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The Goodbye Man

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



  Ice Cold (Editor)

  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


  Individual Stories


  The Second Hostage


  The Debriefing

  Ninth and Nowhere


  The Victims’ Club

  Surprise Ending

  Double Cross

  The Deliveryman

  A Textbook Case


  Publishers Since 1838

  An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC

  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.

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Names: Deaver, Jeffery, author.

  Title: The goodbye man / Jeffery Deaver.

  Description: New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, [2020] | Series: Colter Shaw |

  Identifiers: LCCN 2020011584 | ISBN 9780525535973 (hardcover) | ISBN 9780525535997 (ebook) | ISBN 9780593189177 (international)

  Subjects: GSAFD: Suspense fiction. | Mystery fiction.

  Classification: LCC PS3554.E1755 G66 2020 | DDC 813/.54—dc23

  LC record available at

  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.


  For Jane Davis, with boundless gratitude


  Also by Jeffery Deaver

  Title Page




  One: The Man on the CliffChapter 1

  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

  Chapter 17

  Two: The Best Is Yet to ComeChapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  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

  Chapter 40

  Chapter 41

  Chapter 42

  Chapter 43

  Chapter 44

  Chapter 45

  Chapter 46

  Chapter 47

  Chapter 48

  Chapter 49

  Chapter 50

  Chapter 51

  Chapter 52

  Chapter 53

  Chapter 54

  Chapter 55

  Chapter 56

  Chapter 57

  Chapter 58

  Chapter 59

  Chapter 60

  Chapter 61

  Chapter 62

  Chapter 63

  Chapter 64

  Chapter 65

  Chapter 66

  Chapter 67

  Chapter 68

  Chapter 69

  Chapter 70

  Chapter 71

  Three: Echo RidgeChapter 72

  Chapter 73

  Chapter 74

  Chapter 75

  Chapter 76

  Chapter 77

  Chapter 78

  Chapter 79

  Chapter 80

  Chapter 81

  Chapter 82

  Chapter 83

  Chapter 84

  Chapter 85

  Author’s Note


  About the Author

  What a journey I have made, the things I have seen . . . Give me a jug of water and human flesh. Give me air to breathe and a strong sailing wind when I rise from the underworld.





  June 11, 2 p.m.

  Seconds to decide.

  Swerve left? Swerve right?

  A steep drop into brush? Or a narrow shoulder that ends in a cliff wall?



  Colter Shaw spun the wheel of the rental Kia sedan hard, braking intermittently—he couldn’t afford a skid. The vehicle, which had been doing forty along this stretch in high mountains, plunged into foliage, narrowly missing a collision with the boulder that had tumbled down a steep hillside and rolled into the middle of the road before him. Shaw thought the sound of a two-hundred-pound piece of rock rolling through brush and over gravel would be more dramatic; the transit was virtually silent.

  Left was the correct choice.

  Had he gone right, the car would have slammed into a granite outcropping hidden by tall, beige grass.

  Shaw, who spent much time assessing the percentage likelihood of harm when making professional decisions, nonetheless knew that sometimes you simply had to roll the dice, and see what happened.

  No air bags, no injury. He was, however, trapped inside the Kia. To his left was a sea of mahonia, otherwise known as Oregon grape, benign names both, belying the plant’s needle-sharp spikes that can penetrate cloth on their effortless way into skin. Not an option for an exit. The passenger side was better, blocked only by insubstantial cinquefoil, in cheerful June bloom, yellow, and a tangle of forsythia.

  Shaw shoved the right-side door open again and again, pushing back the viney plants. As he did this, he noted that the attacker’s timing had been good. Had the weapon fallen sooner, Shaw could easily have braked. Any later, he’d have been past it and still on his way.

  And a weapon it must have been.

  Washington State certainly was home to earthquakes and seismic activity of all sorts but there’d been no recent shivering in the vicinity. And rocks that are this big usually stay put unless they’re leveraged off intentionally—in front of, or onto, cars driven by men in pursuit of an armed fleeing felon.

  After doffing his brown plaid sport coat, Shaw began to leverage himself through the gap between door and frame. He was in trim fit, as one who climbs mountainsides for recreation will be. Still, the opening was only fourteen or so inches, and he was caught. He would shove the door open, retreat, then shove once more. The gap slowly grew wider.

  He heard a rustling in the brush across the road. The man who’d tipped the rock into Shaw’s path was now scrabbling down the hillside and pressing through the dense growth toward Shaw, who struggled further to free himself. He saw a glint in the man’s hand. A pistol.

  The son of a survivalist and in a manner of speaking a survivalist himself, Shaw knew myriad ways of cheating death. On the other hand, he was a rock climber, a dirt bike fanatic, a man with a profession that set him against killers and escaped prisoners who’d stop at nothing to stay free. The smoke of death wafted everywhere around him, constantly. But it wasn’t that finality that troubled him. In death, you had no reckoning. Far worse would be a catastrophic injury to the spine, to the eyes, the ears. Crippling his body, darkening the world or muting it forever.

  In his youth, Shaw was called “the restless one” among his siblings. Now, having grown into a self-professed Restless Man, he knew that such incapacity would be pure hell.

  He continued to squeeze.

  Almost out.

  Come on, come on . . .



  Just as he was about to break free, his wallet, in the left rear pocket of his black jeans, caught.

  The attacker stopped, leaning through the brush, and lifted the pistol. Shaw heard it cock. A revolver.

  And a big one. When it fired, the muzzle blast blew green leaves from branches.

  The bullet went wide, kicking up dust near Shaw.

  Another click.

  The man fired again.

  This bullet hit its mark.


  June 11, 8 a.m., six hours earlier

  Shaw was piloting his thirty-foot Winnebago camper through the winding streets of Gig Harbor, Washington State.

  With about seven thousand inhabitants, the place was both charming and scuffed around the edges. It was, to be sure, a harbor, well protected, connected to Puget Sound via a narrow channel through which pleasure and fishing craft now glided. The Winnebago motored past working and long-abandoned factories devoted to manufacturing vessels and the countless parts and accessories with which ships were outfitted. To Colter Shaw, never a sailor, it seemed like you could spend every minute of every day maintaining, repairing, polishing and organizing a boat without ever going out to sea.

  A sign announced the Blessing of the Fleet in the middle of the harbor, the dates indicating that it had taken place earlier in the month.


  Perhaps the industry was now less robust than in the past, and the organizers of the event wanted to beef up its image by letting lawyers and doctors and salesmen edge their cabin cruisers up to the circle of the commercial craft—if that geometry was in fact the configuration for fleet blessing.

  Shaw, a professional reward seeker, was here on a job—the word he used to describe what he did. Cases were what law enforcement investigated and what prosecutors prosecuted. Although after years of pursuing any number of criminals Shaw might have made a fine detective, he wanted none of the regimen and regulation that went with full-time employment. He was free to take on, or reject, any job he wished to. He could choose to abandon the quest at any time.

  Freedom meant a lot to Colter Shaw.

  He was presently considering the hate crime that had brought him here. In the first page of the notebook he was devoting to the investigation, he’d written down the details that had been provided by one of his business managers:

  Location: Gig Harbor, Pierce County, Washington State.

  Reward offered for: Information leading to the arrest and conviction of two individuals:

  —Adam Harper, 27, resident of Tacoma.

  —Erick Young, 20, resident of Gig Harbor.

  Incident: There have been a series of hate crimes in the county, including graffiti of swastikas, the number 88 (Nazi symbol) and the number 666 (sign for the devil) painted on synagogues and a half-dozen churches, primarily those with largely black congregations. On June 7, Brethren Baptist Church of Gig Harbor was defaced and a cross burned in the front yard. Original news story was that the church itself was set on fire but that was found to be inaccurate. A janitor and a lay preacher (William DuBois and Robinson Estes) ran outside to confront the two suspects. Harper opened fire with a handgun, wounding both men. The preacher has been released from the hospital. The janitor remains in the intensive care unit. The perpetrators fled in a red Toyota pickup, registered to Adam Harper.

  Law enforcement agencies running case: Pierce County Public Safety Office, liaising with U.S. Justice Department, which will investigate to determine if the incident is a federal hate crime.

  Offerors and amount of reward:

  —Reward one: $50,000, offered by Pierce County, underwritten by the Western Washington Ecumenical Council (with much of that sum donated by MicroEnterprises NA founder Ed Jasper).

  —Reward two: $900 offered by Erick Young’s parents and family.

  To be aware of: Dalton Crowe is actively pursuing the reward.

  This last bit of intelligence wasn’t good.

  Crowe was an unpleasant man in his forties. Former military, he opened a security business on the East Coast, though it wasn’t successful and he shut it down. His career now was freelance security consultant, mercenary and, from time to time, reward seeker. Shaw’s and Crowe’s paths had crossed several times, on occasion violently. They approached the profession differently. Cr
owe rarely went after missing persons; he sought only wanted criminals and escapees. If you shot a fugitive while you were using a legal weapon in self-defense, you still got the reward and could usually avoid jail. This was Crowe’s approach, the antithesis of Shaw’s.

  Shaw had not been sure he wanted to take this job. The other day, as he’d sat in a lawn chair in Silicon Valley, he had been planning on pursuing another matter. That second mission was personal, and it involved his father and a secret from the past—a secret that had nearly gotten Shaw shot in the elbows and kneecaps by a hitman with the unlikely name of Ebbitt Droon.

  Risk of bodily harm—reasonable risk—didn’t deter Shaw, though, and he truly wanted to pursue his search for his father’s hidden treasure.

  He’d decided, however, that the capture of two apparent neo-Nazis, armed and willing to kill, took priority.

  GPS now directed him through the hilly, winding streets of Gig Harbor until he came to the address he sought, a pleasant single-story home, painted cheerful yellow, a stark contrast to the gray overcast. He glanced in the mirror and brushed smooth his short blond hair, which lay close to his head. It was mussed from a twenty-minute nap, his only rest on the ten-hour drive here from the San Francisco area.

  Slinging his computer bag over his shoulder, he climbed from the van and walked to the front door, rang the bell.

  Larry and Emma Young admitted him, and he followed the couple into the living room. He assessed their ages to be mid-forties. Erick’s father sported sparse gray-brown hair and wore beige slacks and a short-sleeved T-shirt, immaculately white. He was clean-shaven. Emma wore a concealing, A-line dress in pink. She had put on fresh makeup for the visitor, Shaw sensed. Missing children disrupt much, and showers and personal details are often neglected. Not so here.

  Two pole lamps cast disks of homey light around the room, whose walls were papered with yellow and russet flowers, and whose floors were covered in dark green carpet, over which sat some Lowe’s or Home Depot oriental rugs. A nice home. Modest.

  A brown uniform jacket sat on a coat rack near the door. It was thick and stained and had LARRY stitched on the breast. Shaw guessed the man was a mechanic.