TWILIGHT WHISPERS was a challenge for me. At the time I wrote it – 1987 - I wanted to push myself as a writer. The result: a book that was longer and more complex than anything I had written before then. In many respects, it is my first mainstream novel.
Here is the story of three families: the Warrens and the Whytes, wealthy, powerful, and connected by the marriage of Deborah Warren and Mark Whyte; and the not-so-wealthy Morells - Cassie, the loyal housekeeper for the Warrens, and her daughter, Katia, who grew up with and adores the Warren and Whyte children.
The story opens with the funeral of Deborah and Mark, who have been murdered. In the course of his investigation, Robert Cavanaugh, the detective assigned to the case, traces the rise of the families to power and uncovers secrets and scandals aplenty. He also comes to admire - and I hope you will come to love - Jordan Whyte and Katia Morell, whose futures are irrevocably linked.
TWILIGHT WHISPERS is part family saga, part murder mystery, and part love story. Re-reading this book in anticipation of its reissue, I was enthralled by its characters just as strongly as I was when the book was first published so many years ago. It stands the test of time. I highly recommend it!
|Product dimensions:||4.60(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.30(d)|
About the Author
Date of Birth:August 9, 1945
Place of Birth:Boston, Massachusetts
Education:B.A. in Psychology, Tufts University, 1967; M.A. in Sociology, Boston College, 1969
Read an Excerpt
By Barbara Delinsky
Warner BooksCopyright © 1987 Barbara Delinsky
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTHE INTENSE HEAT SENT rivulets of sweat trickling down Robert Cavanaugh's neck. He skimmed them away with the palm of his hand, perversely satisfied that he wasn't the only one suffering. The members of the media contingent around him were just as hot. Shirt backs were damp. Cameramen lowered their equipment from time to time to wipe their eyes and cheeks with their sleeves. More than one reporter fanned himself with his notebook. But this was no press conference, with the bodies packed into a small room made stifling by the heat of television lights.
It was a funeral beneath a blazing July sun, a funeral that attracted as much public attention as the announcement of a new presidential candidate would have done.
When it came to the Whytes and the Warrens, anything attracted attention. That might have galled Cavanaugh under other circumstances, but it didn't bother him now. The press pack was his cover.
Standing among them on a grassy knoll overlooking the crowds of mourners, he was as inconspicuous as a detective lieutenant in the police force could hope to be. His street clothes helped, but then he hadn't been in uniform for years. It seemed like years since he had felt this kind of drive, too, as though everything that had come before in his career had been in preparationfor the investigation he was about to lead.
Vengeance was a powerful motive, ugly in its way, but sweet, oh so sweet in anticipation. Cavanaugh's sense of anticipation had been growing ever since that fateful moment thirty-six hours before when John Ryan, a deputy superintendent and the chief of detectives, had summoned him to his office.
Cavanaugh had been filling out the report on a rape-murder suspect he'd collared the day before. Hearing his name bellowed across the squad room, he snapped the form from his typewriter, slid it into a folder, and headed for Ryan's office.
"Shut the door," Ryan had ordered in the manner that, to his underling's chagrin, had become even more brusque of late.
Shutting the door, Cavanaugh leaned against a file cabinet as he watched his superior maneuver his bulky form into the worn chair behind his desk. The chair groaned when Ryan tipped it back.
"Got a call a little while ago," he began. His voice was high, as though it were squeezed from his barrel chest. "Two bodies were found on a boat by Lewis Wharf-Mark Whyte and his wife, Deborah Warren."
A sudden rush of adrenaline made Cavanaugh stand straight.
Pleased that he had the younger detective's undivided attention, Ryan went on. "It looked like a murder-suicide to the men who got there first. I want you to take charge."
Ryan raised pudgy fingers to scratch his head, then smoothed his thinning crew cut. "Look for more. It could be something big. There's trouble in those families. Whyte barely talks to his youngest son, and Warren and his son have been competing with each other for political support for years. The two who are dead were into some weird things in L.A. They were an embarrassment. Someone may have wanted them out of the way." He arched a brow. "Warren's up for reelection next year. This one smells."
With that succinct analysis, he had lifted a four-inch stack of files and papers from the profusion of empty coffee cups and deli sandwich wrappers on his desk. "Spare time reading. You'll find it interesting. Take your time. You know who we're dealing with, so be careful. And keep me informed. Cavanaugh," he had added in dismissal. "I want to be with this one every step of the way."
Cavanaugh had been flattered at being given the job, then excited when its scope opened before him. It seemed that he hadn't been the only one keeping tabs on the Whytes and Warrens over the years. Ryan's file was far more complete than his own. It went back more than fifty years, documenting the rise of the two families to prominence. Through newspaper clippings, magazine articles, miscellaneous notations and internal memoranda, it told of shrewd business moves, political ambitions, the attainment of power. Interspersed with the admirable, though, were the hints of shady dealings, greed and ruthlessness that Cavanaugh himself had suspected.
For better than fifty years the Whytes and Warrens had cut an ever widening swath through the country's power-elite. Inevitably, enemies had been made along the way, but these weren't to be the crux of Cavanaugh's investigation. Cavanaugh was intrigued by the idea that dissension within the families might have led to the deliberate silencing of two of their number. His fantasies held it to be the ultimate in poetic justice if the Whytes and Warrens were to be caught in a deadly web of their own making.
Now, looking down at the funeral gathering as the public would later see it on television, Cavanaugh knew that any internal deceit would be-indeed, was-well hidden. Sorrow hung as heavy in the air as the heat; treason seemed unthinkable in a group that bore its grief the way these two families did.
Blood boundaries indistinguishable, they stood clustered around the twin gravesights. A Whyte clung to a Warren; two Warrens flanked another Whyte. Belying the antagonism Ryan had mentioned, they were a tight knit group, as, on the surface, they had been for more years than Cavanaugh had been alive.
That, perhaps, was part of their mystique. But it was Cavanaugh's job to see through the illusions to reality, to separate and analyze each Whyte and Warren in search of the weak link that John Ryan, for one, believed existed.
It would be tough. If power was a fortress, these families were protected to the hilt. To find a crack in the wall, then sneak through before it was discovered and repaired, would take time, keen thinking and perseverance.
Ryan had given him the first; he would have all the time he needed to conduct a careful investigation. As for keen thinking and perseverance, Cavanaugh came into those on his own. During the seventeen years he'd been on the force, he had established a reputation for investigative skill and doggedness. He had been his own harsh taskmaster, finding satisfaction in a job well done regardless of the volume of complaints his orders sometimes inspired in the ranks beneath him.
While other detectives sometimes sought the limelight, Cavanaugh had never done so. He believed John Ryan had given him this prestigious job for precisely that reason. While they both knew that success would clinch Cavanaugh's future in the upper echelon of the department, they likewise knew that there would be no grandstanding along the way. Notwithstanding the personal vengeance Cavanaugh sought-and he had no way of knowing whether Ryan was aware of it-the Whyte-Warren investigation would be run in the same plodding, professional manner in which he had run every other investigation he had conducted.
Mindful that the investigation was now underway, Cavanaugh raised the camera that had hung by his side and trained the telephoto lens on the mourners. He moved from one face to the next, studying and identifying those present. If the heat wilted many of the assembled crowd, the immediate family members seemed impervious to it, sheltered as they appeared to be under a canopy of sorrow. The occasional handkerchief dabbed at a tear, but for the most part the faces were still and pale.
Tripping the shutter of his camera, Cavanaugh captured the tableau, segment by segment, on film. Standing at the center of the group were the senior generation of Warrens and Whytes-Gilbert Warren, twenty-three-year veteran of the United States House of Representatives, and his wife, Lenore, then Natalie Whyte, pressed close to her husband, Jackson, president and chairman of the board of the prestigious Whyte Estate, which encompassed, among other things, one of the country's major airlines and an electronics division with intimate ties to the government.
They were an attractive foursome, slim, dressed in elegant black, enviable even in mourning.
Their children were no less striking, though in truth they were not children, for they ranged in age from thirty to forty-four. There was the oldest, Nicholas Whyte, somber yet dashing, the heir apparent to the Whyte Estate, and his wife, Angie, a stunning woman who had been the cause of many a broken heart when she had removed Nicholas from the ranks of the eligible ten years before. There was Peter Warren, a lawyer reputedly on a supreme ego trip aimed at a judgeship, and his second wife, Sally. Beside them stood the reserved Laura Warren Garner with her husband, Donald, a renowned plastic surgeon.
Beside the elder Whytes was their youngest daughter, Anne, and her husband Mark Mitchell, both high ranking employees in the Whyte Estate. There was Emily Warren, model-turned-actress and dressed for the part in a dramatic black sheath and veil. She seem weakened by her grief and was supported-appropriately, Cavanaugh thought-by football-hero-turned-gutsy-entrepreneur Jordan Whyte.
Had he not known better, Cavanaugh might have suspected that the families were interrelated by blood. Gil Warren and Jack Whyte had similar shocks of graying hair, and while the Warren profile was more craggy around the nose and chin than the Whyte profile, above average height, broad shoulders and firm jawlines characterized the men of both families. The women had more individual looks; Natalie darker and softer than the lighter haired Lenore; and the female offspring varied in height and coloring, although one was as eye-catching as the next.
They were the beautiful people, individuals, yet not so. Studying them, Cavanaugh realized that it was the dignity of their bearing that created the strongest resemblance. The rich wore grief proudly, he thought with disdain.
Of course, these particular rich knew that they were being photographed and filmed. They were always photographed and filmed. They were a news event, providing fodder with which the media could pique the insatiable curiosities of the average Joe and Jane at home. Cavanaugh was cynical enough to realize that, grief notwithstanding, the Whytes and Warrens were skilled showpeople.
Having captured on film each of the immediate family members, Cavanaugh turned his lens on other mourners. He recognized many of them, and those he didn't know from family-related press coverage he knew from other sources. There were the grandchildren, of course, grouped among other relatives in the background. He also recognized some of Gil Warren's staffers, and members of Jack Whyte's board of directors. The rest of the crowd was made up of numerous prominent members of the political and business communities, as well as representatives of the entertainment world and miscellaneous family friends.
Surveying the crowd, Cavanaugh zoomed in on a captivating model with whom both Mark Whyte and his father had reputedly been involved. Next he focused on a local land developer who regularly contributed to Gil Warren's campaigns-and was as crooked as they came. He snapped a photograph, too, of Gil's personal secretary, whose fourteen-year-old daughter-not present-was of dubious parentage.
Cavanaugh returned his attention to the front row of mourners. He noticed four others standing slightly separate from the rest on the far side of the caskets. He recognized them only because he had been such a voracious student of the Whyte-Warren chronicles. They were the help, Jonathan and Sarah McNee, who had been serving the Whytes for years, and Cassie Morell, loyal housekeeper to the Warrens and an exceedingly attractive woman herself. Almost pixieish in stature, she wore a slim black dress with a white lace shawl collar that might have made a mockery of her occupation had not her mien been properly subdued. Her blond hair was pulled back into a neat knot at the nape of her neck, baring features that were delicate, if a bit drawn.
But it was on the last of the four people that Cavanaugh's focus lingered, on a young woman who was every bit as striking as any Warren or Whyte, though in a softer, more vulnerable way. She was Cassie's daughter, Katia, who had grown up alongside the Whyte and Warren children and had often been photographed with them. Taller than her mother, Katia was fair, with sandy blond hair cut in an artful, shoulder-length style, a delicate, triangular-shaped face and a willowy figure. She wore a stylish light gray dress with padded shoulders and a hip sash, and matching stockings and heels.
Digging into his memory bank, Cavanaugh associated her with the art world-or advertising, he wasn't quite sure. The more he thought about it, the more the latter seemed to fit her sophisticated executive look.
Of those present, he could most readily accept that her grief was genuine. Her head was bowed, hair draping gracefully against her cheek. Her mother had an arm around her waist, but Katia's own were wrapped around herself, almost as though she wanted to keen but was exerting all her control not to.
He snapped several shots of her, then watched while she slowly raised her head, gazed briefly at the ornate brass coffins, then across them, her expression one of pain and confusion. Quickly following her gaze with his lens, he focused on Jordan Whyte, who, as though beckoned by Katia's silent call met her eyes with a matching pain in his own.
Cavanaugh looked from one face to the other. The emotion was real, though its cause was a mystery. Why these two? Why the prolonged visual exchange? It was possible that Jordan and Katia were simply longtime friends sharing their sorrow. It was also possible that there was more to their relationship than even the press had discerned. Were they lovers? Or conspirators? He knew that Jordan, like many other of the Whytes and Warrens, had lost money through deals that the deceased, his brother Mark, had orchestrated. But what was a little money to someone like Jordan Whyte, who had bundles? Where was the motive? And why would Mark's wife, Deborah, have been killed, too? And Katia? Would a creature as innocent looking as she be capable of murder?
The moment ended. Katia looked down again, while Jordan returned his gaze to the coffins of his brother, a recently successful film producer, and his sister-in-law, the dreamer of the Warrens.
Lowering his camera, Cavanaugh wondered about that. A film producer and a dreamer. The official verdict-with final autopsy reports still pending-was that Mark had killed Deborah before turning the gun on himself. The gun was his own. It carried no fingerprints but his. Husband and wife had been alone on their yacht, moored in its slip on the Boston waterfront at the time of the shooting. Though there were many more people to be checked, owners of neighboring boats and residents of nearby condominiums had neither seen nor heard a thing. There had been no sign of forced entry, much less a fight.
Excerpted from Twilight Whispers by Barbara Delinsky Copyright © 1987 by Barbara Delinsky. Excerpted by permission.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A beautiful love story, a mystery written with attention to the history of the times frames the families' growth, an excellent story
Rather engrossing story with interesting characters. Too many of them at first, to identify with them but this really needed to be read twice to appreciate it.
Good right until the end.
Wish nook gave original publication dates,just bought this book that I read years ago.
This was a good book, but should have been classified as a murder mystery rather than a romance novel. All throughout, Jordan thought that Katia was his half sister, then he was framed for murdering his brother, by none other than a cop, and just because Jordan's family was a very well known and very well off family.
Detective Robert Cavanaugh feels an adrenalin rush, more drive than he's felt in years when he's assigned by his superior, John Ryan, to investigate a double murder case. Murder suicide would be the easy answer but he thinks not. Now, this isn't just any pair of dead bodies - the bodies belong to Deborah Warren and Mark Whyte, offspring of two of the most influential families to be found. Not surprisingly with a healthy does of power also has come unscrupulous behavior, none of which can be proven at this point. But there's bad blood in both families with father and son vying for political position. However, as Cavanaugh stands sweating in the July heat at grave side services for the deceased he watches intently as the Warrens and Whites unite in their grief. Was it real or a sham? If they were pretending they'd certainly had years to perfect their public personas. All that Cavanaugh knew at this point was that the couple had been involved in some rather kinky activities. The question running through Cavanaugh's mind is whether or not someone would actually murder members of their own family in order to preserve the carefully tended family image. Also important to the story is Cassie, the housekeeper who has tended to the family for a number of years. Her daughter, Katia, grew up with the Warren and Whyte offspring and is fond of all of them. As one might expect from Delinsky, Jordan Whyte and Katia provide a romantic interest. However, far from merely a romance, this is a murder mystery and a saga tracing the generations of two families. Kathy Garver, well remembered for her role as 'Cissy' on television's Family Affair, is also an accomplished stage and film actress. Her performance of this story is graceful and well-paced. - Gail Cooke