Ann Rule, 2012 True Thriller Award recipient, will be a Spotlight Guest at ThrillerFest VII this year, so we’ve made arrangements as part of the ThrillerFest Blog Tour to share an excerpt from her newest book, Don’t Look Behind You: and Other True Cases..
It was midafternoon on a very warm day-June 4, 2007-when bulldozer operator Travis Haney paused to wipe the sweat from his forehead. He’d been demolishing an old farmhouse and leveling the topsoil on Canyon Road East in Puyallup, (pronounced Pew-AL-up) Washington.
It was a prime spot for a shopping mall in the Summit district of Pierce County.
The Washington State Fairgrounds were close by, and land surrounding Puyallup was known for its rich soil and never-ending acres of daffodils.
But just as the Kent Valley had been paved over to make room for the burgeoning Boeing Company and the parking lots, apartment houses, malls, and other businesses necessary to fill the needs of a startling influx of new residents, Puyallup’s daffodils were beginning to disappear, along with the small truck farms and strawberry fields in the valley.
It was dismaying to see the rich loam of the area buried under cement. But progress was progress.
The tall yellow home that had once stood on this particular piece of property was probably built more than a hundred years ago. The house had been empty for a while, but even without care, many of the old-fashioned roses, lilacs, and other familiar perennials had managed to survive among encroaching weeds. The house was slowly dying. Its front porch sagged; some windows were broken and seemed like dead eyes staring out as the demo teams moved in.
There had, indeed, been a ghostly presence surrounding the house, which no one wanted any longer. Workers didn’t notice it much in the bright sunshine of summer days, but they certainly did as the sun began to set. In June, in the Northwest, that doesn’t happen until almost 10 p.m.
The house itself was gone by June 4; all the splintered boards and walls with a dozen layers of wallpaper were gone, hauled away to landfills.
The last thing Travis Haney was thinking about on this Monday afternoon was hauntings and bizarre secrets. He moved the ‘dozer close to the fence on the west/northwest section of the lot, idly glancing at the dirt the blade turned up.
And then a black plastic trash bag rose up through the disturbed earth. Haney lowered the bucket again and the next scoop brought up the rest of the bag. He dumped it onto a pile of dirt. He could see that it was torn. Curious, he hopped down from his perch and opened the bag along one side.
There were bones and rotted clothing inside and some tattered twine that might have been used to tie it all up. Finding bones wasn’t particularly unusual for crews who were demolishing buildings and houses and rearranging dirt. Haney mused that these bones must have been in the bag for a long time. They could have been the bones of a dog or even a small farm animal. The presence of shreds of cloth, however, made him wonder if whatever had died here might have been a human being.
Don’t Look Behind You by Ann Rule. Copyright © 2011 by Ann Rule. Reprinted by permission of Pocket Books, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., NY.
ThrillerFest VII will run July 11-14 at the Grand Hyatt in New York City. In addition to receiving her award, Ann Rule is also scheduled to teach at CraftFest.
Jack Higgins, the genius behind The Eagle Has Landed is this year’s ThrillerMaster and spotlight authors include Lee Child, Catherine Coulter, John Sandford, Karin Slaughter, and Richard North Patterson. Not to mention, the legendary Ann Rule, author of The Stranger Beside Me and beneficiary of The True Thriller Award, plus last year’s ThrillerMaster R.L. Stine will return for the spine-tingling festivities. The week is going to be jam packed with exhilarating workshops, including:
- “How to Stalk A Serial Killer and Tell the Gruesome Tale” with Ann Rule, who is also the author of 30-New York Times bestsellers, all of which are still in print.
- “Kill ‘Em Clean: Writing Sharp, Fast, and Deadly” with Catherine Coulter, author of 67-novels, 62 of which are New York Times bestsellers.
- “Tell, Don’t Show: Why Writing Rules are Mostly Wrong” with Lee Child, author of the bestselling and beloved Jack Reacher series.
- “The Dynamics of Structure” with David Morrell, author of 28-novels, including First Blood (of Rambo fame). His work has been translated into 26-languages.
For additional information or to make arrangement to attend visit: ThrillerFest VII