Jack of Spades: A Tale of Suspense
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Andrew J. Rush has achieved the kind of critical and commercial success most authors only dream about: He has a top agent and publisher in New York, and his twenty-eight mystery novels have sold millions of copies. Only Stephen King, one of the few mystery writers whose fame exceeds his own, is capable of inspiring a twinge of envy in Rush. But Rush is hiding a dark secret. Under the pseudonym "Jack of Spades," he pens another string of novels—noir thrillers that are violent, lurid, masochistic. These are novels that the upstanding Rush wouldn't be caught reading, let alone writing. When his daughter comes across a Jack of Spades novel he has carelessly left out, she picks it up and begins to ask questions. Meanwhile, Rush receives a court summons in the mail explaining that a local woman has accused him of plagiarizing her own self-published fiction. Before long, Rush's reputation, career, and family life all come under threat—and in his mind he begins to hear the taunting voice of the Jack of Spades.
coming out, Mr. Rush? I hope soon! “Soon. Yes.” At 6:00 P.M. it was still bright as midday though the sky had been overcast since morning. I realized that I’d forgotten to make dinner plans with my friend at the Harbourton Inn. In Harbourton, where I’d grown up, I had many friends and still many more friendly acquaintances. Yet it was beginning to be unnerving, I seemed rarely to see any of them, any longer. (I did not want to think that my old Harbourton High classmates felt uncomfortable in
felt sorry for her. It is not your fault that the woman is the enemy. It is not your fault, the woman tried to publicly destroy Andrew J. Rush. This was true! I could not forget this. I returned to the other room and took from a bookshelf one of the dingy old volumes by Le Fanu to slip into my duffel bag. Also, a copy of H. G. Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau, which I had not noticed before, and which was surely a collector’s item like the others. And—for I’d been unable to resist, the
of the terrible news here.” Irina lay the newspaper in front of me, with its lurid banner headline—the first such headline I’d ever seen in the staid Harbourton Weekly. HAIDER HEIRESS MURDERED IN TUMBREL PLACE HOME Break-in, Robbery Motive Suspects Questioned We were at our breakfast table in a glassed-in porch adjacent to our kitchen. Through a haze of headache pain my eyes could barely make out the printed words and the somber photograph of Covin Wren Haider that had been taken years ago.
A sixty-eight-year-old woman who’d lived alone in one of the grand old houses in Tumbrel Square, Harbourton, since her father’s death in 2003, murdered by an ax-wielding assailant who was believed to have broken into her house sometime after midnight with the intention of robbery. An ax attack! Irina shuddered, standing behind me. We had been seeing TV news of the local, brutal murder for several days by the time of the Harbourton Weekly publication. I had been hearing radio updates, “breaking
checks—$500,000 each—made out to Esdra Staples and Benjamin Chang. I will explain to Irina the purpose of these checks and beg her to honor my request, which I have no doubt she will do. God knows, this is a small enough reparation. Stop! Are you insane? You are bluffing. A stupid futile ploy of Andrew J. Rush. A desperate attempt to wrest the ending of the story from Jack of Spades... The badly dented Jaguar will remain in the garage, no longer in use. It has become a vehicle of shame which