Clouded vision, p.1
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       Clouded Vision, p.1

           Linwood Barclay
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Clouded Vision


  Praise for #1 international bestseller Linwood Barclay

  NEVER LOOK AWAY

  “Exciting, surprising, and twisty … It all twists into a really fine mess, with messy results. Oh, yeah. Read this one.”

  —Lincoln Journal Star

  “Mr. Barclay can flawlessly assume the voice of a small-town American dad.”

  —The New York Times

  “Bestseller Barclay’s outstanding thriller … skillfully shows how even the most innocent action can seem suspicious. The surprising twists and appealing characters rank this among the author’s best.”

  —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  “Taut.”

  —Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

  “The pages fly in this gripping, twisty tale of betrayal and heartbreak. Barclay (Fear the Worst) takes ordinary people and puts them in extraordinary circumstances, creating a tense, fast-paced thriller without stretching the limits of credulity. Sure to please fans of Harlan Coben and Lisa Unger.”

  —Library Journal (starred review)

  “A tense thriller … It’s a nail-biter all the way.”

  —Parkersburg News and Sentinel

  “Keeps the reader on his own amusement park ride, with the ups and downs of any great roller coaster … a page-turning thrill ride.”

  —The Free Lance-Star

  “The story moves at the speed of a downhill racer.”

  —Toronto Globe and Mail

  “Holy Jack mackerel! What a rush! … One of the best books I have read in a long, long time.”

  —Decatur Daily

  FEAR THE WORST

  “[Barclay] comes up with revelations that would make any parent’s hair stand on end.”

  —New York Times Book Review

  “Gripping … all the more believable and scary for being rooted in human-sized characters and laced with saving humor. When the ground shifts beneath his feet and Tim Blake reacts with the rage and invention of an everyman action-hero, the reader cheers.”

  —The Wall Street Journal

  “A solid thriller … Barclay’s pacing is impeccable.”

  —The Denver Post

  “Riveting.”

  —The Connecticut Post

  “Crisply written … fast-paced and a seamless plot makes this perfect summer reading.”

  —Tucson Citizen

  “An increasingly sly cautionary tale about modern life … The book’s pace is nonstop, lurching from discovery to blind alley and back again.”

  —Booklist

  “Barclay earns a solid A for his page-turning plot.”

  —Publishers Weekly

  “What a story! Holds the reader in a tight grip, as good and evil match wits and wiles. Barclay pushes the envelope of suspense to the edge and beyond, offering a revealing peek into the human psyche, exploring every parent’s worst fear. This is imaginative and scintillating, and you’ll enjoy every page.”

  —Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author of The Charlemagne Pursuit

  TOO CLOSE TO HOME

  “A terrifically fast-paced suspense story.”

  —The Washington Post

  “Affecting and effective.”

  —The Wall Street Journal

  “A terrific read full of false leads and shady characters.”

  —Library Journal

  “Barclay tackles a scary scenario and with the proper twists and turns creates an engaging thriller.… This is a gripping read.”

  —Booklist

  NO TIME FOR GOODBYE

  “It’s a one-sit thriller. You sit down with this book and you won’t get up until you’ve turned the last page.”

  —Michael Connelly, New York Times bestselling author of The Brass Verdict

  “Anxiety-inducing thriller … surprising.”

  —USA Today

  “No Time for Goodbye is a high-speed emotional roller coaster. The surprises will leave you breathless.”

  —Robert Crais, New York Times bestselling author of Chasing Darkness

  “One of the best thrillers of the year! Utterly riveting, it will grab you on page one and won’t let you go until the final, stunning conclusion.”

  —Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author of The Bone Garden

  “A literate, well-constructed thriller that plays on the childhood fear of parental abandonment … Barclay takes his time solving the puzzle, deftly building suspense.”

  —The Boston Globe

  “A top-notch thriller, with surprises around every corner. The suspense comes in layer after layer and doesn’t stop until the last page.”

  —Library Journal (starred review)

  “No Time for Goodbye is a turbo-charged, nonstop thriller that got me with every twist and turn. Linwood Barclay has written a mesmerizing, addictive page-turner that I just couldn’t put down. It’s one of the best suspense novels I’ve read in years.”

  —Joseph Finder, New York Times bestselling author

  “No Time for Goodbye is a great suburban thriller—and that’s not a contradiction in terms. Linwood Barclay doesn’t make one false step, and the surprises just keep on coming. Don’t start reading Goodbye late at night: you’ll stay up to finish it.”

  —Charlaine Harris, New York Times bestselling author

  “An intricately woven, wonderfully convoluted puzzle that kept me guessing to the very end.”

  —Kelley Armstrong, New York Times bestselling author of No Humans Involved

  By Linwood Barclay

  Bad Move

  Bad Guys

  Lone Wolf

  Stone Rain

  No Time for Goodbye

  Too Close to Home

  Fear the Worst

  Never Look Away

  And look for

  The Accident

  Coming from Doubleday Canada in Fall 2011

  Copyright © 2011 Linwood Barclay

  Excerpt from The Accident © 2011 by Linwood Barclay

  All rights reserved. The use of any part of this publication, reproduced, transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, or stored in a retrieval system without the prior written consent of the publisher—or in the case of photocopying or other reprographic copying, license from the Canadian Copyright Licensing agency—is an infringement of the copyright law.

  Doubleday Canada and colophon are registered trademarks

  Library and Archives of Canada Cataloguing in Publication is available upon request.

  eISBN: 978-0-385-67672-4

  This book contains an excerpt from the forthcoming book The Accident by Linwood Barclay. This excerpt has been set for this edition only and may not reflect the final content of the forthcoming edition.

  Clouded Vision is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

  Cover design: Carlos Beltran

  Cover art: Chris Titze

  Published in Canada by Doubleday Canada,

  a division of Random House of Canada Limited

  Visit Random House of Canada Limited’s website: www.randomhouse.ca

  v3.1

  Contents

  Cover

  Other Books by This Author

  Title Page

  Copyright

  Prologue

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

 
Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Excerpt from The Accident

  About the Author

  PROLOGUE

  Ellie

  She’d been dreaming that she was already dead. But then, just before her dream came true, she opened her eyes.

  With what little energy she had, she attempted to move, but she was secured, tied in somehow. She lifted a bloody hand from her lap and touched her fingers to the strap that ran across her chest, felt its familiar texture, its smoothness. A seat belt.

  She was in a car. Sitting in a front seat.

  She looked around and realized it was her own car. But she wasn’t behind the steering wheel. She was buckled into the passenger seat.

  She blinked a couple of times, thinking there must be something wrong with her vision because she could barely make anything out. Then it dawned on her that it wasn’t a problem with her eyes.

  It was night.

  She gazed out through the windshield, saw stars twinkling in the sky. It was a beautiful evening, if she overlooked the part about how all the blood was draining from her body.

  It was difficult to hold her head up, but with what strength she still had, she looked around. As she took in the starkness, the strangeness of her surroundings, she wondered if she might actually be dead already. Maybe this was heaven. There was a certain peacefulness about it. Everything was so white. There was a sliver of moon in the cloudless sky, and it lit up the landscape, which was dead flat and seemed to go on forever.

  Was the car parked on a snowy field? Far, far off in the distance, she thought she could make out something. A dark, uneven border running dead straight across the top of the whiteness. Trees, maybe? The thick black line, it almost had the look of a … of a shoreline.

  “What?” she whispered quietly to herself.

  Slowly, she began to understand where she was. No—not understand. She was starting to figure out where she was, but she couldn’t understand it.

  She was on ice.

  The car was sitting on a frozen lake. And quite a ways from the shore, as far as she could tell.

  “No no no no no,” she said to herself as she struggled to think. It was only mid-December. The temperatures had plunged a week ago, and while it might have been cold enough for the lake to start freezing over, it certainly hadn’t been cold long enough to make the ice thick enough to support a—

  Crack.

  She felt the front end of the car dip ever so slightly. Probably no more than an inch. That would make sense. The car was heaviest at the front, where the engine was.

  She had to get out of this car. If the ice had managed to support something as heavy as a car, at least for this long, surely it would keep her up if she could get herself out.… She could start walking, in whatever direction would get her to the closest shore.

  If she could even walk. She touched her hand to her belly. Everything was warm, and wet. How many times had she been stabbed? That was what had happened, right? She remembered seeing the knife, the light flickering across the blade, and then—

  The knife had gone into her twice, she thought. And then everything had faded to black.

  Dead.

  Except she wasn’t.

  There must have been just a hint of a pulse that went unnoticed as she was put into the car and buckled in, then driven out here to the middle of this lake. Where, someone must have figured, the car would soon go through the ice and sink to the bottom.

  A car with a body inside it, dumped in a lake near the shore, someone might discover that.

  But a car with a body inside it that sank to the bottom out in the middle of a lake, what were the odds anyone would ever locate that?

  She had to find the strength. She had to get out of this car now, before it broke through the ice. Did she have her cell phone? If she could call for help, they could be looking for her out on the ice, she wouldn’t have to walk all the way back to—

  Crack.

  The car lurched. The way it was leaning, her view forward was now snow-dusted ice instead of the far shore. The moon was casting enough light for her to see the inside of the car. There was no sign of her purse, which was where she kept her cell phone. Whether she had a phone or not, that didn’t change the fact that she had to get out of this car.

  Right now.

  She reached around to her side, looking for the button to release the seat belt. She found it, pressed with her thumb. The combined lap and shoulder strap began to retract, catching briefly on her arm. She pulled it out of the way and the belt receded into the pillar between the back and front door.

  Crack.

  She reached down for the door handle and pulled. The door opened only slightly. Enough for freezing cold water to start rushing in around her feet.

  “No, no,” she whispered.

  As water started to fill the interior, the car tilted more. She had to put her hands forward on the dash to keep herself in the seat as the car shifted forward. With one hand on the dash, she pushed on the door with the other, but she couldn’t get it to open. The front part of the door, at the bottom, was jammed on the surface of the ice.

  “Please no.”

  The last crack she heard was the loudest, echoing across the lake like a thunderclap.

  The front end of the car dropped suddenly. Water rushed in, swirling now around her knees. Then her waist. Her neck. Then everything became very black, and very cold, and then, in an odd way, very calm.

  Her last thoughts were of her daughter, and the grandchild she would never see.

  “Melissa,” she whispered.

  And then the car was gone.

  ONE

  Keisha

  Keisha Ceylon stared at the house and thought, Sometimes you can tell, just by looking at a place, that there’s hurt inside.

  Sitting in the car with the motor running so she could keep the heater on, Keisha was sure her feelings about the house were not influenced by what she already knew. She told herself that if she’d been strolling through the neighborhood, and had merely glanced at this home, she’d have picked up something.

  Despair. Anxiety. Fear.

  Not that there was anything to distinguish the home from any other on the street, other than that the inch of snow that had fallen overnight had not been cleared from the drive, or the walk up to the front door. Plus the fact that the curtains were drawn, the blinds shut.

  Keisha thought about what the man inside must be going through. How he was dealing with it. Whether he was at the point where he would be desperate enough to accept—and pay for—the extraordinary service she could provide.

  She believed her timing was about right. This was always the tricky part. Knowing when to move in. You couldn’t act too quickly, but you didn’t want to leave it too late, either. If you waited too long, the police might actually find a body, at which point no distressed relative was going to care what kind of visions Keisha Ceylon might be having that would lead them to it. Fat lot of good they’d do then. You had to get hold of these people while they still had hope. As long as they had hope, they were willing to try anything, throw their money at anything. This was especially true when all the conventional methods—door-to-door canvasses, sniffer dogs, aerial patrols, neighborhood searches—had turned up nothing. That’s when the relatives were open to something a bit unorthodox. Like a nice lady who showed up on their doorstep and said, “I have a gift, and I want to share it with you.”

  For a price, of course.

  The other consideration where timing was concerned was the competition. If Keisha hesitated, if she didn’t get to the family soon enough, she ran the risk of getting beat by Winona Simpson.

  That bitch.

  Winona Simpson had been at this for nearly as long as Keisha. The whole “I have a vision” thing. But the thing with Winona was, she really believed. The woman was actually convinced she’d been blessed with some special power, this ability to see things that no one else could see
. Drove Keisha nuts. And because Winona really believed it was her mission to help people in their time of need, she always undercut Keisha on price.

  “I’m not in this to make money,” she’d informed Keisha a year and a half ago when they’d both had their sights set on a couple whose two-year-old daughter had wandered away and was believed to have drowned in a creek. “I want to help these people. All I ask is that they cover my expenses, which are minimal.”

  “Bite me,” Keisha’d told her.

  She got squeezed out of that one. And Winona had nailed it. Told the parents where she believed the kid was. But before they could get to the location, a father and son playing with a radio-controlled boat found the child’s body lodged under a bridge. Right where Winona had said it would be.

  Keisha wondered how the hell she did it. She didn’t want to believe that Winona really had the gift, but some things were very hard to explain. Keisha was pretty sure Winona had not beaten her to this one.

  The missing woman’s name was Eleanor Garfield. She was, according to the news reports, white, forty-one years old, five foot three, about a hundred and fifty pounds, with short black hair and brown eyes.

  Everyone called her Ellie.

  Ellie Garfield was last seen, according to her husband, Wendell, on Thursday evening, around seven. She got in her car, a silver Nissan, with the intention of going to the grocery store to pick up the things they needed for the week. Ellie had a job in the administrative offices of the local board of education, and she didn’t like to leave all her errands for the weekend. She wanted Saturday and Sunday to be without chores. And to her way of thinking, the weekend actually began Friday night.

  So Thursday night was dedicated to errands.

 
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