Fear Itself

Fear Itself

A Novel

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Injecting fresh potency into the phrase "scared to death," the wickedly talented author of The Girls He Adored has delivered a spine-chilling follow-up, introducing an unforgettable villain who confronts his victims with their phobias.
The charmingly disheveled FBI Special Agent E.L. Pender is strapping on his nonregulation calfskin shoulder holster one last time on his last day on the job, showing the ropes to his eager successor, Investigative Specialist Linda Abruzzi.
Then a letter from Dorie Bell arrives at FBI headquarters. Last year Dorie attended a phobia disorders convention in Las Vegas. Since then, three attendees have died under suspicious circumstances. A man with fear of heights jumped from the nineteenth floor of a building. A woman with fear of blood managed to cut her own wrists in the bathtub. A third victim with fear of suffocation was found in the bathtub, with a plastic bag over her head.
"If you won't help us," Dorie begs Pender, "who will?" But it may already be too late: Dorie's friend Wayne Summers has now disappeared, too. Wayne's phobia is fear of birds. He's currently tied to a bed in a dark basement. And above his head, looms an enormous, starving barn owl.
Fear Itself pits Agent Pender, one of the more endearing sleuths in recent fiction, against a man as immune to fear as he is fascinated by it. It's a duel that will jolt you time and time again and force you to confront the inevitable question: What is your greatest fear?
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  • Atria Books | 
  • 336 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743464307 | 
  • January 2003
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One: Six Suites for Cello Solo

1

Wayne Summers opened his eyes to find himself in the dark, surrounded by the chirring and rustling of unseen birds. He tried to tell himself it was only a dream, but the feel of the rough mattress-ticking beneath him and the fetid, faintly ammoniacal smell of feathers and old newspapers and bird dung argued otherwise.

Wayne struggled blindly to his feet, heard a shrill hiss only inches from his head, then felt the buffeting of heavy, silent wings, followed by a sharp blow to his ear. He threw himself back onto the mattress and curled into a ball with his arms thrown up to protect his... see more

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