An excerpt of Blind Faith, an edgy, stand-alone romantic suspense novel by CJ Lyons. This new edition includes new material (available July 31, 2012).
Sarah Durandt knows the killer is dead. She watched him die from a lethal injection in the execution chamber. But Sarah finds little comfort in knowing that the deranged psychopath who murdered her husband and son will never kill again. Since he never revealed the location of their bodies, she never found a sense of closure. So now, Sarah has decided to return to her home in the Adirondacks, to search for whatever remains of her loved ones. An unmarked grave. An article of clothing. Anything to make this terrible dream seem real. But what Sarah uncovers is far more unnerving—and much too horrifying—to even consider…
Maybe they executed the wrong man. Maybe the killer is still out there.
Maybe, for Sarah, the nightmare is just beginning.
Sarah Durandt flinched as faded blue-checked gingham curtains rattled open to reveal the prisoner strapped to a gurney.
One of the women behind her gasped. Sarah leaned forward, one hand flattened against the glass that separated them from a monster. She breathed through her mouth. It was the only way to choke down the heavy air trapped inside the tiny cement-walled room.
She and the other witnesses were gathered behind glass so thick halos circled the objects in the white-tiled execution chamber on the other side. Bulletproof glass. Who did they think would be doing the shooting? The condemned man already woozy from sedatives or those who came to watch him die?
Sarah curled her hands one into the other and held them still on her lap, shivering as the air-conditioning blew a frosty stream down on her. Eleven others were crowded into the room with her, families representing the other victims. She barely noticed them. They were here for closure. She needed answers.
Her gaze narrowed to a laser-sharp focus aimed at the prisoner beyond the glass. His arms were extended, needles inserted into veins on both sides of his body. Seven leather straps crossed his body and limbs, holding him in a position eerily reminiscent of a crucifixion. But this man was no Messiah.
This man was the devil incarnate.
Damian Wright was medium sized, someone who would not stand out in a crowd with his bland face, blander features.
Sarah knew better. She knew his cunning. Hidden behind his façade of normalcy smoldered a sick desire to torture and maim. Even here, on his deathbed, he persisted in tormenting her. Denying her the slightest measure of comfort or peace.
She wasn’t sure why, of all the victims, Damian had focused his sick power plays on her. She wasn’t anyone special, just a schoolteacher from upstate New York who lived in a village of less than five hundred souls. Her brown hair was usually pulled back into a ponytail and forgotten about, leaving it free to fall around her shoulders on special occasions like today—the execution of a serial killer.
Damian’s sweat-beaded skin glistened as he lay beneath a large, round surgical light. His eyes were squeezed shut against its unflinching illumination. The warden nodded to a black-suited man with a small silver cross on his lapel. The man stretched out his hand, his wedding ring shimmering as it passed through the beam of light, and pulled a black microphone down. Sarah rubbed her own ring finger, tracing the plain band Sam placed there six years ago.
Uncoiling like a cobra, the microphone bobbed hypnotically above Damian’s lips. A click, like a muffled gunshot, echoed through the witness room as the warden switched on the intercom. The scratchy sound of Damian’s breathing filled the room.
Sarah found herself inhaling in time with Damian, could almost smell the antiseptic and surgical tape and the stench of sweat and nerves emanating from beyond the window. Alan Easton, who sat beside her, gave her hand a comforting squeeze.
“You okay?” he asked, his tone that of a friend rather than her lawyer. She was the only family here to bear witness for Sam and Josh. The only family Sam had left. And Josh, how could she not be here for her son?
She nodded, her attention focused on the events in front of her. The execution chamber held only three men: the warden in his navy suit, bleached white shirt, and narrow tie; the black-suited minister; and Damian Wright, the man who had destroyed her life.
If Sarah were to describe the Death House to her sixth-grade students back home, she would have said the theme of the room, of the entire building set far apart from normal prison housing, was containment.
Nothing was meant to ever escape this tiny building with its cement walls painted an institutional green. The utilitarian execution chamber beyond the viewing window made no efforts to soften or hide its purpose. A flat surgical table, arms splayed wide, bolted to the floor was its only piece of furniture.
“Any last words?” the warden asked the condemned man.
Sarah came to attention. A fly trespassed into the profane proceedings and beat its wings against the cage shielding two flickering fluorescent lightbulbs, its buzzing deafening. Damian Wright, convicted murderer and child rapist, opened his rheumy eyes and stared directly at her. She pulled her hand free from Alan’s, fisted it tight.
Tell me. Say something. Give me a clue.
Her prayers went unheard. Damian remained silent, muscles slack, not fighting his restraints. Only his chest moved, rising and falling as he counted down to his last breath. Sarah’s lungs squeezed tight, ready to burst from pressure. Damian stared at her, a smile creasing his eyes.
She blinked first, not ashamed to surrender; she’d do anything if it helped her to find Sam and Josh.
Damian’s smile widened. But he remained silent.
Fury knotted her gut. Did he torment her, refuse her the closure she so desperately yearned for, because she’d been away at that damn mandatory in-service on the day he took Josh? Or was it because of all the boys he’d killed, only Josh had a father willing to fight, to die for him?
Alan said it was probably because Sam interrupted his ritual with Josh. Forced him to deviate from his sick, twisted fantasy to kill Sam before he could return to Josh.
The minister intoned from his Bible, his eyes never rising from the written word to gaze upon the lost soul he prayed over.
The words of the Psalm, words that twenty-two months ago would have brought Sarah comfort and solace, were now reduced to meaningless noise with less significance than the buzzing of the fly. She pressed her palm flat against the cold glass, more intent on gleaning the answers she needed from Damian than listening to the word of God.
She’d spent her entire life listening. Where was God when she’d needed him most? Where was he when her husband and son needed him?
“I’m sorry we couldn’t stay the execution,” Alan whispered. “I know how much you hoped—”
She shrugged his words away, her entire universe consisting of the gaze of a killer. The man who had confessed to killing Sam and Josh—but who refused to tell her where they were buried.
For a year and a half she had fought. Fought Damian Wright’s silence, his refusal to see her. Fought the new Texas law that allowed executions to be “fast-tracked” with an unprecedented efficiency. Fought her own desire to see Damian die. A desire superseded only by her need to find her husband and son.
The warden strode forward, reading from a document in a monotone that floated just beyond the periphery of Sarah’s awareness.
Where are they, you sonofabitch? Sarah tried to broadcast all her loathing and hatred into her glare, hoping to loosen Damian’s tongue in these, his last seconds on this Earth. Her fist pounded against the thick glass, creating only the smallest of muffled thuds.
The killer didn’t flinch or look away from her. Nor did he speak. Instead his expression turned to one approaching pity. As if she were the one condemned, not him.
The warden finished and removed his glasses, aiming a small nod in the direction of the executioner’s booth. Sarah had researched the procedure. Behind the one-way mirrored glass, an unseen man flipped a switch. Medication flowed into Damian’s veins. First more sedatives, then a paralytic, finally the potassium chloride to stop his heart.
Time stopped. Sarah didn’t blink. Damian didn’t blink.
Three minutes later, the minister stood aside as a man clad in a white coat stepped forward and listened with a stethoscope. He straightened, reached a hand out to Damian’s face, and closed the killer’s eyes.
The blinds snapped shut.
A collective sigh swirled through the room as the other witnesses shifted in their seats. Through the haze filling Sarah’s vision she heard several women and a man sobbing, felt the rustle of their movements as the room emptied. She remained frozen, not blinking, eyes burning.
Alan touched her elbow, pulled her fist away from the glass, and drew her up onto unsteady feet. “We have to go now,” he murmured.
She kept her face craned toward the darkened window until the last possible moment. Finally, Alan led her out into bright sunshine, Texas heat and humidity bearing down on her with the intensity of a ten-ton truck.
For a moment she was the one suffocating under the weight of paralyzed lungs. Her chest tightened. For an instant it was her heart that stopped.
She blinked and pain returned. An ice-pick stabbing behind her eyes, her constant companion for twenty-two months, unmitigated by any sedatives or hope of release. Unlike Damian Wright’s pain.
And she knew she was alive. At least her body was. Her mind was. Her soul—that was buried in some unmarked grave back home, up on Snakehead Mountain.
Alongside Sam and Josh.
It’s over, it’s over, it’s over . . . The words threaded themselves through Sarah’s mind, spinning a cocoon that blocked out all feeling, providing a soft, safe place to hide. A place where there was no need to think, to do, to react. To be. It’s over, it’s over, it’s over . . .
Sarah hugged herself tighter and leaned against the car window, her back to Alan as he drove them away from the prison. She’d promised herself no matter what, she wouldn’t break down, at least not in front of anyone.
But Alan wasn’t anyone. Alan understood—he’d been through it himself. His wife had been killed by a drug addict who stormed their house looking for cash. That was why he’d left his corporate law practice to focus on victims’ rights, to help people like Sarah.
How could she have survived the past two years without Alan?
The tires spinning against the highway carried her away from Damian Wright, away from her last chance to find Sam and Josh. It’s over, it’s over, it’s over . . .
Her body sagged against the door frame, her right hand automatically reaching for the single ring on her left. She had no engagement ring. Instead, Sam had given her his most valuable possession, a guitar pick used by the legendary Stevie Ray Vaughan, and promised that when he sold his first song he’d replace it with a diamond. Seven years later, the pick still sat in its black velvet jewelry case on her dresser.
Her hand felt cold, but her wedding band radiated warmth, as if she touched Sam. She spun the ring in time with the words weaving their way into her soul, inviting her to surrender. It’s over, it’s over, it’s over . . .
No! It can’t be. Not like this.
Tears pressed against her closed eyelids, burned as they fought to escape. Sarah’s grip on the plain gold band tightened. Her last link to Sam and, through him, Josh. She was tired, so very tired. She should give up. What more could she do?
After all, she had a life to live. Sam would want her to be happy. Someday. A ragged breath tore through her and she felt Alan stir beside her. Alan—could she imagine a future with a man like him? A man who’d devoted almost two years of his life to guiding her through this morass of pain and grief, who’d brought her back into the light, had given her this one last chance.
Last chance, last hope, last rites.
It’s over, it’s over, it’s over.
Sarah straightened, opened her eyes, and blinked against the harsh Texas sun. She uncurled her legs, smoothed out the soft cotton of her navy blue dress. She refused to wear black, not until Josh and Sam were laid to rest. The dark highway stretched hypnotically into the future.
“You all right?” Alan’s gaze left the road to stare at her for a long moment.
A sad smile curled Sarah’s lips. “Yes. I’m fine.”
It’s over, it’s over, it’s over . . . the words sang through her mind, pounding insistently like a toddler throwing a tantrum, banging his head against the floor when he didn’t get what he wanted. Josh had thrown a few of those in his day. Until he learned that when he did, he never got what he wanted.
It’s over, it’s over, it’s over!
Sarah gave a small shake of her head—the only warning Josh needed now. She’d shake her head, smile, and he’d leave his whining behind, take her hand, and snuggle against her. Sorry, Mommy. I forgot.
But I haven’t.
It’s over, it’s over, it’s over . . . No. It’s not.
It’s just begun.
Wednesday, June 20
Two weeks later
Supervisory Special Agent Caitlyn Tierney didn’t look up at the tentative knock on her open door. Instead she raised a hand in the universal palm forward gesture of “wait” and kept reading the report on her computer screen. Her latest group of New Agents in Training was in their final week of training before graduating from Quantico. Nerves were frayed as they waited to learn their field assignments, so this hadn’t been the first interruption of Caitlyn’s morning.
She finished reading her NAT’s scores on their critical incident projects and nodded with satisfaction. They’d done as well as she’d hoped. Even Santos, the diffident, intense twenty-six-year-old with a background in particle physics, had managed to integrate himself as part of the team. Caitlyn shut the lid to her laptop and looked up at her visitor, half-expecting to see Santos himself.
Instead, it was one of the lab geeks. Ah, man, she knew his name; he worked in DNA. Not Rogers, no, something close. She smiled, keeping her face blandly genial as she forced her brain along its circuitous route to match the face of the man before her with his name.
Finally, it clicked. But it took at least twice as long as it would have two years ago, before her accident. Something she’d never admit to anyone.
“Hi, Clemens,” she said heartily, gesturing the tech to one of the two wooden chairs beside her overflowing bookcase. “What brings you over here to Jefferson? Teaching a class?”
He shook his head. “Thought it would be easier than asking you to make the trip to the lab building.” He was right; the forensic analysis center had more security than Fort Knox. Even FBI staff like Caitlyn needed a special invite and authorization for a pass to enter. Clemens glanced at the open door and shifted his weight in his chair.
She might not be as good with names as she used to be, but Caitlyn was still a pro when it came to nonverbal communication. She rose to her feet, folded her reading glasses, and nonchalantly closed the door as she crossed over to sit beside him.
“What’s up?” she asked, leaning forward and engaging him in direct eye contact.
He fumbled a file folder from his briefcase. It wasn’t marked “top secret” or even “sensitive,” so she wondered what all the cloak-and-dagger was about. Then she saw the name on the file. Damian Wright.
Her first assignment two years ago after she’d returned to work. She’d hated everything about that case: the crimes, the travel, the blinding migraines that blurred her thoughts and almost crippled her with their unrelenting pain and nausea, and most of all she’d hated her fatuous asshole of a boss, Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jack Logan. Logan had swooped in and taken over the case without any warnings or explanations, something unheard of. ASACs led from behind their desks via memos and directives; they never ventured into the field.
“You know Damian Wright’s dead?” she asked the lab tech. “Executed in Texas.” She glanced at the calendar. “Two weeks ago.”
“I know.” Clemens’ voice was mournful. “I’m sorry.”
Caitlyn’s spine went rigid. Bright flashes of light sparked at the periphery of her vision. “Sorry? You can’t be saying you found anything exculpatory?”
Caitlyn agreed with most law enforcement officers that death was too good for a lot of these sickos—but it was the best punishment they had. That didn’t mean that she, like other LEOs, didn’t also live in fear of putting an innocent man on death row.
Which was why she’d reviewed the Texas evidence against Wright herself, even though by the time Texas took over she was off the case. Their case had been rock solid. Not only had he been caught with the still-warm body of his last victim, butchering the boy, but Wright confessed to everything, refused to allow any appeals on his behalf, and became the first person under Texas’ new law to be fast-tracked to execution. Twenty-one months from arrest to death, a new record.
Clemens shook his head. “No, Wright killed those boys in Texas, Vermont, Tennessee, and Oklahoma.” He paused. Caitlyn took a deep breath, forcing the flashing lights to fade into the distance. “It’s the ones in New York I’m not too sure about.”
“Hopewell, New York. Josh Durandt and his father. Right before Katrina hit.” Caitlyn remembered. No bodies recovered in that one. The crime scene had been halfway up a mountain; she’d been wearing a skirt after being whisked away from a memorial service for the second Vermont boy. Logan had laughed, giving her no time to change into more appropriate attire and cutting her no slack when her migraine made her sick during the drive down. After she puked her guts out on the side of the road, he’d joked, asked if she was pregnant, adding that was the problem with “today’s FBI.” He never had to worry about any of the guys letting him down because they went “hormonal” on him.
“See, I was clearing the backlog and I found these samples in the pile to be disposed of,” Clemens said, his tone hesitant as he shifted in his seat, obviously having second thoughts. “You know the new director’s protocols. All evidence reviewed prior to disposal, even in closed cases. Turns out the results from Hopewell were never recorded. Not anywhere. Case like that, they should have been top priority. Instead they were almost trashed. If it wasn’t for the new rules—”
“What do you have?” she asked, sliding the folder from his hand and spreading it open on her lap. The familiar dark lines of a DNA analysis filled the first page.
“The DNA from the Hopewell crime scene—it wasn’t Wright’s.”
“There were two blood samples found, right? The dad’s and one other. We assumed it was Wright’s since the field kit said it was his blood type and we had his prints on the memory card found there.”
“Yeah, it was his print and the card came from his camera. Wright’s reflection can be seen in some of the photos. He definitely took them.”
“Who was at the crime scene with him? Are you saying he had an accomplice? There was no evidence of that at any of the other scenes.” She ran her hand through her shoulder-length hair, absently rubbing at the puckered skin above her right ear. Her hair hadn’t even grown out when she was in Hopewell. Back then it had been so short it barely covered the surgical scar.
Clemens blew his breath out. “That’s where it gets a bit weird.”
Caitlyn straightened. It never boded well when a lab geek called evidence weird. “How weird?”
“Conspiracy theory, cover-up, Area Fifty-One, political and career suicide kind of weird.” He grimaced. “I’ve gone over everything a dozen times. The data is correct. It’s the facts surrounding it that are wrong.”
“You mean my facts, my investigation?”
He looked down at his scuffed Adidas and nodded. “Yeah.” He looked up again, pushed his hair back when it fell across his forehead. “Well, yours and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Logan’s. He was the agent of record. His name was on all the paperwork. But since he’s retired, I thought I better come to you.” He gave her a hesitant smile. “Maybe you could tell me what to do with it.”
Caitlyn stared past him, through her small window that looked out over the expanse of forest home to the Yellow Brick Road, the academy’s famed obstacle course. Sunlight streamed in, reawakening her headache. She’d always suspected Logan of hiding something. He’d hustled her off the Wright case as fast as he could, claiming she was needed to help with the Katrina cleanup efforts. She’d spent weeks working with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, identifying over forty-eight hundred kids and reuniting them with their families. An area more suited to a woman’s talents, in Logan’s words. Since they’d had Wright cold on the other murders, she’d let it go.
She turned to Clemens. “Tell me everything.”
September 6, 2005
The news is filled with death and destruction. The search for you has pretty much ended as all eyes turn south to Katrina’s destruction and chaos. All eyes except mine, of course.
God, I sound like some kind of CNN commentator. I have no idea how to do this. All I know is that I need you—need to talk to you. It’s the only way for me to make sense of anything.
The Colonel’s wife comes every day. She says talking about you, keeping this journal, is the best way for me to heal, to understand that our Lord has a plan beyond my mortal comprehension and that I must let go of you and Josh and accept you are in a better place and soldier on. You know how she gets.
Today for the first time, I spoke to her. I told her the truth about how I felt. I told her that she and her good Lord could go to hell.
The Colonel hustled her out faster than a lightning bolt, her still sputtering about how I should respect her as my stepmother if not as a Christian woman.
Sometimes I swear the Colonel only married her after Mom died because she bakes the best caramel apple pie in the county and knows how to make a bed with hospital corners. What the hell was he thinking? Don’t say it—I can almost hear you humming that stupid song you wrote about her, “Requiem for the Morally Superior and Personality Challenged.” Anyway, she’s out of my hair and my house, so more’s the better.
Dr. Hedeger says pretty much the same thing as the Colonel’s wife, only he feeds me Xanax with his tepid platitudes. Tells me that letting my grief and anger out is the best way to “defuse my trauma.”
Defuse. As if I’m a ticking bomb ready to explode at the slightest jar or rustle. Tick, tick . . . boom!
Exactly how I feel. A constant coil of incendiary fury curling inside me like a viper ready to strike. Surrounded by a hard lead, dead-numb casing. They tell me to let it out, but they don’t really want me to. Lord knows, I don’t want to. If I did, I might never stop screaming . . .
So, that’s basically how I am. How’s everything there? Are you keeping an eye on Josh? I know you are—hell, even Damian Wright knew that. That’s why he followed you into the woods. He knew he’d never get a better chance to catch you by surprise and get Josh.
Did I tell you the police found one of his camera cards? While I was sitting in Albany with a bunch of other teachers, being preached to about “no child left behind,” that monster was spying on Josh. The card is filled with picture after picture of you and Josh at the park, you two walking home, even a glimpse of Josh and you wrestling on the living room floor. Oh, there are other little boys he’d spied on, but they quickly give way to focus solely on Josh.
Our beautiful little boy. I’m not blaming you. The police said from the amount of blood they found on the trail you put up quite a fight. Heroic, Chief Waverly called it.
They found some blood that must have belonged to Damian as well. As long as it wasn’t Josh’s blood, I was happy—what a stupid thing to think! But at the time I could only grasp at straws, was hanging on to any thread of hope I could find.
I’m so damned angry. That I wasn’t here, as if I could have somehow stopped what happened. Angry at the stupid government wasting time and money on a stupid law with a catchy name that has condemned our children to a level of mediocrity—sorry, you’ve heard that rant before, haven’t you?
Mostly I’m angry at God. How could he have allowed this to happen? To those two boys in Vermont? To the other one they found in Tennessee after they lost Damian here.
Then the woman from the FBI—you would have laughed at her, a redhead with a butch haircut, badly fitting skirt, clunky shoes, hand always on her hip as if she couldn’t decide if she was a woman or one of the boys. I overheard her telling Chief Waverly that Damian’s signature was to snatch and grab his prey. That he killed them quickly, brutally, with his bare hands, it makes him feel like God, using his hands, feeling his flesh against theirs while they die—how the hell can she know that?
That’s when Hal Waverly saw me and shut her up. He took me by the shoulders and steered me out to his squad, found me something hot to drink that stopped my teeth from chattering. Then he told me about the blood in the clearing off the trail. About finding Josh’s Tigger, ripped to pieces. That they’d called off the search because of the hurricane arriving. That once the weather cleared, they’d get the cadaver dogs out there.
Said I needed to accept the worst. Idiot. Like I could ever accept that. Not without seeing you and Josh. How could I give you up so easily?
Last week. Seems like another life. The search and rescue and cadaver dogs from Saranac are all down in Mississippi and New Orleans now. The FBI has come and gone, but crime scene tape still blocks the room at the Locust Inn down in Merrill where Damian Wright stayed. They just missed him in Tennessee, the news said—hot on the trail of a killer.
If I was Damian, I’d head down to Texas, blend in with the refugees there, get lost in the crowd. I wonder if the police have thought of that, if they’re looking for him there? Seems like he was headed south. The mom in Tennessee at least has a body to bury—a pair of hunters interrupted Damian before he could finish hiding that boy. Nelson was his name. Cute kid from the photo in the papers. Black curls, big dark eyes, wide grin.
Just like you and Josh. I know Josh must be with you. He has to be. That hope is the only thing keeping me sane. Knowing you two are together.
I will find you. Soon. I promise. Maybe the rain will wash you free. If Damian didn’t bury you too deep. But then the animals—I can’t stop thinking about what they might be doing, teeth and claws. The pictures going through my mind—what Damian did to Josh after he finished with you . . . .
Sorry, I’m back now. Sometimes I just have to go shut myself in the bathroom, all the faucets running as hard as they can go, and I scream and scream until my voice has run out and the room is filled with steam and I imagine you’re there in the mirror and Josh is sleeping just beyond the closed door. I hold my breath until the fog clears and it becomes all too obvious to anyone sane that I’m alone. Alone with my thoughts and fears and anger and despair—I miss you both so much I can’t even imagine words equal to the task.
Hal Waverly’s been a rock. Course, as Chief of Police he’s seen bad things before—and he’s lost someone himself, so he understands better than anyone. He keeps to himself, kind of hovers in the background, checks on me between calls, making sure there’s food in the house, that I don’t wear the same clothes three days running. Most of all, he doesn’t judge me when I need to escape—usually out into the rain and fog that’s trying to drown us this past week.
Everyone else puckers their lips, wondering if I’m gone round the bend—or if that ticking time bomb has finally exploded. Not Hal.
I hate to admit it, but even the Colonel’s wife has been a help. She shoos everyone away, cleans the house, and sends me to bed after a hot bath and cup of her herbal tea that tastes like a grandmother’s hug, all warmth and cinnamon. I keep kicking her out, but she sees me as her project—as if she’s the only one who can redeem me. Hate to tell her it’s a waste of time.
My brain feels fuzzy. The Colonel must have slipped more Xanax into my tea. Or maybe Prozac. Or both. He hovers over me like fog on the mountain. They’re all watching me—the Colonel, his wife, Hal Waverly, Dr. Hedeger, everyone from school. The whole town holding its breath, waiting for me to explode. Tick, tick, boom.
They think I’ll kill myself or at least hurt myself. But I could never do that. Not until I find you.
Then, we’ll see. I can’t imagine past that.
For now, hold Josh tight, tell him not to be scared, tell him Mommy loves him soooo much. Tell him I’ll find you. I will find you both. Somehow, someway, someday.
I love you. God how I love you—why couldn’t I have been here? Why couldn’t it have been me?
I sleep with the curtains open so I can see the mountain above the fog. It makes me feel like you’re watching over me from somewhere up there in the darkness. And if I leave the light on, maybe then you and Josh can find your way home . . .
Copyright © 2012 by CJ Lyons
CJ Lyons is a pediatric ER doctor and New York Times bestselling author. Among other adventures, she has assisted police and prosecutors in criminal investigations, worked as a crisis counselor, victim advocate, and flight physician, and drawn from her life experiences to write acclaimed novels of medical suspense. She is the author of several cutting-edge series including Angels of Mercy, Hart and Drake, and most recently, Rock Bottom with Erin Brockovich. Her books have earned her numerous awards including the Golden Gateway, National Readers’ Choice, and Daphne du Maurier Awards.