printed copy

Delirious

Daniel Palmer

ISBN 9780786022670
Publish Date 12/27/2011
Format Paperback
Categories Thriller/Suspense, Pinnacle

“A roiling plot, insightful characters, clear, intelligent writing. What more could you ask for in a novel?” --Steve Berry

Charlie Giles is at the top of his game. An electronics superstar, he’s sold his startup to a giant Boston firm, where he’s now senior director. He’s treated like a VIP everywhere he goes…. Until everything in Charlie’s neatly ordered world starts to go terrifyingly wrong.

“Hits all the right notes. Terrific stuff.” --John T. Lescroart

Charlie’s prestigious job and his inventions are wrenched away from him. His family is targeted, and his former employers are dying gruesomely, picked off one by one. Every shred of evidence points to Charlie as a cold-blooded killer. And soon he is unable to tell whether he’s succumbed to the pressures of work and become the architect of his own destruction…or whether he’s the victim of a relentless, diabolical attack. Now he must save his own life—all the while realizing that nothing can be trusted, least of all his own fractured mind…

“A high-speed thrill ride, filled with shocks and mind-bending twists.” --Tess Gerritsen

"Not just a great thriller debut, but a great thriller, period." --Lee Child

Prologue

Eddie rode the 28-19th Avenue bus to the bridge. He carried with him enough change for a one-way fare. He had no identification. It wouldn’t matter if his death was properly recorded. Nobody would care about it, anyway. Through the wispy morning fog he strolled upon the walkway that linked San Francisco with Marin County. The bridge had opened to foot traffic two hours prior, and few pedestrians were out. The thruway, however, was a logjam of cars. He spent a few minutes watching the commuters as they went about their morning rituals—sipping coffee, talking on their cell phones, or fiddling with their radios. He burned their images into his mind and savored the voyeurism with the passion a dying man gives his last meal.

He walked to his spot. He knew it well. It was at the 109th light pole. He would face east, toward the city. Few jumped west, as most everyone wanted their final view to be something beautiful, like the elegant curves and hilly rise of the San Francisco skyline.

The fall, he knew, would last no more than four seconds. It was 265 feet down from where he would jump, gravity pulling him down at over seventy-five miles per hour. The water below would be as forgiving as cement. Perhaps a nanosecond of pain, then nothing. He always found it calming to know details. He was all about facts and logic. It was what made him a world-class software engineer. In preparation for the jump he had studied the stories of many of those who had gone before him. He had hundreds of sad tales to choose from. The stories were now his own. He would soon be part of the legacy of death that had been the Golden Gate Bridge since 1937, when WWI vet Harold Wobber said to a stranger, “This is as far as I go”—and then jumped.

At his mark, Eddie hoisted himself over the four-foot security barrier and lowered his body onto a wide beam he knew from research was called “the chord.” There he paused and stared out at the seabirds catching drafts of warming air off the cool, choppy waters below and took stock of what little life he had left. Lifting his feet ever so slightly, until he was standing on his toes, Eddie began to push against the rail to hoist himself up and over the chord.

He closed his eyes tightly. Thirty-two years of his life darted past his mind’s eye, so vivid that they felt real—vignettes played in rapid succession.

The pony ride at his fifth birthday party. Weeping beside the graves of his parents. Seven years old, still in shock, sitting at the trial next to the sheriff who had apprehended the drunk driver. The orphanage, then the endless chain of foster homes. Studying, alone in his room, so much reading. Then college. His graduation. How he wished his parents had been there to see him. The business. A startup. The energy and hours. The first sale. The euphoria was fleeting; the sting from his partner’s betrayal would never subside.

He took a deep breath and lifted himself even higher. A part of him, the most secret and hidden part, was awash in a terrible, heavy sadness. It was overwhelmingly disappointing to him that he hadn’t had the courage to do what needed to be done. It would be his dying regret.

With an assuredness that seemed born of much practice, he pushed himself up and over the thin railing that ran the length of the chord. The moment his feet left the bridge, Eddie regretted the jump. He hovered for an instant in midair, as though he were suspended above the water by strings. The depth seemed infinite. Sun glinted off the rippling water, shining like thousands of tiny daggers. His eyes widened in horror. Was there still time to turn around and grab hold? He twisted his body hard to the right. And then he fell.

The acceleration took Eddie’s breath away. The pit of his stomach knotted with a sickening combination of gravity and fear. His light wind jacket flapped with the whipping sound of a sail catching a new breeze. The instinct for self-preservation was as powerful as it was futile. His eyes closed, unwilling to bear witness to his death.

Pitching forward, his arms flailed above his head, clawing for something to grab. His legs pumped against the air. Two seconds into the fall. Two more to go. He could no longer see color, shapes, light, or shadow. Mother, please forgive me, he thought. A barge he had seen in the distance before the jump faded from view. The sun vanished, casting everything around him into blackness. He could hear his own terrified scream, and nothing else. Time passed.

Two . . . then ...one ...

His body tensed as he hit, his feet connecting first, then his backside, and last his head. The agony was greater than he had imagined it could be. The sounds of his bones cracking reverberated in his ears. He felt his organs loosen and shift about as though they had been ripped from the cartilage that held them in place. Pain exploded through him.

For a moment he had never felt more alive.

Water shot up his nose, cold and numbing. He gagged on it as it filled his throat. A violent cough to expel the seawater set off more jolts of agony from his broken ribs.

Facedown, he lay motionless as he began to sink. From the blackness below something glowed brightly, shimmering in the abyss. He couldn’t see it clearly but wanted to swim to it. It rose to meet him.

It was his parents. They smiled up at him, beaming with ghostly white eyes and beckoning for him to join them.

About Daniel Palmer:

Daniel Palmer is the author of four critically-acclaimed suspense novels. After receiving his master's degree from Boston University, he spent a decade as an e-commerce pioneer. A recording artist, accomplished blues harmonica player, and lifelong Red Sox fan, Daniel lives in New Hampshire with his wife and two children where he is currently at work on his next novel.

Photo Credit: Ron Cowie @ RonCowiephoto.com


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