The Night Monster

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  • Format: Trade Book
  • Copyright: 2010-05-25
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
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The shadowy side of the Sunshine State, where blood runs cold even in the tropical heat, is the tantalizing, terrifying territory few know better than James Swain. His razor-sharp tales of criminals, cops, and South Florida--style suspense bite like a hungry gator and never let go. The past has come back to haunt P.I. Jack Carpenter, former head of the Broward County Missing Persons Unit. As a young cop he failed to stop the kidnapping of a college coed by a shockingly large assailant--and neither of them was ever seen again. The abduction has remained Carpenter's most chilling cold case, and even now the mystery of the missing girl lurks in his darkest dreams. But after eighteen years, it's about to become terrifying reality once more. When his daughter, Jessie, asks him to bird-dog a camera-toting creep who's been shadowing her college basketball team, Carpenter's hot pursuit of the video voyeur leads him smack into another run-in with his old hulking nemesis, who abducts one of Jessie's teammates. While the Broward County cops are determined to pin the rap on a convenient suspect, Carpenter isn't about to let grim history repeat itself--especially when he discovers a pattern of unsolved kidnappings involving the same massive perp. With the eager assistance of the kidnap victim's high-powered tycoon father, the uneasy cooperation of his old unit's new commander, and precious little time before the trail goes cold, Jack and his trusty dog, Buster, hit the ground running. And they'll need all the help they can get--including backup from an FBI man with a personal stake in the hunt--as they follow a twisted trail from the ruins of a shuttered mental asylum with an infamous past to the streets of a sinister small town with a ghastly secret. With smooth-talking, uncompromising hero Jack Carpenter as guide, The Night Monster is an exhilarating journey into the heart of the American underworld. Bestselling author James Swain's fiendish plotting and energetic pacing will keep you electrified straight through till morning.

Author Biography

James Swain, winner of the prestigious Prix Calibre 38 for Best American Crime Fiction, is the bestselling author of nine previous novels. He lives with his wife, Laura, in Florida, where he is currently at work on his next novel.

From the Hardcover edition.



Cops aren’t supposed to get frightened. The badge and the uniform and the gun strapped to a cop’s side are intended to ward off the normal fears that most people experience when confronted by unspeakable horror and evil.

 But it doesn’t always work out that way. Cops get scared, just like everyone else. Sometimes they get so scared, they run for their lives. Other times, they get shaken to the core and never forget the things they’ve seen. It happened to me, two years into the job. 

I was going home in my cruiser when I got the distress call. A woman was being assaulted at the Sunny Isle apartment complex, and a neighbor had called 911. Sunny Isle was a mile from where I lived, so I took the call. 

According to the dispatcher, a college student named Naomi Dunn was being assaulted by a man inside her apartment. It had sounded like a domestic disturbance, something I’d dealt with many times as a cop. When the dispatcher had asked if I wanted backup, I’d said no, I could handle the situation. The dispatcher had told me to proceed with caution. 

I arrived at Sunny Isle a few minutes later. Four orange stucco buildings made up the complex, with entrances from each apartment facing a courtyard containing a pool and a children’s play area. It had started to rain, and there were white caps on the water. 

I searched for a place to park. The lot was filled with junkers, many with student tags. Several had bumper stickers that said Clinton in ’92! I’d read about the Arkansas governor’s run for president, and didn’t think he had a chance. 

I parked and got out of my cruiser. There was a yellow rain slicker in the trunk, but I didn’t bother to retrieve it. I was a native, and was used to getting drenched by the occasional downpour. 

Walking into the courtyard, I scanned the unmarked stucco buildings. They were quiet, and I saw nothing out of the ordinary. I walked around for a few minutes, then decided to leave. It had been a long day, and I wanted to eat dinner with my wife and two- year- old daughter, then hit the books. I was studying to become a detective, and the lengthy test was weighing heavily on my mind. 

“Officer! Officer!” 

A ghostlike woman materialized by the pool. Dressed in a simple black housedress, her soaking wet hair was plastered to her head. 

“Did you call the police?” I asked. 

“That was me.” 

Her voice was trembling, and she was shaking from head to toe. I couldn’t tell if there was something wrong with her, or if she was just plain scared. 

“What’s the problem?” I asked. 

“Earlier I saw a large man lurking around the complex. Then I heard noises from Naomi Dunn’s apartment. She was screaming, so I called nine- one- one.” 

“Is Naomi Dunn still in her apartment?” 

“Yes.” The woman pointed at the last building, on the ground floor. “He’s still in there, hurting her.” 

“Do you know who he is?” 

“No, but he was huge.” 

I started to walk toward the building, and the ghostly woman called after me. 

“Take your gun out,” she said. 

The words made me freeze. I’d been trained not to draw my weapon unless my life was being threatened. The tone of her warning said that it was. Unstrapping my holster, I rested my hand on my gun’s handle. 

“Please go inside your apartment and lock your door,” I said.

Excerpted from The Night Monster: A Novel of Suspense by James Swain
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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