The Third Victim - Collin Wilcox - ebook
Opis

Stalked by a nighttime killer, a woman does whatever it takes to survive. He calls himself Tarot. His first victim was a mother, killed while her daughter slept in the next room. His second was a truck-stop waitress, murdered - like the first woman - while she slept. After each one, he sent letters to the newspapers, boasting of his crimes and promising more to come. The Third Victim will die soon, he tells them. But first, she must be warned. Joanna is drinking her morning coffee when she finds the switchblade on the floor, dropped through her newspaper slot in the middle of the night. Was it left there by a neighborhood prankster with a dark sense of humor? Or is this the warning of Tarot? Her husband has left her, making Joanna the sole caretaker for their son. Until Tarot is caught, neither of them can count on a good night's sleep

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Liczba stron: 306

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Contents

Cover

About the Book

About the Author

Title Page

Copyright Page

Monday Night

Tuesday Morning

Tuesday Afternoon

Tuesday Evening

Tuesday Night

Wednesday Morning

Wednesday Afternoon

Wednesday Evening

Wednesday Night

Thursday Morning

Looking for more suspense?

Cover

Begin Reading

About the Book

Stalked by a nighttime killer, a woman does whatever it takes to survive.

He calls himself Tarot. His first victim was a mother, killed while her daughter slept in the next room. His second was a truck-stop waitress, murdered - like the first woman - while she slept. After each one, he sent letters to the newspapers, boasting of his crimes and promising more to come. The third victim will die soon, he tells them. But first, she must be warned.

Joanna is drinking her morning coffee when she finds the switchblade on the floor, dropped through her newspaper slot in the middle of the night. Was it left there by a neighborhood prankster with a dark sense of humor? Or is this the warning of Tarot? Her husband has left her, making Joanna the sole caretaker for their son. Until Tarot is caught, neither of them can count on a good night’s sleep

About the Author

Collin Wilcox (1924–1996) was an American author of mystery fiction. Born in Detroit, he set most of his work in San Francisco, beginning with 1967’s The Black Door - a noir thriller starring a crime reporter with extrasensory perception. Under the pen name Carter Wick, he published several standalone mysteries including The Faceless Man (1975) and Dark House, Dark Road (1982), but he found his greatest success under his own name, with the celebrated Frank Hastings series.

The Third Victim

Collin Wilcox

 

BASTEI ENTERTAINMENT

 

Bastei Entertainment is an imprint of Bastei Lübbe AG

 

Copyright © 2015 by Bastei Lübbe AG, Schanzenstraße 6-20, 51063 Cologne, Germany

 

For the original edition:

Copyright © 2013 by The Mysterious Press, LLC, 58 Warren Street, New York, NY. U.S.A.

 

Copyright © 1976 by Collin Wilcox

 

Project management: Lori Herber

Cover adaptation: Christin Wilhelm, www.grafic4u.de

Cover design by Michel Vrana

 

E-book production: Jouve Germany GmbH & Co. KG

 

ISBN 978-3-95859-574-3

 

www.bastei-entertainment.com

 

All rights reserved, including without limitation the right to reproduce this e-book or any portion thereof in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of the publisher.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Monday Night

HE STEPPED OUT OF the shadows, raised his wrist, and checked the time. Twenty minutes after eleven. Her window had been dark for more than a half-hour. She was a sound sleeper. She went to bed early, got up early. Sometimes she cried out while she slept. Each morning, driving a shabby Chevrolet, she left the ground-floor flat with her small blond son. Each evening she returned, always carrying brown paper grocery sacks. When she walked she swung her hips and moved her shoulders, offering silent invitation. Everyone could see her harlot’s walk. Everyone knew.

He stepped back, to stand close beside the trunk of a sycamore tree. Motionless, he was invisible in the night. Even if they walked along the sidewalk, they’d never see him. Deep in the dark shadows, he was part of the night.

But few walked this late.

Tomorrow night, none would walk.

By tomorrow, in the whole city, only the brave would walk after dark. The brave, and himself. And the men with guns. Tomorrow night, the men with guns would prowl the darkness.

Would they bring dogs?

Once, he’d read, they’d used their dogs.

He turned to study the building: a shabby stucco structure, three stories high, one flat to each floor. The grounds were ill-kept, the buildings needed paint. It was a low-income neighborhood: a tree-shaded California ghetto built in the midst of the city’s affluence, offering shelter to students and the urban poor. In this area, each house directly adjoined the one next door, with no space between. Ragged lawns grew front and back. The grass was littered with children’s abandoned toys and sun-scorched advertising circulars.

Last night, he’d tried the back. The fences and attached buildings had formed a dangerous maze. Discovered, he would have been trapped. Tonight, he must try the front. Every day—every night—something new was required. He knew. He listened. He obeyed.

Last night, the fences had endangered him. Tonight, in front, the danger would be people. But soon he would have the key. With the key, he could enter the basement.

The key was the key to the key. Like a rose was a rose.

Still standing in deep shadow, he glanced once more up and down the quiet street. Most of the windows were darkened; most people slept. Turning back to the house, he drew from his pocket a pair of surgical gloves. As he began walking through the shadows, he slipped on the gloves. The shadows took him to the small front porch. In his right hand he held a thin metal probe. In his left hand he held a switch-blade knife. The knife was new.

Close by, a car door slammed. Voices burbled in the darkness, suddenly laughing, all together. He turned, watched, waited. They were students at play. Their sounds were always the same.

He transferred the knife to his teeth, gripped the doorknob with his left hand. With his right hand he inserted the spring steel probe in the doorjamb. He could feel the lock. One quick thrust and the lock sprung open. The door swung free—until it rattled against a night chain. In the darkness, he smiled. For the chain he could doubtless thank himself. Throughout the city, people were buying night chains. And guns. And dogs.

He dropped the probe into his pocket and took the knife in his right hand. He snapped open the blade, then slid the knife inside. Sliding across the floor, the knife made just enough noise in the silence.

Another car door slammed. Voices were close—dangerously close.

He rose quickly from his crouch to stand flattened against the stucco, listening. These new voices were quieter, older. He looked over his shoulder. If they came to this building, he would move silently into the shadows.

But they were going next door. Their voices died away.

He gripped the doorknob and softly drew the door closed.

For tonight, the time had come to go. He’d leave the knife for her. For them. Because he’d promised them a warning—all of them. This third time, he’d promised them a warning—her, and all the rest. Ipso.

Tuesday Morning

AS JOANNA POURED A second cup of coffee, she heard the thud of the morning paper striking the door. She glanced at the kitchen clock as she rose from the table. The time was ten minutes after eight; the paper was late. Only fifteen minutes remained before she must leave. She walked down the hallway in her stockinged feet, opened the front door, and paused for a moment with the Bulletin in her hand, looking up into a cloudless sky. The day would be clear and warm: a chamber-of-commerce day, bright and golden. By noon, the beaches and oceanside concessions would be crowded with tourists.

As she swung the door shut, her stockinged foot scuffed a small, solid object, sending it skidding. Frowning, she glanced down. A dozen times a day she’d told Josh to keep his toys in his…

A switch-blade knife lay on the worn oak floor.

Was it a joke—someone’s idea of fun? Yanking the door open, she looked vainly for the early-morning prankster. She closed the door and locked it. Then she stooped, gingerly handling the lethal-looking knife. The blade wouldn’t go back into the handle. She pressed a button. Still the blade wouldn’t budge. Finally she folded the knife into the newspaper, to conceal it from her son.

Returning to the kitchen, she passed Josh’s door. The small blond head was immobilized before the TV screen. A lean, slavering cartoon cat chased a fat cartoon mouse across the screen. From a distance less than three feet, the blond head followed every movement of the homicidal cat and the saucy, succulent mouse.

“Josh. Honey. Back up.”

By conditioned response, without missing a cat-and-mouse movement, he hunched his stool back less than a foot.

“More. You’ll ruin your eyes, Josh.”

This time, shoulders heaving as he sighed deeply, he got halfway to his feet, gripped the stool, and moved back three steps. Now the blue-jeaned bottom plopped down decisively on the small red stool. Another foot would be gained only by arbitration. She shook her head, smiling faintly.

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!