Authors: Richard North Patterson
PRAISE FOR THE WRITING OF RICHARD NORTH PATTERSON
“This generation's best writer of legal thrillers.” â
“Patterson is a natural storyteller who never breaks the thread of action.” â
The New York Times
“Richard North Patterson seems destined for celebrity status, alongside Scott Turow and John Grisham, as an acknowledged master.” â
Los Angeles Times Book Review
The Outside Man
“Rich, complex, beautifully written.” â
The New Republic
“A classic detective story.” â
The New York Times Book Review
Escape the Night
“Intricate â¦ Intelligent and menacing.” â
The Boston Globe
“Enthralling â¦ A compelling read.” â
The Washington Post Book World
succeeds on all counts. It's a footrace of a read, daring you to put it down.” â
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Escape the Night
Richard North Patterson
The gods visit the sins of the fathers upon their sons.
I am thy Father's spirit,
Doom'd for a certain term to walk the night,â¦
Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
Are burnt and purg'd away.
, Act I, Scene v
JUNE 1, 1952âAPRIL 19, 1959
Alicia Carey cried out.
Snakes writhed on the bare walls of the labor room. The thin white gown became a straitjacket. The nurse holding the fetoscope was a withered hag.
She had been hallucinating for five hours.
She had lost dominion over her body. The scopolamine warping her senses left her numb. In lucid moments she recalled dimly the wetness of her water breaking and Charles rushing her into the cool dark. She remembered hating him more clearly than she remembered his face.
That had been twenty-six hours ago. Their driver had sped them to an emergency entrance framed by sickly cracks of light. Its doors slammed behind her. An attendant wheeled her alone to a narrow bed. The nurse shaving her pubic hair frowned at her slim hips. The doctor stabbed her with Nembutal.
Except for nausea that shot was the last thing she truly felt or perceived. The i.v. piercing her arm went unnoticed. The overhead light became the sun. She vomited.
Her makeup had run and her ash-blond hair was lank with sweat. Her legs thrashed beneath the hospital gown. Her mouth tasted bitter.
Only her eyes hadn't changed.
Since the moment of her debut, Alicia's eyes had excited and disturbed, their charged bright greenness promising intensity past reason to that man who could touch it. When Charles Carey first entered her, they had filled with tears. Carey felt as if he had lost his soul.
He sat in the waiting room with an ashtray stuffed with cigarette butts and a New York
folded in his lap. He had shaved and changed into a windbreaker and slacks, but fatigue took the edge off his vitality. Dr. Schoenberg approached him with hesitance. This was unusual: few people had ever felt sorry for Charles Carey.
Charles rose. He seemed younger than thirty-two, a blade-slim man with an auburn shock of hair and a tactile gaze that grasped Schoenberg's pity and shot back a split second's resentment. Since childhood, Carey had hated sympathy for the fear it made him feel.
Charles Carey had seldom been afraid. He had made first-string back at Harvard by playing on an injured knee. Later, in the Air Corps, he had learned to fly and shot down twelve German planes. He took chances others would not take. When anti-aircraft fire tore through his fighter, he crash-landed in the English Channel. A cutter found Charles Carey treading water, one arm crooking the neck of the skinny tail gunner who had passed out from the cold. They gave him the Air Force Cross. The doe-eyed nurse who treated him took him home.
In bed, they laughed over his luck. Half facetiously, she asked whether he'd run for governor of New York if he managed to survive the war. Carey turned quiet, and said that he had something else to do.
Charles Carey became the only man to successfully defy his father.
In 1907, John Peter Carey had quit eighth grade to scuttle coal at Van Dreelen & Sons and take their books to the bindery in a horse-drawn wagon. When America entered World War I he was twenty-four and half the sales force had disappeared. John went to the sales manager. Thinking to discourage him, the man asked that Carey call on the firm's most recalcitrant customer. John Carey returned with a massive order. Later he took the man's job.
John Carey rose within Van Dreelen & Sons, marrying a Van Dreelen daughter and ignoring their own two sons. When there were no more Van Dreelen sons, he renamed the firm Van Dreelen & Carey and turned it into a predator. Publishing rivals called him “Black Jack,” less for his saturnine looks than for the authors he stole. He fished with Hemingway for marlin, loaned Fitzgerald money, drank all night with Faulkner. By 1942 John Carey's books ruled the best-seller lists, their taloned eagleâa symbol of his own inventionâstaring past his shoulder from the cover of
magazine, unprecedented for a publisher. “Which one is the eagle?” an assistant joked, then fretted for a week. His editors slaved in rabbit warrens, their doors left open on John Carey's order. From behind the Louis XIV desk that graced his own oak-paneled office, John Carey issued still more edicts, their reason less important than that they be obeyed. Part of this hunger for respect became dandyism, culminating in the iron rule that all male employees wear hats. Its darker side was a stifling paternalism: John Carey backed his staff until they opposed him. Those few who did were terminated.
In 1945, Charles Carey reported to his father's firm, without a hat.
The receptionist glanced up, startled. Within twenty minutes Charles sat in his father's office amidst the sweet, familiar pungency of thin cigars, ordered hand-rolled from Havana. John Carey leaned forward across his desk, barrel chest straining his three-piece suit, his angerâetched like scars running from his nostrils to the corner of his mouth and then to the square of his jawâleaping from his black hawk's eyes. “Buy a hat,” John Carey snapped. “Today. Otherwise you'll not set foot in this firm again.”
Charles listened with the watchful stillness he had assumed in his father's presence since boyhood. “I've killed people,” he answered. “And saved others. I didn't do those things to wear a hat.”
John Carey stared through the smoke. “You think the war made you different. It didn't.”
“Not the war. You.” Charles's eyes riveted his father's. “I've watched you ever since Phillip and I were small and you were peddling books. You'd come in at the train station with that big trunk, trailing orders and neglect like some god that appeared and disappeared at will. Phillip never got over it. He still believes in God.
don't. You're just a man.” Charles finished, in a soft voice, “I'm as smart as you, perhaps smarter. But if you fire me now, we'll never know.”
John Carey brooded for a day, then rescinded his rule. It was the cost of learning about his own son.
Their edgy truce lasted, day by day, for seven years. Where John Carey was shrewd, Charles had taste. His dash and nerve balanced his father's toughness. He signed young writers his father could not reachâmen who had returned from the war to write of things Charles knew in his bones and marrow. John Carey learned the advantage of appearing to tolerate a son: it lent him a humanizing flaw. But Charles was useful in one other way.
His brother Phillip joined the firm in 1947. As if to counter Charles's perversity, the younger Carey willed himself into an avatar of his father, affecting dark suits and an entrepreneurial flair. As a child, Phillip had clung to his mother. In his twenties he chose to become John Careyâand to inherit his firm. Charles was his only rival; for five years John Carey teased them with his choice. He knew of Phillip's need, and that Charles's indifference was feigned.
Phillip festered, became fearful of mistakes. The defiant Charles prospered under pressure. He found new authors, made money for the firm. He grew in reputation. His friends were writers, athletes, actors and intellectuals. He took part in Democratic politics, was good copy for Leonard Lyons. Women responded to his zest. He had a bright, fantastic smile that banished the wariness from his face and made them wait for it again. For a while he was seen with Audrey Hepburn, displaying the same gallant detachment that had enabled him to enjoy other women until they wanted more and, without remorse or backward glances, he would play out the end game, and gently disengage. “I'm not the tragic lover type,” he once remarked.
Then he met Allie Fairvoort â¦
“How is she now?” he demanded of Schoenberg.
The obstetrician shifted on the balls of his feet. “It's a difficult labor. She either can't help, or doesn't want to.”
Carey felt hot. Acrid smoke rose from the ashtray to mingle with the smell of floor wax. The waiting roomâworn green rug, cheap coffee table with tattered magazinesâreminded him of a bad motel. Its foreignness chafed his nerves. “Is there some way I can be with her?”
Schoenberg turned away, shaking his head. Carey gripped his shoulder. “You see, she doesn't want this baby â¦”
What Allie Fairvoort wanted was a perfect union with a man.
It was as if that single ambition sprang from all the others she'd never needed. Her family was wealthy and secure. She had learned to ski in St. Moritz and breezed through Wellesley without trying. She wrote poetry and burned it in tides of elation and despair. In college she had acted, living in some psychic twilight between her own life and the roles she played. But she had no desire to become more polished, and would not learn. She wanted neither career nor children. She attracted men, teasing and discarding them, and took no lovers. She was waiting to be consumed.
One cool spring evening, at a glittering East Side party, she saw Charles Carey, and learned his name.
He was standing near three other men, sipping a straight-up martini as they listened to a dark and pretty guest from Mississippi lecture on the Southern woman. “We're not like the others,” she was saying. “We find our strength in submissiveness.”
The three men, older than Charles, nodded and smiled. Charles watched her gravely, head slightly tilted, saying nothing. Taking in the cut-glass features and cobalt-blue eyes, Allie realized with a rush that he was more attractive than any man she'd known. But she was captured by his stillness: it was the stillness of someone in perfect control of his own thoughts.