Killer Dreams

Killer Dreams

by Iris Johansen

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The #1 New York Times bestselling author of Countdown returns with a knock-out suspense thriller that pits a mother and son against a killer who's the stuff of nightmares.

If you close your eyes, he’ll get you. Sophie Dunston knows all too well how dreams can kill. As one of the nation’s top sleep therapists, she specializes in the life-threatening night terrors that her ten-year-old son, Michael, suffers from. But she is also an expert in another kind of terror–the kind that can turn a dream life into a living nightmare in the blink of an eye.

Someone is watching. He’s a shadowy figure from out of her darkest fears and he hasn’t forgotten her. In one shocking moment of violence, he’d shattered Sophie’s world forever and left her with only one thing to live for: her son. But the nightmare isn’t over for Sophie Dunston. It’s just begun. He’s been waiting. Sophie was supposed to die the first time around, but fate intervened. This time he’ll make sure that not even a miracle will save her.

It wasn’t a miracle that saved Jock Gavin, but it was pretty close. A semiretired hit man, commando, and jack-of-all-deadly-trades, he knows what Sophie is up against–and that she’ll need help. But the man he’s chosen for the job is as unpredictable as he is dangerous. Matt Royd is a wild card–hard, cool, merciless–and putting him into play changes the game completely. But to whose advantage?

Sophie will soon find out. She will have to trust Royd because she has no choices left. Because the bogeyman haunting her dreams is all too real and he’s on the hunt again. Because the nightmare he’s got planned for Sophie won’t end when she wakes up screaming. It won’t end. Ever.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553586534
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/28/2007
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 592,602
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 6.80(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Iris Johansen is the New York Times bestselling author of many novels, including Killer Dreams, On the Run, Countdown, Firestorm, Fatal Tide, Dead Aim, and No One to Trust. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia.

Read an Excerpt

Killer Dreams

By Iris Johansen

Random House

Iris Johansen
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0553803441

Chapter One


Two years later
Fentway University Hospital
Baltimore, Maryland

What's going on? You're not supposed to be here."

Sophie Dunston looked up from the chart to see Kathy VanBoskirk, the head night nurse, standing in the doorway. "An overnight apnea study."

"You worked all day and now you're monitoring an overnighter?" Kathy came into the room and glanced at the bed on the other side of the double glass panel. "Ah, an infant. The light dawns."

"Not so much an infant any longer. Elspeth's fourteen months," Sophie said. "She'd stopped having incidents three months ago and now they're back. She just stops breathing in the middle of the night and her doctor can't find any reason for it. Her mother is worried sick."

"Then where is she?"

"She works nights."

"So do you. Days and nights." Kathy gazed at the sleeping baby. "Lord, she's beautiful. Makes my biological clock start ticking. My kid is fifteen now and there's nothing lovable about him. I'm hoping he'll turn back into a human being in another six years. Think I have a chance?"

"Don is just your typical teenager. He'll get there." Sophie rubbed her eyes. They felt as if they had sand in them. It was almost five and the sleep study would be over soon. Then she'd run the errand that was on the top of her list before getting tobed and grabbing a few hours of shut-eye before she had to get back for her first one o'clock session with the Cartwright child. "And he offered to clean my car last week when you had him at the office."

"He probably wanted a chance to swipe it." Kathy grimaced. "Or maybe he wanted the chance to score with an older woman. He thinks you're cool-looking."

"Yeah, sure." Right now, Sophie felt older than her years, frumpy, and ugly as sin. She turned back the chart and checked Elspeth's case history. She'd had an apnea episode about 1:00 a.m. and nothing since. There might be something there that would help her pin down--

"There's a message for you at the nurses' station," Kathy said.

Sophie stiffened. "Home?"

Kathy quickly shook her head. "No. God, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to panic you. I didn't think. The message came in during the shift change at seven and they forgot to give it to you." She paused. "How is Michael?"

"Sometimes terrible. Sometimes okay." She tried to smile. "But all the time wonderful."

Kathy nodded. "Yes, he is."

"But in five years I'll probably be pulling my hair out like you're doing." She changed the subject. "So who left the message?"

"It's from Gerald Kennett again. Aren't you going to call him back?"

"No." She checked Elspeth's meds. Allergies?

"Sophie, it wouldn't hurt to talk to him. He offered you a job that will pay you more in a month than you make in a year here at the university. And he might even up the salary since he keeps after you. I'd jump at it."
"Then you call him back. I like my work here and the people I work with. I don't want to have to answer to any pharmaceutical company."

"You worked for one before."

"When I first got out of medical school. It was a big mistake. I thought they'd free me up to do research full time. It didn't happen. I'm better off doing the research in my spare time." She circled one of the medications on Elspeth's chart. "And I learned more dealing with people here than I'd ever learn in a lab."

"Like Elspeth." Kathy's gaze was on the baby. "She's stirring."

"Yes, she's been in NREM for the last five minutes. She's almost there." She put down the chart and headed for the adjoining door to the test room. "I've got to get in there and remove those wires before she's fully awake. She'll be scared if she wakes up alone."

"When's her mother supposed to get here?"


"Against the rules. Parents are to pick up their children promptly at the end of the session and this one ends at five-thirty."

"Screw the rules. At least she cares enough about the kid to have the tests. I don't mind staying."

"I know," Kathy said. "You're the one who's going to have the night terrors if you don't stop exhausting yourself."

Sophie made the sign to ward off demons. "Don't even talk about it. Send Elspeth's mom in as soon as she gets here, will you?"

Kathy chuckled. "Scared you."

"Yes, you did. There's nothing scarier than night terrors. Believe me, I know." She went into Elspeth's room and went over to the crib. It took only a few minutes to remove the wires. The little girl had dark hair like her mother and her skin was a silky olive now flushed with sleep. Sophie felt a familiar melting as she gazed at her. "Elspeth," she called softly. "Come back to us, sweetheart. You won't be sorry. We'll talk and I'll read you a story and we'll wait for your mama. . . ."

She should get back to work, Kathy thought as she looked through the glass at Elspeth and Sophie. Sophie had picked the baby up, wrapped her in a blanket, and was sitting down in the rocking chair with the baby on her lap. She was talking and rocking the child and her expression was soft and glowing and loving.

Kathy had heard other doctors describe Sophie as brilliant and intuitive. She had a double doctorate in medicine and chemistry and was one of the best sleep therapists in the country. But Kathy liked this Sophie best. The one who effortlessly seemed to be able to reach out and touch her patients. Even Kathy's son had responded to that warmth the one time he'd met her. And Don was definitely a hard sell. Of course, the fact that Sophie was blond, tall, and slim and bore a vague resemblance to Kate Hudson probably had a lot to do with her son's admiration. He wasn't into the maternal types. Unless Madonna was the one on the album covers.

But Sophie didn't look like Madonna any more than she did the statue of the Holy Virgin. In this moment she was very human and full of love.

And strength. Sophie would have had to be strong to be able to endure the hell she had gone through in the last few years. She deserved a break. Kathy wished she'd take the Kennett job, scoop up the big bucks, and forget about responsibility.
Then she shook her head as she glanced at Sophie's expression again. Sophie couldn't shun responsibility, not with this baby, and not with Michael. It wasn't in her nature.

Hell, maybe Sophie was right. Maybe the money wasn't as important as the payback she was getting in there with that kid.

"Bye, Kathy." Sophie waved as she headed for the elevator. "See you."
"Not if you have any sense. I'm on night duty all this month. Did you find any cause for the increase in apnea?"
"I'm changing one of the meds. It's mostly trial and error at Elspeth's age." She stepped inside the elevator as the doors opened. "We just have to monitor her until she grows out of it."

She leaned back against the wall of the elevator as the doors shut and closed her eyes. She was too tired. She should go home and forget about Sanborne.

Stop being a coward. She wasn't going home yet.

A few minutes later she was unlocking the door of the van. She avoided looking at the gun case with the Springfield rifle in the back of the Toyota. She'd checked it earlier to make sure it was in order. Not that she really had to do it. Jock always took care of the weapons and he wouldn't let her go with a faulty rifle. He was too much the professional.

She wished she could say the same for herself. She'd blocked the thought of Sanborne all night but she was trembling now. She leaned her head on the steering wheel for a few minutes. Get over it. It was natural that she'd feel like this. Taking a life was a terrible thing. Even vermin like Sanborne.

She drew a deep breath, raised her head, and started the van.

Sanborne would be arriving at the facility at 7:00 a.m.

She had to be there waiting for him.


She heard a shout behind her.

She skidded down the slope of the hill, fell, picked herself up, and flew down the bank of the creek.
A bullet whistled by her head.


Run. Keep on running.

She could hear a crashing in the brush at the top of the hill.
How many were there?

Duck into the bushes. The van was parked on the road a quarter of a mile from here. She had to lose them before she reached the van.
The branches were whipping her face as she tore through the shrubbery.

She couldn't hear them anymore.

Yes, she could. But they sounded farther away. Maybe they'd gone in another direction.
She'd reached the van.

She jumped in the driver's seat and threw the rifle into the back before she peeled out onto the road.
Her foot stomped on the accelerator.

Get away. It could still be okay. If they hadn't gotten a good look at her.
If they weren't close enough to put a bullet through her head. . . .

Excerpted from Killer Dreams by Iris Johansen Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Killer Dreams 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 46 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read all of this author's thrillers and really think she should go back to what she does Eve Duncan forensic sculptor series was excellent but this book and several before it are really not good reading. The plots are way over the top and childish..even the romance subjects don't click! Go back to Ugly Duckling, Then You Die,Face of Deception etc!!!!
harstan More than 1 year ago
Sophie Dunston is close to her parents so she and her son Michael are spending time with them. Out of the blue her dad kills the wife he loves and cherishes and points the gun at his grandson. Sophie gets shot when she steps in between her two men. Later she learns that the sleep therapist her father was seeing was a minion of her first employer, Sanborne. She invented Rem-4, a drug that allowed people to be influenced into doing things while they sleep. When Sophie realized that Sanborne plans to sell the dangerous product to the highest bidder, she left him.-------------- Sanborne believes that Sophie is a loose end that he intends to get rid of starting with what happened to her dad. She proves difficult to kill ever since Royd entered her life as he was once one of Sanborne¿s brainwashed killers who broke through the conditioning. Like Sophie he plans to bring Sanborne down and destroy Rem-4. Sophie and Royd are attracted to one another, but they have a mission that needs to be finished before they can consider exploring a future together.--------------- Once again Iris Johansen writes a thriller that will grip readers so much that they will ignore any other nearby activity. The story-line contains so much action fans will believe they are on a looping roller coaster unable to catch their breath before plunging into the next spin. KILLER DREAMS is filled with adventure, but the romantic subplot between the two protagonists feels right as a natural outcome of what they have suffered, enhancing an adrenaline pumping thriller.------------ Harriet Klausner
bmamca36 More than 1 year ago
Babygirl25661 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Love, Love, Love this book!! In my opinion one of the best from Iris so far. It starts out with a bang and then just keeps up the pace throughout the whole book. Not one dull moment in this one i promise... If your not an Iris fan , you will be after you read this one.
FutureBestSeller on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a BOOK! She had me turning pages late into the night! I really liked the premise of the book.Sophie is a sleep specialist and had developed a program to help people who suffer from chronic nightmares. However, someone has found away to use it for military purposes. Sophie tries to take down the mastermind behind these horrible experiments.Enter Matt Royd. He is a victim of this testing. He too, is trying to take down the evil mastermind. And he won't let anyone get in his way. One of my favorite things about Johansen's writing style is how she can create an entirely different story inter-weaving characters through out. She is a master storyteller and this is a work of art!
MrsLara on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I picked up the paperback version from the library because I like scary stories and the cover and blurb on the back seemed to promise that. (A woman and child running through what looks like a forest in the dark, and the font of the book title almost looking like it was written in blood, only black in color.) The prologue DID grab me. An event that I promise you won't see coming knocked the socks off me and I thought a great story was in store. Instead, the story didn't seem to match the cover and blurb on the back. The plot itself was pretty good, but the heroine got on my nerves. She and her child are in danger and lots of folks are risking their lives to save them and instead of appreciation, the heroine is utterly defiant through most of the book. It left me feeling as though they ought to just drop her off on the nearest street corner and leave her to fend for herself. Also, I didn't see anything on the cover or back to suggest that this was a romantic suspense story, and I don't like those at all. Granted, this wasn't at bad as the "her heaving bosom, his throbbing..." types, but as the outside of the book gave no hint of it coming, I was sad to see it in the story. The evil plot was pretty good; if this book was written without the romance or without such a hateful heroine, it would be MUCH better.
la_librarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An interesting book but not Johansen's best work. I listened to the audio version and it was decent. The plot centers around a formula for REM 4 a mind control substance but the science is not explained quite enough to understand how it works or to really make it believable.Sophie, the main character is a bit of a poor me type person but she gets stronger throughout.Jane Maguire has a small role and some others characters from Johansens earlier books.
Booknose on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Killer Dreams is a very good romantic suspense thriller. Johansen pulls off the connection between a previously brainwashed hired killer and the scientist who invented the formula with which he was brainwashed, very well. The romance takes a backseat to the action though only serving to create enough friction to make the plot a little deeper. The rest is a worldwide chase to find the man whose playing god with the formula the heroine developed to help people and to escape the brainwashed killers he keeps sending to kill and her son. It's very exciting, action packed, edge of the seat stuff and kept me reading all day and most of the night until I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer.. My first Johansen book and definitely not my last..
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