Excerpt from Dead Famous by Carol O'Connell, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Dead Famous

A Kathleen Mallory Thriller

By Carol O'Connell

Dead Famous
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Sep 2003,
    304 pages.
    Paperback: Sep 2004,
    336 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"Hello, Johanna." He smiled to show her all of his perfect teeth, acting as if this meeting might be a happy chance encounter and not an ambush, not a defiance of the court order to keep him at a distance.

Did he seem a little jittery--just on the verge of a tic or a twitch? She looked through him, then passed him by on her way back to the black van.

He walked alongside her, keeping his tone light, fighting down all the high notes of runaway anxiety. "You're looking well."

"Still alive, you mean, and you're wondering why."

"No, seriously, I think physical labor agrees with you," he said. "But I suppose this new line of work is your idea of penance."

Much could be read into that clumsy little barb, perhaps some desperate situation coming to a head. Johanna's bent posture had made her a student of footwear, and now she gleaned more from his shoes than his words. The black leather was, as always, fanatically shiny, but both laces had been broken and repairs effected with knots. The man was coming undone.

Good.

She raised her face to his, not bothering to hide her contempt. "You don't look well, Argus. You seem a little shaky today. Under a lot of stress?" Did that sound like a taunt, like getting even? She hoped so. "And you're losing weight."

He dismissed this with a wave of one hand, saying, "Long hours." He drew back his shoulders in an effort to appear larger and less the nervous rabbit. Eyebrows arched, he folded his arms to strike a condescending pose, exuding an arrogance that invited every passerby to punch him in the face.

"I met your boss today." Argus staged a pause. "We had a long talk about you."

"Really?" That was unlikely, for Riker was tight with his words. And so she could surmise that this lie was an implied threat. Yes, Argus would want her to worry about what he might have shared with her employer. She stared at him, wondering, How frightened are you?

"That guy Riker, he's a heavy drinker, isn't he? Yeah," said Argus. "Couldn't help but notice. You can tell by the eyes, all those red veins." He was still pressing what he believed was his advantage over her. A few seconds of silence dragged by before he realized that she was not at all threatened, and neither was she inclined to banal conversation. The man looked up at the sky, unwilling to meet her steady gaze anymore.

"He tried to grill me on your background." The old familiar pomposity was back in his voice. "I could tell Riker was an ex-cop by his interrogation style. They never lose that, do they? On or off the job, they can never have just a normal conversation. I figure he doesn't know the first thing about you, Johanna. That or you fed him some fairy tale-and he knows it." Argus smiled, awaiting praise for this insight. Failing in that, he flicked imaginary lint from the sleeve of his coat. "Of course, I didn't tell him anything. Not who I was or what I-"

"So you lied to him. You think Riker didn't pick up on that?" She swung her body up into the driver's seat and slouched deep into worn upholstery that received the hump on her back like a cupped hand. She faced the windshield.

Marvin Argus rushed his words. "Does your boss know-"

"I told Riker my history was none of his damn business." She slammed the door and put the van in gear.

Argus reached up and gripped the door handle, as if that could prevent her from driving away. He yelled to be heard through the rolled-up window. "Johanna! About Timothy! Did you believe him--while he was still alive?"

If the man had held on to the van another moment, he would have lost his hand when she pulled into the street. Johanna pressed the accelerator pedal to the floor and sped toward the broad avenue at the end of the street. She passed through a red light amid the screech and squeal of braking cars and a cabdriver's hollered obscenities.

From Dead Famous by Carol O'Connell, copyright © 2003 Carol O'Connell, published by G.P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., all rights reserved, reprinted with permission from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Shotgun Lovesongs
    Shotgun Lovesongs
    by Nickolas Butler
    Nickolas Butler's debut novel, Shotgun Lovesongs, follows five life-long friends, now in their mid-...
  • Book Jacket: Gemini
    Gemini
    by Carol Cassella
    How good is Gemini, Carol Cassella's book about a Seattle intensive care physician who becomes ...
  • Book Jacket: The Goldfinch
    The Goldfinch
    by Donna Tartt
    Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer for Fiction.

    Her canvas is vast. To frame a story about art, love and ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

Who Said...

A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

P Your O C

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.