Authors: John Ramsey Miller
Tags: #Fiction, #Thrillers, #Suspense
PRAISE FOR JOHN RAMSEY MILLER's
ELECTRIFYING NOVELS OF SUSPENSE
SMOKE & MIRRORS
“Full of breathless blood-and-guts action, hairpin twists and turns, Miller's cocktail of murder and dirty business is potent and compelling.”
“An explosive new thriller.”
—Mystery Lovers Bookshop News
TOO FAR GONE
“Too Far Gone offers terrific characters caught in the grip of kidnapping, murder, and a deadly storm. Every moment is real enough to touch. The twists are truly surprising, and the pacing never lets up. It simply doesn't get better than that.”
—John Gilstrap, author of Nathan's Run
SIDE BY SIDE
“Side by Side is a fantastic action thriller that starts off at light speed and just accelerates until the shocking and exciting finale…. John Ramsey Miller writes a strong crime thriller with espionage and military overtones filled with plenty of guts and heart.”
—Mystery Lovers Bookshop News
“Side by Side demonstrates that the best books are entertaining and education AT THE SAME TIME….Side by Side is a compelling story of hillbilly bad guys, steroid-enhanced villains, technologically brilliant information-gatherers, FBI agents, espionage, thieves and international mobsters. It was only when the alarm clock went off that I realized I'd read the whole night.”
—Central Contra Costa Sunday Times
Nominated for Best Paperback Original for the International Thriller Writers Award
“The book is a tense cat-and-mouse game, with neither Faith Ann nor Massey sure whom to trust. Faith Ann is a great character, resourceful and poised beyond her years.”
—Kansas City Star
“Riveting. John Ramsey Miller is an accomplished word-smith whose readership should grow as his body of work increases. Winter Massey has the strength to become an easily recognizable hero, one even discussed at the literary water cooler. Do yourself a favor and make it a point to meet Winter Massey.”
“Inside Out is a great read! John Ramsey Miller's tale of big-city mobsters, brilliant killers, and a compellingly real U.S. marshal has as many twists and turns as running serpentine through a field of fire and keeps us turning pages as fast as a Blackhawk helicopter's rotors! Set aside an uninterrupted day for this one; you won't want
to put it down.”
—Jeffery Deaver, author of The Vanished Man and The Stone Monkey
“A compelling and exciting action thriller starring a likeable protagonist.”
—Midwest Book Review
“ Nonstop action …Miller has created a hero the reader cares about.”
THE LAST FAMILY
“A relentless thriller.”
“Fast-paced, original, and utterly terrifying—true, teeth-grinding tension. I lost sleep reading the novel, and then lost even more sleep thinking about it. Martin Fletcher is the most vividly drawn, most resourceful, most horrifying killer I have encountered. Hannibal Lecter, eat your heart out.”
—Michael Palmer, author of Silent Treatment
“The best suspense novel I've read in years!”
—Jack Olsen, author of Son: A Psychopath and His Victims
“Martin Fletcher is one of the most unspeakably evil characters in recent fiction….A compelling read.”
“The author writes with a tough authority and knows how to generate suspense.”
“Suspenseful…. Keeps the reader guessing with unexpected twists.”
“From page 1, you'll be caught in this gripping, taut thriller…. Five stars.”
—Larry King, USA Today
“First-time novelist John Ramsey Miller's The Last Family is another attention-grabbing thriller that likely will find a home in Hollywood. The briskly paced page-turner pits former DEA superagents against each other in a taut dance of death and revenge.”
“This is a right fine debut thriller based on a great idea.”
—New York Daily News
“Miller provides enough action for any Steven Seagal movie…Some of Miller's plot twists look like a long, easy pop fly coming at you in center field, only to dart around and pop you in the back of the head.”
ALSO BY JOHN RAMSEY MILLER
Too Far Gone
Side by Side
The Last Family
Available from Bantam Dell
The Last Day
is dedicated to
Kate Burke Miciak
I specifically want to thank Randall Klein, an extremely talented young editor without whom this book would be much less than it is. I have been blessed that I have always worked with the best editors in the business, and a great publisher, Bantam Dell. Special thanks to Irwyn and Nita, and to all of the professionals at Bantam Dell, who have been so remarkably supportive and have all worked so hard to see that my books over the past years are as good as they can be and find their way into my readers’ hands. The house has always made me feel appreciated and an important part of the family.
A very special thanks once again to Anne Hawkins, my agent and good friend of many years, and the captain of my team.
With each book I write, the list of people I want to thank grows, and invariably I leave someone out who should be included. The truth is that a lot of people help me out with research and support me one way or another every day. My friends and family are important to me, and they know who they are and hopefully what each means to me and to my continued stacking of words. I have decided not to list them, but they know I love and appreciate them one and all.
OUTSIDE CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA THE THIRD SUNDAY IN AUGUST
Sitting cross- legged on the cool clay floor, the watcher used the tip of his survival knife to carve another letter into the wall of his hide. After he inspected the letter—an
—he ran the sharpening stone against the blade, holstered the knife, and set it down gently by his side.
The midday sun cooked the still air outside the hole. He looked out at the rear of a sleek, modern house through the four- inch opening in the trap door. When the interior lights were on, and it was adequately dark, looking through the large windows reminded him of peacefully watching fish in a tank. The house's two occupants—a man and his wife—swam from room to room like trout. He often watched their big TV screen through his binoculars, over the back of the leather sofa. Rarely were the residents together for more than
a few minutes. Their conversations were short ones, and the obvious emotional distance gave the watcher great pleasure.
The sound of a motor's purr caught the watcher's attention as he looked up in time to see the wife's Lexus coming around the house while the garage door opened. He felt a rapidly growing sense of arousal watching the SUV roll slowly into its bay. The woman was not perfect, but nevertheless a beautiful and desirable creature.
Watcher switched off the iPod, opened his rucksack, drew out a jar, and held it up, illuminating six large dark- shelled beetles he'd found under a rotten log that morning on his way to the hide. In the sunlight, their ebony armor had the iridescence of raku pottery. The bugs ambled along, content, creeping like tanks over the bottom of the jar he had brought to urinate into while he was in the hide. The insects would walk around in circles, try to scale the walls, and climb over each other for the rest of their lives, constantly looking for a way out. The man knew this from experience. He knew a great deal about captive behavior. While it was true that the bugs were docile, he had experience with beetles and many other creatures whose demeanor
seemed fixed…. until outside forces intervened.
Finding a drinking straw, the man opened the jar and set the lid aside. He used the end of the straw to jab at the insects, prodding each once or twice before going to the next. After a few seconds a steady hissing sound, like a leaking tire, erupted from the jar's inhabitants. He smiled, knowing that before long the seemingly docile beetles would attack each other and begin using their powerful jaws to dismantle their mates, leaving severed appendages in the jar's bottom. And he would release the victor—the bug with the most limbs left—and crush the losers under his boots. His grin widened as he watched the garage door close, the hissing of the insects reaching a frenzy.
Dr. Natasha McCarty slipped on her reading glasses and gently pressed the abdomen of Josh Wasserman, a four- year- old whose appendix had ruptured early the previous evening. As
usual, she'd done a first- class job both on the removal of the defective body part and in the even spacing of the sutures. Across the room, a bright bouquet of tulips stood centered in the window, and Mr. and Mrs. Wasserman sat quietly in chairs on the other side of the bed where the small child lay. Mrs. Wasserman, a petite, round-faced woman, appeared to be about eight months pregnant. She stared at the child as though he might vanish should she blink.
“How are you feeling this morning?” Natasha asked the bright- eyed boy as she checked the chart hanging at the foot of his bed. His color was good, his vitals strong. She wouldn't know he'd been at death's door less than twelve hours earlier if she hadn't performed the operation herself. Children could be amazingly resilient.
“My stomach hurts,” he replied sullenly.
Natasha smiled sadly as the small face twisted in on itself and tears streamed down his cheeks. She set the chart down, put her hand under his chin, and sat on his bed, careful not to jostle his small body.
“You're going to be fine very soon,” she told him tenderly.
“You've been such a brave boy,” his mother added with forced cheer.
“He's worried that his soccer career is over,” his father said.
“That's not a problem, Josh. You'll be back running around and playing ball in a couple of weeks like this never happened.” Natasha handed him a tissue from the bedside table and waited until he wiped the tears away.
“What about peritonitis?” Mrs. Wasserman asked. “Complications.”
After smiling reassuringly at Josh, Natasha looked over at the parents.
“We cleansed the site and we'll monitor very closely, but the antibiotics he's on are very effective. Josh is a very strong young man. There's no reason to worry.”
“Can I have it?” Josh asked.
“Have what?” Natasha asked.
“The palendix,” he said. “In a jar. So I can have it to keep.”
“Josh,” Mrs. Wasserman said, “you do not need your appendix.”
“We could use it for bait next time we go fishing,” Mr. Wasserman joked.