Authors: Simon Wood
Tags: #Drama, #Suspense, #Fiction, #Psychological, #Mystery & Detective, #Private Investigators, #Thriller, #Adult, #Crime
PRAISE FOR SIMON WOOD
“He writes like a dark demented angel.”
— Ken Bruen, author of
“Simon Wood packs his books with suspense, surprises, and superb storytelling.”
— Ed Gorman, author of
“Simon Wood offers a literary roller coaster ride that thrills and terrifies on every page.”
— Sean Chercover, author of
ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN
“One of the most riveting first chapters I have read in some time. The pacing is spectacular and gets progressively faster as the reader nears the finale. An unqualified recommendation.”
Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine
“An impressive debut.”
Mystery Scene Magazine
“Simon Wood . . . delivers a suspenseful, brisk tale in his debut.”
South Florida Sun Sentinel
PAYING THE PIPER
“Wood keeps the pages flying, even as his plot gets more and more complex, accelerating nicely toward an elegant climax.”
“Revenge fuels Wood’s fast-paced thriller and the good guys deliver a winning finale.”
“An action-packed thriller that never slows down.”
Midwest Book Review
DID NOT FINISH
“Wood kicks off this new series with a streamlined narrative, a spot of believable romance and some deftly introduced tidbits about the British racing circuit. Think of Dick Francis’ early thrillers, especially
, but with a lot more horsepower.”
“A breathtaking finale will linger long in readers’ minds.”
“Wood convincingly portrays Aidy’s awkward efforts at amateur detection as well as his gentle, tentative romance with the dead man’s fiancee, while entertainingly imparting information about the perils and exhilaration of single-seat Formula Ford racing. Dick Francis fans will find a lot to like.”
“Ambition, revenge, jealous colleagues, and lovesick reporters all stoke the plot of this dark, meaty whodunit.”
“This is a suspenseful page turner . . .”
WE ALL FALL DOWN
“Action packed and intelligent,
We All Fall Down
is Simon Wood’s best book yet. This is what they mean when they say a book is a thriller.”
“Simon Wood has talent to spare, and in
We All Fall Down
, he’s crafted an entertaining and suspenseful novel that once opened simply won’t close until the last nail-biting page. A terrific premise executed to perfection by a supremely gifted writer.”
— Jason Pinter, author of
ALSO BY SIMON WOOD
Did Not Finish
We All Fall Down
Paying the Piper
Accidents Waiting to Happen
The Fall Guy
Asking for Trouble
Dragged into Darkness
WRITING AS SIMON JANUS
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Text copyright © 2015 Simon Wood
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.
Published by Thomas & Mercer, Seattle
Amazon, the Amazon logo, and Thomas & Mercer are trademarks of
, Inc., or its affiliates.
Cover design by
BookDesigners and Jason Blackburn
Library of Congress Control Number: 2014951452
To all the people who fought back.
Zoë recoiled from the nightmare only to find it still existed in the waking world. She was lying naked on the floor of an oppressively hot shed with dust and dirt clinging to the sweat coating her body. Thick cable ties bound her wrists in front of her, as well as her ankles. They’d been cinched so tight her hands and feet tingled at the slightest move.
How had this happened? She tried to piece events together, but everything was a fog. When she tried to focus on a single thought, the fog draped itself, wet and heavy, over her brain.
A scream from outside split the night.
Her friend’s name cut through her mental haze.
A picture formed. They’d been together for a long weekend in Vegas. In true
Thelma & Louise
style, too broke to fly, they’d driven from the Bay Area. They’d thought a road trip would be kitschy but discovered what a monotonous thing it was, driving hundreds of miles across state lines. Once they got to Vegas, they threw off the grad-student respectability and gambled, drank, and partied. It was just the shot in the arm they needed. They’d waited until dark before driving home—less traffic, less heat. That was where things turned vague. She remembered stopping for food and gas at some town that was just a pinprick on a map. Another hazy memory of eating at some restaurant or bar followed. The clink of glasses sounded in her brain, along with laughter. Then . . . then . . . nothing. What had happened after receded back into the murk.
Another scream. Zoë felt it vibrate in her bones. It was more than a cry for help. It was the cry of someone in pain, and it shocked Zoë into life. Whoever had Holli would come for her next. He couldn’t find her here when he did. She had to escape for her sake and Holli’s.
Moonlight shone through the window, cutting through the room at an angle. There wasn’t enough to see the whole place, but it was sufficient for seeing what she had to work with. Her prison was cheaply constructed. Corrugated metal formed the walls and ceiling. The plywood floor sagged under her weight. Boxes, containers, and toolboxes were spread across it and climbed the walls, forming a canyon of junk. Did her captor see her in those terms—just trash to be dumped out of sight and mind until he came to dispose of it?
She didn’t let the thought distract her. Escaping was all that mattered, and the room’s contents held her shot at freedom. Toolboxes meant tools. Tools meant a crack at getting her hands and feet free.
“Please let there be a knife,” she murmured to herself.
Another scream was followed by sobbing and faint pleas. Zoë had dumbly believed she was in the worst situation of her life, but it surely paled against Holli’s plight. She couldn’t imagine what Holli was going through.
“I’m coming, Holli,” she murmured.
Her captor had made a mistake. Binding her hands in front of her gave her maneuverability. He obviously didn’t expect much of a struggle from her.
She rolled from her side onto all fours. With her slight frame, it was easy to achieve, but her body screamed, forcing her onto elbows and knees. She tried to put her weight back on her feet, but toppled back onto her side.
She tried again. Determination trumped pain, and she forced herself upright. This time, she bent forward to keep her balance, then pushed down through her legs to stand. Giddiness greeted her on the way up. It met the fog layer clogging her brain and robbed her of her balance. She didn’t realize she was falling until she crashed back onto the floor.
Whatever drug she’d been given had robbed her of her dexterity.
“You think you can stop me, you son of a bitch?” she murmured. “Not a chance.”
She clung to her bravado. Misplaced or unrealistic, it didn’t matter. It kept fear at arm’s length.
She rolled back onto all fours and inched along wormlike on her knees and forearms while she listened to Holli’s moans and whimpers filtering through the walls.
Poor Holli. She had the unfortunate bad luck of being chosen first. Things easily could have gone the other way. The thought forced a shiver out of Zoë, despite the hot and muggy atmosphere inside the shed. The sound of her friend’s pain drove her on. She crept forward more quickly, but she couldn’t stop the tears.
“Enjoy your fun while it lasts, you sick son of a bitch,” she murmured as tears streaked her face.
She reached the closest toolbox and hauled herself up onto her knees, then leaned against the nearby crates. She had to be quiet; no more loud noises. If she could hear Holli’s cries, then they could hear her. Using both hands, she turned the box to face her. It was heavy. She took that as a good sign. A heavy toolbox was a well-equipped toolbox.
She lifted the lid. Screwdrivers, wrenches, and a couple of pliers filled the top tray. She lifted the tray out and found her prize—a box cutter. She snatched it up and clutched it to her chest. “Thank you, God.”
She dropped onto her butt and pulled her legs up to her chin. A sting of pain burned her left hip where the tops of her thighs touched her lower belly. She uncurled herself to find a wound. It was a knife cut. Blood still seeped from the incision. As she examined it, she realized it wasn’t a random injury, but a marking. Two letters had been sliced into her—
. The son of a bitch had branded her. The thought brought bile to the back of her throat.