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In her latest thriller, New York Times bestselling author Tami Hoag takes readers on a suspense-filled ride of shocks and twists leading to an explosive finish. It is the story of an ex-cop, a missing girl, and a killer locked in a race where there can be only one winner—and the losers die trying.
In a trailer in a Florida swamp, time is running out for eighteen year-old Erin Seabright. A pawn in a kidnapper's terrifying game for a ransom no one can pay, her last hope is a washed-up ex-cop who has already lost it all-not once, but twice.
The wealthy world of the Palm Beach horse set seems a long way from a cop's world in the narcotics division. A lifetime ago, undercover sheriff's detective Elena Estes worked the mean streets and BackTop alleys, living by her wits and playing the long odds until she took one risk too many. Now Estes lives on the ragged edge of lost hope and self-hatred, hiding from the past and believing she doesn't deserve to have a future. But the past is about to come back with a vengeance, and the future is about to become a race between life and death.
A young woman is missing and her twelve year-old stepsister comes to Estes for help. No one but serious, studious Molly Seabright seems concerned about what's happened to her troubled older sister. But Molly is convinced Erin is in danger. Estes has no P.I. license, no interest in a new career, and no desire to break her self-imposed exile. But the more she learns about the people Erin Seabright was involved with, the more her long-dormant cop instincts come back to life.
One trip to the show grounds where Erin worked as a groom, and Estes is quickly pulled to the dark side of a glamorous sport. Behind the glittering, ultra-rich facade is an ultra-ruthless world of drugs, payoffs, and dirty deals. A world of dissolute playboys and crooked horse-dealers, of royalty and rabble, of rivals and enemies. An obscenely wealthy world where anything can be had for a price—including a life.
And in that world stalks a killer who will lead Estes down a dark, twisted trail of decadence and deceit, mayhem and murder—from the gilded life of Palm Beach to the darkest corners of the Florida swamps, to a final show-down that could cost her everything. A race against time and evil. A race in which Estes is the dark horse—and no one is betting on her to win.
cm. 1. Ex-police officers—Fiction. 2. Teenage girls—Fiction. 3. Kidnapping—Fiction. 4. Florida—Fiction. I. Title. PS3558.O333 D37 2002b 813'.54—dc21 2002074583 Bantam Books are published by Bantam Books, a division of Random House, Inc. Its trademark, consisting of the words “Bantam Books” and the portrayal of a rooster, is Registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and in other countries. Marca Registrada. Bantam Books, 1540 Broadway, New York, New York 10036. eISBN: 978-0-553-89706-7
backward, looking for Jade to catch up. I started the hike back to my car, wishing I had time to go home and take a shower, to wash off the taint. There was a slick oiliness to Jade’s crowd that should have had a smell to it, the same way I’ve always believed snakes should have a smell to them. I didn’t want to have anything to do with them, but the wheels were turning now. The old familiar buzz of anxious excitement in my head. Familiar, not altogether welcome. I’d been on the sidelines a long
and turned, drawing a bead on the girl. “You work here?” Her small eyes widened. She looked like she didn’t know whether to shit her pants or have an orgasm. She nodded. Landry went back inside, pulling his notebook out of his hip pocket. “Name?” “Jill Morone. M-O-R-O-N-E. I’m Mr. Jade’s head groom.” “Uh-huh. And where were you last night around two?” “In bed,” she said, smug with a secret she was dying to spill. “With Mr. Jade.” 12 The offices of Gryphon Development were located in a
horror. Jill gave them the finger. The woman gasped and the man put his arm around her protectively and hustled her toward the building. Jill opened her car and flung her purse and the things that had come out of it in the direction of the passenger’s seat. She flung herself behind the wheel, slammed the door, and burst into tears again. She pounded her fists on the wheel, then against the window, then hit the horn by accident and startled at the blast of sound. Her big plan. Her big seduction.
it, why be secretive with the tape? I don’t get that.” “Control, maybe,” Landry said, running the tape back and playing it again. “Maybe he waits until it’s over and the girl is dead, then he shows the tape to the wife and tells her how he was protecting her from the awful truth and he handled the situation as he thought best.” “Ah, yes. The decisions in the family are left to the person best equipped to make them,” I muttered. “What?” “The family motto. Bruce Seabright is a serious control