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Roadside Crosses: A Kathryn Dance Novel

Jeffery Deaver

  The investigative agent who pursued a terrifyingly elusive killer—and stormed national bestseller lists—in The Sleeping Doll, Kathryn Dance returns in a new blockbuster from the “ingeniously devious” (People) Jeffery Deaver!


  Chosen as a Hot Summer Thriller on!

  “Roadside Crosses is a gripping story peopled with memorable characters. No surprise. Jeffery Deaver is grand master of the ticking-clock thriller.”

  —Kathy Reichs, #1 New York Times bestselling author of 206 Bones

  “The techno-savvy Deaver is too much the master gamesman to scold anyone else for a little excessive play, and in some brilliant plot maneuvers he counters every warning about warrior bloggers and glassy-eyed gamers with well-reasoned arguments in their defense. . . . Like his best players, he has one of those puzzle-loving minds you just can’t trust.”

  —Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times

  “Expert and devious plotting. . . . [A] surprise-filled Kathryn Dance novel.”

  —Publishers Weekly

  “Deaver’s got the world of social networking and blogs down cold. . . . That dose of realism adds a fresh, contemporary edge. . . . Intricate plot twists. . . . The perfect book for a quiet summer afternoon where a little relaxation—accompanied, naturally, by a jolt of suspense—is the order of the day.”

  —David Montgomery,

  This title is also available from Simon & Schuster Audio

  “A clever and twisted tale. . . . The web sites mentioned throughout are actual live links and add to the fun. . . . [A series with] unlimited potential.”

  —Library Journal

  “Tightly constructed, suspenseful. . . . Deaver, perhaps more than any other crime writer, is able to fool even the most experienced readers with his right-angle turns. . . . An excellent entry in what promises to be a series as popular as his Lincoln Rhyme novels.”


  Be sure to read the first Kathryn Dance novel—the pulse-pounding New York Times bestseller


  “[An] intricately plotted thriller. . . . A dazzling mental contest.”

  —Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times

  “The chase is on, and so are the surprises.”

  —Sacramento Bee

  Also from Jeffery Deaver—lose yourself in his acclaimed bestseller


  2009 “Best Novel of the Year” Award winner from the International Thriller Writers organization

  “A tour de force. . . . The suspense never flags. . . . Deaver has no rivals in the realm of sneaky plot twists.”

  —Kirkus Reviews

  “The pace is terrific, the suspense inexorable. . . .”

  —The Guardian (U.K.)

  “Deaver is such a good puppet master that he makes us believe whatever he wants us to believe . . . without telling us a single lie. . . . It’s not until we’re well more than halfway through the book that we even begin to suspect that we might have made some dangerous mistakes . . . but by then, it’s way too late, and we are completely at Deaver’s mercy.”

  —Booklist (starred review)

  “Hurtles along at 100 m.p.h. . . . An edge-of-the-seat read.”

  —Sunday Express (U.K.), 4 stars

  “He makes the characters live and breathe. . . . Read this and no country walk will ever be the same again.”

  —Daily Express (U.K.)

  “Not just an adrenaline-charged manhunt but a game of deception and multiple double-cross that keeps the reader guessing right up to the final page.”

  —The Times (London)

  Jeffery Deaver “stokes our paranoia” (Entertainment Weekly) with a heart-pounding bestseller of identity theft—featuring investigator Lincoln Rhyme


  “Riveting. . . . This is one scary novel. Everything in it seems as plausible and easy as buying a purse on eBay.”

  —The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

  “Unnerving . . . An Orwellian nightmare.”

  —The New York Times

  “Scary, scary. . . . What Deaver reveals about data mining is terrifying.”

  —San Jose Mercury News

  Thank you for purchasing this Simon & Schuster eBook.

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  Part 1: Monday

  Chapter 1

  Part 2: Tuesday

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Part 3: Wednesday

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Part 4: Thursday

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Chapter 38

  Chapter 39

  Part 5: Friday

  Chapter 40

  Chapter 41

  Chapter 42

  Chapter 43

  Chapter 44

  Chapter 45

  Chapter 46

  Chapter 47


  ‘The Burning Wire’ Excerpt

  About Jeffery Deaver

  Author’s Note

  One theme of this novel is the blurring of the line between the “synthetic world”—the online life—and the real world. Accordingly, if you happen to come across a website address in the pages that follow, you might wish to type it into your browser and go where it takes you. You won’t need what’s in those websites to enjoy the novel, but you may just find a few extra clues that will help you unravel the mystery. You might also simply be interested—or disturbed—by what you find there.

  [W]hat the Internet and its cult of anonymity do is to provide a blanket sort of immunity for anybody who wants to say anything about anybody else, and it would be difficult in this sense to think of a more morally deformed exploitation of the concept of free speech.




  Chapter 1


  The California Highway Patrol trooper, young with bristly yellow hair beneath his crisp hat, squinted through the windshield of his Crown Victoria Police Interceptor as he cruised south along Highway 1 in Monterey. Dunes to the right, modest commercial sprawl to the left.

  Something was out of place. What?

  Heading home at 5:00 p.m. after his tour had ended, he surveyed the road. The trooper didn’t write a lot of tickets here, leaving that to the county deputies—professional courtesy—but he occasionally lit up somebody in a German or Italian car if he was in a mood, and this was the route he often took home at this time of day, so he knew the highway pretty well.

ere . . . that was it. Something colorful, a quarter mile ahead, sat by the side of the road at the base of one of the hills of sand that cut off the view of Monterey Bay.

  What could it be?

  He hit his light bar—protocol—and pulled over onto the right shoulder. He parked with the hood of the Ford pointed leftward toward traffic, so a rearender would shove the car away from, not over, him, and climbed out. Stuck in the sand just beyond the shoulder was a cross—a roadside memorial. It was about eighteen inches high and homemade, cobbled together out of dark, broken-off branches, bound with wire like florists use. Dark red roses lay in a splashy bouquet at the base. A cardboard disk was in the center, the date of the accident written on it in blue ink. There were no names on the front or back.

  Officially these memorials to traffic accident victims were discouraged, since people were occasionally injured, even killed, planting a cross or leaving flowers or stuffed animals.

  Usually the memorials were tasteful and poignant. This one was spooky.

  What was odd, though, was that he couldn’t remember any accidents along here. In fact this was one of the safest stretches of Highway 1 in California. The roadway becomes an obstacle course south of Carmel, like that spot of a really sad accident several weeks ago: two girls killed coming back from a graduation party. But here, the highway was three lanes and mostly straight, with occasional lazy bends through the old Fort Ord grounds, now a college, and the shopping districts.

  The trooper thought about removing the cross, but the mourners might return to leave another one and endanger themselves again. Best just to leave it. Out of curiosity he’d check with his sergeant in the morning and find out what had happened. He walked back to his car, tossed his hat on the seat and rubbed his crew cut. He pulled back into traffic, his mind no longer on roadside accidents. He was thinking about what his wife would be making for supper, about taking the kids to the pool afterward.

  And when was his brother coming to town? He looked at the date window on his watch. He frowned. Was that right? A glance at his cell phone confirmed that, yes, today was June 25.

  That was curious. Whoever had left the roadside cross had made a mistake. He remembered that the date crudely written on the cardboard disk was June 26, Tuesday, tomorrow.

  Maybe the poor mourners who’d left the memorial had been so upset they’d jotted the date down wrong.

  Then the images of the eerie cross faded, though they didn’t vanish completely and, as the officer headed down the highway home, he drove a bit more carefully.


  Chapter 2

  THE FAINT LIGHT—the light of a ghost, pale green—danced just out of her reach.

  If she could only get to it.

  If she could only reach the ghost she’d be safe.

  The glow, floating in the dark of the car’s trunk, dangled tauntingly above her feet, which were duct-taped together, as were her hands.

  A ghost . . .

  Another piece of tape was pasted over her mouth and she was inhaling stale air through her nose, rationing it, as if the trunk of her Camry held only so much.

  A painful bang as the car hit a pothole. She gave a brief, muted scream.

  Other hints of light intruded occasionally: the dull red glow when he hit the brake, the turn signal. No other illumination from outside; the hour was close to 1:00 a.m.

  The luminescent ghost rocked back and forth. It was the emergency trunk release: a glow-in-the-dark hand pull emblazoned with a comical image of a man escaping from the car.

  But it remained just out of reach of her feet.

  Tammy Foster had forced the crying to stop. The sobs had begun just after her attacker came up behind her in the shadowy parking lot of the club, slapped tape on her mouth, taped her hands behind her back and shoved her into the trunk. He’d bound her feet as well.

  Frozen in panic, the seventeen-year-old had thought: He doesn’t want me to see him. That’s good. He doesn’t want to kill me.

  He just wants to scare me.

  She’d surveyed the trunk, spotting the dangling ghost. She’d tried to grip it with her feet but it slipped out from between her shoes. Tammy was in good shape, soccer and cheerleading. But, because of the awkward angle, she could keep her feet raised for only a few seconds.

  The ghost eluded her.

  The car pressed on. With every passing yard, she felt more and more despair. Tammy Foster began to cry again.

  Don’t, don’t! Your nose’ll clog up, you’ll choke.

  She forced herself to stop.

  She was supposed to be home at midnight. She’d be missed by her mother—if she wasn’t drunk on the couch, pissed about some problem with her latest boyfriend.

  Missed by her sister, if the girl wasn’t online or on the phone. Which of course she was.


  The same sound as earlier: the bang of metal as he loaded something into the backseat.

  She thought of some scary movies she’d seen. Gross, disgusting ones. Torture, murder. Involving tools.

  Don’t think about that. Tammy focused on the dangling green ghost of the trunk release.

  And heard a new sound. The sea.

  Finally they stopped and he shut off the engine.

  The lights went out.

  The car rocked as he shifted in the driver’s seat. What was he doing? Now she heard the throaty croak of seals nearby. They were at a beach, which at this time of night, around here, would be completely deserted.

  One of the car doors opened and closed. And a second opened. The clank of metal from the backseat again.

  Torture . . . tools.

  The door slammed shut, hard.

  And Tammy Foster broke. She dissolved into sobs, struggling to suck in more lousy air. “No, please, please!” she cried, though the words were filtered through the tape and came out as a sort of moan.

  Tammy began running through every prayer she could remember as she waited for the click of the trunk.

  The sea crashed. The seals hooted.

  She was going to die.


  But then . . . nothing.

  The trunk didn’t pop, the car door didn’t open again, she heard no footsteps approaching. After three minutes she controlled the crying. The panic diminished.

  Five minutes passed, and he hadn’t opened the trunk.


  Tammy gave a faint, mad laugh.

  It was just a scare. He wasn’t going to kill her or rape her. It was a practical joke.

  She was actually smiling beneath the tape, when the car rocked, ever so slightly. Her smile faded. The Camry rocked again, a gentle push-pull, though stronger than the first time. She heard a splash and felt a shudder. Tammy knew an ocean wave had struck the front end of the car.

  Oh, my God, no! He’d left the car on the beach, with high tide coming in!

  The car settled into the sand, as the ocean undermined the tires.

  No! One of her worst fears was drowning. And being stuck in a confined space like this . . . it was unthinkable. Tammy began to kick at the trunk lid.

  But there was, of course, no one to hear, except the seals.

  The water was now sloshing hard against the sides of the Toyota.

  The ghost . . .

  Somehow she had to pull the trunk release lever. She worked off her shoes and tried again, her head pressing hard against the carpet, agonizingly lifting her feet toward the glowing pull. She got them on either side of it, pressed hard, her stomach muscles quivering.


  Her legs cramping, she eased the ghost downward.

  A tink.

  Yes! It worked!

  But then she moaned in horror. The pull had come away in her feet, without opening the trunk. She stared at the green ghost lying near her. He must’ve cut the wire! After he’d dumped her into the trunk, he’d cut it. The release pull had been dangling in the eyelet, no longer connected to the latch cable.

  She was trapped.

  Please, somebody, Tammy prayed again. To God, to a passerby, even to her kidnapper, who might show her some mercy.

  But the only response was the indifferent gurgle of saltwater as it began seeping into the trunk.

  THE PENINSULA GARDEN Hotel is tucked away near Highway 68—the venerable route that’s a twenty-mile-long diorama, “The Many Faces of Monterey County.” The road meanders west from the Nation’s Salad Bowl—Salinas—and skirts the verdant Pastures of Heaven, punchy Laguna Seca racetrack, settlements of corporate offices, then dusty Monterey and pine-and-hemlock-filled Pacific Grove. Finally the highway deposits those drivers, at least those bent on following the complex via from start to finish, at legendary Seventeen Mile Drive—home of a common species around here: People With Money.

  “Not bad,” Michael O’Neil said to Kathryn Dance as they climbed out of his car.

  Through narrow glasses with gray frames, the woman surveyed the Spanish and deco main lodge and half-dozen adjacent buildings. The inn was classy though a bit worn and dusty at the cuffs. “Nice. I like.”

  As they stood surveying the hotel, with its distant glimpse of the Pacific Ocean, Dance, an expert at kinesics, body language, tried to read O’Neil. The chief deputy in the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office Investigations Division was hard to analyze. The solidly built man, in his forties, with salt-and-pepper hair, was easygoing, but quiet unless he knew you. Even then he was economical of gesture and expression. He didn’t give a lot away kinesically.

  At the moment, though, she was reading that he wasn’t at all nervous, despite the nature of their trip here.

  She, on the other hand, was.

  Kathryn Dance, a trim woman in her thirties, today wore her dark blond hair as she often did, in a French braid, the feathery tail end bound with a bright blue ribbon her daughter had selected that morning and tied into a careful bow. Dance was in a long, pleated black skirt and matching jacket over a white blouse. Black ankle boots with two-inch heels—footwear she’d admired for months but been able to resist buying only until they had gone on sale.

  O’Neil was in one of his three or four civilian configurations: chinos and powder blue shirt, no tie. His jacket was dark blue, in a faint plaid pattern.