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The Final Twist Reviews

“Jeffery Deaver’s The Final Twist lives up to its name admirably, even delivering said twist on the very last page of the book.”
– BookPage (Starred Review)

“…[THE FINAL TWIST] is clearly the best of the series so far.”
Booklist

“Enough surprises, complications, and deceptions for three novels and half a dozen short stories.”
– Kirkus Reviews

“Jeffery Deaver’s action-packed ‘The Final Twist’ a nail-biter… [it] begs for another visit with Colter.”
– Oline Cogdill, South Florida Sun Sentinel

“Love Grisham, Coben, Gilstrap, early Lee Child? Can’t resist the puzzle solving of Dan Brown or the emotional prices portrayed by Louise Penny? The Final Twist will keep you entertained and committed . . .”
– New York Journal of Books

“Another solid novel in the series. Colter is a great character to read and author Jeffery Deaver throws in lots of twists and turns to keep the story going when you think it’s over.”
– Red Carpet Crash

The Final Twist Excerpt

The Steelworks

Colter Shaw draws his gun. He starts silently down the stairs, descending into the old building’s massive, pungent basement, redolent of mold and heating oil.


Basement, he reflects. Recalling the last time he was in one. And what had happened to him there.


Above him, music pounds, feet dance. The bass is a runner’s heartbeat. But up there and down here are separate universes.


At the foot of the stairs he studies where he is. Orientation . . . Always, orientation. The basement is half built out. To the right of the stairs is a large empty space. To the left are rooms off a long corridor—fifty feet or so in length.


Scanning the empty space to the right, he sees no threat nor anything that would help him. He turns left and navigates toward the corridor past the boilers and stores of supplies: large packs of toilet paper, cans of Hormel chili, plastic water bottles, paper towels, Dixie paper plates, plastic utensils. A brick of nine-millimeter ammunition.


Shaw moves slowly into the corridor. The first room on the right, the door open, is illuminated by cold overhead light and warmer flickering light. Remaining in shadows, he peers in quickly. An office. File cabinets, computers, a printer.


Two bulky men sit at a table, watching a baseball game on a monitor. One leans back and takes the last beer from the six-pack sitting on a third chair. Shaw knows they’re armed because he knows their profession, and such men are always armed.


Shaw is not invisible but the basement is dark, no overheads, and he’s in a black jacket, jeans and—since he’s been motorcycling—boots. They’re not as quiet as the Eccos he usually wears but the beat bleeding from the dance floor overhead dampens his footsteps. He supposes it would even drown out gunshots.


The men watch the game and talk and joke. There are five empty bottles. This might be helpful: the alcohol consumed. The reaction-time issue. The accuracy issue.


If it comes to that.


He thinks: Disarm them now?


No. It could go bad. Seventy-five percent chance of success, at best.


He hears his father’s voice:
Never be blunt when subtle will do.

Besides, he isn’t sure what he’ll find here. If nothing, he’ll slip out the way he came, with them none the wiser.


He eases past the doorway, unseen, then pauses to give his eyes, momentarily dulled by the office lights, a chance to acclimate to the darkness.


Then he moves on, checking each room. Most of the doors are open; most of the rooms are dark.


The music, the pounding of the dancing feet are a two-edged sword. No one can hear him approach, but he’s just as deaf. Someone could be in the empty room, having spotted him, waiting with a weapon.


Thirty feet, forty.


Empty room, empty room. He’s approaching the end, where a second hallway jogs right. There’ll be other rooms to search. How many more?


The last room. This door is closed. Locked.


He withdraws his locking-blade knife and uses the edge near the tip to ease the deadbolt back into the tumbler. He pulls on the door to keep the bolt from snapping back into place as he gets a new grip with the blade. After repeating a dozen times, the door is free. Knife away, gun drawn and raised, finger off the trigger.


Inside.


The woman is Black, in her early twenties, hair in a complicated braid. She wears jeans and a dusty gray sweatshirt. She sees the gun and inhales to scream. He holds up a hand and instantly holsters the weapon. “It’s okay. You’re going to be okay. I’m getting you out of here. What’s your name?”


She doesn’t speak for a moment. Then: “Nita.”


“I’m John. You’ll be all right.”


The place is filthy. Uneaten chili sits in a flat pool on a paper plate. A bottle of water is half drunk. There’s a bucket for a toilet. She’s not bound but she is restrained: a bicycle cable is looped around a water or sewage pipe and her ankle is zip-tied to the cable. Shaw shuts the light off. There’s enough illumination to see by.


Shaw looks back into the corridor. The flicker from the screen continues as the ball game continues. What inning is it? Would be important to know.


“Are you hurt?”


She shakes her head.


He takes his knife out and opens it with a click. He saws through the plastic tie and helps her to her feet. She’s unsteady.


“Can you walk?”


A nod. She’s shivering and crying. “I want to go home.”


Shaw recalls thinking of the game Rock, Paper, Scissors just ten minutes ago. He wishes he’d played harder, much harder.


They step into the corridor. And just then, Shaw thinks:


The third chair.


Oh, hell.


The six-pack didn’t need its own seat. Someone else was in the office watching the game.


And at that moment the third man comes down the stairs with another pack of Budweiser. Just as he sets foot on the concrete floor he glances up the corridor and sees Shaw and Nita. The six-pack drops to the ground. At least one bottle shatters. He calls, “Hey!” And reaches for his hip.


In the baseball room, the flickering stops.


Part One
June 24
The Mission

TIME UNTIL THE FAMILY DIES: FIFTY-TWO HOURS.

Chapter One


The safe house.

At last.

Colter Shaw’s journey to this cornflower-blue Victorian on scruffy Alvarez Street in the Mission District of San Francisco had taken him weeks. From Silicon Valley to the Sierra Nevadas in eastern California to Washington State. Or, as he sat on his Yamaha motorcycle, looking up at the structure, he reflected: in a way, it had taken him most of his life.

As often is the case when one arrives at a long-anticipated destination, the structure seemed modest, ordinary, unimposing. Though if it contained what Shaw hoped, it would prove to be just the opposite: a mine of information that could save hundreds, perhaps thousands, of lives.

But as the son of a survivalist, Shaw had a preliminary question: Just how safe a safe house was it?

From this angle, it appeared deserted, dark. He dropped the transmission in gear and drove to the alley that ran behind the house, where he paused again, in front of an overgrown garden, encircled by a gothic wrought-iron fence. From here, still no lights, no signs of habitation, no motion. He gunned the engine and returned to the front. He skidded to a stop and low-gear muscled the bike onto the sidewalk.

He snagged his heavy backpack, chained up the bike and helmet, then pushed through the three-foot-deep planting bed that bordered the front. Behind a boxwood he found the circuit breakers for the main line. If there were an unlikely bomb inside it would probably be hardwired; whether it was phones or computers or improvised explosive devices, it was always tricky to depend on batteries.

Using the keys he’d been bequeathed, he unlocked and pushed open the door, hand near his weapon. He was greeted only with white noise and the scent of lavender air freshener.

Before he searched for the documents he hoped his father had left, he needed to clear the place.

No evidence of threat isn’t synonymous with no threat.

He scanned the ground floor. Beyond the living room was a parlor, from which a stairway led upstairs. Past that room was a dining room and, in the back, a kitchen, whose door, reinforced and windowless, led onto the alleyway. Another door in the kitchen led to the cellar, an unusual feature in much of California. The few pieces of furniture were functional and mismatched. The walls were the color of old bone, curtains sun-bleached to inadvertent tie-dye patterns.

He took his time examining every room on this floor and on the second and third stories. No sign of current residents, but he did find bed linens neatly folded on a mattress on the second floor.

Last, the basement.

He clicked on his tactical halogen flashlight, with its piercing beam, to descend and see that the room was largely empty. A few old cans of paint, a broken table. At the far end was a coal bin, in which a small pile of glistening black lumps sat. Shaw smiled to himself.

Ever the survivalist, weren’t you, Ashton?

As he stared into the murk, he noted three wires dangling from the rafters. One, near the stairs, ended in a fixture and a small bulb. The wires in the middle and far end had been cut and the ends were wrapped with electrician’s tape.

Shaw knew why the two had been operated on: to keep someone from getting a good view of the end of the cellar.

Shining the beam over the back wall, he stepped close.

Got it, Ash.

As with the rest of the basement, this wall was constructed of four-by-eight plywood sheets nailed to studs, floor to ceiling, painted flat black. But an examination of the seams of one panel revealed a difference. It was a hidden door, opening onto a secure room. He took the locking-blade knife from his pocket and flicked it open. After scanning the surface a moment longer, he located a slit near the bottom. He pushed the blade inside and heard a click. The door sprung outward an inch. Replacing the knife and drawing his gun, he crouched, shining the beam inside, holding the flashlight high and to the left to draw fire, if an enemy were present and armed.

He reached inside and felt for trip wires. None.

He slowly drew the door toward him with his foot.

It had moved no more than eighteen inches when the bomb exploded with a searing flash and a stunning roar and a piece of shrapnel took him in the chest.

_


(c) 2021 Gunner Publications, LLC

The Goodbye Man Videos


The Goodbye Man Q & A – Question #1


The Goodbye Man Q & A – Question #2


The Goodbye Man Q & A – Question #3



The Goodbye Man Q & A – Question #4



The Goodbye Man Q & A – Question #5


The Goodbye Man Reviews

“[An] outstanding sequel to 2019’s The Never Game…Deaver balances suspense and plausibility perfectly…This is a perfect jumping-on point for readers new to one of today’s top contemporary thrillers writers.”
Publishers Weekly Starred Review

“The second Colter Shaw novel is even better than the first … It’s no surprise that the story has a lot of moving parts and just the right amount of twists and turns (Deaver’s reputation as a master of the corkscrewing plot is well earned), and fans of the author’s Lincoln Rhyme and Kathryn Dance novels will note the same attention to character construction and natural-sounding dialogue here. Colter Shaw seems certain to become an enduring series lead.”
– Booklist Starred Review

“Deaver is on reliably strong form as ever, lacing his gripping plot with deft characterisation and heart in mouth set piece moments.”
– Waterstones

Thriller of the Month – “gripping and ingenious tale of greed and deception in the American wilderness”
– The Times (UK)

“”The Goodbye Man” features Deaver at his level best, wielding his computer keyboard like a magic wand to dazzle us. This is superb thriller writing, as compulsively readable as it is masterfully structured.”
– Providence Journal

The Goodbye Man features Deaver at his level best, wielding his computer keyboard like a magic wand to dazzle us. This is thriller writing of the highest order, as compulsively readable as it is masterfully structured.”
– BookTrib

“I know it hovers on blasphemy to suggest that Colter Shaw might be a better character than Lincoln Rhyme, but I’m willing to go there. Honestly, I think Deaver’s doing some of his best work with this new series, and have been really impressed so far.”
– The Real Book Spy

““The Goodbye Man” features Deaver at his level best, wielding his computer keyboard like a magic wand to dazzle us. This is superb thriller writing, as compulsively readable as it is masterfully structured.”
– Milford Daily News

“Deaver is a master at plotting and pace and draws readers in from the very first sentence”
– Irish Independent

The Goodbye Man Excerpt

The Woman on the Cliff

1.

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?

Left.

Instinct.

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 winding 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 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 leather on their effortless way into skin. Not an option for an exit. The passenger side was better, blocked only by insubstantial forsythia, in cheerful June bloom, yellow.

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 the 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 . . .

Yes!

No.

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.

2.

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.

              PLEASURE CRAFT NOW WELCOME TOO!

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 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 wanted. He could choose to abandon the quest at any time.

Freedom meant a lot to Colter Shaw.

He was presently considering the hate crime. 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) were inside and ran out to see 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 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, once or twice violently. They approached the profession differently. Crowe rarely went after missing persons; he sought only wanted criminals and escapees. If you shot a fugitive while 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 the job. The other day, as he’d sat in a lawn chair in Silicon Valley, he had leaned toward 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. Emma wore a concealing, A-frame 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 lavender 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.

They were doing their own observations of Shaw: the sport coat, the black jeans, the gray button-down shirt. Black slip-ons. This, or a variation, was his own uniform.

“Sit down, sir,” Larry said.

Shaw took a comfortable overstuffed armchair of bold red leather and the couple sat across from him. “Have you heard anything about Erick since we talked?”

“No, sir.”

“What’s the latest from the police?”

Larry said, “He and that other man, Adam. They’re still around the area. The detective, he thinks they’re scraping together money, borrowing it, maybe stealing it—”

“He wouldn’t,” said Emma Young.

“What the police said,” Larry explained. “I’m just telling him what they said.”

The mother swallowed. “He’s . . . never. I mean, I . . .” She began to cry—again. Her eyes had been dry but red and swollen when Shaw arrived.

Shaw removed a notebook from his computer bag, as well as a Delta Titanio Galassia fountain pen, black with three orange rings toward the nib. Writing with the instrument was neither pretense nor luxury. Colter Shaw took voluminous notes during the course of his reward jobs. The pen meant less wear and tear on his writing hand. It also was simply a small pleasure to use.

He now wrote the date and the names of the couple. He looked up and asked for details about their son’s life. In college and working part-time. On summer break. Lived at home.

“Does Erick have a history of being involved in neo-Nazi or any extremist groups?”

“My God, no,” Larry muttered as if exhausted by the familiar question.

“This is all just crazy,” said Emma. “He’s a good boy. Oh, he’s had a little trouble like everybody. Some drugs—I mean, after, well, after what happened, it’s understandable. Just tried ’em is all. The school called. No police. They were good about that.”

Larry grimaced. “Pierce County, Tacoma? The meth and drug capital of the state. You should read the stories in the paper. Forty percent of all the meth in Washington is produced here.”

Shaw nodded. “Was that what Erick did?”

“No, some of that Oxy stuff. Just for a while. He took anti-depressants too. Still does.”

“You said ‘after what happened.’ After what?”

They looked at each other. “We lost our younger boy sixteen months ago.”

“Drugs?”

Emma’s hand, resting on her thigh, closed into a fist, bundling the cloth below her fingers. “No. Was on his bike, hit by somebody who was drunk. My, it was hard. So hard. But it hit Erick in particular. It changed him. They were close.”

Brothers, Shaw thought, understanding the complex feelings the word implied.

Larry said, “But he wouldn’t do anything hurtful. Never anything bad. He never has. ’Cepting for the church.”

His wife snapped, “Which he didn’t do. You know he didn’t.”

“The witnesses said it was Adam did the shooting. I haven’t heard where the gun came from. Does Erick own one? Have access to one?”

“No.”

“So it would be his friend’s.”

Larry: “Friend? Adam wasn’t a friend. We never heard of him.”

Emma’s ruddy fingers twined the dress hem. A habit. “He’s the one did the cross thing, the graffiti. Everything! Adam kidnapped him. I’m sure that’s what happened. He had a gun and made Erick come with him. He was going to take his car, rob him.”

“They took Adam’s truck, though, not Erick’s.”

No response to that obvious observation.

“He had his own bank account?”

The boy’s father said, “Yes.”

So they wouldn’t know about withdrawals. The police could get that information, what branches he’d been to. Probably already had.

“You know how much money he has? Enough to get very far?”

“Couple thousand, maybe.”

Shaw had been examining the room, observing mostly the pictures of the Youngs’ two boys. Erick was a handsome young man with bushy brown hair and an easy smile. Shaw had also seen pictures of Adam Harper, posted as part of the reward announcement. There were no mug shots, though in both of the photos in the press he was looking into the camera with caution. The young man, whose crew cut was blond with blue highlights, was gaunt. He was seven years Erick’s senior.

“I’m going to pursue this, try to find your son.”

Larry said, “Oh, sure. Please. You’re nothing like that big guy.”

“Didn’t like him one bit,” Emma muttered.

“Dalton Crowe?”

“That was his name. I told him to leave. I wasn’t going to pay him any reward. He laughed and said I could stuff it. He was going after the bigger one anyway, you know—the fifty thousand the county offered.”

“When was he here?”

“Couple days ago.”

In his notebook Shaw wrote, D.C. present at offerors’ house. June 9.

“Now, let me tell you how I approach this. It won’t cost you anything unless I find Erick. No expenses. If I locate him, you’ll owe me that $900.”

Larry said, “It’s $1060 now. One of my cousins came through. Wish it was more but . . .”

“I know you’ll want me to bring him home to you. But that’s not my job. He’s a fugitive and I’d be breaking the law if I did that.”

“Aiding and abetting,” Emma said. “I watch all the crime shows.”

Colter Shaw tended not to smile but when meeting offerors, he occasionally did, to put them at ease. “I don’t apprehend. I deal in information, not citizen’s arrests. But if I can find him, I won’t let the police know where he is until there’s no chance he or anybody else’ll be hurt. You’ll need a lawyer. Do you know one?”

The regarded each other. “Fellow did our closing,” Larry said.

“No. A criminal lawyer. I’ll get you some names.”

“Oh, thank you, sir.”

Shaw reviewed his notes so far. His handwriting was small and had once been described as balletic, it was so beautifully drawn. The notebook wasn’t ruled. Shaw didn’t need guidance. Each line was perfectly horizontal.

For another twenty minutes Shaw asked questions and the couple responded. Over the course of the interview, he noted that their adamant view that their son was innocent seemed objective; they simply could not accept that the son they knew had committed the crime. The idea bewildered them. The sole perp had to be Adam Harper.

When he felt he had enough information for the moment, he put away the pen and notebook, rose and walked to the door. The parents agreed to send any new information they heard from the police or friends or relatives Erick had contacted for money or shelter.

“Thank you,” Emma said at the doorway, debating hugging him, it seemed. She did not.

It was the husband who was choking up. He fumbled whatever he was going to say and just gripped Shaw’s hand. Larry turned back to the house before the first tear appeared.

As he walked to the Winnebago, Shaw was reflecting on the one subject he had not mentioned to Emma and Larry: his policy was not to accept a reward from family members if the search revealed that their missing loved one was dead. No reason to even bring up the possibility, which seemed more or less likely, that their second child had been murdered as soon as Adam found he had no more use for the boy.

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