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The Second Hostage

Jeffery Deaver



  The Colter Shaw Series

  The Never Game

  The Lincoln Rhyme Series

  The Cutting Edge

  The Burial Hour

  The Steel Kiss

  The Skin Collector

  The Kill Room

  The Burning Wire

  The Broken Window

  The Cold Moon

  The Twelfth Card

  The Vanished Man

  The Stone Monkey

  The Empty Chair

  The Coffin Dancer

  The Bone Collector

  The Kathryn Dance Series

  Solitude Creek


  Roadside Crosses

  The Sleeping Doll

  The Rune Series

  Hard News

  Death of a Blue Movie Star

  Manhattan Is My Beat

  The John Pellam Series

  Hell’s Kitchen

  Bloody River Blues

  Shallow Graves


  The October List

  No Rest for the Dead (Contributor)

  Carte Blanche (A James Bond Novel)

  Watchlist (Contributor)


  The Bodies Left Behind

  Garden of Beasts

  The Blue Nowhere

  Speaking in Tongues

  The Devil’s Teardrop

  A Maiden’s Grave

  Praying For Sleep

  The Lesson of Her Death

  Mistress of Justice



  A Hot and Sultry Night for Crime (Editor)

  Trouble in Mind

  Triple Threat

  Books to Die For (Contributor)

  The Best American Mystery Stories 2009 (Editor)

  More Twisted



  Ninth and Nowhere


  The Victims’ Club

  Surprise Ending

  Double Cross

  The Deliveryman

  A Textbook Case

  The Second Hostage

  A Colter Shaw Short Story

  Jeffery Deaver

  G.P. Putnam’s Sons


  Publishers Since 1838

  An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC

  Copyright © 2020 by Gunner Publications, LLC

  Excerpt from The Goodbye Man copyright © 2020 by Gunner Publications, LLC

  Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

  Ebook ISBN: 9780593188200

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



  Also by Jeffery Deaver

  Title Page


  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Excerpt from The Goodbye Man

  About the Author


  “Okay. We’ve got a situation.”

  The slim, tanned deputy, of upright posture, had just hung up the phone and was addressing the room. “That was Sally, dispatch. There’s a hostage situation and gunshots. Kiowa Lake.”

  The half dozen fellow law enforcers, in tan slacks and dark green shirts, were essentially frozen in time, looking his way. Five men and one woman, ages mid-twenties to mid-forties. Four men were white. The other a light-skinned African American. The woman was indigenous.

  Their collective expression was one of surprise.

  The words hostage situation and gunshots were not uttered here very often, Colter Shaw supposed.

  He was sitting across the desk from the man who’d uttered them.

  Deputy Peter Ruskin—Shaw pegged him about thirty-five—continued, “One of those vacation houses. Renter said a guy pulls up in a car, wanders around the dock, talking to himself, then pulls a gun and breaks in.”

  “Type of weapon?” one deputy, about Ruskin’s age, heavier, asked. H. Garner. The law enforcers all wore name tags. Convenient.

  “Unknown. Renter gets into the bathroom, calls nine-one-one. Dispatch heard the door getting kicked in and a voice saying, ‘Get into the living room, sit down. Shut up.’ Phone went dead. Then neighbors called in and said they heard a shot. Wasn’t the hostage got hit, looks like. The taker was aiming out the window.”

  The Cimarron County Sheriff’s Department was functional, typical of dozens of public safety offices Shaw had been in. Small too. Their jurisdiction—in south central Kansas—was large geographically but not in population.

  “The renter say if he’d recognized him?”

  Ruskin said, “It’s a vacation house, Jerry.”

  J. Briscoe.

  “Oh, right. He’s from out of state.”

  “Injuries?” B. Harper asked. The woman. She was short of stature, with broad shoulders. Her stylish glasses bore a faintly blue tint.

  “No. Was shooting at a tree, seems. Sally called the sheriff. He’s on his way. Okay, let’s get to it.” Ruskin seemed to have some seniority over the others, even though he was in the middle of the years-on-earth bell curve. He looked over the cramped room. “George, Devon and E.J.’re on patrol. I’ll have dispatch get ’em over. I want some of you with me. Who here’s run a hostage case? Anybody?”

  The deputies regarded one another but said nothing.

  Colter Shaw said, “I have.”


  He’d come to Kansas pursuing a reward.

  Colter Shaw’s profession.

  A mother in a suburb of Topeka was offering $3K to locate her runaway daughter. The small amount—and the fact the young woman was nineteen—had generated little interest among rewards seekers. Kids who take off from home? Tracking them was usually more trouble than they were worth.

  Emma Cummings had come home from college, and a day or two later Mom had found some drugs in her jeans pocket. Not much, but enough to create a domestic explosion. The don’t-I-have-any-privacy side battling the I-was-only-doing-your-laundry-thank-you-very-much side. The next morning Emma had split, taking her backpack and computer.

  After several fretful days, Emma’s mom had scraped together what cash she could and posted the reward announcement on the internet. Shaw’s associates in Florida, who scanned the web regularly for offers, sent the info his way, knowing his soft spot for runaways. He’d piloted his Winnebago to Kansas and met with Mom.

  Shaw always approached domestics warily. Sometimes you could put the disap
pearance down to impulsive youth. Sometimes the kids ran for a reason, in which case Shaw chose not to continue or, upon finding the kid, went to the authorities. But in the Cummings household, he spotted no abuse, just an overly protective mother with a churchgoing, conservative background, shocked about a baggie in Emma’s Levi’s. For her part, it seemed, Emma had just broken up with her boyfriend the day she’d left for home. Bad moods all around would have been a factor, as were issues about her parents’ recent divorce, Shaw was sure.

  One aspect of the job was unique; the mother didn’t actually want him to report Emma’s location. He was to make a delivery. The business-sized envelope contained not only a letter but a lump. A charm or a necklace? Shaw wondered. A silly toy?

  She’d preempted his next question: “I trust you. Come back and tell me you’ve delivered it. I’ll give you the check.”

  His search had begun, interviewing Emma’s friends. It had gone smoothly up to a point. A lead sent him to Prescott, Kansas, thirty miles away, where one of Emma’s high school classmates lived. Emma had spent the night with her. The teen had been willing to talk to Shaw; she’d thought the mother-daughter fight was “stupid” and encouraged Emma to return home. But, no, she had continued southwest into the hinterland. The only clue: Emma was planning to stop at a renowned fried chicken place in Humble, Kansas. That was all she knew.

  So on to the curiously named burg, population eight thousand.

  Downtown Humble was exactly what one would expect: a diorama of 1950s Middle America. In late July, the streets had a dusty feel. Shaw had the chance to buy plenty of souvenirs bearing the town’s name, which he declined, to sample the Southern-fried chicken, which he indulged in. It was the best he’d ever eaten. The establishment was Ling Yu’s Chicken Shack, whose name initially seemed to require an explanation. Then Shaw reflected: But why? He ordered seconds.

  He displayed Emma’s picture to the owner and the servers. One waitress vaguely remembered the young woman, but couldn’t help with later destinations. She’d been quiet while she’d eaten, texting the entire time. It was moments like these that Shaw regretting not having a law enforcement agency behind him, and the magic bullet of a warrant to get his hands on texts.

  Where had she gone after Humble?

  The trail didn’t exactly end; it diverged: in the middle of the town was a roundabout with four roads branching off in different directions.

  Colter Shaw had a vast collection of Rand McNally maps, and as he ate he studied Kansas. Two of the routes would have taken Emma to even more remote parts of the state—and places beyond. A third was the paved version of the old Dodge City Turnpike—a covered wagon route. The last of them would have taken her directly to I-35. This latter would have been unfortunate from Shaw’s point of view, as it was a major north–south thoroughfare, from which she could access thousands of destinations from Mexico to Canada.

  So, Emma, Shaw thought, finishing the not-terrible coffee, which was it?

  Or had you turned around and headed back in the direction of home via the route on which you’d come after finishing Luncheon Special 2, half chicken, slaw and biscuit?

  He had then glanced out the window of the restaurant.


  There’s an idea.

  Shortly thereafter, Shaw was sitting in the Cimarron County Sheriff’s Department, a five-minute walk from Ling Yu’s. Deputy P. Ruskin was cautiously happy to hear him out.

  “The traffic cam, hmm?” the man asked.

  The “idea” had been viewing the video from a camera that looked down over the intersection.

  “Rewards?” asked another deputy. He had massive biceps and forearms, and his name tag read T. THORNTON. He was laughing. “Can’t be your job.”

  “It is.”

  “You make a living at it?”

  Of sorts.

  “I do.”

  He would hardly explain that rewards-seeking, for him, wasn’t exactly about the money. It was that a reward represented a puzzle that no one else had been able to solve. Growing up among the three Shaw siblings, Colter was known as the “restless one.” Restless in body, also restless in mind. Traveling around the country untying Gordian knots was the perfect vocation for him.

  “Not a bounty hunter, bond enforcement agent?” Ruskin asked.

  “Nope. Not a private investigator either. I’m not licensed.”

  “Would you be armed?”

  “There’re two handguns in my camper, yes. I have a conceal carry permit. It’s valid here.”

  No one in the room gave any reaction. You’d think police might be concerned about the number of citizens toting guns in pockets and hidden holsters. Not the case. What the cops knew was that in order to get a CCP, you needed to pass a comprehensive criminal and mental health background check.

  Ruskin seemed sympathetic, but rules, apparently, were not to be breached in Humble. “I’m sorry, sir. Can’t help you. Maybe if you contacted a law enforcement agency in Topeka, they could come to us. And we’d see what we could do.”

  Shaw sighed. Out the window, he could see the camera, lording over the intersection like a UFO. He was trying to think of some way to persuade Ruskin to help, when the deputy’s phone had rung.

  He answered and said, “Hey, Sal.” Then, frowning, he had a conversation.

  After he hung up, he looked over at the other deputies in the office, and said, “Okay. We’ve got a situation.”


  The car was speeding through cornfields.

  The stalks were adolescent at this time of year: several feet high, with leaves and husks bright green, the tassels shiny brown and white.

  Colter Shaw, in the passenger seat of the sheriff’s department cruiser, watched the endless blue sky of America’s breadbasket.

  The route was straight and flat, given the two-dimensional geography of this part of the state. Occasionally, and for no apparent reason, Deputy Peter Ruskin slowed to eighty. Maybe he knew of unofficial deer crossings.

  Ruskin and Shaw were in the lead; two more Chrysler police sedans trailed.

  “What’s this experience you’ve had, sir? Hostages?”

  “Two times now. A reward was offered for a runaway, like the job I’m on now.”

  “Only she hadn’t run away.”

  “Was a kidnapping. The perp made it look like she’d left on her own. I found them in a shack in the mountains.”

  “You track?” Ruskin asked.

  “I do. Called the state police but it was an hour before they could get there. I talked him into letting her go. He did and took off—not my job to arrest anyone. I got her home safe. He was picked up a few days later.

  “The other was a reward for an escaped prisoner. I found him hiding in a barn behind an abandoned house outside of Portland.”

  “Who was the hostage? He get somebody from the house?”

  “That’s what I assumed. Turned out to be a cow.”

  Ruskin laughed, then saw Shaw wasn’t joking.


  “Talked him out. All species were safe.”


  Fifteen minutes into the drive, the geography and landscape changed to trees and houses, and the road began a gentle sidewind. Ruskin eased off the gas. Ahead, through growths of oak and maple Shaw could see the shimmer of water, blue and white. Kiowa Lake. He recalled it from his map. The body of water was big, around a thousand acres, and defined by complicated, rough edges. Natural, augmented by a dam.

  Ruskin’s radio crackled.

  “Fuck’s this about?” came a gruff voice. “Barricade in a lake house? Are there kids in there?”

  “We’ll be there in five, Sheriff,” Ruskin said. “I’ll know more then. How’s that situation in Farmington?”

  “Was nothing. Waste of time. I’m leaving now.”

  A faint frown c
rossed Ruskin’s brow; Shaw recalled that the dispatcher had said he’d left earlier.

  “What’s your ETA?” Ruskin asked.

  No answer.

  “Sheriff . . . Sheriff? You there?”

  The radio clattered once again but it wasn’t Ruskin’s boss. The dispatcher was reporting that the state police tactical and hostage negotiation teams were on their way but wouldn’t arrive for almost an hour.

  “Got it, Sally. Thanks.”

  To Shaw, Ruskin said, “Being out of the way has its disadvantages, time to time.” The deputy consulted his GPS. He followed the instructions and raced over shade-filled roads.

  He radioed, “This’s Pete. Who’s on-site?”

  “I’m in front of the place. It’s George.”

  Two other deputies reported that they were close.

  “Roger that.”

  Seeing the cruiser ahead, Ruskin slowed and pulled up behind it. George’s car was half on, half off the front lawn. The beefy deputy was crouched, taking cover on the driver’s side. He looked back as the others pulled up.

  All of this was happening in a house typical of the lake houses here. Looked to be about three bedrooms, two story. Give it eighteen hundred square feet. Grass and bushes in the front, parking area to the right side. A battered green Camry with Kansas tags sat within it at an oblique angle. The driver’s door was open.

  Behind the house was a dock stretching into the still lake beyond.

  Ruskin said to Shaw, “I intend not to do anything until the sheriff and the state boys get here. Just contain everything and keep him from hurting anybody. I might need your advice if things get active, if you know what I mean. Unless that happens, I’ll ask you to stay out of harm’s way.”

  “My plan too.”

  The deputies from the other cars approached slowly, crouching. The woman, Harper, carried a shotgun. Shaw guessed she wasn’t involved in many physical takedowns; less her short stature than the hoop earrings told him this. They’d be easy for a perp to rip out in a scuffle. She did, however, seem completely comfortable with the short barrel Savage in her hands.