J.A. Jance's Ali Reynolds Mysteries 3-Book Boxed Set, Volume 1: Web of Evil, Hand of Evil, Cruel Intent

BOOK: J.A. Jance's Ali Reynolds Mysteries 3-Book Boxed Set, Volume 1: Web of Evil, Hand of Evil, Cruel Intent
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Contents

Web of Evil

Hand of Evil

Cruel Intent

ALSO BY J.A. JANCE

A
LI
R
EYNOLDS
M
YSTERIES

Edge of Evil

J
OANNA
B
RADY
M
YSTERIES

Desert Heat

Tombstone Courage

Shoot/Don’t Shoot

Dead to Rights

Skeleton Canyon

Rattlesnake Crossing

Outlaw Mountain

Devil’s Claw

Paradise Lost

Partner in Crime

Exit Wounds

Dead Wrong

J. P. B
EAUMONT
M
YSTERIES

Until Proven Guilty

Injustice for All

Trial by Fury

Taking the Fifth

Improbable Cause

A More Perfect Union

Dismissed with Prejudice

Minor in Possession

Payment in Kind

Without Due Process

Failure to Appear

Lying in Wait

Name Withheld

Breach of Duty

Birds of Prey

Partner in Crime

Long Time Gone

and

Hour of the Hunter

Kiss of the Bees

Day of the Dead

TOUCHSTONE
Rockefeller Center
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
www.SimonandSchuster.com

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2007 by J.A. Jance
All rights reserved,
including the right of reproduction
in whole or in part in any form.

T
OUCHSTONE
and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Jance, Judith A.
     Web of evil: a novel of suspense / J. A. Jance.
         p. cm.
     I. Title.
PS3560.A44W43        2007
813'.54—dc22        2006052137

ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-4519-4
ISBN-10: 1-4165-4519-0
eISBN: 978-1-4516-7577-1

Visit us on the World Wide Web:
http://www.SimonandSchuster.com

For Donna A., the last missing piece of my childhood.
I’ve been looking for you for years.

WEB OF EVIL
{ PROLOGUE }

W
hen the man opened his eyes, it was so dark that at first he thought they were still closed. So he tried again, but nothing changed. It was dark—a hot black stifling darkness that seemed to suck the breath out of him. He sensed movement, heard the whine of tires on pavement, but he had no idea where he was or how he’d gotten there. He tried to move his legs but couldn’t. They were jammed up under his belly in a space that was far too small, and they seemed to be tied together somehow.

His hands were stuck behind him, shoved up against something hard. After several minutes of struggling he was finally able to shift his body enough to free them. He was stunned to discover that they, too, had been bound together in the same manner his legs were. The combination of their being tied too tight and being stuck under his body had cut off the circulation. At first his hands were nothing more than a pair of useless and inextricably connected dead-weight cudgels. After a few moments the blood returned to his fingers in a rush of needle-and-pin agony.

As his senses gradually reasserted themselves, he realized that the rough surface under his cheek was carpet of some kind, and from somewhere nearby came the distinctive smell of new rubber—a spare tire. That meant he was in the trunk of someone’s vehicle being taken God knows where. He tried to shout, but of course he couldn’t do that, either. His mouth was taped shut. All that emerged from his throat was a guttural groan.

What was it you were you supposed to do if you found yourself trapped in a vehicle like that? Kick out the taillights, hang an arm out the hole, and signal for help? But he couldn’t kick anything. He couldn’t move his legs, and his bound hands were still useless.

As the man gradually understood the seriousness of his predicament, his heart beat faster while his breath quickened to short panicky gasps. For a while he was afraid he was going to pass out again, but he fought it—fought to bring his breathing back under control. Fought to concentrate. What the hell was happening? Where was he? Who was doing this? And why?

He tried to remember something about what had gone on before. He had a dim recollection of something like a party. Lots of lights and laughter, lots of girls, lots of liquor. So had he gotten drunk and pissed someone off? Was that what was going on? He knew that given enough scotch he wasn’t anyone’s idea of Mr. Congeniality, but still…

Sweat trickled down the side of his face and dribbled into one eye, burning like fire. Without the use of his hands, there was no way to brush it away.

The vehicle slowed suddenly and swerved to the right, rolling him back onto his hands. Outside he heard the roar of a semi going past followed immediately by another and another. So they were on a busy freeway somewhere—or had just left one. But where? As hot as it was, it had to be somewhere over the mountains—somewhere in the desert. Palm Springs, maybe? Or maybe farther north, up toward Needles and Parker.

Why can’t I remember where I was or what happened?
he wondered. He had always prided himself on being able to hold his liquor. He wasn’t like some of the guys he knew, high-powered wheeler-dealers who would have to call around after a wild night on the town, checking with valets at local watering holes to see where they had left their favorite Porsche or Ferrari. He usually knew exactly where he’d been. He also knew when he’d had enough. But now, his mind was fuzzy. He couldn’t quite pull things together—not just tonight, but what had gone on in the days before that, either.

The vehicle slowed again. He braced himself, expecting another right-hand turn. Instead, the vehicle turned sharply to the left and bounced off the pavement and onto a much rougher surface. Fine dust swirled inside the small space, filling his eyes and nostrils, making his eyes water and his nose run. Definitely the desert somewhere.

There was another hard jolting bump, then the vehicle came to a sudden halt. What must have been the driver’s door opened and shut. And then there was nothing. No sound at all. At first he hoped and dreaded that the trunk lid would click open and his captor would free him, but that didn’t happen. He strained his ears, hoping to establish if the freeway was still near enough that he’d be able to hear semis speeding past, but for the longest time, he heard nothing at all. He felt only the oppressive heat and wondered how long it would be before the oxygen ran out and he suffocated.

He felt it first. The car trembled as if it were alive, as if it were being racked by a bad case of the chills. Then he heard it—a distant rumble growing louder and louder until it turned into an unmistakable roar. The car rocked in concert with the sound until the terrible roar and the shaking were one. It was then the man heard the shrill, earth-shattering screech of a fast-approaching freight train. The whistle sounded once, in a single, long, warning wail. Only then did he realize that whoever had locked him in the trunk had left him on the train tracks—left him there to die.

He struggled desperately against his restraints, but it was no use. He couldn’t free himself. The engine of the speeding eastbound train plowed into the stationary vehicle, peeling it open like an empty tin can and then dragging the wreckage along underneath the engine for the additional mile it took for the shaken engineer to finally bring the fully loaded train to a stop. As the engineer spoke to the 911 operator in Palm Springs, he reported having seen something fly up and out of the shattered vehicle, something that had looked more like a rag doll than it did a human being.

BOOK: J.A. Jance's Ali Reynolds Mysteries 3-Book Boxed Set, Volume 1: Web of Evil, Hand of Evil, Cruel Intent
13.87Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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