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Ashes to Ashes

Cover of Ashes to Ashes

Ashes to Ashes

Kovac & Liska Series, Book 1
by Tami Hoag
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"Without a doubt . . . one of the most intense suspense writers around."--Chicago Tribune

"[Tami Hoag] demonstrates just why she has become one of the hottest names in the suspense game. Bottom line: Leaves competition in the dust."--People

He performs his profane ceremony in a wooded Minneapolis park, anointing his victims, then setting the bodies ablaze. He has already claimed three lives, and he won't stop there. Only this time there is a witness. But she isn't talking.

Enter Kate Conlan, former FBI agent turned victim/witness advocate. Not even she can tell if the reluctant witness is a potential victim or something more troubling still. Her superiors are interested only because the latest victim may be the daughter of Peter Bondurant, an enigmatic billionaire. When Peter pulls strings, Special Agent John Quinn gets assigned to the case. But the FBI's ace profiler of serial killers is the last person Kate wants to work with, not with their troubled history. Now she faces the most difficult role of her career--and her life. For she's the only woman who has what it takes to stop the killer . . . and the one woman he wants next.

"You'll want to lock the doors while you're reading."--Minneapolis Star Tribune

"An up-all-night read."--The Detroit News

From the Paperback edition.

"Without a doubt . . . one of the most intense suspense writers around."--Chicago Tribune

"[Tami Hoag] demonstrates just why she has become one of the hottest names in the suspense game. Bottom line: Leaves competition in the dust."--People

He performs his profane ceremony in a wooded Minneapolis park, anointing his victims, then setting the bodies ablaze. He has already claimed three lives, and he won't stop there. Only this time there is a witness. But she isn't talking.

Enter Kate Conlan, former FBI agent turned victim/witness advocate. Not even she can tell if the reluctant witness is a potential victim or something more troubling still. Her superiors are interested only because the latest victim may be the daughter of Peter Bondurant, an enigmatic billionaire. When Peter pulls strings, Special Agent John Quinn gets assigned to the case. But the FBI's ace profiler of serial killers is the last person Kate wants to work with, not with their troubled history. Now she faces the most difficult role of her career--and her life. For she's the only woman who has what it takes to stop the killer . . . and the one woman he wants next.

"You'll want to lock the doors while you're reading."--Minneapolis Star Tribune

"An up-all-night read."--The Detroit News

From the Paperback edition.

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Excerpts-
  • Chapter One He lifts the body from the back of the Blazer like a roll of old carpet to be discarded. The soles of his boots scuff against the blacktop of the parking area, then fall nearly silent on the dead grass and hard ground. The night is balmy for November in Minneapolis. A swirling wind tosses fallen leaves. The bare branches of the trees rattle together like bags of bones.

    He knows he falls into the last category of killers. He has spent many hours, days, months, years studying his compulsion and its point of origin. He knows what he is, and he embraces that truth. He has never known guilt or remorse. He believes conscience, rules, laws, serve the individual no practical purpose, and only limit human possibilities.

    "Man enters into the ethical world through fear and not through love."
    --Paul Ricoeur, Symbolism of Evil.

    His True Self adheres only to his own code: domination, manipulation, control.

    A broken shard of moon glares down on the scene, its light faint beneath the web of limbs. He arranges the body to his satisfaction and traces two intersecting X's over the left upper chest. With a sense of ceremony, he pours the accelerant. Anointing the dead. Symbolism of evil. His True Self embraces the concept of evil as power. Fuel for the internal fire.

    "Ashes to ashes."

    The sounds are ordered and specific, magnified by his excitement. The scrape of the match against the friction strip, the pop as it bursts with flame, the whoosh of the fire as it comes alive and consumes. As the fire burns, his memory replays the earlier sounds of pain and fear. He recalls the tremor in her voice as she pleaded for her life, the unique pitch and quality of each cry as he tortured her. The exquisite music of life and death.

    For one fine moment he allows himself to admire the drama of the tableau. He allows himself to feel the heat of the flames caress his face like tongues of desire. He closes his eyes and listens to the sizzle and hiss, breathes deep the smell of roasting flesh.

    Elated, excited, aroused, he takes his erection out of his pants and strokes himself hard. He brings himself nearly to climax, but is careful not to ejaculate. Save it for later, when he can celebrate fully.

    His goal is in sight. He has a plan, meticulously thought out, to be executed with perfection. His name will live in infamy with all the great ones--Bundy, Kemper, the Boston Strangler, the Green River Killer. The press here has already given him a name: the Cremator.

    It makes him smile. It makes him proud. He lights another match and holds it just in front of him, studying the flame, loving the sinuous, sensuous undulation of it. He brings it closer to his face, opens his mouth, and eats it.

    Then he turns and walks away. Already thinking of next time.

    MURDER.

    The sight burned its impression into the depths of her memory, into the backs of her eyeballs so that she could see it when she blinked against the tears. The body twisting in slow agony against its horrible fate. Orange flame a backdrop for the nightmare image.

    Burning.

    She ran, her lungs burning, her legs burning, her eyes burning, her throat burning. In one abstract corner of her mind, she was the corpse. Maybe this was what death was like. Maybe it was her body roasting, and this consciousness was her soul trying to escape the fires of hell. She had been told repeatedly that was where she would end up.

    In the near distance she could hear a siren and see the weird flash of blue and red lights against the night. She ran for the street, sobbing, stumbling. Her right knee hit the frozen ground, but she forced...
About the Author-
  • Tami Hoag's novels have appeared regularly on national bestseller lists since the publication of her first book in 1988. She lives in Los Angeles.

Reviews-
  • Chicago Tribune

    "Without a doubt...Tami Hoag is one of the most intense suspense writers around."

  • People "[Tami Hoag] demonstrates just why she has become one of the hottest names in the suspense game....Bottom line: Leaves competition in the dust."
  • Entertainment Weekly "[A] detail-packed thriller...The Silence of the Lambscomes to mind more than once."
  • New York Post "Tami Hoag is the queen of the crime story."
  • Star Tribune, Minneapolis "You'll want to lock the doors while you're reading."
  • Detroit News "An up-all-night read."
Title Information+
  • Publisher
    Random House Publishing Group
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Digital Rights Information+
  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

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