Cover image for Blood : a Susan Shader novel
Blood : a Susan Shader novel
Glass, Joseph, 1946-
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Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster, [2000]

Physical Description:
399 pages ; 25 cm
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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Dr. Susan Shader is the most fascinating -- and sexiest -- heroine to come along since Clarice Starling made her debut in The Silence of the Lambs. A renowned psychiatrist and criminal profiler for the Chicago Police Department, she is increasingly reluctant to devote her uncanny gift of second sight to the cause of tracking down criminals. Last time, her efforts led to the abduction and near death of her own son.

But when a young woman is found dead in a body bag in Chicago's Lincoln Park, Detective David Gold, Susan's longtime friend at the Chicago Police Department, once again calls upon her powers. Traces of foreign blood and strange markings on the corpse make one thing certain: a killing this ornate could only be the work of a deranged serial killer. They call him the Undertaker.

Susan is quickly drawn in by the bizarre psychology of the killer, a man who preys on, and prays over, beautiful young women like a fanatic executioner. Plagued by psychic messages that allude to abortion, virginity, and seemingly random quotations from Romeo and Juliet, Susan scrambles for answers. When the best efforts of a determined police force

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Two serial killers and a one-time rage killer keep things hopping in this somewhat uneven police procedural, the second in the Susan Shader series. Shader is a psychiatrist and psychic sometimes called upon by the Chicago Police Department as a criminal profiler. This time Shader is asked to use her second sight to solve a series of ritualized murders, rendered in understated but chilling detail. Shader's character (somewhat conflicted, sometimes pained by her second sight) and the explosive plot save what is very unconvincing as a police procedural. Glass has his cops speak in a 1940s, stilted manner, even though the setting is contemporary; he uses names for divisions within the Chicago Police Department (as in Homicide Division) that haven't been used for more than 20 years; and his textbook-sounding descriptions of procedure are superficial at best. Worth reading, though, for the psychological and psychic insights and the well-paced plot. --Connie Fletcher

Publisher's Weekly Review

Chicago psychiatrist/psychic Dr. Susan Shader returns in Glass's creepy thriller about a serial killer who abducts young women for the purpose of bizarre, apparently religious executions. Police detective David Gold again teams up with Shader to investigate the series of murders. The killer, dubbed the Undertaker for leaving his victims in body bags, repeats his MO scrupulously: all the women have deep cuts to their hands and feet, their stomachs are sliced open in the shape of an upside-down crucifix and blood is poured into their wounds. All either recently had or were planning to have abortions. A misfire in her psychic powers gets Shader kicked off the case temporarily, but as the case grinds on, Shader's second sight proves invaluable. When beautiful TV reporter Meredith Spiers is abducted by the Undertaker, Shader guides the investigation in ways that standard police techniques never couldÄdeep into the moral symbolism of abortion and, chillingly, into the rituals of vampires. Glass (Eyes), a pseudonymous "bestselling" (according to the publisher) author, dexterously handles a multilayered story that's equal parts crime drama and psychological exploration. Psychobabble and Shader's soul searching occasionally ambush the plot, but Glass usually snaps things back on track. Heavy doses of gore mean this above-average thriller is not for the faint of heart. Agent, Deborah Schneider. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Chapter Four "Career criminal Calvin Wesley Train was found guilty of first degree murder with special circumstances today by a jury in Madison, Wisconsin, after a hard-fought trial which took nearly five months. "Train, who abducted and killed third-grader Harley Ann Saeger last year, was defended aggressively by high-profile attorney Alexander Penn. An eloquent witness in his own defense, Train insisted he had no memory of harming the girl..." Loud music was playing, so it was somewhat difficult to hear the reporter's voice. The bar was full of regulars who worked in the Loop and were here for a beer or a cocktail before heading for home. Most of the dinner tables were unoccupied, but a few patrons were having dinner at the bar. The place served a variety of sandwiches and hamburgers. Miranda Becker was drinking a margarita and waiting for her cobb salad. It had been a long day and she was too tired to face going home alone and cooking a solitary supper. She had been here before, with friends, and knew the food. But there was another reason, one she did not like to admit to herself. Doug might come in here on his way home. He wouldn't be alone, but that was one reason she wanted to see him. To see who he was with. She caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror over the bar. She looked pretty, she thought. The slight pallor, the dark eyes, the long hair. She had lost weight, and was wearing a snug sweater and tight slacks she could not have fit into six months ago. She looked like what she was: a woman who had cut her links to the person she was only a short time ago. A clean slate. A person trying to start over. Unfortunately, the despair under her careful makeup and new clothes was as visible as the slight wrinkles around her eyes. She was not as young as she used to be. The clock was ticking. She had invested four years in Doug and got nothing out of them. Now she was four years older. Her market value was slipping with every birthday. She sipped her drink and shook her head slightly. It was hard being a woman. She hated this jungle in which all unmarried women had to compete. There was no honor in it, no value. Only the frantic struggle to get chosen before others. The battle to grab off the available man before another attractive, smart, eligible woman got him first. The face in the mirror was still young. But the battle she was fighting made her feel old before her time. She remembered Jane Fonda in Klute, the prostitute dragging herself into a music bar to look for men, doing a half-hearted ersatz of swaying to the music with a bright smile, then abruptly faltering, sagging, her face expressing the disgust and loneliness she felt inside. Then pulling herself together, exhaustedly... That was what Miranda saw in her own face as she looked in this mirror. A bright, eligible young woman trying to look attractive, trying to hide her emptiness and despair. This was not real. This was not living. "Hello. Haven't we met?" The voice belonged to a face that had appeared at her side in the mirror. He didn't look familiar. "I don't think so," she said, her voice intentionally off-putting. "I guess I must have seen you here before. I'm in here pretty often." The bartender was approaching. The jukebox was playing the Phish tune she liked, "Bouncing Around the Room." The stranger ordered himself a glass of wine without offering Miranda another margarita. She studied his face in the mirror. A tall man, rather good-looking. Not in the way Doug was good-looking, but not bad. He sipped at his wine in silence before turning to her. "I hate this season." Miranda gave him a low-voltage smile. "Why?" "It's the doldrums," he said. "The weather stinks. Summer won't be back for a long time. There's nothing to look forward to but Thanksgiving with the relatives, and then the holidays. I'd feel better if it was March." "Then what would there be to look forward to?" Miranda asked, hearing her own depression in her voice. "Summer, anyway." He twisted the glass of wine, watching the pattern of the condensation. "What happens in the summer?" Miranda asked, knowing she was encouraging him. "I'm a sailor," he said. "I have a sailboat here in the marina." He looked at her. "Do you sail?" "I have." She nodded. "But not in a long time." "I love to get my feet off dry land," he said. "It's an escape. I know it's dumb, but when I get away from the shore I feel free. I feel cleansed." She knew what he meant. But she had never felt that way, not at all. Boats stank of bait and fish. The slapping of the water against the hull grated on her nerves, and she was prone to seasickness. She never felt liberated at all on a boat. "Well, you can escape for a while," she said. "But you always have to come back to dry land." "I'm afraid that's true," he said, smiling at her in the mirror. "And dry land isn't all it's cracked up to be." To her surprise, she was getting over her embarrassment. He seemed a decent sort. Friendly, self-deprecating. She wondered whether he sensed her mood and was playing to it, or whether he himself felt sad and empty, as she did. "Tell me," he said. "What do you do for escape?" She thought for a moment. "Think," she said. "Read. Music, sometimes." "I envy you." He smiled. "Thinking has never done it for me. All I do is brood." She nodded. But she had spoken honestly. Thinking was indeed her greatest escape. She could sit in a chair and let her mind roam aimlessly over a landscape made up of memory, reflection, imagination, mixing elements of them all, drifting through them without being held by any particular one. She had learned how to do this as a little girl, when her parents were fighting or when something at school got her down. The mind was a powerful escape if one knew how to use it right. "It's a two-edged sword," she said diplomatically. She could see he was the type who forgot his troubles through recreation. It would be difficult for him to understand her. She felt a bitter twinge of irony as she realized she was sizing him up for a relationship. She looked at his image in the mirror. Together they made a handsome couple. "What kind of music do you like?" he asked. This was the turning point, she told herself. One more personal word about herself and he would ask her to join him. It was up to her. She glanced at the clock. Six forty-five. Doug might still show up. If he did, he would not be alone. She hated the idea of letting him see her eating a solitary supper at the bar. Wouldn't it be better if she were with someone? Besides, why not start over? What difference did it make if she had wasted four years of her life on one man? Ancient history, she thought sadly. She looked once more at the face in the mirror. Inwardly she sighed. "Mozart," she said. Two hours later Miranda awoke with a crashing headache that forced her to keep her eyes closed. The peculiar smell in her nostrils seemed to be the source of the terrible pain. Chloroform? She didn't know. She was lying on her back, her hands and feet tied to the corners of the bed. Was it a bed? Or just a mattress? It felt strange against her skin. She drifted in and out of consciousness. What was going on? What had happened? She remembered the stranger in the bar, a drive in his car, a drink. Then nothing. She fought the headache, clenching her eyes shut and moaning softly. She suspected it was morning. Was she in his bed, or hers? Had she done what she was afraid she had done? He came into the room, interrupting her reflections. He was wearing a surgical mask and a scrub suit. He seemed busy, preoccupied. Miranda thought she was dreaming. He knelt by her side, tied a tourniquet around her arm, and stuck a needle into her. He was muttering to himself, but her terror combined with the effects of the drug to keep her from understanding. Now she realized the ceiling was mirrored. She could see herself lying naked, tied to the mattress. This could not be a dream, she thought. "Hold still," he said. A plastic bag was attached to the needle in her arm. She saw it filling with her own blood. "What are you doing?" she cried. Only the formless mutter answered her. She could feel her blood going out of her. She opened her mouth to scream, but passed out before she could utter a sound. When she came to, she felt pain in her hands and feet. She instinctively tried to pull her hands to her face, but they were tied down. She knew now that this was not a dream. "Help!" she screamed. "Help me!" He came back into the room. The look in his eyes had changed. They were sparkling with expectation. His hands were held up. He was wearing surgical gloves. In his right hand was a scalpel. As he came closer she saw that he was naked from the waist down. A long penis swayed between his legs, erect and moist. "Don't," she said in a trembling voice. "Don't." He crouched beside her. "Just relax," he said. He placed the blade at a point just below her rib cage. "The important thing is to relax..." The blade cut into her, then downward. Pain exploded inside her. The scalpel fell to the floor with a clink. Now he was holding a long knife, poised in both of his hands. The rhythmic mutter had started again behind his mask. He raised the knife high with both hands and plunged it into her. The shock knocked the wind out of her, silencing the scream on her lips. In the mirror blood formed a halo around her body. Instinct told her that death was at the terminus of this moment, and the realization brought resignation in its train. She floated outside herself, toward the ceiling in which she was mirrored. She saw the spreading sea of blood, and recalled his description of leaving dry land for something liquid and free. She saw the half-naked man working over her naked body. Ancient history, she thought. She was past caring. But now, as she floated past him, she made out the words behind his mask. "Blessed art thou among women..." He was praying.