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Authors: Michael Koryta

The Silent Hour

BOOK: The Silent Hour
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Michael Koryta

    

    

This is a work of fiction. All of the
characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are

either products of the author's imagination or are
used fictitiously.

 

    

A THOMAS DUNNE BOOK FOR MINOTAUR BOOKS.

An imprint of St. Martin's Publishing Group.

    

The Silent Hour. Copyright © 2009 by
Michael Koryta. All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America.

For information,
address St. Martin's Press,

175 Fifth Avenue, New
York, N.Y. 10010.

    

www.thomasdunnebooks.com

www.minotaurbooks.com

    

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA

    

First Edition: August 2009

To Don Johnson and Trace
Investigations—

with deepest gratitude

 

    

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

    

    This
book and its predecessors wouldn't have existed without the faith, hard work,
and keen eye of Peter Wolverton, who has been both an editor and a friend, and
I'm deeply indebted. Thank you, Pete, and thanks to everyone else at St.
Martin's, Minotaur Books, and Thomas Dunne—Andy Martin, Thomas Dunne, Matthew
Shear, Katie Gilligan, Elizabeth Byrne, Hector Dejean, and all the rest.

    Much
gratitude is also due to:

    David
Hale Smith, agent extraordinaire.

    George
Lichman of the Rocky River Police Department, a friend and helpful resource.

    Laura
Lane not only offered a critical eye to the early pages but guided me to the
genesis of the story several years ago. She had no idea of this, of course, but
deserves credit nevertheless.

    A
pair of deeply valued early readers: Bob Hammel and Christine Caya.

    Michael
Connelly, for countless kindnesses.

    Dennis
Lehane, with a standard but important additional note of thanks to his Writers
in Paradise conference at Eckerd College, www.writersin paradise.com.

    Tom
Bunger, who answered a lot of truly strange legal questions involving the
missing, the dead, and their homes. If you're missing or dead and you have a
home, I'd suggest you call Tom.

    The
many booksellers and friends who have been gracious hosts over the years,
including but certainly not limited to Jim Haung, Robin and Jamie Agnew,
Richard Katz, Jon and Ruth Jordan, Steve Stilwell, Barbara Peters, Otto
Penzler, John and Toni Cross, Mike Bursaw, and so many others.

    A
motley band of assorted generous folks: Dr. J. D. Headdy, Ridley Pearson,
George Pelecanos, Laura Lippman, Gena Asher, Lawrence Rose, Brad Petrigala,
Tony Mitchell, George Juergens, Louise Thurtell, Robert Pepin, Roger Levesque,
and my family.

Table of Contents

PART ONE
.. 2

Chapter One
. 2

Chapter Two
. 2

Chapter Three
. 4

Chapter Four
5

Chapter Five
. 6

Chapter Six
. 7

Chapter Seven
. 8

Chapter Eight
9

Chapter Nine
. 11

Chapter Ten
. 13

Chapter Eleven
. 14

Chapter Twelve
. 15

Chapter Thirteen
. 16

PART TWO
.. 17

Chapter Fourteen
. 17

Chapter Fifteen
. 19

Chapter Sixteen
. 21

Chapter Seventeen
. 21

Chapter Eighteen
. 22

Chapter Nineteen
. 24

Chapter Twenty
. 25

Chapter Twenty-one
. 27

Chapter Twenty-two
. 28

Chapter Twenty-three
. 29

Chapter Twenty-four
30

Chapter Twenty-five
. 31

Chapter Twenty-six
. 32

Chapter Twenty-seven
. 33

Chapter Twenty-eight
34

Chapter Twenty-nine
. 34

Chapter Thirty
. 36

Chapter Thirty-one
. 36

Chapter Thirty-two
. 37

Chapter Thirty-three
. 38

PART THREE
.. 39

Chapter Thirty-four
39

Chapter Thirty-five
. 40

Chapter Thirty-six
. 41

Chapter Thirty-seven
. 42

Chapter Thirty-eight
43

Chapter Thirty-nine
. 44

Chapter Forty
. 45

Chapter Forty-one
. 46

Chapter Forty-two
. 47

Chapter Forty-three
. 48

Chapter Forty-four
49

Chapter Forty-five
. 50

Chapter Forty-six
. 51

 

 

PART ONE

    

WHISPER RIDGE

    

Chapter One

    

    He'd
sharpened his knife just an hour before the killing. The police, prosecutor,
and media would all later make great use of this fact. Premeditation, they
said. Proof of intent, they said. Cold-blooded murder, they said.

    All
Parker Harrison had to say was that he often sharpened his knife in the
evening.

    It
wasn't much of a defense.

    Harrison,
an unemployed groundskeeper at the time of his arrest for murder, took a guilty
plea that gave him a term of life in prison but allowed the possibility of
parole, the sort of sentence that seems absurd to normal people but apparently
makes sense to lawyers.

    The
guilty plea prevented a trial, and that meant Harrison's tenure as the media's
villain of the moment was short-lived. Some editors and TV anchors around the
state no doubt grumbled when they saw he was going to disappear quietly behind
bars, taking a good bloody story with him. On the day of his arrest, he'd
offered something special. Something none of them had seen before.

    The victim
was a man named John Maxwell, who was the new boyfriend of Harrison's former
lover, Molly Nelson. The killing occurred in Nelson's rental house in the hills
south of Xenia, Ohio, a town made infamous for a devastating tornado that
occurred the same year Harrison went to high school, destroying homes, schools,
and churches while killing thirty-four people and leaving nearly ten
thousand—including the Harrison family—homeless. It wasn't the first storm of
breathtaking malevolence to pass through the little town: The Shawnee had named
the area "place of the devil winds" more than a century earlier. The
winds certainly touched Harrison's life, and a few decades later the locals
would claim the devil clearly had, too. A Xenia native who was half Shawnee, Harrison
had been separated from Nelson for more than a year before he returned to town
and they reunited for one night together. It was passionate and borderline
violent, beginning in a shouting match and culminating in intercourse on the
floor. Evidence technicians later agreed that the abrasions found on Harrison's
knees were rug burns from that night and had no relevance to the killing that
took place two days later.

    After
the night of sex and shouting, Nelson told Harrison she was done with him, that
it was time to move on. Time to move
away.
Get out of town, she said;
find something else to occupy your attention.

    Apparently
she didn't convince him. Harrison returned to her house two nights later,
hoping, he would say, for more conversation. The police would insist he
returned with murder on his mind and a recently sharpened knife in his truck.
Harrison's story, of an argument that the new boyfriend turned into a physical
contest, was never proved or disproved because there was no trial. What went
undisputed was the result of the night: Harrison punched Nelson once in the jaw
as she went for the phone, interrupting her as she hit the last of those three
digits needed to summon help, and then turned on Maxwell and killed him with
the knife. Harrison disconnected the phone, but a police car had already been
dispatched, and a single sheriff's deputy entered the house through an open
side door to find Nelson unconscious and Harrison sitting on the kitchen floor
beside Maxwell's body, his cupped hands cradling a pool of blood. He was
attempting, he said, to put the blood back into the corpse. To return it to
Maxwell, to restore him to life. He was, he said, probably in shock.

BOOK: The Silent Hour
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