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Authors: Sarah Lovett

Dantes' Inferno

BOOK: Dantes' Inferno
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“DANTES' INFERNO
has everything readers crave: a full-throttle plot, top-notch psychological suspense, and—as always with author Lovett—gorgeous prose. And to top it off, the book features one of my all-time favorite characters, Dr. Sylvia Strange. Welcome back, Doctor
.

Good to see you again.”

—Jeffery Deaver, author of
The Stone Monkey
and
Speaking in Tongues

PRAISE FOR SARAH LOVETT AND
DANTES' INFERNO

“Lovett creates some of the most mesmerizing serial killers since Hannibal Lecter.”

—
Library Journal

“[A] wild saga . . . [Lovett's] forte has always been a darkly fertile imagination untrammeled by the focus or discipline that could harness it.”

—
Kirkus Reviews

“An exhilarating read.”

—
Midwest Book Review

“A scorching tale.”

—
Booklist

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Contents

Part 1st Circle . . .

Chapter One

Part 2nd Circle . . .

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Part 3rd Circle . . .

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Part 4
th
Circle . . .

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-one

Chapter Twenty-two

Chapter Twenty-three

Part 5
th
Circle . . .

Chapter Twenty-four

Chapter Twenty-five

Chapter Twenty-six

Chapter Twenty-seven

Chapter Twenty-eight

Chapter Twenty-nine

Part 6
th
Circle . . .

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-one

Chapter Thirty-two

Chapter Thirty-three

Chapter Thirty-four

Part 7
th
Circle . . .

Chapter Thirty-five

Chapter Thirty-six

Chapter Thirty-seven

Chapter Thirty-eight

Chapter Thirty-nine

Chapter Forty

Part 8
th
Circle . . .

Chapter Forty-one

Chapter Forty-two

Chapter Forty-three

Chapter Forty-four

Chapter Forty-five

Part 9
th
Circle . . .

Chapter Forty-six

Chapter Forty-Seven

Chapter Forty-Eight

Epilogue

About the Author

Dark Alchemy Excerpts

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Special thanks to

David Rosenthal and Marysue Rucci • Theresa Park, Julie Barer, and Peter McGuigan • Miriam Sagan • Julia Goldberg • Sharon Neiderman • Carolyn Guilliland • Michael Mariano • Maggie Griffin • Brian Wiprud • Charles Knief • Bruce Mann, M.D. • Reid Meloy, Ph.D., A.B.P.P. • James Eisenberg, Ph.D., A.B.P.P. • Russ “Dynamite” Deal • S.A. John Hoos, FBI • LA County Flood Control • Paul Cooper • Jad Davis • Peter Miller Alan Zelicoff • March Kessler • Don Opper • Tom Johnson • Dorothy Bracey • Phil Schnyder and “AskSam” • Peter Schoenburg, Esq. • Alice Sealey • Reilly Johnson • Jill Ryan • Anne Pederson • Mark Donatelli, Esq. • Sandy MacGregor • Marilyn Abraham • Jim, Katie, Stephanie, and Jim Jr. Gallegos • Pat Berssenbrugge • Michael Gelles • Larry Renner • Jacqueline West • Peter Miller • Ron Schultz • Hope Atterbury • Tuko Fujisaki • Ana Matiella • Stephanie Marston • Rod Barker • Donald Fineberg, M.D. • Rich Feldman • Loretta Denner • Lew Thompson

and, of course, Tim Thompson

For Lew, Miriam & Michael

1st Circle . . .

INFERNAL MACHINES
—Contrivances made to resemble ordinary harmless objects, but charged with some dangerous explosive. An innocent looking box or similar receptacle is partly filled with dynamite or other explosive, the rest of the space being occupied by some mechanical arrangement, mostly clockwork, which moves inaudibly, and is generally contrived that, when it has run down at the end of a predetermined number of hours or days, it shall cause the explosive substance to explode.

Dick's Encyclopedia
, 1891

Another gunpowder plot. A gift of Greek fire for ancient Babylon of the New World. Know each of these missives as infernal machines.

Anonymous letter to the
Los Angeles Times
, March 2001

April 23, 2000—11:14
A.M.
Los Angeles was wearing her April best: cerulean sky, whipping cream clouds, rain-washed air that whispered promises of orange blossoms and money. An LA day of sweet nothings.

Wanda Davenport, schoolteacher and amateur painter, expertly gripped the T-shirt of ten-year-old Jason Redding
just as he was about to poke a grimy finger between the sculptured buttocks of a 2,500-year-old
Icarus
. Antiquities were the thing at the Getty Center. And so were toilets. The
lack
of toilets. Four of her fifth-graders needed to pee, and her assistant was nowhere in sight.

“Line up, guys,” Wanda barked with practiced authority. “Jason, you get to hold my hand.”

The boy moaned and rolled his eyes, but his face was glowing with excitement. Her class had been planning this trip for six months. Given a choice between Universal Studios and the Getty, they'd gone with art. Fifth-graders! Who woulda thunk?

But then again, Wanda Davenport wasn't your everyday teacher. She was so passionate about Art a wee bit of her passion rubbed off on just about anyone who spent a few weeks under her tutelage. She loved the realists, the impressionists, the dadaists—from the classical artists to the graffiti artists, she was a devoted fan.

She smiled to herself as she gave the command to march. Jason caused her a lot of grief, but secretly he was one of her favorites. He was smart, hyper, and creative. One of these days he could be a famous artist, architect, inventor, physicist, whatever.

“Turn right!” Wanda should've had a night job as a drill sergeant.

Jason nearly tripped over his own two feet, which were audaciously encased in neon green athletic sneakers, one size too big. Wanda knew that his mother, Molly Redding, was a recovering substance abuser; she was also a single mom supporting her only child by waiting tables. These were rough times in the Redding household, but there was love and hope, and Jason was a terrific kid.

“Turn left!” Wanda ordered her students, watching as Maria Hernandez accepted a fireball from Suzie Brown;
the bright pink candy disappeared between white teeth.

Twenty minutes earlier, Wanda had herded her troop of ten- and eleven-year-olds onto the white tram car for transport to the hilltop. The 1.4-mile drive had provided a startling view of Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean. The moneyed view. The new J. Paul Getty Center was situated in Brentwood, nuzzled by Santa Monica, nosed in by mountains.

From the tram and the marble terrace fronting the museum at the hilltop, Wanda had called out city names for her children: Ocean Park, Venice, LA proper (the downtown heart of the metropolitan monster, with its constant halo of smog), San Pedro's south-end industrial shipyards, a tail in the distance . . . then back to Santa Monica and the ocean pier extending like a neon leg into blue waters . . . and last but not least, up the coast to movie-star Malibu, which had incorporated just as mud slides devoured great bites of earth and forest fires grazed the landscape down to bare, charred skin.

With that lesson in geographic and economic boundaries, the kids had marched into the reception building; Wanda barely had time to glance at the program provided for the tour; her students demanded 110 percent of her energy. No matter—she knew this place by heart. In her mind the architectural design was Greek temple married to art deco ocean liner. She'd wandered Robert Irwin's chameleon gardens for hours; each season offered new colors, new scents, new shapes and shades. Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus ran straight to the grounds. She'd lost count of her visits. Nobody had believed Culture could draw a crowd in LA. Well, just look at her kids!

With one expert swipe, Wanda removed a wad of gum from behind the ear of one of her oldest charges while simultaneously comforting the youngest, who was complaining
of a stomachache. She couldn't wait to get them into the garden, her very favorite part of the facility. They began the trek across the first exterior courtyard. Water ran like glass between slabs of marble. The children shuffled and slid their shoes across the smooth stones.

“Hey, guys, remember the name of the architect? We covered this in class.”

She barely caught Jason's mumbled response: “Meier.”

“Richard Meier. That's correct, Mr. Redding.”

BOOK: Dantes' Inferno
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