Pitch Dark

Paperback | April 26, 2011

bySteven Sidor

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"Pitch Dark is a propulsive, layered, and brutal read. . . . A reader can't hope for more than to discover a writer possessed of both true talent and true passion. Discover Steven Sidor."
---Michael Koryta, author of The Cypress House

It's Christmas Eve, and Vera Coffey is on the run. She doesn't know the men who are after her. She has never seen them before, but she has seen the horrors they visit on people who don't give them what they want. Vera has something they want badly. She'd give it up if it weren't the only thing keeping her alive.

The Larkins have known the toll violence takes on a family ever since they were trapped in a madman's shooting rampage. They've been coping with the trauma for nearly twenty years. Now, on a cold and lonely winter morning, Vera collapses at their roadside motel. And she's brought something with her. Together they'll have to make one last stand against an evil that has followed them further than anyone could've imagined.

With a thriller so fast-paced that it's impossible to let go and an ominous sense that everything is destined to go wrong, Pitch Dark is an intense read from a master of suspense.

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"Pitch Dark is a propulsive, layered, and brutal read. . . . A reader can't hope for more than to discover a writer possessed of both true talent and true passion. Discover Steven Sidor."---Michael Koryta, author of The Cypress HouseIt's Christmas Eve, and Vera Coffey is on the run. She doesn't know the men who are after her. She has ...

Steven Sidor is the author of acclaimed novels including The Mirror's Edge. He lives near Chicago, Illinois, with his wife and two children.

other books by Steven Sidor

Bone Factory
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The Mirror's Edge
The Mirror's Edge

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Skin River
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Format:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.72 inPublished:April 26, 2011Publisher:St. Martin's PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0312354142

ISBN - 13:9780312354145

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CHAPTER 1 I’m driving on the dark side of the moon, Vera Coffey thought. She knew precisely where she was: pointed due north in northern Minnesota, at 3:01 A.M., early Christmas Eve morning. A hatcheting wind whistled as it worked over her red Camaro, trying to find a way inside. Vera felt safe for now. The Berlinetta’s cranky heater was blowing warmth through the vents, lulling her as she rocketed on a cushion of steel-belted rubber and air.Don’t think about what you’re running from, she told herself. Do that and you’ll be just fine. She almost believed it was true.Mostly she tried not to think at all.The hum of the tires was hypnotic. Gray roadside monotony repeated while she tunneled ahead. Night sloped around her headlamps.The radio didn’t help. After the witching hour, following ten miles of steep and then steeper hills, signals were dropping off. Vera liked classic hard rock. Loud, wildman drums. Power chords. A singer who had some pipes and knew how to use them. Kick-your-ass-and-make-you-like-it music. Her choices were down to four FM stations. Judging from their playlists, the twenty-first century had never arrived. She punched a button. Black Sabbath. “Paranoid.” Finished with my woman ’cause she couldn’t help me with my mind … No, not tonight, Ozzy.Vera turned off the radio.This particular stretch of road appeared treeless, an experiment in desolation. Even the roadkill disappeared. You had a problem out here, you had it alone. Yet, every so often, a mailbox plastered with reflectors would tip into view. That must be how the scientists did their measurements.Subject: Vera Lee CoffeyAge: 26Marital status: SingleSubject has reached mailbox number 1457. She appears oriented to time and place. Exhaustion stage is near complete. Sense of reality likely jeopardized.Sleep eminent.How far until the next town? Hadn’t she seen a sign a few miles ago?Her face was drooping, melting wax. She prodded a fingertip into her cheek. The skin felt as if it would never go back to its original shape. She closed her eyes for a beat. Opened them again.Nothing changed.The same shadows encroached on the high beams. The unending tattoo of painted white lines passed on her left like code.Her eyes closed.Vera was not going to sleep. She promised. At most she would be taking a minibreather, a second or two of visual rest—that’s all, before aiming once more through the windshield and pressing onward. A second or two …Vera woke.To the sharp spray of gravel hitting the passenger side, she woke.She woke as the dashboard bucked. The car fell away. Like rope, the steering wheel turned through her grip. A mile marker spiked up green. Its vertical white numbers edged darkness and weeds. The numbers told her where she was crashing, where they would find her broken body in the morning.Vera held on as her daddy’s old ’84 threatened to slam off-road.The front bumper clipped the sign. Popped it over the way a skier pops flags going downhill. One headlight winked out. The road curved ahead.The red coupe didn’t.Vera fought for control. She pulled until her shoulders hurt. The right half of the car dropped a few inches. Full-tilt crunch. Two wheels chewed rocks, two grabbed washboard asphalt. Vibrations kicked the chassis. Strapped in for the duration of the ride, she gritted her teeth as she pulled and pulled.Bald tires skidded over the pebbly glass blacktop.She had overcorrected.180.360.Spin-out.Vera heard herself draw in air, and say, “Shit.”Here was Death.*   *   *Death was a snow-packed guardrail and below, a shallow creek layered milky gray with ice. Reeds poked up their hollow stems. An opossum lifted his funneled face from the ditch and blinked at the sudden wall of light.The moon above vanished as if a hand clutched it.Vera saw none of those things. Her eyes viewed them. Lens to retina to optic nerve—her brain registered the data collected. Recognition would come later, a memory of landscape reeling across the windshield in black and white.Vera saw only Death.Her scuffed cowboy boot pumped the brake. Her daddy taught her that. He bought the “Starship Camaro” in ’84, the year she was born. Daddy didn’t know much about cars, even less about the raising of little motherless girls. In two years, the Berlinetta model would be discontinued. And although he tried his best to look after his daughter until the day he died, his advice was wrong. Antilock brakes don’t need to be pumped.Vera pressed the pedal up and down.Up and down.It shuddered under her toes.Up, down, up, down.The interior grew raucous. Frozen brush scraped the undercarriage. Pulverized snow mounds chuffed and blew apart, sending a burst of sparkly crystals drifting up over the hood.The few remaining tire treads caught a strip of dry pavement. An astonished Vera steered to the middle of the road. She laughed. She didn’t think she was a middle-of-the-road gal. The laughter wasn’t really meant for her.It was for Death.After her second close encounter in the last twenty-four hours, she couldn’t hold back the fear. Death had Vera on the run. She knew what to expect now. She had witnessed him up close. Death had shown his face to her in that West Side greystone back in Chicago. Six times over he did it.Taunted her, saying, Here I am.His forever grin made her sweat icicles.Look at me, honey, I’m over here. Here too.She wouldn’t forget.Now the reaper looked a helluva lot better in her rearview mirror. Fair’s fair. Vera got her chance to laugh. No fool, she took it.Safety arrived as fast as danger. Vera fingered the crucifix she wore on a chain around her neck. It had always been an accessory rather than a religious relic. She wasn’t a believer. Silver looked good against her pale skin—that’s all. Well, maybe more. Sometimes if stress ran high, or if threats surrounded her, then touching the cross was a way she calmed herself down, a superstition to ward off evil.Can you believe in Evil without believing in Good?On an ice-covered road in the middle of the night, Vera thought so.She knew something evil was after her.The car sped forward between the lines. No other cars passed. None followed. This road was well chosen for its loneliness.Vera rolled her window down. She gulped cold air. She smelled a farm nearby. On her left, she watched barn doors slide open and the glow of a buttery light escaping. Cattle moved inside. A man came forward at a brisk pace. The farmer, it must be, in his red-checkered jacket, a bucket swinging in his—no hand—prosthetic hook. He waved to her.Then Vera was past.Fences divided the scenery. Ice buckled in the fields. Burning motor oil and wood smoke scented the wind. She licked her teeth. Her mouth tasted like Elmer’s glue. Her left ear throbbed. Biting air poured into the front seat. Shivering, she cranked up her window. Maxed the heat with her thumb.Thirteen hours straight through. Taking the blue state and county highways and staying a tick or two under the speed limit. She was nearing the border now but didn’t want to cross it at night. That wouldn’t be smart.It might be suicidal.Canada was for tomorrow.Vera judged herself in no shape for scrutiny. She wasn’t prepared to answer questions. She wouldn’t cooperate.Please open your trunk, miss.She’d have to say, “No.”Then what?Vera needed to get off this godforsaken highway. Her empty thermos clunked under the seat as she rounded each bend in the road. She couldn’t afford to stop at a gas station for more coffee. Out here in Nowheresville, someone would remember her.They’d say: A stringy little thing, pale, hair like a blackbird mashed to her skull, blue-eyed. Couldn’t keep her fingers out of her mouth.If someone showed them a picture: That’s her, oh yeah, I’m sure of it. So what’d she do? Must’ve been pretty bad. Did she murder somebody?Vera Coffey chewed her thumbnail, thinking about motels. Copyright © 2011 by Steven Sidor

Editorial Reviews

"Pitch Dark is a propulsive, layered, and brutal read. Sidor reminds you of the terrible violence of which we are capable and the heart that must be called upon to endure. A reader can't hope for more than to discover a writer possessed of both true talent and true passion. Discover Steven Sidor." -Michael Koryta, author of The Cypress House"Pitch Dark is as relentlessly suspenseful as any crime novel you've ever read, but at the same time it's as scary as the best horror stories. Once you've met the walking nightmare who calls himself the Pitch--and his devoted henchmen--you will never forget them (try as you might). A harrowing, nonstop flight into the very heart of darkness, Pitch Dark kept me up half the night--and when I did go to bed, I left the lights on." -Robert Masello, author of The Medusa Amulet