Cover image for In silence
In silence
Spindler, Erica, 1957-
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Publication Information:
Don Mills, Ont. : MIRA Books, [2003]

Physical Description:
382 pages ; 25 cm
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X Adult Fiction Central Library
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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Grief stricken over the death of her father, journalist Avery Chauvin returns to her picture-perfect hometown and begins to discover that all may not be as it seems in Cypress Springs, Louisiana. Was her father's death really suicide? Or is it related to another vicious crime that took place fifteen years earlier? Avery sets out to discover the truth, finding that sometimes the deadliest lies are told in silence....

Author Notes

A New York Times and International bestselling author, critics have called Erica Spindler's stories, "terrific twisted tales." She received the prestigious Daphne du Maurier award for Excellence in 2002 for the novel, Bone Cold, and she is a two-time Kiss of Death award winner.

She lives in the New Orleans area with her husband, an advertising executive, and their two sons.

(Publisher Provided)

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

The old adage, "You can't go home again," doesn't apply to Cypress Springs, La., a picaresque little town that goes to extreme-and sometimes deadly-lengths to keep the outside world and its corrupting influences at bay. The town's outward calm provides an eerie counterpoint to the struggle occurring beneath the surface, which makes it the perfect setting for Spindler's latest thriller (after Dead Run). When investigative reporter Avery Chauvin returns to Cypress Springs to put her father's affairs in order after his apparent suicide, she takes comfort in the familiar attentions of her high school sweetheart, Matt Stevens, and his loving family, who treat her as one of their own. It soon becomes apparent, however, that things aren't as they seem. For starters, the Stevens clan seems uneasy, particularly when she mentions Hunter, Matt's fraternal twin. Then she receives a call that leads her to suspect that her dad was murdered. Her fears are sharpened when a local woman turns up dead, and "outsider" Gwen Lancaster tells Avery about her brother's disappearance. Despite the overwhelming evidence, Avery's investigative instincts take a while to kick in, but once they do, she uncovers clues indicating that a vigilante group has taken it upon itself to police and punish the town's citizens. Most disturbing is the fact that Hunter, with whom Avery becomes romantically involved, fits the killer's profile. While smoothly written, the book's absurdly macabre (and somewhat implausible) denouement will disappoint. Still, once readers get past the sluggish first half, they'll be chilled by the town's creepy Big Brother rhetoric and pulled inexorably onward by the question of whodunit. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Cypress Springs, Louisiana Thursday, October 17, 2002, 3:30 a.m. The one called the Gavel waited patiently. The woman would come soon, he knew. He had been watching her. Learning her schedule, her habits. Those of her neighbors as well. Tonight she would learn the price of moral corruption. He moved his gaze over the woman's darkened bedroom. Garments strewn across the matted carpeting. Dresser top littered with an assortment of cosmetic bottles and jars, empty Diet Coke and Miller Lite cans, gum and candy wrappers. Cigarette butts spilled from an overflowing ashtray. A pig as well as a whore. Twin feelings of resignation and disgust flowed over him. Had he expected anything different from a woman like her? An alley cat who bedded a new man nearly every night? He was neither prude nor saint. Nor was he naive. These days few waited for marriage to consummate their relationship. He could live with that; he understood physical urges. But excesses such as hers would not be tolerated in Cypress Springs. The Seven had voted. It had been unanimous. As their leader, it was his responsibility to make her understand. The Gavel glanced at the bedside clock. He had been waiting nearly an hour. It wouldn't be long now. Tonight she had gone to CJ's, a bar on the west side of town, one frequented by the hard-partying crowd. She had left with a man named DuBroc. As was her MO, they had gone to his place. To the Gavel's knowledge, this was a first offense for DuBroc. He would be watched as well. And if necessary, warned. From the front of the apartment came the sound of the door lock turning over. The door opening, then clicking shut. A shudder moved over him. Of distaste for the inevitable. He wasn't a predator, as some might label him. Predators sought the small and weak, either to sustain themselves or for twisted self-gratification. Nor was he a bloodthirsty monster or sadist. He was an honorable man. God-fearing, law-abiding. A patriot. But as were the other members of The Seven, he was a man driven to desperate measures. To protect and defend all he held dear. Women like this one soiled the community, they contributed to the moral decay running rampant in the world. They were not alone, of course. Those who drank to excess, those who lied, cheated, stole; those who broke not only the laws of man but those of God as well. The Seven had formed to combat such corruptions. For the Gavel and his six generals, it wasn't about punishing the sinful but about maintaining a way of life. A way of life Cypress Springs had enjoyed for over a hundred years. A community where people could still walk the streets at night, where neighbor helped neighbor, where family values were more than a phrase tossed about by political candidates. Honesty. Integrity. The Golden Rule. All were alive and well in Cypress Springs. The Seven had dedicated themselves to ensuring it stayed that way. The Gavel likened individual immorality to the flesh-eating bacteria that had been in the news so much a few years back. A fisherman had contracted necrotizing fasciitis through a small cut on his hand. Once introduced to the body, it ate its covering until only a putrid, grotesque patchwork remained. So, too, was the effect of individual immorality on a community. His job was to make certain that didn't happen. The Gavel listened intently. The woman hummed under her breath as she made her way toward the back of the apartment and the bedroom where he waited. The self-satisfied sound sickened him. He eased to his feet, moved toward the door. She stepped through. He grabbed her from behind, dragged her to his chest and covered her mouth with one gloved hand to stifle her screams. She smelled of cheap perfume, cigarettes. Sex. "Elaine St. Claire," he said against her ear, voice muffled by the ski mask he wore. "You have been judged and found guilty. Of contributing to the moral decay of this community. Of attempting to cause the ruination of a way of life that has existed for over a century. You must pay the price." He forced her to the bed. She struggled against him, her attempts pitiable. A mouse battling a mountain lion. He knew what she thought - that he meant to rape her. He would sooner castrate himself than to join with a woman such as her. Besides, what kind of punishment would that be? What kind of warning? No, he had something much more memorable in mind for her. He stopped a foot from the bed. With the hand covering her mouth, he forced her gaze down. To the mattress. And the gift he had made just for her. He had fashioned the instrument out of a baseball bat, one of the miniature, commemorative ones fans bought in stadium gift shops. He had covered the bat with flattened tin cans - choosing Diet Coke, her soft drink of choice - peeling back V-shaped pieces of the metal to form a kind of sharp, scaly skin. The trickiest part had been the double-edged knife blade he had imbedded in the bat's rounded tip. He was aware of the exact moment she saw it. She stilled. Terror rippled over her - a new fear, one born from the horror of the unimaginable. "For you, Elaine," he whispered against her ear. "Since you love to fuck so much, your punishment will be to give you what you love." She recoiled and pressed herself against him. Her response pleased him and he smiled, the black ski mask stretching across his mouth with the movement. He could almost pity her. Almost but not quite. She had brought this fate upon herself. "I designed it to open you from cervix to throat," he continued, then lowered his voice. "From the inside , Elaine. It will be an excruciating way to die. Organs torn to shreds from within. Massive bleeding will lead to shock. Then coma. And finally, death. Of course, by that point you will pray for death to take you." She made a sound, high and terrified. Trapped. "Do you think it would be possible to be fucked to death, Elaine? Is that how you'd like to die?" She fought as he inched her closer. "Imagine what it will feel like inside you, Elaine. To feel your insides being ripped to shreds, the pain, the helplessness. Knowing you're going to die, wishing for death to come swiftly." He pressed his mouth closer to her ear. "But it won't. Perhaps, mercifully, you'll lose consciousness. Perhaps not. I could keep you alert, there are ways, you know. You'll beg for mercy, pray for a miracle. No miracle will come. No hero rushing in to save the day. No one to hear your screams." She trembled so violently he had to hold her erect. Tears streamed down her cheeks. "This will be your only warning," he continued. "Leave Cypress Springs immediately. Quietly. Tell no one. Not your friends, your employer or landlord. If you speak to anyone, you'll be killed. The police cannot help you, do not contact them. If you do, you'll be killed. If you stay, you'll be killed. Your death will be horrible, I promise you that." He released her and she crumpled into a heap on the floor. He stared down at her shaking form. "There are many of us and we are always watching. Do you understand, Elaine St. Claire?" She didn't answer and he bent, grabbed a handful of her hair and yanked her face up toward his. "Do you understand?" "Y-yes," she whispered. "Anythi ... I'll do ... anything." A small smile twisted his lips. His generals would be pleased. He released her. "Smart girl, Elaine. Don't forget this warning. You're now the master of your own fate." The Gavel retrieved the weapon and walked away. As he let himself out, the sound of her sobs echoed through the apartment. (Continues...) Excerpted from In Silence by Erica Spindler Copyright © 2003 by Harlequin Enterprises Ltd. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.