Lights. . .Camera. . .
With painstaking care, he "casts" his victims, each woman resembling an Alfred Hitchcock star, each killing echoing six of the legendary director's films. The only clue he leaves behind is a gruesome video of his handiwork. But the Video Killer shoots the death scenes as he believes they should have been donewith total realism. . .
A former actress, Allison Rocca knows her husband, Tony, a screenwriter, has been extra busy lately. And news reporter Katy knows her ex, Chief Detective Sam Ladera, is desperately hunting the Video Killer. Still, each woman senses something unusual about the men's behavior. But as they attempt to find the truth, they unwittingly draw closer to the lens of a calculating madman searching for his next leading lady. . .
|Edition description:||Large Print|
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
JOANNE FLUKE is the New York Times bestselling author of the Hannah Swensen mysteries, which include Double Fudge Brownie Murder, Blackberry Pie Murder, Cinnamon Roll Murder, and the book that started it all, Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder. That first installment in the series premiered as Murder, She Baked: A Chocolate Chip Cookie Mystery on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel. Like Hannah Swensen, Joanne Fluke was born and raised in a small town in rural Minnesota, but now lives in Southern California. Please visit her online at www.JoanneFluke.com
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By JOANNE FLUKE
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 1989H.L. Swensen, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Eleven Months Later Sunday, July 4
"Hi, Mr. Brother. It's good to see you again."
Christie Jensen, the pretty brunette at the ticket counter, smiled as she greeted the man at the front of the line. Working the Fourth of July matinee was a drag, but now she was glad she'd agreed to come in. Mr. Brother was her favorite regular. The other guys in line often asked her for dates, and she politely explained that it was against company policy. But Christie knew that she'd say yes to Mr. Brother without a second's hesitation.
Mr. Brother was far from what her younger sister termed "to die for" or "terminally handsome." He was of medium height with light brown hair which was thinning a bit on the top. His body was lean and well muscled even though he didn't seem the type to play tennis or jog, and this afternoon he was wearing tan slacks and a matching sports shirt, open at the neck, no tie, topped by a well-cut, brown tweed jacket with leather patches on the elbows. Christie could tell that Mr. Brother's clothes were expensive.
Christie had spent hours trying to identify exactly what it was she found so attractive about Mr. Brother. She admitted that his apparent wealth might have something to do with it. After all, he drove a beautiful tan Mercedes, and she'd never ridden in a car that expensive. Or perhaps it was his courteous, almost old-fashioned manner. He had the slightest trace of an accent, something European, Christie thought. He reminded her of the cultured aristocracy she read about in her favorite romance novels. Mr. Brother was friendly enough, he never failed to greet her by name, but he kept an aloof distance. And there was an air of subdued mystery about him that Christie found intriguing.
"Good afternoon, Christie. One ticket please, for the matinee."
Christie looked into Mr. Brother's darkly intense eyes and wished she could think of some bright, witty thing to say, but her mind had gone perfectly blank and the rest of the line was growing restless. She knew there'd be complaints if she delayed too long with one customer, so she settled for giving him her best smile as she handed him the computerized receipt that read BIJOU MATINEE ADULT. The whole encounter had taken less than a minute and then he was walking away. Christie knew she'd blown her chance again, and she turned to the next person in line with obvious reluctance.
Brother strode through the archway that led to the center aisle. This was his place of refuge, a private hideaway where he could be alone to think. It was a great relief to slip out, like a snake shedding its confining skin, and become Little Brother again.
He moved past the empty seats to the very center of the back row, where he could stretch out his legs and no one would be likely to bother him. The smell of popcorn was overpowering, and Brother suspected it was deliberately funneled in through the air conditioner vents to attract customers to the concession stand in the lobby. Theater owners were using every marketing truck they could devise to make money in an industry that was slowly dying, bled dry by DVDs and television. If the number of matinee tickets sold this afternoon was any indication, the battle was lost.
As the lights dimmed and the movie began, Brother gazed around him and smiled. The Bijou, in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, was a crazy quilt of architectural styles. The cognoscenti called it a monument to bad taste, but Brother had always felt comfortable here. Soft pink lights twinkled from the top of stark Corinthian columns, Romanesque arches were decorated with Moroccan tiles, and a Chinese lacquered balustrade ran the length of the balcony. It had been a center for entertainment in its day, but now the huge interior was practically empty.
Three elderly ladies, dressed in a style that had been fashionable years ago, were the sole occupants of the middle section. They had probably come inside to escape the heat, lured by the theater's senior citizen discount. The left section housed two middle-aged couples and a man slumped in his seat near the back, gently snoring his way through the feature. Predictably, the current crop of teenagers had taken over the balcony, huddled so closely together in pairs they reminded him of the two-headed freaks on county fair posters.
The front four rows of the theater were filled with the one group that had turned out in full force. At age twelve and under, half price, the prepubescent children were more interested in throwing popcorn and poking each other than in the movie being shown. Brother couldn't blame them. Triumph of the Jubees was a thinly plotted tale of extraterrestrials with bright pink fur and sickeningly sweet mannerisms. The only reason Brother had chosen to see it was to admire Lon Michaels's brilliant cinematography. Through some miracle, Lon had managed to turn this perfectly idiotic concept into a quality film. It was a pity that Cinescope didn't give him something more deserving of his talents.
Brother sighed and imagined his own film completed, projected on the giant screen at the Bijou. No one would snore, or throw popcorn, or giggle through his film. There would be public acclaim and glowing reviews. Critics would applaud him for having the courage to make a statement so radical, so daring, that not even the greatest filmmakers in history had attempted it.
When the film was over and the credits rolled on the screen, Brother got to his feet and left the theater. It was almost four o'clock, and his standing dinner reservation was at five. Since his mother had died last year, Brother took all of his meals out. Preparing meals for himself seemed a waste of his time, and he could well afford restaurant prices. Dinner would be at Le Fleur, as usual. A private table in the rear dining room was reserved for him.
Brother redeemed his Mercedes from the lot and pressed down on the automatic door lock button. There were plenty of junkies and street gangs in the downtown area, and an expensive car like his sometimes attracted trouble. As he rounded the corner, he saw a bag lady pushing a Vons shopping cart containing all of her belongings.
The downtown area was a schizophrenic mixture of conflicting styles and cultures. Urban renewal had left high-rise buildings and sparkling new mini-malls in its wake. Shiny, modern architecture was interspersed with the original downtown, now an impoverished skid row. In the daylight hours businessmen in three-piece suits and fashionably dressed women claimed the area, but as the sun went down, they picked up their calfskin attaché cases and Gucci purses and headed for home. That was when the night shift came out. Drug dealers sold their wares in plain sight on street corners, ethnic gangs roamed the area searching for confrontations, and the homeless huddled in doorways and slept miserably on bus stop benches. People who drove through the downtown area after dark did so with great dispatch, their car doors locked and their windows rolled up tightly.
As Brother turned west on Sunset Boulevard, he saw the copper dome of the Griffith Observatory gleaming over his right shoulder. The traffic was light, and Brother drove a bit faster. Most people had vacated the city for picnics at the beach or barbecues in suburban backyards. They'd be clogging the freeways to return to their homes later tonight, but right now the streets were virtually deserted.
In no time at all Brother was entering the Sunset Strip, an area flanked by offices, designer boutiques, and expensive restaurants. The Hollywood Hills rose steeply to the right. Homes clung tenaciously to the side of the hill, reinforced by pylons driven deep into the bedrock. The hills had once been a prime real estate area for the s
Excerpted from VIDEO KILL by JOANNE FLUKE. Copyright © 1989 by H.L. Swensen, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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