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Blurb: Nowhere to Hide: Eppie Winer ~Best Thriller -1992
SHE DARED TO CHALLENGE A MERCILESS KILLER
Raised in an atmosphere of violence and unpredictability, Ellen and Gail Morgan have banded together, survivors of a booze-fertilized battleground, forming a fierce united front against an often cold and uncaring world. When their parents are killed in a car crash, Ellen becomes the mother figure for Gail.
When fifteen years later Gail is brutally raped and murdered in her shabby New York basement apartment, practically on the eve of her big breakthrough as a singer, Ellen is inconsolable. Rage at her younger sister’s murder has nearly consumed her. So when her work as a psychologist wins her an appearance on the evening news, Ellen seizes the moment. Staring straight into the camera, she challenges the killer to come out of hiding: “Why don’t you come after me? I’ll be waiting for you.”
Phone calls flood the station, but all leads go nowhere. The police investigation seems doomed to failure. Then it happens: a note, written in red ink, slipped under the windshield wipers of her car, ‘YOU’RE IT.’ Ellen has stirred the monster in his lair … and the hunter has become the hunted!
Excerpt from NOWHERE TO HIDE: NOT ALONE
It was nice to be alone. As she brushed her hair, Gail launched into her favorite fantasy of buying her sister a white Ferrari. Ellen’s birthday was coming up in May; she’d have the car delivered right up to her door, a big red bow tied on the antenna … dream on, girl she told herself, grinning at her reflection in the mirror.
Tiger padded into the room just then, winding his sleek, warm body around her bare ankles, purring like an old washing machine.
I owe her so much, Tiger, Gail said, reaching down to stroke the cat’s soft, glossy fur. If it wasn’t for…
Suddenly, Tiger’s back arched under her hand and he hissed. Gail’s heart leapt in her breast and her hand drew back as if burned. “What the…?” But Tiger, fur standing on end, had already fled the room. Gail turned in her chair just in time to see his electrified, retreating tail…
Then she caught a movement from the corner of her eye. Turning, she froze at the sight of the closet door slowly opening.
Chapter One August 6, 1979
The closet door was at the top of the stairs at the end of the hall. To get to it he had to pass by two doors, one on either side, both now partly open. He could hear talking, very low. Farther away, the sound of running away. In three quick strides he was past the doors and inside the closet. He knew he was smiling. He felt excited the way he always did when he got past them. Even if anyone had got a glimpse of him, it wouldn’t really matter. He was invisible. The invisible man.
The secret door was to his right, just behind the wide rack of musty-smelling winter coats in varying sizes. He ducked beneath them, and opening the door, let himself into the narrow, cave-like space.
The space separating the inside and outside walls went nearly the whole way round the third floor, stopping abruptly at the wall of the stairwell where he had to turn around and go back the way he had come. Once, this space had been used for storage – old bed springs, broken chairs, trunks – but the doors, except for the one in the closet which he had come upon quite by luck, and through which he had come again and again, had long since been replaced by sheetrock and papered over with rose-patterned wallpaper.
It was pitch black in front of him and all around him, like he was all alone in the world. He had his flashlight, but didn’t turn it on. He knew the way. Besides, it might shine through someplace.
As he made his way along the darkened corridor, breathing the stale, hot air, his progress slowed by the long, heavy skirt he wore, he had to stoop. At seventeen, though narrow-shouldered, he was nearly six feet tall.
Sweat was trickling down between his shoulder- blades, and under the wig, his head felt squirmy, so he took the wig off and stuffed it into his pants pocket, under the skirt.
And then he was there. He could see the thin beam of light shining through, projecting a tiny star on the wall. It was coming through the place where two Sundays ago, when they were all at Chapel, he had made a peephole. He’d made it by simply pounding a nail through, then drawing it cleanly back out so that there would be nothing detectible on the other side – no more than a black dot.
A giggle floated through to him and the smile froze on his face, his fists clenching involuntarily. No, it can’t be me they’re laughing at. They can’t see me. They don’t know I’m here. I’m invisible, remember? Calming himself, he slowly brought his face to the wall.
Eight narrow, iron-framed beds faced him, each covered by a thin, grey blanket with a faded red stripe across the top and bottom. Twelve beds in all, but the two at either end were cut from his view. A few religious pictures hung above the beds. The one facing him said ‘Suffer the Little Children to Come Unto Me’. It had a picture of a lamb on it. Only three of the beds were occupied. It was still early. Some of the girls were probably downstairs watching their alloted hour of T.V. Others would still be doing kitchen duty. At least one troublemaker would be doing ‘quiet time’. He grinned.
He understood now that the laughter he’d heard had come from one of the two girls sitting on the edge of the bed flipping through a teen idol magazine. He’d caught a look at the cover – some weirdo with a green punk hairdo and a guitar slung around his neck. The two sluts, heads together, were still at it, giggling, whispering, low and secretive. He felt a hot surge of hatred course through his veins. He wished SHE would walk in on them right now. He knew what they were doing. They were talking about who they liked, who they thought was ‘cute’, who they would let do it. They were thinking and talking about that.
Two beds over, a fat girl with short brown hair that looked as if someone (guess who? Ha-ha) had cut it around a bowl, lay on her back with her hands behind her head, staring at the ceiling. A jagged scar travelled from a spot between her eyebrows right up into her hairline. He could tell she’d been crying; her raisin eyes were all red and puffy, practically disappearing in her moon face. They cried a lot in here. Mostly in the middle of the night when they thought no one could hear. It always excited him hearing their soft muffled sobs. Sometimes, though, it just made him mad like it did when they laughed. Then he wanted to fix it so they didn’t make any sound at all.
His gaze wandered back to the girl who had first caught his attention, the one who sat under the lamb picture, and who he’d wanted to save for last. She was sitting cross-legged on the bed, a writing tablet balanced on her knees, her long, pale hair fallen forward, though some damply dark ends curled against her neck. He watched as she scribbled a few lines, then frowning, looked over what she had written. She would chew on her yellow pencil, then write some more, the pencil making whispery sounds on the paper. He watched her for a long time, taking in the flushed, shiny cheeks that made him think, as had the darkly damp curls, that she might just have stepped out of the bath. Yes, he remembered hearing the water running. He liked to see them when they just got out of the bath – all that damp flowing hair, pinkly scrubbed skin, soft necks. Sometimes they changed into their flannel nightgowns right there on the edge of their beds, right there in front of him – though of course they didn’t know that.
That was the best part. Them not knowing. It didn’t matter that they dressed so hurriedly and so slickly that he often didn’t get to see much. Though occasionally there was a flash of white shoulder, a curve of breast.
I’m watching you, he thought, and had to stifle a giggle of his own.
And then she raised her head and those clear blue eyes were staring right at him, stabbing fear into his heart. He couldn’t move.
She was frowning, not in the way she did when she was thinking of what to write, but with her head cocked to one side, as if she were listening for something. A terrible thought struck him. What if he hadn’t just almost laughed, but actually done it, right out loud? Adrenaline pumping crazily through his body, he backed slowly away from the peephole. Standing perfectly still with his back against the wall, he waited. When after several minutes there were no screams, no sudden cries of alarm to alert the other girls – and HER, especially HER – he began to relax. His heartbeat returned to normal; once more he brought his eye to the hole. She was back to writing. Of course she was.
He smiled to himself.
He hadn’t laughed out loud, after all. And she hadn’t seen him. Of course she hadn’t. His gaze slid down to her breasts, their shapes round and firm as little apples under the flannel nightgown.
But you will, he thought. You will.
Therapist Melanie Snow is driving to her office when her Honda is struck by a dark-colored van and sent spinning into a ditch, where it catches fire. The driver never stops. A passerby pulls Melanie from the car just seconds before it explodes.
Waking from the coma nine days later, she is devastated to find she is blind.
As Melanie struggles to cope with her new reality, life as a blind woman, her fragile state of mind is further threatened by a madman who is stalking and strangling disabled women. The first two victims were mentally challenged and Detective Matt O’Leary, who carries a torch for Melanie, (even though Melanie is engaged to someone else) tells himself she is not the killer’s targeted prey. But then a woman who lost a leg to cancer is murdered, and another physically disabled woman is stalked. Even with a whole town in terror, Melanie refuses to live her life in fear and reopens her practice in the basement of her home. She has a living to earn.
And Detective Matt O’Leary must find a way to keep Melanie safe until the monster is caught. But how? Her door is now open to the public and the killer can just walk through anytime he chooses.
And he does.
Excerpt from DEFECTIVE:
It was mid-afternoon, overcast, and The East End Mall in Kingsdale was crowded with shoppers. The Eraser, as he liked to think of himself, sat at one of the molded plastic tables by himself, nursing a Pepsi and eating fries from a small cardboard plate, and people watching. It was one of his favorite things to do, especially in nice weather when the girls wore shorts or tight jeans, some with their tanned midriffs bare, skimpy tops that showed off their boobs and skinny jeans that accentuated their tight little butts. Why not? He was a normal guy, he told himself. He avoided looking at the ones with flab hanging over their waistbands. He had girlfriend once or twice, but it didn’t last. The last one said he was weird and just stopped returning his calls. Well, to hell with her.
His eye strayed momentarily to the big screen monitor advertising Nike sneakers. Then it changed to a rent-a-car commercial and on to something else, but he’d already looked away. Idly dipping a French fry in the small pool of ketchup on his plate, he popped it in his mouth and went back to girl-watching. They did little for him today. His hand moved to cover the scratch that the retard left on his cheek, though it was fading now. That Polysporin ointment was good stuff.
Music played over the sound system, competing with the jabbering of shoppers, nothing he recognized. Probably supposed to keep people shopping, buying junk they didn’t need. His gaze narrowed ever so slightly as a young girl with a silver ring in her lower lip and wearing black eyeliner got up from a table not far from him and limped heavily to the waste bin and dumped in the remainder of her meal, a half-eaten hamburger, fries. She sat the tray on top of the stack. Behind her, someone called out, “Hey, Lana,” and the girl turned in his direction and took a step forward so he could see her full-length; she looked past his shoulder and waved. He felt his heartbeat rev up, his throat go dry.
She had short dark hair, and was wearing a khaki skirt and cream-colored blouse. Her dimpled smile, the gleam of white, even teeth barely registered on him. He didn’t even glance behind him at the woman who had called out to her. He had no interest. As he had no genuine interest in the woman who returned the wave, really.
No. It was her foot in its big brown shoe that drew and held his attention. Not brown exactly, but like tea when you put milk in it. Taupe. Yes, that was what his mother called that color. It was all he could see when he looked at her: that big clunking shoe. So ugly it offended him, as deformities of any kind offended him. Even horrified him. A chill had crept down his back. He had to work extra hard to keep the disgust and pity from his face. She was a mistake. A blight, a tragic spawn. She must be erased. Like when you’re a kid and you draw a picture of something and it doesn’t come out right. You just erase it. Or rip out the page, and start again.
He was the eraser of mistakes. The good Lord had chosen him to do this work. Not that he was blaming God. No, there was no blame to be handed out here. Some small voice told him his reasoning was flawed, that that wasn’t why they had to die. But he wasn’t listening. As people were born of sin, women carried the faulty limbs, twisted features and minds within them. Carriers. As his mother had been a carrier, her womb spewing forth a defective, barely human—thing. Not the defective’s fault either. But since the flaw couldn’t be repaired, the whole issue had to be erased. The burden lifted. The Eraser held that kind of power; he could end suffering, change lives for the better. He remembered well the very moment he had changed his own life but no time for that now. She was heading for the exit doors. He rose casually from his chair, tossing the remainder of his own fries and drink into the trash, dropped his tray on top of hers, and followed. He was really following the ‘shoe’. His eyes were riveted on the shoe. It filled his vision, his consciousness. That big, ugly shoe that rose and fell, rose and fell, her left hip dipping in sync, the shoe dragging it downward, seeming an entity in itself. When she stepped through the automatic doors into the grey, drizzly day, he was right behind her. Close enough to touch her. He buried his hands deep in his pockets to stifle the urge.
The bus pulled up with a hiss of air brakes and a belch of exhaust, and she hitched herself up onto the step. He followed, paid his fare. His bike was chained and locked in the parking lot; it would be fine. She took a side seat near the driver, and he sat himself two seats behind her and pretended to look out the window.
In the grayness of the day, his reflection in the glass was faint, but almost at once he could see his reflection begin to morph into that of another, as she had once been. A raindrop ran down the window and caught one corner of her mouth like the drool he remembered, couldn’t forget, and he could not tear his eyes away. The small voice in his head spoke to him, sending the familiar chill through him, as if his heart had just received an infusion of ice water. The voice could form words now, where once it was capable only of mindless gibberish. “You know it’s me in there, don’t you. I’m watching you. I’ve come back. I’ll always come back. I’ll never leave you.”
Fearing he had cried out, he jerked his head around in sudden panic, but no one on the bus was looking at him. One man was reading a newspaper. A woman was talking and smiling at her little boy. Relief swept through him, but he was trembling just the same. A Chinese man seated across from him turned the page in his paperback, paying him no mind.
The girl had put earphones in her ears and her lips were moving to a song only she could hear. Her legs were crossed, the shoe swinging in time, mocking him.
In addition to her critically acclaimed novels, Joan Hall Hovey’s articles and short stories have appeared in such diverse publications as The Toronto Star, Atlantic Advocate, Seek, Home Life Magazine, Mystery Scene, The New Brunswick Reader, Fredericton Gleaner, New Freeman and Kings County Record. Her short story Dark Reunion was selected for the anthology investigating Women, Published by Simon & Pierre.
Ms. Hovey has held workshops and given talks at various schools and libraries in her area, including New Brunswick Community College, and taught a course in creative writing at the University of New Brunswick. For a number of years, she has been a tutor with Winghill School, a distance education school in Ottawa for aspiring writers.
She is a member of the Writer’s Federation of New Brunswick, past regional Vice-President of Crime Writers of Canada, Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.
Defective on Amazon:
Nowhere to Hide on Amazon:
Praise for Joan Hall Hovey’s Books
“…suspense that puts her right up there with the likes of Sandford and Patterson…” Ingrid Taylor for Small Press Review
”…Alfred Hitchcock and Stephen King come to mind, but JOAN HALL HOVEY is in a Class by herself!…”
J.D. Michael Phelps, Author of My Fugitive, David Janssen
“…CANADIAN MISTRESS OF SUSPENSE…The author has a remarkable ability to turn up the heat on the suspense… great characterizations and dialogue…” James Anderson, author of Deadline
“…a gripping style that wrings emotions from everyday settings. Oh and by the way …is your door locked?” Linda Hersey – Fredericton Gleaner
“…will keep readers holding their breath until the very end…” inthelibraryreview, Melissa Parcel
“This one is a chiller – you won’t be able to put it down – guaranteed!”- Rendezvous Magazine
“If you are looking for the suspense thriller of the year-look no further…you will find it in Nowhere To Hide…” Jewel Dartt Midnight Scribe Reviews
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