Cover image for Every breath she takes
Every breath she takes
Forster, Suzanne.
Personal Author:
Jove edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Jove Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
433 pages ; 18 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Mass Market Paperback Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Someone in L.A. is stalking the stalkers, killing them by playing the perfect victim. The press and the public have made her a hero. But Rio Scott Walker calls her a criminal. The ace detective has a prime suspect--Carlie Bishop. She's the daughter of a U.S. Supreme Court justice, an advocate of personal safety, and a presidential appointee. But Rio knows the moment he looks into her eyes that this good girl is no good. Their attraction is white hot, but he's determined to trap her...

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

In her latest (after Husband, Lover, Stranger), Forster weaves a spellbinding tale of murder and intrigue that guarantees a long night of reading suspense. Stalkers are being stalked and given vengeful justice at the hands of the "Femme Fatale." The unknown assailant is dispensing retribution and causing total chaos at the Los Angeles Police Department. Veteran detective R. Scott Walker, known for his unconventional sleuthing style, is in charge of the investigation. He becomes part of the intrigue when he discovers that his prime suspect is Carli Bishop, the daughter of a Supreme Court Justice and the sister of a past lover. Throughout the book, the reader is convinced that all the leading characters are guiltyÄand Forster gives nothing away until the final chapters. The story loses a bit of momentum midstream, but Foster, writing in top form, more than compensates with the spine-tingling finale. Doubleday Book Club and Mystery Guild alternates. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

A killer is luring stalkers to their deaths, and Los Angeles homicide detective Rio Walker's investigation into what the press cleverly calls the "Femme Fatale" murders leads him to Carlie Bishop, a best-selling author and stalking expert, who quickly becomes his number one suspect. Forster leads readers down a serpentine maze of deception and sensual passion in this steamy thriller, which pairs a handsome, brooding hero with an intelligent, courageous heroine. Amidst all the thrills and chills, the author also skillfully illuminates the hell that stalking victims go through. Forster (Husband, Lover, Stranger, Jove, 1998) lives in Newport Beach, CA.ÄJC, SM (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter One Rio Scott Walker had eyes that looked out on the world like an ancient sage's. He was thirty-seven, but he saw deep. He saw through. And mostly, he saw things others didn't. He gazed at sorrow and saw the truth, gazed at smiles and saw the lies. And when he gazed at a woman, he usually knew what she wanted.     Walker had a gift. Or at least that's what they whispered about him on the backstreets and in the cell blocks of greater Los Angeles. It wasn't just his fellow homicide detectives or the jailers who told the tales. It was the inmates. They were the ones who knew what he could do. A female serial killer on death row was quoted on 60 Minutes as saying when Walker looked at you for any length of time, you felt like the point of a flame being contemplated by a mystic.     It probably didn't hurt that he was beautiful in an odd, feral way, with his darkly lashed eyes and lean, powerful build. Or that women were immediately given to fantasies of dangerous sex, and men of dangerous quests.     No one claimed psychic powers were involved in what he did, least of all Rio. There were plenty of people who thought the way he worked a crime scene was nothing but smoke and mirrors. But if there was one thing everyone pretty much agreed on, it was that he was unrivaled as an investigator.     He could find shell casings with his eyes closed, literally. He could navigate in the dark like a blind man, without benefit of flashlight, flares, Luminol to bring up bloodstains, or night-vision binoculars. But it was the odd clicking noise he made when he worked that raised considerable speculation.     "Sounds like poker chips," was his captain's comment. "Some shark in a high-stakes game." But it really sounded more like water dripping in a barrel, and Rio himself had nothing to say about it except that it helped him focus. His memory for details, even the arcane ones, was well known, too.     Rio had never minded his coworkers riding him about his so-called gift, as long as they didn't cross the line. Had any one of them been rash enough to suggest that it was the ancestral trickle of Shoshone blood in his veins that made him so perceptive, Rio would have backed the sucker to the wall. He was touchy about his past. In fact, he preferred it right where it was. Back there somewhere. Six feet under.     "I see things because I look," he explained, when he bothered to explain at all. "Most people don't."     Right now he was looking at that morning's edition of the L.A. Times . He was also drinking Peruvian Bark herbal tea and tapping an unopened pack of Marlboro Lights against the edge of his battered iron desk. He was trying to quit and the tea was supposed to help, according to his partner, Peggy Sykes; a detective third grade who'd become a fish-oil junkie since her bypass operation the year before. Personally Rio thought most of the homeopathic stuff she touted was horseshit, but desperation made people desperate. And he was up to two packs a day.     SHE'S BACK! FEMME FATALE FELLS NUMBER THREE?     The newspaper headline would have held morbid fascination for Rio even if he hadn't been the lead detective assigned to the case. He loved how the usually scrupulous Times had joined the herd in assuming the suspect in last night's highway carnage was a woman. The Femme Fatale's MO was seductively female, including the calling card painted in red nail polish on the victim's briefcase, but that didn't automatically assign gender. It was the perfect cover for a man.     "Femme Fatale fever," he observed, pivoting in a chair so old and crotchety the wheel guards struck sparks against the axles. "There is no known cure."     It was going on six P.M., and the squad bay was deserted, which was the way Rio liked it. Without Peggy around, he could indulge his lone-wolf tendencies to the hilt. The other detectives mostly regarded him with wary resignation anyway. They might have no idea what the hell he was up to, but they'd seen the results, and somewhere along the line, an unspoken agreement had been reached. They gave him plenty of room, and he returned the favor. It was workable, although lately Rio had been getting pressure to solve the Femme Fatale case.     "Let's bring her in, for Christ's sake," Frank Grover, the division captain, had said when he'd called Rio in last week, "before she becomes a national hero."     "Check out her home page," was Rio's only comment. "She gets more hits than Leonardo DiCaprio."     Rio had already been to the crime scene, gone over the car, and met with the SIDs team and the coroner's investigator. Several witnesses had come forward to confirm what Rio already suspected, that there was no discernible reason for the crash. The deceased's car had suddenly careened across the highway into oncoming traffic and been hit head-on by a semi.     The victim's installed car phone had been ripped from the console, probably moments before the crash. Rio had put in a request for a search warrant, authorizing the phone company to release the victim's records. The phone, along with several other items from the car, including an audiocassette and the briefcase, were now neatly tagged and stashed in the divison's evidence room.     Rio had visited the victim's home and attempted to speak with his wife, but was told she was too distraught. Their Bel Air mansion, which wasn't far from the Reagans', had apparently been bought with the wife's inheritance, which had turned out to be South American sugar-plantation money. Diplomats didn't make that kind of money in Rio's experience.     As usual the press had their theories and Rio had his, but they'd scooped him on the flower. Rio was the one who'd fished the still crisp snapdragon out of the undersecretary's trash bin, along with the defaced newspaper. It was part of the Femme Fatale's signature behavior to warn the victim of an impending strike with the bloodred flower, but Rio hadn't bothered to look up its meaning. The Times's crime reporter had.     Besides the obvious resemblance to certain parts of a woman's anatomy , the reporter had written, the snapdragon also symbolizes vengeance of a particularly female nature. In a nineteenth-century guide to flower symbolism, the message of the snapdragon is this: "Your wanton mischief will be avenged upon you bitterly."     Rio was impressed, but not convinced. He knew Gabriel Quiñones from years of digging in the same dirt, and the crime reporter had a paparazzo's instinct for a big, sexy story. This story was bigger and sexier if the suspect was a woman.     Rio snapped the paper shut and tossed it on his desk. He lobbed the cigarette pack in the air, aiming at a kiddie basketball hoop that was stuck with suction cups to a bottled water jug. The pack dropped through and disappeared in the wastebasket below.     "Nice shot," he congratulated himself. "Deserves a smoke."     Moments later he crushed the smoldering butt in the Coke can he'd been forced to use since the no-smoking ordinance was passed. No one except maybe Grover cared what he did after five anyway, short of setting fire to the building. Peggy's the one who would have taken him to task. She'd have snapped every one of his cigarettes in half like so many green beans, and worse, called him by his given name, Robert.     Peggy, she was gutsy. No one else would have dared.     Rio tilted back in the creaky chair, his thoughts returning to the case at hand. Call him sexist, but he was betting against a female offender. The evidence pointed in that direction, but how was a woman, maybe a stalker victim herself, managing to upend these guys? Women didn't think like that, like fiends.     Okay, yeah, he was sexist. He tended to idealize women a little, make them purer than they were and maybe less capable of the really heinous shit. But he was also a pragmatist, and in his experience, women rarely got involved in revenge. They might contemplate it, but they didn't do it. They were forgiving. Too forgiving.     Which was why this case had him fascinated. The Femme Fatale's MO was to trap known offenders by becoming their victim. The stalkers were lured by whatever drove them to prey on women, helpless flies to the Femme Fatale's spider. The deaths were all "accidents." But luring dangerous criminals to their deaths was not typical feminine behavior. It was risk-taking behavior in the extreme. Death-wish stuff.     Yesterday's victim was a nasty customer, an undersecretary at some third-world embassy, who used his diplomatic immunity as a shield against the charges of stalking and sexual harassment brought by various women over the years, including coworkers. They claimed in their statements that he was obsessed with the sound of a woman's scream and apparently nothing was too extreme--destroying personal property, mutilating pets, threatening death and dismemberment--the hands-on stuff being untraceable to him, of course.     Plenty of his victims probably wanted to avenge themselves, but not many would have been capable of it after he got done with them. He tended to isolate and slowly drive them to the brink of madness. One had overdosed on tranquilizers. Another couldn't stop screaming and had to be institutionalized. More recently he'd had a victim charged with assault when she confronted him and spit in his face. He was a predator who destroyed his quarry without ever touching them. And now someone had turned the tables on him. Screamed him into the path of an oncoming semi, based on the cassette they found in his radio.     "Good work." Rio didn't know whether to apprehend a chick like that or give her a high five.     Chick . He was doing it, too.     A big, blinking TV set teetered on top of the file cabinet across the aisle from Rio's desk. It ran pretty much night and day, although Rio rarely paid attention unless there was a Mighty Ducks game playing. Once in a while when the thing gave out from exhaustion, he would catch his own reflection in the dull green glass and wonder what it was people saw when they looked at him, women in particular. A few of them were bold enough to look him up and down, but they always stopped when they got to his eyes. Then their expressions changed.     Peggy liked to embarrass him about his eyelashes and his "serial killer" gaze, whatever the hell that was. Rio would not have disagreed that he bore a closer resemblance to a criminal than a cop, especially on those days when he did nothing more in the way of grooming than shower and shake out his hair. He wore the required jacket, but he'd long ago begun yanking the tie free and leaving it to hang around his neck like a noose. And his black trench coat could easily have gotten him mistaken for a government assassin.     To be honest he found it uncomfortable peering at his own image the way he apparently peered at everything else. He didn't want to look too deeply into that black well. No telling what he might find. Even what he knew about he preferred to leave alone.     Now he glanced up, curious about the impassioned voice coming from the TV.     "Never forget the victim's power. The stalker needs her, but she does not need him. She makes him feel powerful, and she's the only one who can. He feeds off her fear. It's his oxygen. What victims must do is cut off all contact with the stalker, stop feeding the beast--"     It was Larry King Live , and that day's guest happened to be an author who'd written a bestselling book called Killer Smile . Her argument intrigued him. Rio agreed in theory that cutting off all contact with a stalker was the best way to discourage him. But there was something familiar about the young woman's intense, delicately chiseled features and burnished wealth of auburn hair. Rio couldn't place her, but she'd made an instant impression on his nervous system.     She came across as knowledgeable and impassioned, as involved with her subject as she was determined to help victims reclaim their lives. If there was a discordant note in the whole package, it was her pale green eyes. They were the color of a daiquiri in a frosted glass, and Rio remembered that chilly gaze from somewhere. But it wasn't until King held the book up and Rio saw the author's name that he knew who she was.     "Jesus," he murmured, and then he said it again, softer. It happened to be his epithet of choice, but not because he got off on being disrespectful of anyone's beliefs. No other word could touch it for slack-jawed disbelief. And no matter how cynical a homicide detective became, he still had his share of those moments. This was L.A.     Rio settled back in his chair, intent on doing nothing more than observing her for a while. It might be the only God-given talent he had, observation. And contrary to popular belief, the tap of his finger against the metal chair arm was not a way to summon supernatural powers, it was a way to focus. He'd picked it up in childhood, the legacy of having been raised by a blind grandfather.     Recognition came in reverse order. It was her backside he remembered first, maybe because that was all he could see the first time she interrupted his line of sight. She was dashing down the hallway of Blue Hills, the Bishop family's mansion, apparently trying to avoid him, although he had no idea why. It was his first visit to the fabled estate and he'd come by on business with her older sister, Virginia "Ginger" Bishop, who'd been busy making a name for herself as the DA office's hottest new prosecutor.     Rio and Ginger had been working together on a case, and he hadn't realized there was a little sister until he'd seen this one scampering out of sight. It hadn't struck him as anything more than odd at the time, but it was to be Rio's first inkling that the Bishop family was unlike any other he ever had--or ever would--encounter in his relatively rocky path through life. They were different. Different and doomed.     It was Ginger herself who first enlightened him that the senior Bishops ranked among the most prominent couples in the land. Both her mother and father were federal district-court judges, and the mother had been a strong contender for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court at that time. Rio had not been surprised when some years later Frances Stanfield Bishop, of the silversmith Stanfields, won her appointment to become only the third woman in history to sit on the highest court in the land. The big surprise would have been if she hadn't.     The tapping slowed, stopped.     The Bishops were royalty in Southern California, and Ginger was the one chosen to succeed them, their princess. She was anointed, part of some larger destiny and above routine human tragedy, until the unthinkable happened. Ginger was stalked and killed by an unknown assailant.     It had come out almost immediately that Rio and Ginger were more than coworkers at one time. They'd had a brief, intense affair that ended badly when her parents made it clear they disapproved. Maybe Rio should have seen the problem coming, given who the Bishops were. Ginger was a successful professional woman who didn't make a move without Mommy and Daddy's okay.     The woman on the screen, Carlie Bishop, hadn't seemed to approve of Rio either. He could remember the cool touch of those green eyes and the way she'd scrutinized him when she thought he wasn't looking. He'd once studied the progress of a crack in his windshield that way, watching its spiral arms creep toward certain destruction.     He'd dismissed Carlie as a kid at the time, as had everyone else apparently. Ginger had been the pride and joy of the Bishops, as magnetic and brilliant as her mother, but with a warmth that easily won people over. It was clear the family had big plans for their older daughter, whereas the little one had seemed overshadowed and somewhat superfluous. Maybe he had flowers on the brain today, but snapdragons weren't what came to mind when he thought of Carlie Bishop. She was more like a columbine in a garden of prize roses.     Somewhere in the large bay, a phone rang once and went silent. Rio ignored the lonely sound.     Carlie was still a columbine, still strikingly different, but no longer superfluous. The stalk had grown leggy and tall, the crimson flower had opened, and it was a spectacular sight. Less classic than a rose maybe, less perfectly symmetrical, but a hell of a lot more interesting. She was the late bloomer and probably better for it. There was that old adage about some things being worth waiting for.     Rio caught himself counting back, trying to figure out how old she was now, and it hit him that he was interested in more than a professional way. She couldn't have been much more than a teenager at the time, which would put her in her mid to late twenties. Too young to be so knowledgeable about violent men.     Okay, maybe he was being idealistic again, but the longer he listened, the more he was amazed. She had an encyclopedic knowledge of the evil men did to women. The book on stalkers, rapists, and batterers--she'd read it all, cover to cover. She knew these twisted souls better than he did. She appeared to understand every quiver and twitch of their devious neurons, and her advice to the audience on how to spot and deal with them was excellent.     If Rio was impressed, he was also intrigued, and vaguely suspicious. She appeared to be on a crusade, and he wondered about the timing, and how much it might have had to do with Ginger's death. There were other things about her that bothered him, too. Those green eyes, for one thing.     Before the show was over Rio had one of his ideas working. Call it a wild-ass hunch, call it intuition, call it mental telepathy, but the longer he stared at the screen, the more it rose inside him, this river of possibility. He hated to concede anything to the sensation-soaked media, but maybe they were right this time. Absently he tapped another cigarette from the pack and fired up, taking a deep drag before he stubbed it out. Maybe their Femme Fatale was a woman. Copyright © 1999 Suzanne Forster. All rights reserved.