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Authors: David Rotenberg

The Glass House

BOOK: The Glass House
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Praise for A
Murder of Crows

“This second book in the Junction Chronicles is every bit as good as the first. . . .
A Murder of Crows
is a slick and readable thriller with great characters . . . and lots of action.”

—The Globe and Mail

A Murder of Crows
is . . . told with the urgent and active voice of a storyteller who has staked his own territory. It's a must-read.”

—The Hamilton Spectator

Praise for
The Placebo Effect

“This novel heats up and never stops.”

—The Globe and Mail

“The success of his epic
, which was published in 2008, demonstrated that Rotenberg could break away from convention without loosening his hold on the imagination of his readers. Rotenberg blends the best of [his previous] books in his latest effort,
The Placebo Effect.

—National Post

The Placebo Effect
 . . . is a thoughtful, challenging novel masquerading as a . . . thriller.”

—Quill & Quire

“A moody speculative-fiction thriller.”

—Winnipeg Free Press

Praise for

is heart pounding and brutal. It puts you right into the thick of the city, its people, its passions.”

—Jurgen Gothe, NUVO magazine

“Rotenberg's Shanghai . . . is a place full of effective, unexpected entertainment.”

—Publishers Weekly

is jam-packed with story and adventure.”


Praise for the Zhong Fong series

“Rotenberg has a real talent for characterization and place, taking readers right into the urban heart of Shanghai, with its eighteen million people and conflicts between tradition and modernization.”

—The Globe and Mail

“Rotenberg's take on the street life, bureaucracy, and sheer mass of Shanghai cleverly captures a wonderful, baffling city.”

—Toronto Star

“This delightful series . . . gets better with each new novel.”

—The Chronicle Herald, Halifax

“A fascinating journey into a remarkable culture.”

—Ottawa Citizen

“Readers will be clamouring for more Rotenberg.”


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For Susan, Joey and Beth

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,

The earth, and every common sight,

To me did seem

Apparelled in celestial light,

The glory and the freshness of a dream.


Was it a vision, or a waking dream?

Fled is that music:—do I wake or sleep?


Reality is wrong. Dreams are for real.



coast of Vancouver Island—no, dreaming of surfing. He feels himself smiling. It's his dream of peace. He senses himself rocking to the rhythm of the waves beneath his board, feeling the earth's heartbeat as his own and hoping it will soon lead him to the clearing and from there to the great glass house.

Then in his dreaming world he senses the darkness approaching.

The sliding.

He forces himself to be calm. He floats, waits for the change.

It comes.

A knife slitting through canvas.

The pleasing sloshing of the waves beneath his board is drowned out by a high-pitched electronic hum mingled with a slur of muffled voices; his thick wet suit is no more; he lies naked on a cold slab of metal—and the gentle light of a Pacific sunset is obliterated by an intense single beam directed at his eyes.

He goes to rise but finds his torso bound to the slab, his hands laced together in front of him as if in prayer.

He yanks at the restraints.

They tighten.

He cranes his head to see past the light to the figures in the shadows.

Then he is screaming: “I never agreed to this. I signed no consent form!”

The mumbled voices seem to coalesce into just two voices—one of which is oddly familiar.

“Let me up. I'm here against my will.”

There is a sigh from the darkness, then a high thin voice, almost a whistle, says, “Not against Mine, though.”

Somehow that voice seems to be coming from every direction.

He twists to see who has spoken. And when he does he is surprised to see that he isn't in a room at all but at a crossroads of two highways, and the surgical light is an intense desert sun.

“Where do you want this killing done?”

His father! Fuck, his father.

Seth again pulls at his restraints, which have somehow changed from metal to something soft—like lambskin. Then he senses the blood. He feels its stickiness—and he knows where he is: the portal at the dream temple at Epidaurus. He is wrapped in a sheepskin—the pelt of a recently sacrificed animal still thick with fresh blood.

For a moment the word “sacrificed” reverberates in his head, growing louder and louder until he hears, “Down on Highway Sixty-one.” That thin, whistly voice again. “Yes, down on Highway Sixty-one.”

“Father! Father!” Seth shouts.

Someone steps forward and momentarily blots out the sun.


Seth takes a breath and tries to stop the rising terror. “Father, what are you doing?”


“Yes, doing, what are you doing?”

“Waiting. I'll be here waiting for you. I'll always be here waiting for you. I've told you that.”

The sun glints off the blue edge of the surgical scalpel in his father's hand.

“Don't do this, Father. Don't!”

The scalpel scythes through the air. Seth yanks his hands, still bound as if in prayer, high enough to deflect the blade but not before it cuts both his hands—cleanly removing the baby finger from each.

He feels pressure on his chest. His father's right hand is there, pressing down hard. The scalpel in his left hand is in motion again.

A gush of blood fountains up from Seth's belly and bathes his face.

He swallows blood.

He gags.

His body convulses.

His two fingers fall to the floor.

Blood fills his lungs. He gasps for a breath, but no air—just the gurgle of the viscous thickness of his blood. He tries to scream but no sound comes.

And all the time his father just stands there, between the gas lamp post and the Joshua tree, silhouetted against the sun—and cries.


sat silently at the foot of the small bed in the darkened room in the New Jersey safe house and waited for the snoring man to awaken. He'd been taken from the San Francisco Wellness Dream Clinic and drugged so they could move him. For a moment she wondered why they hadn't just taken him to a San Francisco safe house and flown her out there. Then she dismissed it. He was here in New Jersey now and so was she. He'd been under for thirty-six hours. The drug would wear off shortly—and she waited, as she had done so many times before.

As she did, her mind slid back to the first time she'd used this safe house. It had been more than a year ago, and the man on the bed that time had been Decker Roberts—the man who had tilted her life into chaos.

The heavyset man on the bed snorted then stirred. Yslan signalled to her two assistants, whom Decker Roberts had given the monikers Mr. T and Ted Knight, to leave the room.

They did with a silence born of great practice. As the door shut behind them it occurred to her that she no longer knew their real names—they were now Mr. T and Ted Knight to her. How that happened she had no idea.

“Wha . . . ?”

Garreth Laurence Senior, former Toronto homicide cop, was awakening.

She watched as the man's eyes roamed the darkness. Yslan's eyes had adjusted to the gloom long ago.

She snapped on a gooseneck lamp and turned it towards him.

He flinched in the light and went to cover his eyes, only to find that his wrists were manacled to the metal railing of the bed. He gave one hard pull, then stopped.

Of course he stopped
, Yslan thought.
He'd been a cop a long time; no doubt he'd seen people hurt themselves pulling against the reality of handcuffs.
A line of poetry slipped into her head that ended with the phrase “and adamantine chains.” She shook her head to clear it. Before she'd met Decker Roberts she'd never had lines of verse leap uninvited into her head, but now they were coming at an ever-increasing rate. She made a mental note to check where the hell “and adamantine chains” came from, then shifted the light so it bounced off the wall beside the man on the bed.

Standing outside the rim of the light she said, “Garreth Laurence Senior, former homicide detective metro Toronto police force, retired—or was that forced into retirement?”

“Retired,” the man said. His voice was hoarse. Thirty-six hours of drug-induced sleep will do that. But it wasn't just the drugs. There were years of drink here. A smoker—for at least several decades. She instantly craved a cigarette. At least that she understood. “Retired,” the man repeated.

She nodded, then said, “Of course. Everyone retires twenty-two months short of his pension.” Then without waiting for a reply she asked, “How do you like Seaside?”

Seaside, the elite planned community on the Florida Panhandle.

The man sat back.

“So? I asked you a question. How's Seaside?”

“Fine, it's fine,” he barked, just a tinge of his Scottish on the second hard

“A bit swanky for an ex-cop, wouldn't you say?”

“I wouldn't know.”

“Sure you would.”

“If you say so.”

“I do.” She picked up a folder from the table and read, “The house on Pensicola Street paid for in cash—six hundred and fifty thousand dollars—two bedroom, one bath, April 11, 2002.” She closed the file. “Must be pretty damned special.”

After a moment Garreth said, “It's adequate.”

In the darkness she smiled. Garreth Laurence Senior was clearly a pro, and he was gaining his metaphoric footing. “Good. For that money I'm glad you like it.”

She pointed the gooseneck lamp at the table and read from another file: “ ‘Born January 16th, 1954; Married August 17th, 1976, to Ellen Suzanne Jason; one son, Garreth Laurence Jr. currently on the metro Toronto police force; wife deceased February of 1990; promoted to homicide detective May 1985; left the force under a cloud on March of 2002.' ” She put the folder down. “Any of this sound familiar?”

Garreth stared back at her. His almost translucent eyelashes batted just once, then stopped their motion: he was ready to do combat.

Yslan turned back to the folder and read, “Picked up in San Francisco in the Wellness Dream Clinic after an attempt to assault with deadly force one Decker Roberts, formerly of the Junction in West Toronto.”

“A bloody murderer named Decker Roberts formerly of the Glencairn district of North Toronto.” The man's voice was centred. He didn't know where he was or who had kidnapped him or who he was talking to, but he was clearly certain about this statement.

BOOK: The Glass House
4.58Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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