Authors: John Lutz
Tags: #Mystery, #thriller
Highest Praise for
“John Lutz knows how to make you shiver.”
“Lutz offers up a heart-pounding roller coaster of a tale.”
“John Lutz is one of the masters of the police novel.”
“John Lutz is a major talent.”
“I’ve been a fan for years.”
—T. Jefferson Parker
“John Lutz just keeps getting better and better.”
“Lutz ranks with such vintage masters of big-city murder as Lawrence Block and Ed McBain.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Lutz is among the best.”
San Diego Union
“Lutz knows how to seize and hold the reader’s imagination.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
“It’s easy to see why he’s won an Edgar and two Shamuses.”
has everything: a dangerous killer, a pulse-pounding mystery, a shocking solution, and an ending that will resonate with the reader long after the final sentence is read.”
“A page-turner to the nail-biting end . . . twisty, creepy whodunit.”
Urge to Kill
“A solid and compelling winner . . . sharp characterization, compelling dialogue and graphic depictions of evil....
Lutz knows how to keep the pages turning.”
“Lutz’s skill will keep you glued to this thick thriller.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Superb suspense . . . the kind of book that makes you check to see if all the doors and windows are locked.”
Affaire de Coeur
In for the Kill
“Brilliant . . . a very scary and suspenseful read.”
“Shamus and Edgar award–winner Lutz gives us further proof of his enormous talent.... An enthralling page-turner.”
Chill of Night
“Since Lutz can deliver a hard-boiled P.I. novel or a bloody thriller with equal ease, it’s not a surprise to find him applying his skills to a police procedural in
Chill of Night
But the ingenuity of the plot shows that Lutz is in rare form.”
The New York Times Book Review
“Lutz keeps the suspense high and populates his story with a collection of unique characters that resonate with the reader, making this one an ideal beach read.”
“A dazzling tour de force . . . compelling, absorbing.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“A great read! Lutz kept me in suspense right up to the end.”
Midwest Book Review
Darker Than Night
“Readers will believe that they just stepped off a Tilt-A-Whirl after reading this action-packed police procedural.”
The Midwest Book Review
“John Lutz knows how to ratchet up the terror.... He propels the story with effective twists and a fast pace.”
The Night Watcher
“Compelling . . . a gritty psychological thriller . . . Lutz draws the reader deep into the killer’s troubled psyche.”
ALSO BY JOHN LUTZ
*Urge to Kill
*In for the Kill
Chill of Night
Fear the Night
*Darker Than Night
The Night Watcher
The Night Caller
Final Seconds (
with David August)
*featuring Frank Quinn
Available from Kensington Publishing Corp. and Pinnacle Books
FEAR THE NIGHT
Kensington Publishing Corp.
All copyrighted material within is Attributor Protected.
Table of Contents
For Michaela Hamilton, Doug Mendini,
and so many others at Kensington
I must become a borrower of the night
For a dark hour or twain.
. Act III. Sc.2. L. 404.
He flung open the service door and was on the roof and in the cool, dark vastness of the night. In the building beneath his feet people fought and loved and hated and dreamed, while he lived the dream that was real. He was the one who decided. Below and around him the Theater District glowed, as did the stars above. He was sure that if he tried he could reach up, clutch one of the stars, and plunge it burning into his pocket. The end and the beginning of a dream . . .
On the night he died, Marty Akim was selling.
Marty sold anything that would fetch a price, but he specialized in nineteen-dollar watches that he bought for ten dollars.
Warm evenings in New York would find him lounging outside his souvenir shop, Bargain Empire, just off West Forty-fifth Street in the theater district. Inside the crowded shop were lettered T-shirts, cheap umbrellas, plastic Statues of Liberty, Broadway show posters, glass snow globes that played New York tunes while dandrufflike flakes, swirled by shaking, settled among tiny replicas of the buildings Chrysler, Empire State, and Citigroup, towering inches over Rockefeller Center and Grand Central Station. There were plenty of cut-rate laptop computers, digital cameras, cell phones, recorders, and suitcases, many with brand names that seemed familiar at a glance.
Outside the shop, next to a rack of rayon jackets featuring colorful New York scenes, and a table with stacks of sports logo caps and pullovers, was the display of wristwatches. Alongside them, his seamed and friendly face bunched in a perpetual smile, sat Marty in his padded metal folding chair. Marty caught the eye, with his loosened silk tie and his pristine white shirt with its sleeves rolled up, his slicked-back graying hair, and his amiable keen blue eyes. Sitting there gracefully and casually, his legs crossed, a cigarette either wedged between yellowed fingers or tucked loosely in the corner of his mouth, he looked like a once-handsome, aging lounge singer taking a break between sets. A man with tales to tell and eager to tell them for the price of a return smile.
But interesting and approachable as Marty seemed, it was the watches that drew customers, all the glimmer and glitter of gold and silver electroplate and plastic gemstones, colorful watch faces with bright green numerals and hands that looked as if they’d surely glow in the dark. There was something about all that bright, measurable time so closely massed, the tempo of Times Square, the chatter and shuffle and hum and shouts and roar of traffic and pedestrians, all of them moving to some raucous, frantic music punctuated by blaring horns. In the middle of all this happy turmoil was this ordered display of shining metal and geometric precision, and Marty, waiting.
Customers would come and he would talk to them, not pressuring them, not at first. Where were they from? What shows had they seen? Were they having fun? Sure, he could recommend a restaurant or direct them to the nearest subway stop. All the while they’d be sneaking peeks at the watches, the Rodexes, Hambiltons, Bulovis, and Mowados. (The cheap, illegal knockoffs bearing correctly spelled brand names were kept out of sight beneath the false bottom of a showcase inside the shop, sold only to customers who’d been referred to Marty and could be trusted.) Often Marty’s customers were a couple, a man and woman, and the woman would invariably find something that interested her, squint at it, pick it up, then hold it to her ear, like with this couple.
“They’re all quartz movement, ma’am.” Marty smiling wider and whiter, beginning to work his magic on the two of them. “Factory seconds of quality brands—I’ll leave you to guess which brands—some of them with flaws you’d need a microscope to see. But ordinarily they’re expensive and the people who buy them expect perfection. Perfect they’re not, but then neither are you and me, and I know these watches are closer to heaven than I’ll ever get.”
“They’re reasonably priced,” said the woman. She was about forty, short, with a chunky build and dyed red hair. The man was older, lanky, with rough hands and a lot of hair sprouting from his nostrils. He had sad eyes and a wheezy way of breathing.
“I notice the lady’s not wearing a watch,” Marty said to the man, trying to draw him into conversation.
“I left it in the hotel safe,” the woman said. “Bob warned me I might get robbed if I wore my good jewelry out on the streets.”
“Bob’s wise to advise caution,” Marty said, nodding sagely to Bob, both of them seasoned by wide experience. “What New York women do is wear their cheaper but still high-quality jewelry when they go out at night.”
“Makes sense,” said the woman.
“And they dress stylishly but discreetly, like you’re dressed. Attractive women need to be careful. Bob knows what I mean.” Marty wished Bob would mention her name. That would make things easier.
He’d get the woman’s name, he decided. And he’d sell her a watch. He could sell air to these two.
It was a challenge Marty enjoyed, selling watches on a fine warm night like tonight, practicing the basics of his trade. He stood up so he could point to a Rodex. “That one would suit Marie just fine,” he said to Bob, “with its dainty band.”
“He better not give it to anybody named Marie,” the woman said.
Marty looked confused. “I thought I heard Bob call you—”
“Forget this crap and let’s get going,” Bob said to the woman. Bob catching on.
“I dunno, Bob, Some of these—”
“We’re gonna be late.” Bob edged away, as if he might pull his companion along with some kind of magnetism.
Marty was still smiling. “I understand your cynicism, Bob.”
“It’s not cynicism, it’s reality.”
“Most of the time, I’m sure.”
Bob ignored him. “C’mon, Ellie.”
“If you’re not interested, that’s okay.” Marty still with the smile.
Fuck the both of you.
“Nice patter but no sale,” Bob said. He gripped Ellie’s elbow and guided her away from the watch display, almost getting tangled with a couple of teenagers in gangsta pants swishing past. Ellie glanced back at Marty and grinned and shrugged:
What’re you gonna do?
She didn’t mind being taken, if she was having fun and would come away with something.
Bob had been like a brick wall. Marty figured he must be some kind of salesman himself, big farmer type, maybe sold tractors in Iowa or some place where there were crops. He put the couple out of his mind and neatened up his display where Ellie had inadvertently rearranged some of the watches.
There was this
that didn’t belong. Louder than the din of the street, like a crisp clap of thunder that bounced and echoed down the avenue.
Marty would have wondered what made the sound, but that was when he had his heart attack.
At least that’s what Marty thought it was at first. A sudden sharp pain in his chest, a hard time breathing. Not heartburn. Too painful. So painful he could hardly move. It even hurt when he absently lifted his hand to massage the lump of pain in his chest.
He felt wetness. Looked down. His hand was red. So was his tie and the front of his bright white shirt he’d bought just yesterday on sale at Filene’s Basement. His fingers danced over his chest, probed.
He’d been shot.
Shot! Oh, Christ!
Bob the farmer had shot him. That was all Marty could think of. He looked around. Bob and Ellie were nowhere to be seen. People had stopped streaming past the shop and were standing staring at him. He felt light-headed. And breathing was even more of an effort.
He sat down cross-legged on the sidewalk in front of his watch display.
Blood all over the concrete.
My blood ...
Marty was recovering from his shock enough to be terrified.
A doctor visiting from Toronto with a woman not his wife was walking past and saw what was happening.
He hurried to help Marty but it was too late.
Time had stopped for Marty.