The Perfect Husband (FBI Profiler Series #1)

The Perfect Husband (FBI Profiler Series #1)

by Lisa Gardner

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reissue)

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What would you do if the man of your dreams hides the soul of a killer?

Jim Beckett was everything she'd ever dreamed of . . . But two years after Tess married the decorated cop and bore his child, she helped put him behind bars for savagely murdering ten women. Even locked up in a maximum security prison, he vowed he would come after her and make her pay. Now the cunning killer has escaped—and the most dangerous game of all begins. . . .

After a lifetime of fear, Tess will do something she's never done before. She's going to learn to protect her daughter and fight back, with the help of a burned-out ex-marine. As the largest manhunt four states have ever seen mobilizes to catch Beckett, the clock winds down to the terrifying reunion between husband and wife. And Tess knows that this time, her only choices are to kill—or be killed.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553576801
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/28/1997
Series: FBI Profiler Series , #1
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 30,710
Product dimensions: 4.16(w) x 6.86(h) x 1.11(d)

About the Author

Lisa Gardner is the New York Times bestselling author of thirteen novels. Her Detective D. D. Warren novels include Live to Tell, Hide, Alone, and The Neighbor, winner of the International Thriller Writers’ Award. Her FBI Profiler novels include Say Goodbye, Gone, The Killing Hour, The Next Accident, and The Third Victim. She lives with her family in New England.

Read an Excerpt

Tess Williams awoke as she'd learned to awaken—slowly, degree by degree, so that she reached consciousness without ever giving herself away.  First her ears woke up, seeking out the sound of another person breathing.  Next, her skin prickled to life, searching for the burning length of her husband's body pressed against her back.  Finally, when her ears registered no sound and her skin found her alone in her bed, her eyes opened, going automatically to the closet and checking the small wooden chair she'd jammed beneath the doorknob in the middle of the night.

The chair was still in place.  She released the breath she'd been holding and sat up.  The empty room was already bright with mid-morning sun, the adobe walls golden and cheery.  The air was hot.  Her T-shirt stuck to her back, but maybe the sweat came from nightmares that never quite went away.  She'd once liked mornings.  They were difficult for her now, but not as difficult as night, when she would lie there and try to force her eyes to give up their vigilant search of shadows in favor of sleep.

You made it, she told herself.  You actually made it.

For the last two years she'd been running, clutching her four-year-old daughter's hand and trying to convince Samantha that everything would be all right.  She'd picked up aliases like decorative accessories and new addresses like spare parts.  But she'd never really escaped.  Late at night, she would sit at the edge of her daughter's bed, stroking Samantha's golden hair, and stare at the closet with fatalistic eyes.

She knew just what kind of monsters hid in the closet.  She had seen the crime scene photos of what they could do.  Three weeks ago, her personal monster had broken out of a maximum security prison by beating two guards to death in under two minutes.

Tess had called Lieutenant Lance Difford.  He'd called Vince.  The wheels were set in motion.  Tess Williams had hidden Samantha safely away, then she had traveled as far as she could travel.  Then she had traveled some more.

First, she'd taken the train, and the train had taken her through New England fields of waving grass and industrial sectors of twisted metal.  Then she'd caught a plane, flying over everything as if that would help her forget and covering so many miles she left behind even fall and returned to summer.

Landing in Phoenix was like arriving in a moon crater: everything was red, dusty, and bordered by distant blue mountains.  She'd never seen palms; here roads were lined with them.  She'd never seen cactus; here they covered the land like an encroaching army.

The bus had only moved her farther into alien terrain.  The red hills had disappeared, the sun had gained fury.  Signs for cities had been replaced by signs reading STATE PRISON IN AREA.  DO NOT STOP FOR HITCHHIKERS.

The reds and browns had seeped away until the bus rolled through sun-baked amber and bleached-out greens.  The mountains no longer followed like kindly grandfathers.  In this strange, harsh land of southern Arizona, even the hills were tormented, flayed alive methodically by mining trucks and bulldozers.

It was the kind of land where you really did expect to turn and see the OK Corral.  The kind of land where lizards were beautiful and coyotes cute.  The kind of land where the hothouse rose died and the prickly cactus lived.

It was perfect.

Tess climbed out of bed.  She moved slowly.  Her right leg was stiff and achy, the jagged scar twitching with ghost pains.  Her left wrist throbbed, ringed by a harsh circle of purple bruises.  She could tell it wasn't anything serious—her father had taught her a lot about broken bones.  As things went in her life these days, a bruised wrist was the least of her concerns.

She turned her attention to the bed.

She made it without thinking, tucking the corners tightly and smoothing the covers with military precision.

I want to be able to bounce a quarter off that bed, Theresa.  Youth is no excuse for sloppiness.  You must always seek to improve.

She caught herself folding back the edge of the sheet over the light blanket and dug her fingertips into her palms.  In a deliberate motion, she ripped off the blanket and dumped it on the floor.

"I will not make the bed this morning," she stated to the empty room.  "I choose not to make the bed."

She wouldn't clean anymore either, or wash dishes or scrub floors.  She remembered too well the scent of ammonia as she rubbed down the windows, the doorknobs, the banisters.  She'd found the pungent odor friendly, a deep-clean sort of scent.

This is my house, and not only does it look clean, but it smells clean.

Once, when she'd taken the initiative to rub down the window casings with ammonia, Jim had even complimented her.  She'd beamed at him, married one year, already eight months pregnant and as eager as a lap dog for his sparing praise.

Later, Lieutenant Difford had explained to her how ammonia was one of the few substances that rid surfaces of fingerprints.

Now she couldn't smell ammonia without feeling ill.

Her gaze was drawn back to the bed, the rumpled sheets, the covers tossed and wilted on the floor.  For a moment, the impulse, the sheer need to make that bed—and make it right because she had to seek to improve herself, you should always seek to improve—nearly overwhelmed her.  Sweat beaded her upper lip.  She fisted her hands to keep them from picking up the blankets.

"Don't give in.  He messed with your mind, Tess, but that's done now.  You belong to yourself and you are tough.  You won, dammit.  You won."

The words didn't soothe her.  She crossed to the bureau to retrieve her gun from her purse.  Only at the last minute did she remember that the .22 had fallen on the patio.

J.T. Dillon had it now.

She froze.  She had to have her gun.  She ate with her gun, slept with her gun, walked with her gun.  She couldn't be weaponless.  Defenseless, vulnerable, weak.

Oh God.  Her breathing accelerated, her stomach plummeted, and her head began to spin.  She walked the edge of the anxiety attack, feeling the shakes and knowing that she either found solid footing now or plunged into the abyss.

Breathe, Tess, breathe.  But the friendly desert air kept flirting with her lungs.  She bent down and forcefully caught a gulp by her knees, squeezing her eyes shut.

"Can I walk you home?"

She was startled.  "You mean me?"  She hugged her school books more tightly against her Mt. Greylock High sweater.  She couldn't believe the police officer was addressing her.  She was not the sort of girl handsome young men addressed.

"No," he teased lightly.  "I'm talking to the grass."  He pushed himself away from the tree, his smile unfurling to reveal two charming dimples.  All the girls in her class talked of those dimples, dreamed of those dimples.  "You're Theresa Matthews, right?"

She nodded stupidly.  She should move.  She knew she should move.  She was already running late for the store and her father did not tolerate tardiness.

She remained standing there, staring at this young man's handsome face.  He looked so strong.  A man of the law.  A man of integrity?  For one moment she found herself thinking,
If I told you everything, would you save me?  Would somebody please save me?

"Well, Theresa Matthews, I'm Officer Beckett.  Jim Beckett.  "

"I know.  " Her gaze fell to the grass.  "Everyone knows who you are."

"May I walk you home, Theresa Matthews?  Would you allow me the privilege?"

She remained uncertain, too overwhelmed to speak.  Her father would kid her.  Only promiscuous young women, evil women, enticed men to walk them home.  But she didn't want to send Jim Beckett away.  She didn't know what to do.

He leaned over and winked at her.  His blue eyes were so clear, so calm.  So steady.

"Come on Theresa, I'm a cop.  If you can't trust me, who can you trust?"

"I won," she muttered by her knees.  "Dammit, I won!"  But she wanted to cry.  She'd won, but the victory remained hollow, the price too high.  He'd done things to her that never should have been done.  He'd taken things from her that she couldn't afford to lose.  Even now, he was still in her head.

Someday soon, he would kill her.  He'd promised to cut out her still-beating heart, and Jim always did what he said.

She forced her head up.  She took a deep breath.  She pressed her fists against her thighs.  "Fight, Tess.  It's all you have left."

She pushed away from the dresser and moved to her suitcase, politely brought to her room by Freddie.  She'd made it here, step one of her plan.  Next, she had to get J.T. to agree to train her.  Dimly, she remembered mentioning her daughter to him.  That had been a mistake.  Never tell them more than you have to, never tell the truth if a lie will suffice.

Maybe J.T. wouldn't remember.  He hadn't seemed too sober.  Vincent should've warned her about his drinking.

She didn't know much about J.T.  Vince had said J.T. was the kind of man who could do anything he wanted to, but who didn't seem to want to do much.  He'd been raised in a wealthy, well-connected family in Virginia, attended West Point, but then left for reasons unknown and joined the Marines.  Then he'd left the Marines and struck out solo, rapidly earning a reputation for a fearlessness bordering on insanity.  As a mercenary, he'd drifted toward doing the impossible and been indifferent to anything less.  He hated politics, loved women.  He was fanatical about fulfilling his word and noncommittal about everything else.

Five years ago, he'd up and left the mercenary business without explanation.  Like the prodigal son, he'd returned to Virginia and in a sudden flurry of unfathomable activity, he'd married, adopted a child, and settled down in the suburbs as if all along he'd really been a shoe salesman.  Later, a sixteen-year-old with a new Camaro and even newer license had killed J.T.'s wife and son in a head-on collision.

And J.T. had disappeared to Arizona.

She hadn't expected him to be drinking.  She hadn't expected him to still appear so strong.  She'd pictured him as being older, maybe soft and overripe around the middle, a man who'd once been in his prime but now was melting around the edges.  Instead, he'd smelled of tequila.  His body had been toned and hard.  He'd moved fast, pinning her without any effort.  He had black hair, covering his head, his arms, his chest.

Jim had had no hair, not on head, not on his body.  He'd been completely hairless, smooth as marble.  Like a swimmer, she'd thought, and only later understood the full depth of her naiveté.  Jim's touch had always been cold and dry, as if he was too perfect for such things as sweat.  The first time she'd heard him urinate, she'd felt a vague sense of surprise; he gave the impression of being above such basic biological functions.

Jim had been perfect.  Mannequin perfect.  If only she'd held that thought longer.

She'd stick with J.T. Dillon.  He'd once saved orphans.  He'd been married and had a child.  He'd destroyed things for money.  He sounded skilled, he appeared dangerous.

For her purposes, he would do.

And if helping her cost J.T. Dillon too much?

She already knew the answer, she'd spent years coming to terms with it.

Sometimes, she did wish she was sixteen again.  She'd been a normal girl, once.  She'd dreamed of a white knight who would rescue her.  Someone who would never hit her.  Someone who would hold her close and tell her she was finally safe.

Now, she remembered the feel of her finger tightening around the trigger.  The pull of the trigger, the jerk of the trigger, the roar of the gun and the ringing in her ears.

The acrid smell of gunpowder and the hoarse sound of Jim's cry.  The thud of his body falling down.  The raw scent of fresh blood pooling on her carpet.

She remembered these things.

And she knew she could do anything.


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Perfect Husband 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1386 reviews.
Molinarolo More than 1 year ago
This is my first novel by Gardner and it was worth the all nighter I pulled too finish the book! Gardner knows how suspence works-taut pacing makes a thriller. It is called the PERFECT HUSBUND because Jim Beckett thinks he is. As a handsome charming Police Officer, Theresa (Tess) can't believe he's interested in her. For years, she lives with an abusive father and unwitting leaps into the marriage bed of the worst sociopath, she can imagine. Jim swore he'd kill his 'perfect wife' for helping the police putting him, Jim Beckett perfection personified (especially in his killing), onto death row. He escapes, killing 2 guards. And, he is looking for his perfect wife. Jim has molded young Theresa into perfection that only he can see, and therefore Thersa must die for her ultimate betrayal. Tess leaves her daughter in police custody and seeks out J.T. Dillon, a burntout ex-Marine and ex-mercenary. J.T. is battling his own demons and is not too receptive to Tess and her plight, until his sister Marion abruptly appears. As an FBI agent, she is suspicious of Tess and is also very dismissive of J.T. Their history is not that nice. The Colonel has seen to that. But, cool, aloof Marion may have screwed up-she's discovered Tess' true identity and Beckett may already know where she is. J.T. knows he has to help Tess, and is fighting to control past and present emothions. J.T. has just finished his annual drinking binge to mark the anniversary of his 'perfect' wife. Marion wants J.T. to go seee their father. He's dying. She's been the good girl and good wife and the perfect FBI agent. Why then is everything unraveling now. She must not disappoint the Colonel, but she must help save Tess from the worst serial killer, FBI profiler Quinn has seen. Beckett was one of them, he knows police procedure, murder protocol, and forensics. Gardner puts together a beautiful patchwork quilt, because of the subplots in THE PERFECT HUSBAND. Just make sure you have a pot of coffee and your your favorite comfort food, because you have to finish this page turner in one sitting. And the book will haunt your dreams for a few nights.
mrsreaderLL More than 1 year ago
I enjoed the suspense factor and the twist in the story, but I selected this book because it was said to be the 1st in an FBI profiler series and the book was extremely lacking in the details and the prospective of the profiler. The history of the brother and the sister seemed out of context with the major plot of the story, (maybe added for character development), but should have been minimized for more details on how and what the FBI was doing to catch the bad guy. It will be awhile before I read another Gardner novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the first book of hers I've read and it was great. I didn't want to put it down. Some books get boring in parts but not this one. It was exciting from beginning to end.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read a lot of books and this is by far the best book I have ever read. It just felt so real, the people seemed like normal people with real life problems. The hero (J.T.) wasn't perfect which I liked. and Tess was srong willed, but also not perfect and you could really feel their pain. Jim was scarry and you could really see it happen. You have got to read this book. I cried which is very hard for me to do in a book.
Blitsky More than 1 year ago
I liked the suspense part of the story. There was a very good premise and for the most part it was believable and kept you waiting for the next turn. I thought the characters were overly dramatic and I most definitely could live without the graphic sex. All the smoldering and heat etc belongs in a Harlequin Romance, not this type of story. I may or may not read this author again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It keeps you in suspense. I really enjoyed this book. I enjoy all Lisa Gardner's books.
OceanJL More than 1 year ago
Lisa Gardner has done it again with a real page-turner. Only problem is that this one goes on and on with graphic sex acts where the partners take out anger and frustrations on each other during the act. Way too much 'plunging' 'screaming orgasms' and 'shooting sperm'. This could add to the story with one or two episodes, but the sex goes on and on.....for no reason that adds to the climax (pardon the pun!)
highlandco More than 1 year ago
I don't seem to see eye to eye with Bestseller Lists anymore. I find that more often now I have to dig around for the kind of books that hold my interest these days. I found this book to be nearly painful to get through. I felt like I was reading a thriller/romance. Is that what they call this? All too predictable. I need more from a sentence these days. I need more from a paragraph to keep me going. I flipped through this as quickly as I could and went back to scouring the internet for something to quench my thirst. I'm no scholar by any stretch of the imagination, but this was just too much.
betsyross More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I've read by this author and I won't read another. I enjoyed the story line, but the sex scenes were a distraction. The book would have been better without them.
Johnnie-lynn Fioramonti More than 1 year ago
At first I found the story interesting. About 200 pages in I found myself skipping parts due to tacky sex scenes. Thinking about the characters in this book and feeling sorry for themIf this is typical of Gardner I will pass on adding her books to my library.
DLML More than 1 year ago
This was a great book. But I listened to the audio version. The reader did a lousy job with the MA accent for Tess! Jennifer Wydra tried to hard to get the accent right. She made Tess's voice sound Nasal and whinny at times when pronouncing words with the dropped "R's". She often paused before pronouncing....It was very annoying to listen to. ( from MA so familar with this accent)..LOL So my recomendation is READ the BOOK! It is one of the best!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would have given 3 stars but Marion's story was very predictable & stupidly out of character in the end. Ending (the wrap up ot the story regarding how the main characters move on after the climax) book's takes a little finesse which was sorely missing . The meat of the story was good and kept my attention with only small boring spots which is a huge deal when considering authors to continue purchasing. I will read more books by this author and hope the endings get better, since the meat of the story is an attention grabber.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book. It was hard to put down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read this years ago. Decided to read it again. Its so good.l kept thinking, someone should make this into a movie
SoDak65 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book very much. Lisa always holds your interest to the very end. Entertaining story and terrific ending. Definitely recommend.
romancemistress More than 1 year ago
A superb mix of romantic suspense and hard core thriller, Lisa Gardner's The Perfect Husband starts creepy and just keeps moving relentlessly down the same dark path. We begin with the moment a handsome, respected cop picks out his future wife, based not on her beauty or sex appeal, but because he can see her upbringing in her body language. He knows that even at 17, she's already been beaten down by a domineering father and an under-his-thumb mother: the perfect already maleable clay for a monster. Several years later, Teresa - now Tess - has escaped with her daughter to seek the aid of a fomer mercenary in order to purchase his instructions on how to survive her ex-husband's homicidal vengeance. J. T. has his own demons and brutal past that he's intent on drowning in the Arizona desert with the aid of tequila and women...but he does know how to stay alive. He doesn't want any part of Tess or her problems, but her will has been forged in iron and what she won't do to save herself, she will do to save her daughter. What follows is a bloody race to ready herself for a re-match with an ex-husband who will kill anyone in his path to regaining his daughter and teaching Tess a lesson she will never survive.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book kept me entertained. None of the characters were perfect and that's a plus.
Robert Saunders More than 1 year ago
This is the first book of hers I have had read. Enjoyable read but I thought the romance and lovemaking got in the way a bit.
Elizabeth Nolan More than 1 year ago
Gardner is horrible this time around. Dialogue is fake macho and difficult to believe. Hard to like any of these characters.
Lori_Oak More than 1 year ago
I couldnt put this book down..
Cheryl Brown More than 1 year ago
This is my first FBI Profiler I have read of hers and I loved it. I highly recommend this book.
Loriogdq More than 1 year ago
I saw all the 4 and 5 star reviews and had high hopes for this book. I really struggled to finish it, and ended up skimming the last 100 pages or so. Poor plot, annoying characters, and seriously.... the "heroine" is being stalked by a serial killer who kidnapped her child, and she can't seem to keep her pants on around the "hero" in this book? Really?
RunningGirl More than 1 year ago
Another thrilling ride from Ms. Gardner! Fantastic.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read plenty of thrillers and mysteries but I've never been spooked like this before! I actually had to sleep with my closet door open!
emigre on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
With this book, you get a strong romance and an intense thriller as well, I wish more romance readers would pick up this book and not be scared away by the crime plot lines. While some plot devices were seen before, they're still very expertly used and don't seem tedious.