the omelet onto Kat's plate, then leaned over and readjusted her daughter's hair tie with a few expert flips and tugs. She dropped the pan into soapy water, mopped the leak beneath the farmhouse sink with a foot-held paper towel, and moved back to finishing Kat's lunch, cutting the crust off her peanut-butter — no jelly — sandwich.

Slurping at his third cup of coffee and watching his wife, Mike felt like he was moving in slow motion. "I'll fix the sink tonight," he said, and Annabel gave him a thumbs-up. He noted the furry white arm protruding from his daughter's backpack. "May I ask why you packed a polar bear for school?"

"I have a report today."

"Another report? Aren't you in third grade?"

"It's for that enriched-learning thing after class. I'm talking about global warming —"

Annabel, sarcastic: "No kidding."

"— and this isn't just any polar bear."

Mike lifted an eyebrow. "No?"

Kat pulled the stuffed animal from her backpack and presented it theatrically. "This is no longer Snowball, Childhood Friend. This ... this is Snowball, the Last Dying Polar Bear." She removed her eyeglasses from their case and put them on. The round red rims added gravity to her expression. Not that she needed the help. "Did you know," she asked, "that polar bears will probably be extinct by the time I'm a grown-up?"

"Yes," Mike said. "From that Al Gore movie. With the melting icecaps and drowning polar bears. You cried for two days."

Annabel said, "Eat your omelet."

Kat picked at the edge. Mike gave the nape of her neck a squeeze. "Want me to walk you to class today?"

"Dad, I'm eight."

"So you keep reminding me." Mike tugged his sturdy cell from his pocket and hit "redial." A few rings, and then the bank manager picked up. "Hi, Mike Wingate again. Did the wire hit?"

"Just a minute, Mr. Wingate." The sound of keyboard typing.

As Kat and Annabel negotiated how many more bites Kat had to eat, Mike waited, drumming his fingers nervously on the counter.

It had taken him thirteen years to work his way from hired hand to carpenter to foreman to contractor. And now he was on the brink of closing out his first deal as a developer. He'd taken some ulcer-inducing risks to get here, leveraging their house and maxing out a handful of loans to buy a section of undeveloped canyon at the edge of town. Lost Hills, a Valley community thirty miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, had a number of advantages, the main one being that real estate was merely expensive, not obscene. Mike had carved the land into forty generous parcels and built a community of ecological houses that he had named, uninventively, Green Valley. Not that he was a die-hard ecofreak, but Kat had shown an interest in environmental stuff from an early age and he had to admit that those futuristic computer-generated photos of Manhattan flooded due to sea-level rise scared the hell out of him.

The state's offer of green subsidies had helped the houses sell quickly, the cash from the final cluster of sales due to be wired from the title company this morning. This wire would get him out from under the bank — finally, entirely — after three and a half years and meant they'd no longer have to eyeball their checking-account balance before deciding to go out to a meal.

The bank manager's breath whistled over the line. The typing stopped. "Still nothing, Mr. Wingate."

Mike thanked him, clicked his cell closed, and ran the sweat off his forehead with the heel of a hand. The little nagging voice returned: What if, after all this work, something did go wrong?

He caught Annabel looking at him, and he said, "I shouldn't have bought that stupid truck yet."

She said, "And what? Duct-taped the transmission together on your beater pickup? We're fine. The money's there. You've worked hard. So hard. It's okay to let yourself enjoy it a little."

"And I certainly didn't need to drop eight hundred bucks on a suit."

"You've got a photo shoot with the governor, honey. We can't have you show up in ripped jeans. Besides, you can wear it again at the award ceremony. Which reminds me." She snapped her fingers. "I need to pick it up from the tailor this morning after class. Kat's got that back-to-school checkup this morning. Can you take her on your way in? Meet back here at lunch?"

In the past year, their schedules had gotten more complicated to coordinate. Once it had become clear that Kat and third grade were getting along, Annabel decided it was time to go back to Northridge University for her teaching degree. State-school tuition was manageable, as long as they bent the budget here and there.

Mike flipped his phone open and checked the screen in case he'd missed the bank calling back with good news. He rubbed a knot out of his neck. The stress, still holding on. "I don't know what was wrong with my old sport coat."

Kat said, "I don't think anyone wears plaid jackets anymore, Dad."

"It's not plaid. It's windowpane."

Annabel nodded at Kat and mouthed, Plaid.

Mike had to smile. He took a deep breath. Tried for a full exhale. The money was already at the title company. What could go wrong?

Annabel finished at the sink, tugged off her rings, and rubbed lotion into her hands. The engagement ring, a fleck of pale yellow diamond that he'd scraped together two paychecks to afford, gave off a dull sparkle. He loved that ring, like he loved their nice little house. The American dream distilled into two bedrooms and fifteen hundred square feet. Having money come in would be great, sure, but they'd always known to be grateful, to appreciate how fortunate they were.

Annabel reached for his hands. "Come here, I got too much lotion." The light from the window was pouring over her shoulders, bronzing her dark hair at the edges, and her eyes, picking up the frost blue of her shirt, looked translucent.

He raised the cell phone, framed her in the built-in camera, and snapped a picture. "What?" she said.

"Your hair. Your eyes."

Annabel rolled her hands in his.

"Gawd," Kat said. "Just kiss and get it over with already."

* * *

The Ford F-450 gleamed in the garage like a spit-polished tank. The four-ton truck guzzled enough diesel to offset whatever help Green Valley was lending the environment, but Mike couldn't exactly haul gear to a construction site in a Prius. The truck was extravagant — irresponsible, even — but he had to confess that when he'd driven it off the lot yesterday, he'd felt more delight than seemed prudent.

Kat hopped into the back and stuck her nose in a book, the usual morning procedure.

Pulling out of the driveway, Mike gestured at the roof-mounted TV/DVD player. "Stop reading. Check out the TV. It's got wireless headphones. Noise-canceling."

He sounded like the brochure, but couldn't help himself; the new-car smell was making him heady.

She put on the headphones, clicked around the channels. "Yes!" she said, too loud, since the volume was cranked up. "Hannah Montana."

He coasted up the quiet suburban streets, tilting down the sun visor, thinking about how nervous and yet excited he was about today's photo shoot with the governor. They passed a jewelry shop, and he looked at all the glimmering ice in the storefront window and thought that once that wire hit, just maybe he'd stop by and get something to surprise Annabel.

As they neared Dr. Obuchi's, Kat's face darkened, and she tugged off the headphones. "No shots," she said.

"No shots. It's just a checkup. Don't freak out."

"As long as there are no needles, there will be no freaking out." She extended her hand with a ceremony beyond her years. "Deal?"

Mike half turned, and they shook solemnly. "Deal."

"I don't believe you," she said.

"Have I ever broken a promise to you?"

"No," she said. "But you could start."

"Glad to see I've built up trust."

"I'm eight. I'm supposed to be difficult."

Her mouth stayed firm for the rest of the drive and all the way into the examination room, where she shifted back and forth on the table, the paper crinkling beneath her as Dr. Obuchi checked her reflexes.

The doctor finished the physical and eyed Kat's chart. "Oh. She never got her second MMR, since Annabel wanted me to spread out the vaccines." She tugged at a lock of shiny black hair. "We're late on it." She fussed in a drawer for the vial and syringe.

Kat's eyes got big. She stiffened on the table and directed an imploring stare at her father. "Dad, you swore."

"She prefers to get ready for shots," Mike said. "Mentally. A little more notice. Can we come back later in the week?"

"It's September. Back to school. You can guess what my schedule looks like." Dr. Obuchi took note of Kat's glare. Unwavering. "I might have a slot Friday morning."

Mike clicked his teeth together, frustrated. Kat was watching him closely. He put his hands on his daughter's knobby knees. "Honey, I'm wall-to-wall with meetings Friday, and Mom has class. It's my worst day. Let's just do this now and get it over with."

Kat's face colored.

Dr. Obuchi said, "It's just a prick. Over before you know it."

Kat tore her gaze from Mike and looked at the wall, her breath quickening, her arm almost as pale as the latex glove gripping it. Dr. Obuchi dabbed some alcohol on Kat's biceps and readied the needle.

Mike watched, his discomfort growing. Kat kept her face turned away.

As the stainless-steel point lowered, Mike reached out and gently stopped the doctor's hand. "I'll make Friday work," he said.

* * *

Mike drove, chomped Juicy Fruit, and tried to keep from checking in with the bank manager for the fourth time that morning. As they approached Kat's school, he rolled down the window and spit his gum into the wind.



"That's not good for the environment."

"Like if a bald eagle chokes on it?"

Kat scowled.

"Okay, fine," he said. "I won't spit any more gum out the window."

"Snowball the Last Dying Polar Bear thanks you."

He pulled up to the front of the school, but she just sat there in the backseat, fingering the wireless headphones in her lap. "You're getting some award thing for the green houses, aren't you?" she asked. "From the governor?"

"I'm being recognized, yeah."

"I know you care about nature and stuff, but you're not, like, really into it, right? So why'd you build all these green houses?"

"You really don't know?" He angled the rearview so he could see her face.

She shook her head.

He said, "For you."

Her mouth came open a little, and then she looked away and smiled privately. She scooted across and climbed out, and even once she was halfway across the playground, he could see that her face was still flushed with joy.

Letting the breeze blow through the rolled-down window, he took in the scene. A few teachers were out supervising the yard. Parents clustered among the parked cars, arranging play dates, coordinating car pools, planning field trips. Kids whooped and ran and tackled one another on the grass.

It was a life he'd always dreamed about but barely dared to believe he could have for himself. And yet here it was.

He dialed, raised the cell phone to his face. The bank manager sounded a touch impatient. "Yes, Mr. Wingate. I was about to call. I'm pleased to tell you that the wire came through just this instant."

For a moment Mike was rendered speechless. The phone sweaty in his grip, he asked for the amount. And then asked the bank manager to repeat it, just to make sure it was real.

"So the loan is paid off now, yeah?" Mike said, though he knew he had just received enough to close out the remaining debt five times over. "Fully paid off?"

A note of amusement in the man's voice. "You are free and clear, Mr. Wingate."


Excerpted from You're Next by Gregg Hurwitz. Copyright © 2011 Gregg Hurwitz. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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.

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You're Next: A Thriller 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gregg Hurwitz is an extremely good story teller. This one is about a man and his family who are subjected to almost unbearable pressure, with the pressure starting when the man is 4 years old! The suspense is almost too much to bear at times, and the feeling of being utterly lost is intense. It ends up as a story of a man and his 8 year old daughter, and his foster brother, and their relationship. It is a must read for anyone who can withstand extremely emotional situations.
gramgramSG More than 1 year ago
My first time reading Hurwitz! Fast pace, twist and turns! An excellent read! My new best mystery writer! You will not be disappointed!
scrapbooker56DM More than 1 year ago
This book kept me reading until the very end.
Juneleo More than 1 year ago
This book is definitely a page turner. Twists and good character development.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fast paced, and interesting read. Likable characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story will keep you on an emotional rollercoaster with tears running down your face!!! A MUST read!
Twink on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Gregg Hurwitz is another new to me author. I chose to listen to his latest book You're Next.The opening prologue is guaranteed to snare you. A young boy - 4 years old - is taken by his father to a playground....and left. Young Michael Doe grows up in foster care, not knowing who he is, but always watching out that front window for his dad to return. Another child at the home - Shep, who is partially deaf, becomes his only family. Mike is smart though and has plans to 'make it' in the world.His dreams come true - he's a contractor with an award winning housing development. But, his picture in a local paper seems to trigger someone or something...from his past? Who knows? All he knows is that the cops won't help, his family is in danger and so he calls on the one friend he knows will never let hi m down - Shep.Hurwitz keeps us guessing and guessing on the real reason behind Michael being a target and who he really is. In no way, shape or form would I have ever guessed it! The two 'bad guys' chasing Michael are truly frightening. Although violence is always a threat, it's even more insidious in a subtle your daughter's stuffed animal being taken while you're all asleep in the house.Hurwitz builds layer upon layer of tension and relentlessly ramps up the action, chapter after chapter. I liked Mike as the 'everyman' forced to defend his family. But it was Shep that I was really drawn to - I think he has his own story to tell.The reader was one of my all time favourites - Scott Brick. Brick's voice is incredibly expressive. He easily captured the tension and action. His portrayal of the deaf Shep was done exceptionally well.Yes, You're Next is a bit OTT (Over the Top). But those looking for a thriller that will keep them glued to page or disc will find it here.
monkeygirl351 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Pretty good thriller. Didn't really know where it was going for the first half, which I also thought was kinda slow. It really started picking up in the second half and had a nice plot twist, so basically redeemed itself in the second half.
Carstairs38 More than 1 year ago
Mike Wingate grew up in foster care, not even knowing his real last name. But as an adult he's going to need to figure out his past quickly because someone is out to kill him for it. What secret does his family hold? I felt this thriller was pretty slow getting going, but once it did, it was another roller coaster ride of action.
quibecca More than 1 year ago
Mike has a wonderful marriage, with a beautiful 8 year old daughter. Mike has built a "green" community for people to move into. When the last inspection happens he finds out it's not as green as it's suppose to be. One night while sleeping Mike swears he hears something coming from the baby monitor that he still has in his daughters room. He rushes to her, to find her sleeping like a baby. Mike starts to believe he is being followed every where he goes, and he thinks it is because someone found out about the housing development. Things really start to get sticky, and then someone come into contact with him while at a gala where Mike was being honored for the "green houses". Mikes life turns upside down from that very moment on. This book went in a totally different direction than I thought it would. It surprised me and I loved it. I was on the edge of my seat listening to this book. Lives coming unraveled, old friends being reunited, bad men circling around all the time, a family in danger. It's fantastic. If you like suspense, fast paced chases, criminals, and intrigue, you should pick this book up. The narrator (Scott Brick) is one of my favorites. He brings the book to life. Such a great book! Source: I bought this book for myself on audible. I was not compensated in any way for this review. These are my own PERSONAL thoughts on the book. Content: Some language, and violence, but not too descriptive (in my opinion)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Story begins when a father leaves his child in a school playground with the promise that "he will return ." He is found in the schoolyard and ultimately placed in the foster parent system. There he comes to the aid of another foster child and so begins the story that has life long ramifications. J M Lydon
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In middle of book now and its a rollercoaster great read can hardly put down
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I've never read any of this authors books before but this was pretty good! I'm a James Patterson fan and he's really hard to beat!
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