Authors: Nelson DeMille
THIS BRILLIANT STORYTELLER DOES IT AGAIN, GIVING A TERRIFIC READ…. THIS GEM WILL MAKE A TERRIFIC MOVIE.
—Los Angeles Features Syndicate
A FINE SUSPENSE NOVEL.
THRILLING … TOLD WITH PANACHE AND A SARDONIC SENSE OF HUMOR
…. Deftly juggles several plots while delivering a cast of fully realized characters.”
—Denver Rocky Mountain News
—Detroit Free Press
ROLLICKING … DEMILLE HANDLES THE STORY DEFTLY
… sharp, amusing, and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny.”
—Cleveland Plain Dealer
AN INGENIOUS … THRILLER. YOU’LL BE REWARDED WITH A CLIMAX AS FUNNY AS IT IS TENSE.
—Time Out New York
DEMILLE IS IN TOP FORM…. A RICH TALE YOU CAN’T PUT DOWN
… a snappy read from start to finish … warm, funny, and immensely entertaining.”
—Orange County Register
A JAUNTY, HIGH-SPIRITED DIVERSION.
A THRILL RIDE … YOU’D BE WISE TO JUMP ABOARD … PURE ADVENTURE/MYSTERY
…. DEMille is an expert at seamless narrative…. A ripsnorting good read.”
—Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel
AN ARRAY OF SURPRISES AND FINE WRITING BEFORE REACHING A SATISFYING CONCLUSION.
NELSON DEMILLE IS BACK IN FULL FORCE…. MORE THAN A PLUM OF A NOVEL, IT IS A WHOLE BUSHEL OF FRUIT
. The story line is excellent, and the lead protagonists are real and charming…. A rare reading experience.”
—Midwest Book Review
A WONDERFUL STORYTELLER … EXCITING, WELL-WRITTEN, AND DOWNRIGHT FUN TO READ
, certain to be one of the fun books of leisurely summer reading. Grab some pieces of eight and pick up a copy today.”
—Newport News Daily Press
DEMILLE’S TURF: SUSPENSE, TECHNOCRATIC THRILLS, WRY HUMOR.
SUCKS YOU RIGHT IN.
—St. Louis Post Dispatch
CHILLING…. THAT RARE BREED OF SUSPENSE NOVEL THAT KEEPS YOU SITTING ON THE EDGE OF YOUR BEACH CHAIR EVEN WHILE YOU’RE LAUGHING
FASCINATING … EXPERTLY MELDS MEDICAL MYSTERY, POLICE PROCEDURAL, AND NAUTICAL ADVENTURE
…. Acquires its own storm force as it moves toward a catastrophic denouement…. A smooth job from an old pro.”
A CHUCKLE-PROVOKING WINNER … CLEVERLY COMBINES BIOLOGICAL HAZARDS AND SHIVER-ME-TIMBERS PIRATE LEGENDS
ONE OF THIS COUNTRY’S BEST YARN SPINNERS HAS TOLD ONE OF HIS MOST ENTERTAINING STORIES.
CAPTIVATING … NELSON DEMILLE IS A BRILLIANT STORYTELLER.
A MASTER STORYTELLER
… plumb good reading in the mold of the page-turner, and will be savored by connoisseurs of the murder mystery.”
—East Hampton Star
Available from Warner Books
With Thomas Block
Concerning the United States Department of Agriculture Animal Disease Center at Plum Island, I took a small amount of literary license regarding the island and the work done there.
“Oklahoma” (by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II) Copyright [H17015] 1943 by WILLIAMSON MUSIC. Copyright Renewed. International
Copyright Secured. Reprinted by Permission. All Rights Reserved.
“A Wonderful Guy” (by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II) Copyright [H17015] 1949 by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein
II. Copyright Renewed. WILLIAMSON MUSIC owner of publication and allied rights throughout the world. International Copyright
Secured. Reprinted by Permission. All Rights Reserved.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination
or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 1997 by Nelson DeMille
All rights reserved.
Warner Books, Inc.
Hachette Book Group
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New York, NY 10017
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First eBook Edition: June 2003
To Larry Kirshbaum,
and gambling partner.
I am grateful to the following individuals for sharing their special knowledge with me. Any errors or omissions in the story
are mine and mine alone. Also, I have taken a small measure of literary license here and there, but for the most part, I have
tried to stay true to the information and advice provided to me by these men and women:
First and foremost, thanks to Detective Lieutenant John Kennedy of the Nassau County Police Department, the man who did almost
as much work as I did on this novel. John Kennedy is a dedicated police officer, an honest lawyer, an expert sailor, a good
husband to Carol, a good friend to the DeMilles, and a tough literary critic. Many, many thanks for your time and expertise.
I would like to thank again Dan Starer of Research for Writers, NYC, for his diligent work.
I would also like to thank Bob and Linda Scalia of Southold for their help with local lore and customs.
My thanks to Martin Bowe and Laura Flanagan of the Garden City Public Library for their excellent research assistance.
Many thanks to Howard Polskin of CNN, and Janet Alshouse, Cindi Younker, and Mike DelGiudice of News 12 Long Island, for making
available their video reporting on Plum Island.
Thanks again to Bob Whiting, of Banfi Vintners, for sharing with me his knowledge of and passion for wine.
My thanks to Dr. Alfonso Torres, Director of the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, for his time and patience, and my admiration
for him and his staff for the important and selfless work they do.
Thanks and gratitude to my assistant, Dianne Francis, for hundreds of hours of arduous and dedicated work.
My penultimate thanks to my agent and friend, Nick Ellison, and his staff, Christina Harcar and Faye Bender. An author couldn’t
have better representation or better colleagues.
Last, but certainly not least, thanks again to Ginny DeMille—this is her seventh book and she still edits with love and enthusiasm.
Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.
Poor Richard’s Almanac
hrough my binoculars, I could see this nice forty-something-foot cabin cruiser anchored a few hundred yards offshore. There
were two thirtyish couples aboard, having a merry old time, sunbathing, banging down brews and whatever. The women had on
teensey-weensey little bottoms and no tops, and one of the guys was standing on the bow, and he slipped off his trunks and
stood there a minute hanging hog, then jumped in the bay and swam around the boat. What a great country. I put down my binoculars
and popped a Budweiser.
It was late summer, not meaning late August, but meaning September, before the autumnal equinox. Labor Day weekend had gone,
and Indian summer was coming, whatever that is.
I, John Corey by name, convalescing cop by profession, was sitting on my uncle’s back porch, deep in a wicker chair with shallow
thoughts running through my mind. It occurred to me that the problem with doing nothing is not knowing when you’re finished.
The porch is an old-fashioned wraparound, circling three sides of an 1890s Victorian farmhouse, all shingle and gingerbread,
turrets, gables, the whole nine yards. From where I sat, I could see south across a sloping green lawn to the Great Peconic
Bay. The sun was low on the western horizon, which was where it belonged at 6:45
I’m a city boy, but I was really getting into the country stuff, the sky and all that, and I finally found the Big Dipper
a few weeks ago.
I was wearing a plain white T-shirt and cutoff jeans that used to fit before I lost too much weight. My bare feet were propped
on the rail, and between my left and right big toes was framed the aforementioned cabin cruiser.
About this time of day you can start to hear crickets, locusts, and who knows what, but I’m not a big fan of nature noises
so I had a portable tape player beside me on the end table with
The Big Chill
cranking, and the Bud in my left hand, the binocs in my lap, and lying on the floor near my right hand was my off-duty piece,
a Smith & Wesson .38 revolver with a two-inch barrel which fit nicely in my purse. Just kidding.
Somewhere in the two seconds of silence between “When a Man Loves a Woman” and “Dancing in the Street,” I could hear or feel
on the creaky old floorboards that someone was walking around the porch. Since I live alone and was expecting no one, I took
the .38 in my right hand and rested it on my lap. So you don’t think I’m a paranoid citizen, I should mention that I was convalescing,
not from the mumps, but from three bullet wounds, two 9mm and one .44 caliber Magnum, not that the size of the holes matters.
As with real estate, what matters with bullet holes is location, location, location. Obviously these holes were in the right
locations, because I was convalescing, not decomposing.