Her Darkest Nightmare, first in an electrifying new series from New York Times bestselling author Brenda Novak
THE HUNT FOR A SERIAL KILLER
Evelyn Talbot knows that a psychopath can look perfectly normal. She was only sixteen when her own boyfriend Jasper imprisoned and tortured her—and left her for dead. Now an eminent psychiatrist who specializes in the criminal mind, Evelyn is the force behind Hanover House, a maximum-security facility located in a small Alaskan town. Her job puts her at odds with Sergeant Amarok, who is convinced that Hanover is a threat to his community…even as his attraction to beautiful Evelyn threatens to tear his world apart.
BEGINS WITH AN ESCAPE FROM HER PAST
Then, just as the bitter Alaskan winter cuts both town and prison off from the outside world, the mutilated body of a local woman turns up. For Amarok, this is the final proof he needs: Hanover has to go. Evelyn, though, has reason to fear that the crime is a personal message to her—the first sign that the killer who haunts her dreams has found her again. . .and that the life she has so carefully rebuilt will never be the same…
Enjoy an exclusive excerpt from Her Darkest Nightmare:
“Come on,” Lorraine said. “You have to overcome the past at some point.”
She was spitting Evelyn’s own words back at her. “I’ve made peace with my past. I’m happy as I am,” Evelyn responded, but she knew she bore more scars than the one on her neck. After the attack, she’d spent nearly a decade in therapy.
“You’d rather be single for the rest of your life?” Lorraine asked.
Suddenly realizing that she was hungry, Evelyn pulled the carrots out of the sack. Maybe if she ate something she’d get her second wind. “I don’t need a man. I’ve filled my life with other things.”
“A purpose,” she said, tearing open the plastic. “And to fulfill that purpose, I can fit one more inmate into my schedule.”
Lorraine tsked. “You’re pushing too hard. Driving yourself right over the edge. But I’d better get back downstairs. I just wanted to ask you . . . have you heard anything from Danielle?”
“Connelly? The gal you hired to help in the kitchen? Not yet. Why?”
“She didn’t come in this morning.”
“Have you tried calling her house?”
“Of course. Over and over. There’s no answer.”
“Are you sure she didn’t talk to the warden or another member of the team? Maybe she’s sick. Maybe she turned off the ringer on her phone so she could get some sleep.”
A knock interrupted, right before her assistant, four-foot-nine Penny Singh, poked her head into the room. “Receiving just called. Anthony Garza has arrived.”
“Did you plan to talk to the marshals?” Penny asked.
“Of course.” Evelyn felt it was important to thank the escorts. Sometimes they had warnings or other information to convey. She also made it a habit to meet with every single inmate as soon as he received his jumpsuit and other essentials so she could create his chart, make some initial notes on his attitude and psychological state and whether he was likely to be a problem.
“You’ll have to hurry,” Penny prodded. “They can’t wait. They’re worried about missing their flight, are afraid they’ll get snowed in.”
Evelyn couldn’t blame them for being antsy. With the monstrous cold fronts that rolled through Anchorage, getting snowed in was a real possibility—and it could mean they’d be trapped for a week or longer. “I’m coming.” She turned to Lorraine. “About Danielle—can you get away long enough to drive by her house?”
“Not during work hours. Not when I’m short staffed. But I’ll stop on my way home.”
“Perfect. Call me if for some reason she’s not there.”
Lorraine nodded as Evelyn brushed past. But it wasn’t fifteen minutes later that Evelyn forgot Danielle. While the staff in Receiving checked Garza in, she met with the marshals in the warden’s conference room. What they had to say about Anthony made her nervous, so she was already on edge when, right after they left, the intermittent honk of the emergency alarm sounded, punching her heart into her throat.
They’d had to sedate him. That was what the marshals had told Evelyn. They’d said he was so difficult and dangerous, to himself and others, that the only way to get Garza safely from one place to another was to medicate him. A registered nurse at ADX Florence in Colorado, where he’d been incarcerated before, had administered three hundred milligrams of Ryzolt four hours ago. There was a note on his chart.
But the tranquilizer had worn off by the time he arrived at HH. According to the COs in Receiving he’d come in slightly agitated and, despite his chains and cuffs, quickly grown violent, going so far as to hit an officer with his head. At that point, someone had sounded the alarm while others wrestled Garza to the ground and replaced his cuffs with a straightjacket, further restricting his range of motion. Now he had four officers flanking him instead of two. They’d just dragged him into the holding cell across from her and had to support him so he wouldn’t trip on his ankle chains because he wouldn’t settle down. He was raving like a lunatic, threatening to dismember anyone he came into contact with.
“I won’t stay in this godforsaken place!” he cried. “You’ll all be sorry if you make me. Do you hear?”
“Should we take him to his cell?” It was Officer Whitcomb who asked. He obviously doubted she’d be able to get anything meaningful out of Garza when the man was in such a state, and she had to agree. She’d been about to suggest they take him away and give him a chance to cool off. But the second Mr. Garza realized she was on the other side of the glass, he fell silent and went still.
“Who are you?” His dark eyes shined with anger-induced madness as they riveted, hawk-like, on her.
The first thing she noticed was that those eyes were too close together, his nose was slightly crooked and he had a wide face with almost no chin. A little bit of facial hair or even longer hair on top would’ve made those things less noticeable. But with his head shaved . . .
Still, she wouldn’t call him ugly—just average.
Prepared for an unpleasant encounter, should it go that way, Evelyn fixed a placid expression on her face. She couldn’t, wouldn’t, show this man how unsettled he made her. If he thought he was the first to use intimidation, he was sadly mistaken. Even the sudden reversal in his behavior came as no surprise. Sometimes the men incarcerated at HH reminded her of actors in a play with how quickly and easily they could slip in and out of whatever character suited them best.
“Ah, you’re coherent after all,” she said. “So what have you been doing, Mr. Garza? Putting us on notice that you’re no one to be messed with?”
He didn’t answer the question. “Who are you?”
She put on the glasses she used to alleviate eyestrain and jotted a note on his chart. Low frustration tolerance. Possibly disorganized thinker and yet . . . seems more calculating than that. Aggressive when fearful or uncertain or presented with unfamiliar stimuli—
“Hey! I asked you a question!” He half-dragged the COs along with him so he could shuffle up to the glass.
The guards started to yank him back, to show him that he’d better not get out of control again. No doubt they were angry about before. One of their fellow officers had been shuttled off to Medical nursing a broken nose because of Garza hitting him with his head. But, lowering her clipboard, Evelyn motioned for them to leave him be. She was here to study, not punish. That distinction was important to her own humanity. “I’m your new doctor.”
“No, you’re my next victim,” he said. Then he made kissing noises and smiled, revealing the jagged, broken front teeth he’d gotten from gnawing at the cinder-block wall of his last cell.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
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THE HUNT FOR A SERIAL KILLER
Evelyn Talbot knows that a psychopath can look perfectly normal. She was only sixteen when her own boyfriend Jasper imprisoned and tortured her―and left her for dead. Now an eminent psychiatrist who specializes in the criminal mind, Evelyn is the force behind Hanover House, a maximum-security facility located in a small Alaskan town. Her job puts her at odds with Sergeant Amorak, who is convinced that Hanover is a threat to his community…even as his attraction to beautiful Evelyn threatens to tear his world apart.
BEGINS WITH AN ESCAPE FROM HER PAST
Then, just as the bitter Alaskan winter cuts both town and prison off from the outside world, the mutilated body of a local woman turns up. For Amorak, this is the final proof he needs: Hanover has to go. Evelyn, though, has reason to fear that the crime is a personal message to her―the first sign that the killer who haunts her dreams has found her again. . .and that the life she has so carefully rebuilt will never be the same….
Meet the Author:
New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author Brenda Novak is the author of more than fifty books. A five-time Rita nominee, she has won many awards, including the National Reader’s Choice, the Bookseller’s Best, the Book Buyer’s Best, the Daphne, and the Silver Bullet. She also runs Brenda Novak for the Cure, a charity to raise money for diabetes research (her youngest son has this disease). To date, she’s raised $2.5 million. For more about Brenda, please visit www.brendanovak.com.
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