Join BookBrowse today and get access to free books, our twice monthly digital magazine, and more.

Excerpt from The Empty Chair by Jeffery Deaver, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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

The Empty Chair

A Lincoln Rhyme Novel

by Jeffery Deaver

The Empty Chair by Jeffery Deaver X
The Empty Chair by Jeffery Deaver
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    May 2000, 416 pages

    Paperback:
    Apr 2001, 496 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


She prayed for herself too.

More noise in the brush. Snapping, rustling.

The day was lighter now but the sun didn't do much to brighten up Blackwater Landing. The river was deep here and fringed with messy black willows and thick trunks of cedar and cypress -- some living, some not, and all choked with moss and viny kudzu. To the northeast, not far, was the Great Dismal Swamp, and Lydia Johansson, like every Girl Scout past and present in Paquenoke County, knew all the legends about that place: the Lady of the Lake, the Headless Trainman....But it wasn't those apparitions that bothered her; Blackwater Landing had its own ghost -- the boy who'd kidnapped Mary Beth McConnell.

Lydia opened her purse and lit a cigarette with shaking hands. Felt a bit calmer. She strolled along the shore. Stopped beside a stand of tall grass and cattails, which bent in the scorching breeze.

On top of the hill she heard a car engine start. Jesse wasn't leaving, was he? Lydia looked toward it, alarmed. But she saw the car hadn't moved. Just getting the air-conditioning going, she supposed. When she looked back toward the water she noticed the sedge and cattails and wild rice plants were still bending, waving, rustling.

As if someone was there, moving closer to the yellow tape, staying low to the ground.

But no, no, of course that wasn't the case. It's just the wind, she told herself. And she reverently set the flowers in the crook of a gnarly black willow not far from the eerie outline of the sprawled body, spattered with blood dark as the river water. She began praying once more.


Across the Paquenoke River from the crime scene, Deputy Ed Schaeffer leaned against an oak tree and ignored the early morning mosquitoes fluttering near his arms in his short-sleeved uniform shirt. He shrank down to a crouch and scanned the floor of the woods again for signs of the boy.

He had to steady himself against a branch; he was dizzy from exhaustion. Like most of the deputies in the county sheriff's department he'd been awake for nearly twenty-four hours, searching for Mary Beth McConnell and the boy who'd kidnapped her. But while, one by one, the others had gone home to shower and eat and get a few hours' sleep Ed had stayed with the search. He was the oldest deputy on the force and the biggest (fifty-one years old and two hundred sixty-four pounds of mostly unuseful weight) but fatigue, hunger and stiff joints weren't going to stop him from continuing to look for the girl.

The deputy examined the ground again.

He pushed the transmit button of his radio. "Jesse, it's me. You there?"

"Go ahead."

He whispered, "I got footprints here. They're fresh. An hour old, tops."

"Him, you think?"

"Who else'd it be? This time of morning, this side of the Paquo?"

"You were right, looks like," Jesse Corn said. "I didn't believe it at first but you hit this one on the head."

It had been Ed's theory that the boy would come back here. Not because of the cliché -- about returning to the scene of the crime -- but because Blackwater Landing had always been his stalking ground and whatever kind of trouble he'd gotten himself into over the years he always came back here.

Ed looked around, fear now replacing exhaustion and discomfort as he gazed at the infinite tangle of leaves and branches surrounding him. Jesus, the deputy thought, the boy's here someplace. He said into his radio, "The tracks look to be moving toward you but I can't tell for sure. He was walking mostly on leaves. You keep an eye out. I'm going to see where he was coming from."

Knees creaking, Ed rose to his feet and, as quietly as a big man could, followed the boy's footsteps back in the direction they'd come -- farther into the woods, away from the river.

Copyright © 2000 by Jeffery Deaver. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • 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 $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Glorious Exploits
    Glorious Exploits
    by Ferdia Lennon
    Lampo and Gelon are two unemployed potters in their thirties whose lives are spent between their ...
  • Book Jacket: Song of the Six Realms
    Song of the Six Realms
    by Judy I. Lin
    Xue'er has no place in the kingdom of Qi or any of the Six Realms. Her name means "Solitary Snow" ...
  • Book Jacket: The Demon of Unrest
    The Demon of Unrest
    by Erik Larson
    In the aftermath of the 1860 presidential election, the divided United States began to collapse as ...
  • Book Jacket: Daughters of Shandong
    Daughters of Shandong
    by Eve J. Chung
    Daughters of Shandong is the debut novel of Eve J. Chung, a human rights lawyer living in New York. ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Only the Beautiful
by Susan Meissner
A heartrending story about a young mother’s fight to keep her daughter, and the terrible injustice that tears them apart.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Stolen Child
    by Ann Hood

    An unlikely duo ventures through France and Italy to solve the mystery of a child’s fate.

  • Book Jacket

    This Strange Eventful History
    by Claire Messud

    An immersive, masterful story of a family born on the wrong side of history.

Win This Book
Win Only the Brave

Only the Brave by Danielle Steel

A powerful, sweeping historical novel about a courageous woman in World War II Germany.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

F T a T

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.