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Authors: Jane Haddam

True Believers (45 page)

BOOK: True Believers
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Hardscrabble Road
The Headmaster's Wife
Conspiracy Theory
Somebody Else's Music
Skeleton Key
“A delightful read for lovers of classic crime stories.”
—Romantic Times
Skeleton Key
“[A] smoothly running mystery marked by lively characters, good descriptions, and enough misdirection to keep a reader's interest high.”
—Publishers Weekly on Skeleton Key
“A sophisticated style, excellent delivery, and riveting plot make this an excellent choice for all collections.”
—Library Journal on Skeleton Key
“A real winner … Sure to grab readers from the first page … A fine entry in a fine series.”
Booklist on Skeleton Key
“Bound to satisfy any reader who likes multiple murders mixed with miraculous apparitions and a perfectly damnable puzzle.”
Chicago Tribune on A Great Day for the Deadly
“A rattling good puzzle, a varied and appealing cast, and a detective whose work carries a rare stamp of authority … This one is a treat.”
Kirkus Reviews
(starred review)
on Bleeding Hearts
“Not A Creature Stirring
will puzzle, perplex, and please the most discriminating reader.”
Murder Ad Lib
“Juicy gossip abounds, tension builds, and all present are suitably suspect as Demarkian expertly wraps up loose ends in this entertaining, satisfying mystery.”
Publishers Weekly on Act of Darkness
“An absorbing, good-humored tale complete with vivid characters, multiple murders, and a couple of juicy subplots.” —
Orlando Sentinel on Bleeding Hearts
“Haddam's usual deft writing, skillful plotting, and gentle humor … Refreshing and entertaining.”
—Booklist on Bleeding Hearts
“Go ahead, have this one wrapped and waiting with your name on it.”
—Detroit Free Press on A Stillness in Bethlehem
Now available from St. Martin's/Minotaur Paperbacks!
The story of a woman on the morning of a war …
In the very early hours of that morning, it rained. The water came down in a steady hissing stream, so that, lying in the too-large bed under too many blankets, Liz Toliver was sure she must be hearing snakes. Later, she would wonder what she had been thinking of. It made no sense to buy a king-size bed for just one person. It was like sleeping in the middle of the ocean, too open and free, too abandoned and lost. The water brushed against her fingertips. She jerked away from it. The snakes slid silently through the folds in the sheets. All of a sudden, she felt suffocated.
Slit his throat. Slit his throat. Slit his throat.
The words bounced back and forth across the walls, the wooden walls, much too close to her. The snakes were coiled against her skin. Everything was dark.
Slit his throat. Slit his throat. Slit his throat
. Somebody was singing it. The blood was everywhere on the ground. It seemed to be soaking up the dirt.
Slit his throat
, she thought she heard again, but this time the voice was high-pitched and eager, the voice of a woman who can't wait a moment longer to consummate an act of sex.
Slit his throat
, something sang again—but then she knew what she was hearing. It was the phone. She sat up in the grey half-dark.
“Liz?” Jimmy's voice came through the answering machine. “Liz? Are you there? I thought you were having a nightmare.”
Liz reached over to the night table and picked up. “I was having a nightmare. How do you always know when I'm having a nightmare?”
“I don't know. I just do. Are you all right?”
Liz leaned over a little farther and turned on the lamp. She saw the book on the night table—the Hollman High School
, 1969—and looked away from it. The walls of her bedroom were plaster. There were pictures in frames hung in a line across one wall, the original paintings from the covers of all her books.
“I'm fine. I was thinking of the paintings. Does it make
any sense for me to keep the paintings? It seems so—conceited somehow.”
“Jesus Christ.”
This was the point where, ten years ago, Liz would have lit a cigarette. Instead, she sat up further and stretched. This week's copy of the
National Enquirer
was lying across the seat of the stuffed chair she kept next to the fireplace. She could see her own face on the cover of it. Her face and the picture of a snake.
“I'm fine. I'm just not all the way awake yet. I think it's a really bad idea to try to do color on newsprint.”
“What are you
“Never mind. Like I said, I'm not all the way awake yet. And I've got a headache. And I've got to go into the city to teach this morning. What time is it?”
“Six fifteen.”
“Maybe we're having a snowstorm.”
“If you're coming into the city, we could have lunch. At the apartment.”
“Good idea. Never mind the fact that there are probably twenty tabloid reporters outside the front door of the building right this minute.”
“Not that many. And they know we screw.”
“What a delicate way of putting it.”
“We'd be married if you'd have me. Listen, Liz, let me ask one more time. Let me send the lawyers down to take care of your mother, okay? There's no point in your doing this.”
“She's my mother.”
“She also hates you. She always has. And the rest of that town isn't much better, and you know it. And you're worried about the tabloids? Watch what they do when you get down there.”
“Watch what they do if I
go down there. ‘Elizabeth Toliver Abandons Sick Mother.' I can see it all now.”
to me. Those stories aren't an accident. Somebody's doing that on purpose. Somebody's feeding the
all kinds of—”
“I don't want to have this conversation again.”
“Jesus Christ,” Jimmy said.
Liz threw off the covers and swung her legs off the bed. “I'll meet you at the apartment at one,” she said. “I'm fine. Let me go check on the boys. I know you don't get along with Maris. You don't have to see her if you don't want to. I'm all right.”
“I think of you as a saint,” Jimmy said. “Sort of the Mother Teresa of public intellectuals. No matter what the provocation, your faith in human nature will never waver—”
“I'm not Mother Teresa, and I'm not a public intellectual. Get off the phone. I'll talk to you this afternoon.”
“Somebody is planting those stories, Liz.”
Liz hung up. Outside, the sky was getting a little lighter. It looked like the grey muslin curtain that hung across the wooden cells in Carmelite monasteries in France. Once, when she and Jimmy were first seeing each other, before she got used to the fact that anything he did showed up on
Entertainment Tonight
as soon as anybody got wind he'd done it, she'd taken him to visit a friend of hers who'd left Vassar their junior year to become a nun. The resulting headlines had been ridiculous—“Jimmy Card Converting to Catholicism!”—but the day had been a good one. That had been the first time she'd realized, deep down, that he was in love with her. Before that, she had tried not to think about what he might be feeling. That had been the first time, too, when she had known that he could hear her thinking, even when they were not in the same room. The monastery where her friend lived was in a little town on the Normandy coast. When the visit was over, Jimmy rented a hotel room overlooking the water, and they fell into bed together, wordlessly, as if they'd thought of nothing else in all their time together. They started at four o'clock in the afternoon and lasted past midnight. They left the window open so that they could hear the sea pounding against the rocks as a storm moved in across the channel. They came to at one, hungry and out of luck. Everything in town was closed. The wind was so strong, it broke the glass in the window they'd left open and sucked a discarded bedspread into the street.
Once, when she was just seventeen, she had beaten her hands bloody against the locked door of an outhouse latrine, beaten and beaten them until her pain and her fear had become so loud in her ears that all she could hear was her own wailing.
Above her head, the wind had become a shrieking howl—or maybe it hadn't. Maybe that was just her own head, too, maybe it was all inside her, just herself, trapped where she was in the dark with the snakes covering the floor under the latrine seat and moving, moving steadily, in and among and between each other, trying to climb up to where she was. Out there, though, there was something: that woman's voice singing—
slit his throat slit his throat slit his throat
—and then laughing as the blood poured out on the ground, and over the water of the river, and into the mouths of snakes, into the mouths of snakes, because the snakes were everywhere then, on the floor, on the seat, on her arms, crawling up into her clothes, crawling inside of her, until she felt full of snakes writhing and jamming and making her bleed.
She was standing next to the chair with the
on it. She had no idea how long she'd been there. Her mouth was very dry.
“I ought to go check on the boys,” she said to the air. Then she looked down at the
and made a face.
“Shocking Secret Never Before Revealed!” the headline said. “Did Elizabeth Toliver GET AWAY WITH MURDER?”
In the picture under the headline, her hair looked the color of spilled ink.
This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, and dialogues are products of the author's imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely conincidental.
Copyright © 2001 by Orania Papazoglou. Excerpt from
Somebody Else's Music
© 2002 by Orania Papazoglou.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.
St. Martin's Paperbacks are published by St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.
eISBN 9781429904926
First eBook Edition : August 2011
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 2001058899
ISBN: 0-312-98286-0
EAN: 80312-98286-7
St. Martin's Press hardcover edition / May 2001
St. Martin's Paperbacks edition / April 2002
BOOK: True Believers
13.41Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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