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- KurzbeschreibungHappy fifty third birthday, Doctor. Welcome to the first day of your death. Dr. Frederick Starks, a New York psychoanalyst, has just received a mysterious, threatening letter. Now he finds himself in the middle of a horrific game designed by a man who calls himself Rumplestiltskin. The rules: in two weeks, Starks must guess his tormentor's identity. If Starks succeeds, he goes free. If he fails, Rumplestiltskin will destroy, one by one, fifty-two of Dr. Starks' loved ones-unless the good doctor agrees to kill himself. In a blistering race against time, Starks' is at the mercy of a psychopath's devious game of vengeance. He must find a way to stop the madman-before he himself is driven mad. . . .
- AutorJohn Katzenbach
- VerlagBallantine Books
- Seiten512 Seiten
- Gewicht240 g
- LeseprobeChapter One
I n the year he fully expected to die, he spent the majority of his fifty-third birthday as he did most other days, listening to people complain about their mothers. Thoughtless mothers, cruel mothers, sexually provocative mothers. Dead mothers who remained alive in their children's minds. Living mothers, whom their children wanted to kill. Mr. Bishop, in particular, along with Miss Levy and the genuinely unlucky Roger Zimmerman, who shared his Upper West Side apartment and it seemed the entirety of both his waking life and his vivid dreams with a hypochondriac, manipulative, shrewish woman who seemed dedicated to nothing less than ruining her only child's every meager effort at independence-all of them used the entirety of their hours that day to effuse bitter vitriol about the women who had brought them into this world.
He listened quietly to great surges of murderous hatred, only occasionally interjecting the most modest of benign comments, never once interrupting the anger that spewed forth from the couch, all the time wishing that just one of his patients would take a deep breath and step back from their rage for an instant and see it for what it truly was: fury with themselves. He knew, through experience and training, that even- tually, after years of talking bitterly in the oddly detached world of the analyst's office, all of them, even poor, desperate, and crippled Roger Zimmerman, would reach that understanding themselves.
Still, the occasion of his birthday, which reminded him most directly of his own mortality, made him wonder whether he would have enough time remaining to see any of them through to that moment of acceptance which is the analyst's eureka. His own father had died shortly after he reached his fifty-third year, heart weakened through years of chain smoking and stress, a fact that he knew lurked subtly and malevolently beneath his consciousness. So, as the unpleasant Roger Zimmerman moaned and whined his way through the final few minutes of the last session of the day, he was slightly distracted, and not paying the complete attention he should have been when he heard the faint triple buzz of the bell he'd installed in his waiting room.
The bell was his standard signal that a patient had arrived. Every new client was told prior to their first session that upon entry, they were to produce two short rings, in quick succession, followed by a third, longer peal. This was to differentiate the ring from any tradesman, meter reader, neighbor, or delivery service that might have arrived at his door.
Without shifting position, he glanced over at his daybook, next to the clock he kept on the small table behind the patient's head, out of their sight. The six p
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