Just because everyone
thinks you’re nothing doesn’t mean
you’ve got nothing to lose.
George Engle’s lived in the long shadow of his superstar twin brothers since they died in a freak accident when he was thirteen. Now, in the spring of 1986, George and his childhood friends are living lives they never wanted. It’s easy to sleepwalk through insignificance, until a second freak accident jolts them awake—only it’s no accident.
One night, George regains consciousness just in time to watch an unfamiliar house explode, and finds evidence of the crime he didn’t commit planted on his back seat. He narrowly eludes what may or may not be police and subsequently learns the explosion was a cover-up for three baffling execution-style murders. George was supposed to take the fall, and now the killers are hunting him.
George’s friends reunite to probe the mysterious deaths, a murderous drug cartel, and their own self-deception. But in the process, they’ll discover they can trust no one and nothing—not even their own memories.
Fans of THE DROWNING GAME will love meeting Petty’s attorney and Dekker’s Uncle Curt as young men.
THE NEW THRILLER DROPS 1/22/19
THE THROWAWAYS PLAYLIST
Hardcover, paperback, ebook: 305 pages
Publisher: The Vanishing Point Press Ltd. (January 22, 2019)
ISBN: 978-1-890391-09-6 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 978-1-890391-10-2 (Paperback)
ISBN: 978-1-890391-11-9 (Paperback)
ISBN: 978-1-890391-12-6 (eBook)
EXCERPT FROM THE THROWAWAYS
Friday, May 23, 1986
One moment she was there, sitting in the front passenger seat with her back against the door, smiling at him. The next, she wasn’t.
He blinked and she disappeared, like a dissident from an old Soviet photograph.
Gone, as if she’d never been there to begin with.
George Engle turned his head away from her empty seat, taking in the nighttime suburban street scene outside his window. He didn’t recognize the neighborhood. Didn’t remember how he’d got there, sitting in his car at the curb by a little park.
Didn’t even know who the girl was. Why she’d been in his car.
He fixed his eyes on the small ranch house a hundred feet ahead, across the dimly lit street to his left, which generated an indistinct ping of memory.
And then the house blew up.
The fireburst rocked him sideways, seemed to bow his window inward. The flaming sphere mushroomed, shooting wreckage in all directions. As the appallingly loud concussion dissipated, smoldering debris hailed down on his Plymouth Cricket, accompanied by metallic tings and clinks.
The blast and noise stunned George into paralysis. Movement in the park to his right drew his attention. He turned to see three open-mouthed teenagers in jeans and flannel shirts walking zombie-like, lit up as if on stage, toward his car. Their eyes were fixed on the conflagration, the swings behind them abandoned so quickly they flapped and twisted. The kids’ materialization broke George’s stupor and he opened his door, activating the car’s dome light. He stood and shouted to them.
Their identical, mesmerized expressions showed no indication that they’d heard him or even noticed he and his car were between them and the burning house.
George slapped the roof of the Plymouth. “Hey! Did you see what happened?”
Two of the teenagers turned their gazes his way, and one of them shook his head. “The house exploded, man. It went bloof.”
“Yeah, I know,” George said. “I meant—”
One guy’s face morphed from shock to fear as he yanked on his nearest friend’s shirt tail and pointed at George’s car. Then all three of them were gaping at the passenger-side back seat window.
George tilted to see what they were gawking at. Was the girl back there?
No. An open garbage bag was, full of items he couldn’t quite make out.
He straightened to see the teenagers backing away, hands up.
One said, “We don’t want any trouble, bud, we just…”
George took a step toward them, and they turned and ran.
He blinked at the retreating figures, then went around the car and opened the back passenger-side door to get a look at the trash bag. Spilling out of it was a bizarre collection of items: a large plastic bag of white powder. A hunting knife. A pistol. And on the floor, a gas can.
The knife gleamed red and wet.
He reached forward and touched the pistol.
The slight warmth of it zapped him like an electric shock, and the scent of sulfur told him this gun had been fired recently. Wave upon wave of adrenaline hit his muscles, making him stagger backward as if shot himself. A howling wind in his mind blanked out everything except sheer animal survival as muffled blasts within what was left of the house clattered like a demonic drum solo. With each detonation, George’s panic grew. What could still be exploding inside?
He slammed the back door then threw himself into the driver’s seat and jerked the door shut. Fumbled for the starter while staring in the rearview mirror at the assortment of elements in the back seat, which had certainly not been there earlier, and which definitely did not belong to him.
But those teenagers didn’t know that.
George wrenched the key and the engine blazed to life. He stomped the accelerator and tore out of the neighborhood, going as fast as a fifteen-year-old sedan could.
The headlight knob came off in his hand he yanked it so hard, and he nearly jumped the curb trying to gain control of the car. Houses lit up as he passed them.
He couldn’t decipher the faded street signs in the dim illumination of his headlights. He had no idea where he was. Or how he’d gotten here.
But then cascades of memory washed over him.
The liquor store. The thunderstorm. The kiss.