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A Deeper Darkness

Cover of A Deeper Darkness

A Deeper Darkness

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As a medical examiner, Samantha Owens knows her job is to make a certain sense of death with crisp methodology and precision instruments.

But the day the Tennessee floods took her husband and children, the light vanished from Sam's life. She has been pulled into a suffocating grief no amount of workaholic ardor can penetrate--until she receives a peculiar call from Washington, D.C.

On the other end of the line is an old boyfriend's mother, asking Sam to do a second autopsy on her son. Eddie Donovan is officially the victim of a vicious carjacking, but under Sam's sharp eye the forensics tell a darker story. The ex-Ranger was murdered, though not for his car.

Forced to confront the burning memories and feelings about yet another loved one killed brutally, Sam loses herself in the mystery contained within Donovan's old notes. It leads her to the untouchable Xander, a soldier off-grid since his return from Afghanistan, and then to a series of brutal crimes stretching from that harsh mountainous war zone to this nation's capital. The tale told between the lines makes it clear that nobody's hands are clean, and that making sense of murder sometimes means putting yourself in the crosshairs of death.



As a medical examiner, Samantha Owens knows her job is to make a certain sense of death with crisp methodology and precision instruments.

But the day the Tennessee floods took her husband and children, the light vanished from Sam's life. She has been pulled into a suffocating grief no amount of workaholic ardor can penetrate--until she receives a peculiar call from Washington, D.C.

On the other end of the line is an old boyfriend's mother, asking Sam to do a second autopsy on her son. Eddie Donovan is officially the victim of a vicious carjacking, but under Sam's sharp eye the forensics tell a darker story. The ex-Ranger was murdered, though not for his car.

Forced to confront the burning memories and feelings about yet another loved one killed brutally, Sam loses herself in the mystery contained within Donovan's old notes. It leads her to the untouchable Xander, a soldier off-grid since his return from Afghanistan, and then to a series of brutal crimes stretching from that harsh mountainous war zone to this nation's capital. The tale told between the lines makes it clear that nobody's hands are clean, and that making sense of murder sometimes means putting yourself in the crosshairs of death.

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  • From the book



    Washington, D.C.
    Edward Donovan


    Eddie Donovan didn't like crowds. Crowds were unpredictable, dangerous. Crowds held a multitude of malcontents, any one of which could be the death of him, in the most literal way. He was surrounded by people, and sweating. Despite the aviator-style Ray-Bans perched on his nose, the sun shone brightly in his eyes, making it even harder to see. Even in his car he felt unsafe.

    Donovan, formerly Major Edward Donovan, 75th Ranger Regiment, couldn't help himself. He scanned the pedestrians incessantly as he looked for a place to park. Susan said she'd meet him at the carousel behind the Smithsonian and they'd walk the girls over to the Tidal Basin together. He'd thought it better for her to get off at the Smithsonian Metro stop and cut through the back streets, where there would be fewer people, but she'd insisted. The day was fine, spring sun yellow and sharp, and she wanted the exercise. The girls needed it too--the more they got during the day, the easier it was to put them down at night.

    He was running late. He finally found a spot on Seventh. He pulled in, dropped a handful of quarters into the meter, and took off at a jog, down the Mall, away from the Capitol.

    They weren't alone in their planned endeavor. It seemed every family in the Washington metro area, plus oodles of tourists, had decided to meet on the Mall and walk down to the Tidal Basin to see the cherry blossoms together. There were hundreds ofjolly people milling about.

    Police ringed Independence Avenue, wary and watchful. Despite the beautiful day, terror threats were always paramount in law enforcement's mind, especially when it came to large gatherings. Just plain common sense was needed. But for a former Ranger, the authorities' lack of common sense was teeth-grindingly aggravating. As he moved swiftly through the crowds, Donovan spotted at least five points of ingress, holes in the watch. Of course, this was his world now, his job. He was a civilian in clothing only--his mandate was to protect. Only his paychecks were printed and signed by multinational corporations instead of the U.S. government.

    The Gothic spires of the Smithsonian appeared to his left, and the music of the carousel floated to his ears. He spotted Susan, her blond hair up in a ponytail under a Redskins baseball cap, matching aviator Ray-Bans on her face. She looked like an incognito movie star, daintily lean and trim, and for the hundredth time he congratulated himself on landing her. She was the daughter of his former mentor, the man who'd shown him how to be a soldier. A good man now rotting under a white stone at Arlington, lost not to battle, but cancer, like too many others who'd served in Vietnam and Korea. The last thing Stewart had asked was for Donovan to take care of his little girl, a mission Donovan was only too happy to undertake.

    Susan spied him and a smile spread across her face. Alina and Victoria--Ally and Vicky--were attached to either end of Susan's arms like limpets, dragging her forward. He smiled in return and crossed the remaining few feet to them, grabbing the baby, Vicky, by the waist and swinging her up onto his shoulders. The five-year-old squealed in frightened pleasure, and Ally smiled indulgently at her little sister. In a perfect imitation of Susan, she crossed her little arms and said, "You know she just ate, right Dad? You do that and she might throw up."

    Eight, going on thirty.

    "I've been barfed on before by lesser women." He swung Vicky around his shoulders, the helicopter, they called it, and she laughed and laughed. Her giggles were infectious, and soon the whole family...

About the Author-
  • J.T. Ellison is the bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Taylor Jackson series, with novels published in 21 countries. A former White House staffer, she moved to Nashville and began research on a passion: forensics and crime. She has worked extensively with the Metro Nashville Police, the FBI and various other law enforcement organizations to research her novels. Visit www.JTEllison.com or follow her on Twitter @Thrillerchick.

Reviews-
  • New York Times bestselling author Jeff Abbot "A DEEPER DARKNESS is not only a compelling thriller but a multilayered meditation on grief and loss. Dr. Samantha Owens is a forensic investigator with heart and soul and this is the start of a most promising new series for rising star JT Ellison."
  • Chicago Tribune "Fans of intelligently written, intricately crafted thrillers should definitely check out J.T. Ellison's latest Taylor Jackson novel, 14. Fusing gritty cop drama with dark psychological thriller, Ellison distinguishes herself with exceptional character development, consistently breakneck pacing and a sense of authenticity throughout."
  • John Connolly "Mystery fiction has a new name to watch."
  • Lisa Gardner on Where All the Dead Lie "Ellison gets her Hitchcock on...just plain messing with her characters' heads until the superbly explosive end. Not to be missed!"
  • January Magazine on The Cold Room "Combines The Silence of the Lambs with The Wire."
  • Bookreporter "What J.T. Ellison has done with the city in her award-winning Taylor Jackson books is magnificent... Lovers of mystery and suspense fiction could not ask for more."
  • Publishers Weekly, starred review on The Immortals "Outstanding... The police procedural details never get in the way of the potent characterization and clever plotting, and Ellison systematically cranks up the intensity all the way to the riveting ending."
  • Allison Brennan "Darkly compelling and thoroughly chilling, with rich characterization and a well-layered plot, All the Pretty Girls is everything a great crime thriller should be."
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