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Authors: Jason Pinter

Parker 05 - The Darkness

BOOK: Parker 05 - The Darkness
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Praise for the novels of


"The emotional dichotomy makes Parker

a captivating and complex protagonist, one whose

pithy observations about New York are dead on."

Publishers Weekly

"This thriller proves truly scary as it explores every parent's

worst nightmare. The next book can't come fast enough."

Library Journal

"An exciting whodunit...

Fans will appreciate this entertaining suspense thriller

with the right touch of sexual tension to augment a fine read."

Midwest Book Review


"A painstakingly refined story, from the realistically constructed

characters to the consistently pedal-to-the-metal pacing."

Chicago Tribune

"One of the great new voices in the genre."


"A fresh tale with original characters...

Pinter knows what he's doing as his exciting plot

grabs readers from the first page."

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

"Those who enjoy their noir

with a dash of real-world research will love
The Guilty.


"A fabulous thriller...

will prove to be one of the best of the year."

Midwest Book Review


"Pinter's a wizard at punching out page-turning action, and the

voice of his headstrong protagonist is sure to win readers over;

his wild ride should thrill any suspense junky."

Publishers Weekly

"An excellent debut. You are going to love Henry Parker,

and you're going to hope he survives the story,

but you're not going to bet on it."

--Lee Child

"A first-rate debut from an author who dares to take the

traditional thriller in bold new directions."

--Tess Gerritsen

"A harrowing journey--chilling, compelling, disquieting."

--Steve Berry

"A stunning debut by a major new talent!"

--James Rollins

"From the opening sentence to the exhilarating conclusion,

Pinter's debut thriller gets the reader's heart racing.

Pinter is clearly one to watch."

Library Journal
[starred review]

Front Page
The Sopranos

with more than a little Scorsese thrown in."

--Jeffery Deaver

"A top-notch debut... Fast-paced, gritty and often raw,

The Mark
is a tale you won't soon forget."

--Michael Palmer

"A fast-paced addictively suspenseful thriller."

--Allison Brennan


To the booksellers, librarians and readers

who support my work.

Thank you.

And to Bud White, who refused to die.


Paulina Cole left the office at 4:59 p.m. Her sudden departure nearly caused a panic in the newsroom of the

York Dispatch,
where she'd worked as a featured columnist and reporter for several years. Paulina was prone to late

nights, though many argued whether the nights were due

to a work ethic that was second to none, or simply because

she was more comfortable spending her time among competitive, ambitious and bloodthirsty professionals than

sitting on the couch with a glass of wine and takeout.

She had left that day after a particularly frustrating

conference call with the paper's editor in chief, Ted Allen.

Paulina had spent the better part of two years becoming

the city's most notorious scribe in no small part due to

her ambivalence concerning personal attacks, heated vendettas, and a complete refusal to allow anyone to get the

best of her. When her instincts faltered, she called in

favors. When she got scooped, she would trump the scoop

by digging deeper. And she held grudges like ordinary

folks held on to family heirlooms.

Which is why, after reading a copy of that morning's

New York Gazette,
the paper Paulina used to work for and

now wished buried under a paper landfill, she demanded


Jason Pinter

to speak with Ted. She knew the man had a two o'clock

tee time, but she'd seen him golf before and cell phone

interruption might even improve his thirty-seven handicap.

That day's
featured a story about the murder

of a young man named Stephen Gaines. Gaines's head

had met the business end of a revolver recently, and in a

twist of fate that Paulina could only have wished for on

the most glorious of days, the prime suspect was none

other than Gaines's father, James Parker. James Parker

also happened to be the father of Henry Parker, the

s rising young star reporter, whom Paulina had

as much fondness for as her monthly cycle.

Paulina had cut her teeth at the
and had briefly

worked side by side with Henry Parker. But after seeing

what the
had become--an old, tired rag, refusing

to adapt to new technologies or understand that hard news

was essentially dead--she'd made it her business to put

the paper out of its misery.

Nobody cared to read about the government or the economy--at least not on a grand scale. They only cared about

what they saw right in front of them, day in and day out.

Their mortgage payments. Their bank accounts. It was all

visceral. You bought the celebrity magazine so you could

make fun of the stars' cellulite with your friends.You shook

your head at the news program that exposed the foreman

whose building was overrun with rats because he refused

to pony up for an exterminator.You scorned the politician's

wife who stood silent at the press conference by her cheating louse of a husband. Paulina gave those with no life

something to live for, something to chat about at the nail


New York Gazette
was dead. It just didn't know

it yet.

The Darkness


So when Ted Allen suggested that Paulina write an

article about vampires, she was taken aback to say the least.

"Vampires are huge," Allen had said. "There are those

books that have sold like a gajillion copies. Now there are

movies, television shows, soundtrack albums. Hell, newspapers are the only medium that isn't getting a piece of

it. Teenage girls love them, and teenage boys want to get

into the pants of teenage girls. And this all scares the

living hell--no pun intended--out of their parents, so you

write a piece on vampires I bet it's one of our bestselling

editions of the year."

"What the hell do I know about stupid vampires?"

Paulina said, laughing at herself for even asking the

question. She stopped laughing when she realized Ted

was serious.

"Oh, I don't know," Allen had said. "Didn't I hear

about some boys and girls who go around biting people

on the neck because they think they can be vampires? Go

interview them. Even better, go undercover and pretend

to be one of them. You know, pretend you like to bite

people's necks and see what they tell you."

"Ted, I'm in my forties," Paulina said. "I don't think

going undercover with teenagers will fly."

"Are you kidding?" Ted said. "What's that term? Milf?

The teenage boys will love you."

That's when Paulina left.

Rain beat down upon the streets steadily, with the precision of soft drumbeats. The drops splashed upward as

they struck the pavement, and Paulina felt the water

soaking her ankles as she exited into the gloom. A bottle

of Finca Vieja Tempranillo was waiting at home. It was

a good red wine, with a slight plum taste, and she could

picture slipping into a warm bath with a glass in one


Jason Pinter

hand and a romance novel in the other. The rest of the

bottle sitting on the ledge just within reach, ready to be

tilted until the last drops were consumed. Ordinarily she

was not that kind of girl, in fact laughed at those who

were, but Paulina needed a night away from it all.

Paulina opened up an umbrella and stepped into the sea

of New Yorkers, entering the crowded bloodstream

known as the commute home. The streets were chock-full

of open umbrellas, and she tried to wedge her way into

the crowd without having her eye poked out by a random


As she took her first step, Paulina heard a man's voice

yell, "Miss Cole! Miss Cole!"

She saw a man wearing a dapper suit and dark overcoat

approaching. He was tall, six one or two, with hair so

blond it was nearly white, peeking out from underneath

a billed cap. He looked to be in good shape, late thirties

or early forties, and for a brief moment Paulina felt her

heart rate speed up. The car service company had really

stepped up their recruiting.

"Miss Cole," the man said, stopping in front of her.

"My name is Chester. I'm from New York Taxi and Limo.

Ted Allen called to request a ride home for you."

"Is that so," Paulina said, barely hiding her smile. She

knew months ago that she had Ted by the balls. Things

like this proved it. Keeping her happy and pumping out

pieces was worth hundreds of thousands of dollars a year

to the
and the publicity she received raised the

paper's profile more than their "crackerjack" investigative team ever could. That Ted would extend an olive

branch so quickly surprised her at first, but if she ran the

company she'd want to make sure her star reporter got

home safe, sound and dry.

The Darkness


"Please," Chester said, "come with me."

Chester opened up a much larger umbrella and held it

out. Paulina smiled at him, a big, bright, toothy smile, and

stepped under the umbrella. He led her to a Lincoln Town

Car which sat double-parked at the curb. Holding the

umbrella to shield her from the rain, the driver opened the

door. Paulina thanked him, picked up the hem of her skirt

and climbed into the backseat of the car. The driver shut the

door, and Paulina watched as he walked around to the front.

Two sealed bottles of water were set in a pair of cup

holders, and crisp new editions of that morning's newspapers were folded in the pocket in front of her. The rain

BOOK: Parker 05 - The Darkness
2.41Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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