Cover image for Smoke in mirrors
Smoke in mirrors
Krentz, Jayne Ann.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2002.
Physical Description:
320 pages ; 24 cm
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A con artist and seductress, Meredith Spooner lived fast -- and died young. Now it seems Meredith's last scam -- embezzling more than a million dollars from a college endowment fund -- is coming back to haunt Leonora Hutton. An e-mail has just arrived in which Meredith -- in fear for her life -- explains that the money is waiting for Leonora in an offshore account . . . and a safe-deposit key is on the way.

Leonora wants nothing to do with the tainted money. She's already been accused of being in on the theft by Thomas Walker -- who, it seems, was a victim of Meredith's knack for both scams and seductions. Eager to prove him wrong, Leonora sets out to collect the cash and hand it over.

But she discovers two other items in the safe-deposit box. One is a book about Mirror House -- a mansion filled with antique mirrors, where Meredith engineered her final deception. The other is a set of newspaper stories about a thirty-year-old murder that occurred there -- unsolved to this day.

Now Leonora has an offer for Thomas Walker. She'll hand over the money -- if he helps her figure out what's happening. Meredith had described Thomas Walker as "a man you can trust". But in a funhouse-mirror world of illusion and distortion, Leonora may be out of her league.

Author Notes

Jayne Ann Krentz was born in Borrego Springs, California on March 28, 1948. She received a B.A. in history from the University of California at Santa Cruz and a master's degree in library science from San Jose State University. Before becoming a full-time author, she worked as a librarian.

She has written under seven different names: Jayne Bentley, Amanda Glass, Stephanie James, Jayne Taylor, Jayne Castle, Amanda Quick and Jayne Ann Krentz. Her first book, Gentle Pirate, was published in 1980 under the name Jayne Castle. She currently uses only three personas to represent her three specialties. She uses the name Jayne Ann Krentz for her contemporary pieces, Amanda Quick for her historical fiction pieces, and Jayne Castle for her futuristic pieces. Her novels include Truth or Dare, All Night Long, Copper Beach, River Road, and Promise not to Tell..

She has received numerous awards for her work including the 1995 Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award for Trust Me, the 2004 Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award for Falling Awake, the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award, the Romantic Times Jane Austen Award, and the Susan Koppelman Award for Feminist Studies for Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women: Romance Writers on the Appeal of the Romance. In 2015 she made The New York Times Best Seller List with both Trust Me, Trust No One and Secret Sisters..

(Bowker Author Biography) Jayne Ann Krentz is the author of twenty-seven New York Times Bestselling novels. She is also the author of several other bestselling novels written under the name Jayne Castle and Amanda Quick.

(Publisher Provided)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Academic librarian Leonora Hutton is interrupted while emptying out her late half-sister Meredith's apartment by a duo, one canine and one human, that she likens to a couple of junkyard dogs. Thomas Walker, accompanied by Wrench, renovates houses in Wing Cove, Washington, but is on a mission to find the $1.5 million Meredith embezzled from a college endowment fund administered by his widowed brother. When Leonora finds the money, she joins the brothers Walker in their investigation of the deaths of Bethany Walker and Meredith by taking a job cataloging the collection of the Mirror House library at tiny Eubanks College, where she finds a link to a murder that happened 30 years ago. Alex Rhodes is a prime suspect. He dresses in black, wears yellow contact lenses, claims to be a stress counselor, makes a fortune selling fake nutritional supplements, and also appears to be involved with a new hallucinogenic drug called "smoke and mirrors" that was reputedly taken by both victims. The politics of academe, eerie antique mirrors, secret passages, and psychic contact contribute a haunting quality to Krentz's enticing blend of suspense and top-notch romance. Thomas, oh so handy with tools, is a wonderfully macho hero, especially when teamed up with the intelligent and resourceful Leonora, and the supporting cast, including Leonora's grandmother, who publishes an e-zine for seniors, and Hank, who writes its advice column, are warmly drawn. --Diana Tixier Herald

Publisher's Weekly Review

Sparks fly between a sexually repressed college librarian and a handyman venture capitalist while they attempt to hunt down a killer who possesses the ability to make murder look like suicide in this tepid romantic thriller from veteran author Krentz (aka Amanda Quick, Stephanie James, Jayne Castle). The news of Meredith Spooner's death comes as no surprise to her half-sister, Leonora Hutton; after all, Meredith was a con artist who was adept at making enemies. But when Thomas Walker, a victim of Meredith's most recent scam, confronts Leonora, demanding that she help him find the $1.5 million that Meredith filched from the Bethany Walker memorial fund and intimating that Meredith may have been murdered, Leonora drops her reference desk position in California to do some amateur sleuthing in Wing Cove, Wash. With the help of Thomas's brainy brother, Deke, she lands a position in Mirror House, an eerie, mirror-lined mansion that houses Eubanks College's alumni office as well as a large collection of rare books. While investigating the connection between Meredith's death and two other suspicious deaths, Leonora romances Thomas with the help of her matchmaking grandmother and a disgruntled advice columnist and pairs Deke with his sexy yoga instructor. A few half-hearted attempts on Thomas's life, orchestrated by a fraudulent stress therapist, add some zing to this one-dimensional read, but events spiral too quickly toward an unexpected and unbelievable conclusion. Once a college librarian herself, Krentz (Dawn in Eclipse Bay; Slightly Shady) ably depicts the competitive atmosphere of the academic arena, but this awkward pairing of dark melodrama and frothy romance fails to impress. National author tour. (Jan. 7) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Leonora intends to turn over the cash that she discovers murdered friend Meredith embezzled. But she feels compelled to investigate when she finds that the lock box where the loot is stashed also contains a newspaper account of an unsolved murder and a book about the Mirror House, where the murder occurred. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Prologue One year earlier . . . The hallucinations were worsening rapidly. She halted at the top of the staircase and tried to steady herself. The hall of dark mirrors stretched away into infinity, a treacherous fun house filled with night and shifting shadows. She had to forge a path through this disorienting landscape before she lost her grip on the last remnants of her sanity. The planes and angles of the shadowed corridor were melting and flowing into bizarre shapes that reminded her of Möbius strips. Endless loops with no beginning and no end. She did not know how much longer she could hold together the disintegrating fragments of her awareness. She longed for sleep but she could not give in to the nearly overwhelming urge. Not yet. There was something she had to do first. The electricity had flickered out of existence a moment ago. Weak starlight seeped in through the narrow windows at either end of the endless corridor. She gazed down the length of the writhing passage and saw a sharp sliver of silver. She knew it marked the entrance to the library. Fourth door on the left. A desperate urgency swept through her. If she could get to that shard of light she could leave her message. "Bethany?" The killer's voice came from shadows at the foot of the stairs. "Where are you? Let me help you. You must be very sleepy by now." A bolt of icy panic gave her the energy required to overcome the drug's effects for a moment. She tightened her grip on the strap of her purse, staggered a few steps down the hall and came to a stop again. She fought to remember what it was that she had to do. It had been so clear there at the bottom of the stairs. But now it kept slipping away. She stared into the nearest of the dozens of black mirrors that lined the walls. In the gloom she could just barely make out the heavily gilded and scrolled frame of the eighteenth-century looking glass. She searched the bottomless pool behind the glass for wisps of her memory. There was something she had to do before she went to sleep. "I can help you, Bethany." She thought she saw a shifting of the shadows in the old looking glass. An image gelled there for an instant. She struggled to make sense of it. The library. She had to get to the library. Yes. That was it. She had to go there before the killer found her. A number swirled up out of the depths of her disappearing memory. Four. The entrance to the library was the fourth door on the left. She clung gratefully to the number. It steadied her as nothing else could have done. She was at home in the universe of mathematics; comfortable and serenely content in a way she had never been in the world where human emotions made things complicated and illogical. Four doors down on the left. Getting there meant running the gauntlet of mirrors. The enormity of the challenge almost paralyzed her. "There's no need to hide from me, Bethany. I only want to help you." She had to do this. Deke would need answers. He would not be able to rest until he got them. And Thomas would help him because Deke was his brother and the Walker brothers stuck together. She had never fully understood the depths of that kind of bond, but her logical mind accepted the strength of the link that existed between Deke and Thomas. It was as real as any mathematical relationship. Summoning every ounce of will she possessed, she made her way toward the shard of light that marked the library door. The hallucinations intensified. Strange creatures pulsed behind the reflective surfaces of the antique looking glasses that surrounded her. They beckoned her to join them. Not yet. She set her teeth and concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other. She dared not look directly into any of the old, dark mirrors for fear that she would be sucked into the world on the other side. It was not that she was afraid to go there, it was just that she knew she had to stay in this universe for a few more minutes. She owed that much to Deke and Thomas. "Bethany? You're ill, Bethany. Let me help you." The killer was in the hallway behind her. "Not much longer now, Bethany. The hallucinations must be terrible. But soon you'll sleep and then it will all be over." She focused intently on the triangle of moonlight. The glowing lines drew her and calmed her. The mathematical purity of the moonlit angles was a strong, if temporary antidote to the hallucinations. She reached the fourth door, went through it and paused in the middle of an aisle of books, trying to think. There was a small office in here somewhere. And inside the office there was a book. She had been looking at it just this afternoon. It was a very important book because it contained a picture of her killer. She had to mark the picture for Deke and Thomas. The shelves of books around her curved and warped themselves into a maze. Gathering her waning strength, she staggered through the twisting corridors to the office. The little book was lying on the desk, just as she remembered. She got it open and stared helplessly at the first page. The picture was here somewhere. She had to find it quickly. The killer was halfway down the hall. She turned pages, taking refuge once more in the comfort of numbers. Seventy-nine. Eighty. Eighty-one. There it was. A picture of the killer. There was a pen next to the book. After three attempts she finally managed to pick it up. She was beyond being able to write a name but she had enough eye-hand coordination left to draw a shaky circle around the picture on page eighty-one. She paused when she finished, concentrating hard. There was something else she wanted to do just to make sure Deke and Thomas understood. The envelope, please. She smiled with satisfaction as the memory blazed clearly in the fog of her thoughts. The envelope was in the purse draped over her shoulder. She got it out. Managed to slip it inside the book. Now what? Hide the book and the envelope. She could not risk having the killer discover them. "I know where you are, Bethany. Did you think you could hide in the library?" She looked around, searching for a place in which to conceal the book and the envelope. The large, old-fashioned wooden card catalog stood against one wall, the rows of little drawers neatly organized in lovely straight lines. Perfect. "Mirror, mirror on the wall," the killer chanted from the door of the library. "Who is the smartest one of all? Not you, Bethany. Not Sebastian Eubanks, either. I'm the smartest one of all, Bethany." She ignored the taunting and wedged the book with the envelope inside into the hiding place. Deke and Thomas would find it sooner or later. It was done. A sense of peace flowed through her. She had completed the task. She could sleep now. She turned around, clutching the desk for support. The killer came to stand silhouetted in the office doorway. "I'm the smartest one of all, Bethany." Bethany Walker did not respond. She closed her eyes and slipped into a peaceful world on the other side of the looking glass, where the laws of mathematics reigned supreme and everything made sense. --from Smoke in Mirrors Jayne Ann Krantz, Copyright © January 2002, Putnam Pub Group, a division of Penguin Putnam, Inc., used by permission. Excerpted from Smoke in Mirrors by Jayne Ann Krentz All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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