Let the Devil Sleep - By John Verdon

She had to be stopped.

Hints had not worked. Subtle nudges had been ignored. Firmer action was called for. Something dramatic and unmistakable, accompanied by a clear explanation.

The clarity of the explanation was crucial. It could leave no room for doubt, no room for questions. The police, the media, and the naïve little meddler herself must be made to understand his message, to agree on its significance.

He stared down thoughtfully at the yellow pad in front of him and began to write:

You must abandon your ill-conceived project immediately. What you are proposing to do is intolerable. It glorifies the most destructive people on earth. It ridicules my pursuit of justice by exalting the criminals I have executed. It creates undeserved sympathy for the vilest of the vile. This cannot happen. This I will not permit. I have slept for ten years in the peace of my achievement, in the peace of my message to the world, in the peace of my justice. Force me to take up arms again and the price will be terrible.

He read what he had written. He shook his head slowly. He was not satisfied with the tone. He tore the page from the pad and slipped it into the slot of the document shredder by his chair. He began again on a fresh page:

Stop what you are doing. Stop now and walk away. Or there will be blood again, and more blood. Be warned. Do not disturb my peace.

That was better. But not quite good enough.

He’d have to work on it. Sharpen the point. Leave no doubt. Make it perfect.

And there was so little time.

Chapter 1


The French doors were open.

From where Dave Gurney was standing by the breakfast table, he could see that the last patches of winter snow, like reluctant glaciers, had receded from the open pasture and survived now only in the more recessed and shadowed places in the surrounding woods.

The mixed fragrances of the newly exposed earth and the previous summer’s unmowed hay drifted into the big farmhouse kitchen. These were smells that once had the power to enthrall him. Now they barely touched him.

“You should step outside,” said Madeleine from where she stood at the sink, washing out her cereal bowl. “Step out into the sun. It’s quite glorious.”

“Yes, I can see that,” he said, not moving.

“Sit and have your coffee in one of the Adirondack chairs,” she said, setting the bowl down in the drying rack on the countertop. “You could use some sun.”

“Hmm.” He nodded meaninglessly and took another sip from the mug he was holding. “Is this the same coffee we’ve been using?”

“What’s wrong with it?”

“I didn’t say anything was wrong with it.”

“Yes, it’s the same coffee.”

He sighed. “I think I’m getting a cold. Last couple of days, things haven’t had much taste.”

She rested her hands on the edge of the sink island and looked at him. “You need to get out more. You need to do something.”


“I mean it. You can’t just sit in the house and stare at the wall all day. It will make you sick. It is making you sick. Have you called Connie Clarke back?”

“I will.”


“When I feel like it.”

He didn’t think it was a feeling he was likely to have in the foreseeable future. That’s just the way he was these days—the way he’d been for the past six months. It was as though, after the injuries he’d suffered at the end of the bizarre Jillian Perry murder case, he had withdrawn from everything connected with normal life—daily tasks, planning, people, phone calls, commitments of any kind. He’d gotten to the point where he liked nothing better than a blank calendar page for the coming month—no appointments, no promises. He’d come to equate withdrawal with freedom.

At the same time, he had the objectivity to know that what was happening to him wasn’t good, that there was no peace in his freedom. He felt hostile, not serene.

To some extent he understood the strange entropy that was unwinding the fabric of his life and isolating him. Or at least he could list what he believed to be its causes. Near the top of the list he’d place the tinnitus he’d been experiencing since he emerged from his coma. In all likelihood it had actually begun two weeks before that, when three shots were fired at him in a small room at nearly point-blank range.

The persistent sound in his ears (which the ear, nose, and throat specialist had explained wasn’t a “sound” at all but rather a