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Dean R Koontz - Mr Murder (v5.0) (epub)

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Dean R Koontz - Mr Murder (v5.0) (epub)

    Table of Contents Title Page Copyright Page Dedication

    PART ONE - Santa Claus and His Evil Twin One Two Three

    PART TWO - Story Hour in the Madhouse Four Five

    PART THREE - New Maps of Hell Six

    NEW AFTERWORD BY DEAN KOONTZ AFTERWORD

Mr. Murder is a superb work by a master of the thriller at the top of his form.”

    —The Washington Post Book World

    Martin Stillwater has a vivid imagination. It charms his loving wife, delights his two littledaughters, and gives him all the inspiration he needs to write his highly successful mysterynovels. But maybe Martin’s imagination is a bit too vivid . . . One rainy afternoon, a

    terrifying incident makes him question his grip on reality. A stranger breaks into his house,accusing Martin of stealing his wife, his children—and his life. Claiming to be the real

    Martin Stillwater, the intruder threatens to take what is rightfully his. The police thinkhe’s a figment of Martin’s imagination. But Martin and his family have no choice but tobelieve the stranger’s threat. And run for their lives.

    But wherever they go—wherever they hide—he finds them. . . .

    MR. MURDER

    “Koontz is a terrific what-if storyteller . . . the narrative pace is breathless.”

    —People

    “The resounding variations Mr. Koontz plays on this good story, here craftily retold . . .allow him to counterpoint the new horrors about us with the old horrors already inside us.” —The New York Times Book Review

    "Koontz is in fine form . . . dragging the reader along through an intricate series of twistsand exciting turns.”

    —Chicago Tribune

    “A slam-bang suspense story.” —Lexington Herald-Leader

    “Koontz engrosses the reader in terror that can almost be touched.” —San Antonio Express-

    News

    “Scary and ingenious.” —The San Jose Mercury News

    “Koontz is the consummate researcher, creating settings, people, and scenes that ring true.” —Calgary Herald

    “The glue that holds together Koontz’s intriguing stories is his stylish writing . . . tightand immensely readable.”

    —The Sunday Denver Post

    Mr. Murder will leave an indelible imprint on your psyche. Koontz takes us on a wild ridewhere the outcome is always in doubt, and the final showdown is gripping.”

    —The London Free Press

    “Lean prose and rich characterizations . . . Playing on every emotion and keeping the storyracing along, Koontz masterfully escalates the tension . . . with the most ingenious twistending of his career.” —Publishers Weekly

    “Deliciously frightening. This author manages to put a fresh spin on every novel.” —The

    Calgary Sun

    “An exciting, strikingly bizarre thriller.”

    —Lansing State Journal

    “Dean Koontz has always had the uncanny ability to take the most unlikely plot and draw in thereader . . . page after page of twists and turns that keep you guessing.”

    —The Sacramento Bee

    “Wonderfully suspenseful . . . bound to please his legions of fans.” —The Denver Post

    “Dean Koontz just keeps getting better and better. Mr. Murder may be his best novel yet, a

    seamless exercise in suspense . . . [that] features some of his best characters. TheStillwaters are endearing, and the family is loving but never saccharine or sappy.” —The

    Flint Journal

    “Tightly written, brilliantly managed, Mr. Murder goes straight to the heart of everyone’ssecret fears. As always, Koontz creates solid, three-dimensional characters—he’s especially

    good with the children here, two endearing, funny little girls who are completely believable.”

    —The Anniston Star

    “Koontz neatly balances terror and mayhem with a marvelous sense of humor and keen insight

    into human nature, most evident in his well-drawn characterizations of the endearing and

    resilient Emily and Charlotte. Suspense-packed action and breathless terror.”

    —San Diego Blade-Citizen

    “Koontz paints a vivid portrait of the Stillwater family, the warmest, most lovable collection

    of people since Charles Dickens’s Cratchit family in A Christmas Carol . Koontz knows how tograb a reader’s interest and keep him or her engrossed to the very last page.” —OrangeCoast

    “Terrific visceral energy . . . wonderfully creepy. Koontz nails the reader to the page.”

    —Kirkus Reviews

     is a strong and important novel, entertaining and insightful, contemporary andMr. Murder

    universal.”

    —Mystery Scene

    “Stylish writing, tight and immensely readable.”

    —The Providence Sunday Journal

    “A wonderfully thought-out and suspenseful tale.”

    —The Macon Telegraph

    “A stylish . . . suspenseful tale.” —Wisconsin State Journal

    “A flat-out entertainment paced at breakneck speed.”

    —Locus

    Mr. Murder is compulsive entertainment, so genuinely conceived and plotted that its readers

    will be . . . flipping the pages as fast as they can.” —Mostly Murder

    “A taut and emotive novel . . . a brilliant, twisting climax. Mr. Murder is a grand slam ofa book. It comes head-on at you from page one, and doesn’t stop.” —Starburst

    “Koontz has done it again in this first-rate mystery.”

    —The Witchita Falls Times

    Berkley titles by Dean Koontz

THE EYES OF DARKNESS

    THE KEY TO MIDNIGHT

    MR. MURDER

    THE FUNHOUSE

    DRAGON TEARS

    SHADOWFIRES

    HIDEAWAY

    COLD FIRE

    THE HOUSE OF THUNDER

    THE VOICE OF THE NIGHT

    THE BAD PLACE

    THE SERVANTS OF TWILIGHT

    MIDNIGHT

    LIGHTNING

    THE MASK

    WATCHERS

    TWILIGHT EYES STRANGERS

    DEMON SEED PHANTOMS

    WHISPERS

    NIGHT CHILLS DARKFALL

    SHATTERED

    THE VISIONTHE FACE OF FEAR

     THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

     Published by the Penguin Group

     Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

     375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

    Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

    Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

    Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin BooksLtd.)

    Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)

    Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India Penguin Group (NZ), Cnr. Airborne and Rosedale Roads, Albany, Auckland 1310, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)

    Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196,SouthAfrica

    Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

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

    MR. MURDER

    A Berkley Book / published by arrangement with Nkui, Inc.

    Copyright ? 1993 by Nkui, Inc.

All rights reserved.

    No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronicform

    without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materialsin

    violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

    For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,

    a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

    eISBN : 978-1-4406-3363-8

BERKLEY?

    Berkley Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,

    a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

    375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

    BERKLEY is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.The “B” design is a trademarkbelonging to Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

    http://us.penguingroup.com

To Phil Parks, for what is often within, and to Don Brautigam, for what is often without. And

for having all that talent without any noticeable, annoying neuroses. Well, hardly any.

PART ONE

    Santa Claus and His Evil Twin

    Winter that year was strange and gray. The damp wind smelled of Apocalypse, and morning skies

    had a peculiar way of slipping cat-quick into midnight.

    —The Book of Counted Sorrows

    Life is an unrelenting comedy. Therein lies the tragedy of it.

    —One Dead Bishop, Martin Stillwater

One

    1

    “I need . . .”

    Leaning back in his comfortable leather office chair, rocking gently, holding a compactcassette recorder in his right hand and dictating a letter to his editor in New York, MartinStillwater suddenly realized he was repeating the same two words in a dreamy whisper.

    “. . . I need . . . I need . . . I need . . .”

    Frowning, Marty clicked off the recorder.

    His train of thought had clattered down a siding and chugged to a stop. He could not recallwhat he had been about to say.

    Needed what?

    The big house was not merely quiet but eerily still. Paige had taken the kids to lunch and aSaturday matinee movie.

    But this childless silence was more than just a condition. It had substance. The air felt heavywith it.

    He put one hand to the nape of his neck. His palm was cool and moist. He shivered.

    Outside, the autumn day was as hushed as the house, as if all of southern California had beenvacated. At the only window of his second-floor study, the wide louvers of the plantationshutters were ajar. Sunlight slanted between angled slats, imprinting the sofa and carpet withnarrow red-gold stripes as lustrous as fox fur; the nearest luminous ribbon wrapped one cornerof the U-shaped desk.

    I need . . .

    Instinct told him that something important had happened only a moment ago, just out of hissight, perceived subliminally.

    He swiveled his chair and surveyed the room behind him. Other than the fasciae of copperysunshine interleaved with louver shadows, the only light came from a small desk lamp with astained-glass shade. Even in that gloom, however, he could see he was alone with his books,research files, and computer.

    Perhaps the silence seemed unnaturally deep only because the house had been filled with noiseand bustle since Wednesday, when the schools had closed for the Thanksgiving holiday. He missedthe kids. He should have gone to the movie with them.

    I need . . .

    The words had been spoken with peculiar tension—and longing.

    Now an ominous feeling overcame him, a keen sense of impending danger. It was the premonitorydread which characters sometimes felt in his novels, and which he always struggled to describewithout resorting to clichés.

    He had not actually experienced anything like it in years, not since Charlotte had beenseriously ill when she was four and the doctor had prepared them for the possibility of cancer.All day in the hospital, as his little girl had been wheeled from one lab to another for tests,all that sleepless night, and during the long days that followed before the physicians ventureda diagnosis, Marty felt haunted by a malevolent spirit whose presence thickened the air, makingit difficult to breathe, to move, to hope. As it turned out, his daughter had been threatenedneither by supernatural malevolence nor malignancy. The problem was a treatable blood disorder.Within three months Charlotte recovered.

    But he remembered that oppressive dread too well.

    He was in its icy grip again, though for no discernible reason. Charlotte and Emily werehealthy, well-adjusted kids. He and Paige were happy together—absurdly happy, considering how

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