It’s such a pleasure today to be joining the first day of the blog tour (together with Chelle’s Book Reviews and Bookloverwormblog) for Watching You by JA (Joyce) Schneider. Subtitled “a terrifying thriller with a mind-bending twist”, this is the the third police/psychological thriller featuring intuitive NYPD detective Kerri Blasco, released today, and eagerly anticipated by many. Although Joyce is becoming a regular here on Being Anne, I’m a bit ashamed to say that this is a series I have yet to come to grips with: I’ll be quite honest and say that the book synopses terrify me to death! Here’s the blurb for this one…
A serial killer texts his victims first. A detective vows revenge. He comes after her.
In the chill of an October night, Detective Kerri Blasco is called to a bizarre murder scene. Leda Winfield, a young volunteer for the homeless, has been shot. Her cell phone displays the frightening text, WATCHING YOU, and into her back, hideously pushed with a hat pin, is a note with the same awful message. Leda’s socialite family and friends insist that no one would have wanted to harm her, but Detective Kerri isn’t convinced.
Until another random young woman is killed in exactly the same way. Kerri and her team profile a monstrous killer who enjoys terrifying his victims before stalking and killing them. But how does he get their phone numbers?
Kerri soon finds that the killer is after her, too, and that the key to finding him may just be in the homeless shelter. When the body count rises, she vows to stop the madman – even if it means battling her own personal trauma, risking her job, her love relationship with her boss Alex Brand, and her life.
So, I’ll now just hide behind the settee while I share the first chapter with you – inside the mind of a serial killer…
This kill will be easy. She looks so trusting.
My breath quickens, my heart races as I follow her. It’s getting darker, colder. I pass a few shapes but they’re hunched in their collars watching their feet, their dimly lit phones, anything to avoid eye contact. No one looks up anyway on New York sidewalks. What a great hunting ground.
She’s leaving Prince Street – the shabby end – looking both ways, then crossing the wide, decrepit Bowery so ill-lit there’s just the passing headlights of thin, indifferent traffic. I follow her south on the other side, then cross too; stay a good half block behind. Lights are weak over closed restaurant supply places and a shop with Chinese letters. A ragged awning droops torn canvas; she stops, reaches up, tries to fix it. Poor, sweet girl, trying to make the world a better place. I have followed her before. She’s such an easy mark.
She walks on, then stops again, talks to a homeless guy.
I slow my steps.
“Hey Mikey, you’re not dressed warmly enough,” she cries, patting his threadbare shoulder. “Come to the Mission, we’ve got clothes, warm jackets.”
He mutters, keeps his head down, shakes it. She pleads with him. “No testing, honest. No program unless you want it.”
I can’t be noticed so I pass her, chin down, hands bunched in my jacket pockets. Just another Lower East Side guy heading home. I turn into Rivington – her street – and duck into a rundown doorway.
In a few minutes she too turns into Rivington. Now my heart’s really whamming, because this is it. She approaches, passes first a small tailor shop, then stoops of old brownstones. This street is smaller, even darker than the Bowery, but a car with its brights glaring comes up behind her and I try to duck back into shadows – shit! – hitting a trash can, sending its lid clattering. The car’s headlights flash, then are gone, plunging the street back into near darkness.
Just a few dim lights from behind curtains, crooked window shades, streetlights too far apart.
They are enough, and the clattering lid has startled her.
No problem. This should make it more interesting.
On the Bowery Leda Winfield had noticed his dark shape behind her but then he’d passed, disappeared.
She could not see his face but his silhouette waved, chuckling high-voiced about the perils of trash cans in the dark and coming closer, a slightly bent figure in jeans and a dark jacket. Leda’s body went cold. She pulled out her phone, its speed dial set to 911 as she turned and moved faster.
“Hey Leda, Rescue Mission, right?”
He knew her name?
She half-turned, looked over her shoulder at him again with her feet still moving.
They were in a dark stretch between two weak streetlights. He was closer, but his face was tucked into his upturned collar.
This wasn’t good. Oh why had she stayed and kept talking after the meeting? Stupid, stupid! Mid October, she’d forgotten how early it got dark.
But he’d said the right words: her name and the thing that meant so much to her, the City Rescue Mission. The place that had her happily up early to chop veggies and start the soup; empty last night’s dishwashers, set the tables, help take food deliveries from volunteers. She loved working with people who cared…he must be one of them, right? She didn’t want to be rude, so she slowed her steps a little. Still clutched her phone, though, her finger poised to press 911.
The phone went flying as he grabbed her and spun her, his arm tight around her neck, his free hand over her mouth.
She struggled frantically, emitting just the faint, high mewing of a kitten being strangled. He was dragging her into the alley.
Not happening, please God…She flailed. His arm was a vise as he yanked her further, forced her down, jammed her face into grit. She felt his foot on the back of her head, jamming harder, sending shards of pain that shot through her skull. Her face ground into something foul-smelling. Her mouth bit gravel and she felt blood spurt from her nose.
She thrashed; couldn’t believe her stupidity; in crazed terror heard her mother saying, be careful darling, please don’t…don’t…”
But he wasn’t pulling at her clothes. She felt something hard press low to the back of her skull, and then…
A stinging, blinding thud, it felt like, then her brain exploded in wild, flashing lights. For hideous seconds it lasted, the flaring lights and the grieving, sorry words shaping her last coherent thought. I’m sorry, Mom, I’m so sorry…
Then she felt nothing.
Wow – if that doesn’t make you want to read on, i’m not sure what will! I’m off to lie down in a darkened room (after I’ve locked all the doors…!). Wishing you every success with this one Joyce – and you will all follow the tour, won’t you?
Watching You is available here: http://getBook.at/watchingyou
About the author
J.A. (Joyce Anne) Schneider is a former staffer at Newsweek Magazine, a wife, mom, and reading addict. She loves thrillers…which may seem odd, since she was once a major in French Literature – wonderful but sometimes heavy stuff. Now, for years, she has become increasingly fascinated with medicine, forensic science, and police procedure. She lives with her family in Connecticut, USA.