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Or Else: A Thriller

Or Else: A Thriller Summary

Or Else: A Thriller When novelist Andy Drake returns to his hometown to care for his ailing father, a reconnection with his childhood friend Rachel escalates into a secret love affair. For Rachel, struggling to maintain the facade of a picture-perfect life, it’s an escape from an emotionally abusive marriage. Then Andy receives an anonymous note warning him to end the affair. Or else.

Whoever’s been watching is going to make Andy pay. Weeks later, Rachel’s husband, David, is shot to death. Rachel and her two young sons vanish without a trace. One misstep, one careless reveal, and Andy could look as guilty as sin. Clue by clue, as his investigation into the mystery unfolds, Andy discovers that he and Rachel weren’t the only ones keeping secrets.

Nothing in this quiet neighborhood is as it seems. No one peeking from behind the curtains of their homes can be trusted. And the worst is yet to come. Because David isn’t the only one who will die.

About the Author

Joe Hart is the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of fourteen novels, including The River Is DarkObscuraThe Last Girl, and We Sang in the Dark. When not writing, he enjoys reading, exercising, exploring the great outdoors, and watching movies with his family. 

Or Else: A Thriller Introduction

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Footsteps coming down the hall in the dark.

Dad was up again.

I woke, rubbing my eyes in the faint blue light of the still-glowing television. I was on the couch, neck hurting from falling asleep against the world’s hardest pillow.

Dad emerged from the hall and skirted through the living room, barely a ghost in the light of whatever god-awful programming was on at . . . I checked my phone . . . two thirty in the morning. He passed out of view, slippers shuffling.

Tired. So tired. A few broken nights of sleep in a row will do that to a person. I thought back to days of yore, of flopping down at 10:00 p.m. and going somewhere else completely for a flawless eight or nine hours. That was the past; this was the now. Before and after. Like a diagnosis.

Dad,” I said, rising from the couch. He’d already disappeared into the main bath. I don’t know why he always came out to use this one when he had an en suite in his bedroom. Just another mystery of what was happening to him, another quirk of the disease slowly lowering blinds and turning off lights in the corridors of his mind.

He was standing at the sink holding his razor, hot water beginning to steam up the mirror, obscuring his reflection. The writer in me thought of an overobvious metaphor about how soon he wouldn’t be able to see himself in the mirror, and I stuffed a mental gag down the writer’s throat.

“Hey, Dad, whatcha doin’?” I asked, rubbing the last of the sleep from my eyes.

Hmm? Oh hey, forgot you were still here. I had to pee.” He stopped, blinking a few times, then reached out and shut off the hot water. “Thought I had an early shift.” He huffed a quiet laugh and shook his head.

“It’s okay. Wanna try going back to bed?”

No. I think I’ll sit up a bit. Watch a little TV.” I followed him back to the living room, helped him get comfortable in his recliner, made sure he had the remote, hugged him good night.

“Night, son.”

How many of those did we have left? It’s what I’d taken to wondering whenever he called me son or said my name. How many more times would I be Andy? How long before I became a stranger with a familiar face? Then just a stranger.

“Night, Dad.”

I stood on his covered porch and took in the neighborhood, so dark and still and quiet at this hour. Long breath out, deep breath in of night air. The Loop, what we called the little development where our family had lived since my parents bought the lot the house stood on now, was dotted with a dozen or so homes—both sides of the long, curving street on the lower slope of a hill. Beyond the far side of the road, untouched wilderness met the edges of manicured lawns. Wildness and domesticity merged but didn’t mingle. In the distance the Adirondacks were dark heaves against the night sky.

I took the steps down to the front walk, pausing for a second to glance at the house two doors up from Dad’s. It was like all the others and different at the same time. I smiled at that. Knowing a secret was good. At least I’d always seen it that way. A secret was safety. A secret was trust.

Past the house the church rose at the pinnacle of the hill, lording over all below. Its steeple stabbed at the sky. I looked at the building, its shape still seeming much too large for its plot of land, a stomach spilling over a cinched beltline. The church was new—at least to our town it was. New fifteen years ago, when I was transitioning from high school to college out of state.

The old church had been demolished, torn down and removed like something the community was ashamed of. They rebuilt on the foundations, though, the sprawling catacomb basement of my nightmares. My older brother, Cory, had lured me down there one day on the pretense he would let me fly his radio-controlled plane if I just explored with him for a while. Mom had been busy with whatever function she’d been overseeing in the parish hall above, and Cory and I were left to our own devices.

The basement door was a thousand feet tall. That’s how I remember it. Constructed of gray steel from a time when things were built to last. It made such a heavy clunking sound when Cory locked it behind me. I can still hear it. Hours down there in the dark, pounding on the door, no one coming to help. Then stumbling through the dusty rooms, hands scrabbling for a light switch and never finding anything except cobwebs and doorways leading into more rooms. The basement and the dark were endless.

Mom found me eventually. She’d been angry from what I recall. Not at Cory so much, though I think he’d gotten a stern look. I shouldn’t have been playing down there. Irresponsible. How had it looked to everyone when she couldn’t find me? Her hand had been cold on my arm, clutching me all the way down the hill as she steered me home.

Deep breath in. Out.

I ignored the church and focused again on the house up the street before smiling at the stars glittering on their dark blanket. I crossed the drive to my house. It sat kitty-corner from Dad’s place, a simple slab-on-grade with big windows in the living room I liked to read by when it was cold or rainy. They also gave me a good view, easy to look out and see if Dad was awake when he should’ve been sleeping or if he was finally starting the landscaping project my mother had hounded him about when she’d still been able to hound.

Up the stairs to the front door. I gave the neighborhood one last look. Perfect in the night. My problem is I’m a romantic—at least that’s what my editor always says. Happy endings are fine, Andy, but not every thriller should have so much closure. Less tied up with bows, more interpretation for the reader.

Yeah, okay, I guess. But I like to think things have a way of working out, a natural order sometimes disguised as chaos. For the most part I thought everything would be okay. Maybe that’s why I’d be seriously searching for a new line of employment soon. Publishing wasn’t a sure thing, so I had a distinct feeling bartending or perhaps pushing a broom at the paper mill in the center of town was in my near future if the latest story idea didn’t pan out.

So be it. I was where I needed to be. That was the important thing.

I pulled open the storm door. Something drifted down and landed at my feet. A note. It had been folded neatly in half and tucked there sometime after I’d gone over to Dad’s for the evening. I picked it up and stepped inside the house, flipping on the entry light. The note was typed, only two lines long:

I know about you and Rachel. You will stop seeing her. Don’t ruin her or her family’s life.

Do as I say or else.

Deep breath. In and out.

I read the note perhaps twenty times before walking to the nearest chair and sinking into it.

I’d turned on only the one light, and I sat partially in shadow near the dining room table. It’s how I felt, half in reality, half in disbelief.

How? That was the first question. How did someone find out about Rachel and me? Just as quickly I thought, Does it matter? Not really. Someone knew despite how careful we’d been over the last six months. It didn’t matter we’d left our houses at different times, met at different hotels, motels, parks where she’d climbed into my car or I’d climbed into hers. Someone knew, and now the best thing in my life was over.

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Product details:

EditionInternational Edition
ISBN1542035120, 978-1542035125
Posted onApril 1, 2022
Page Count253 pages
AuthorJoe Hart 

Or Else By Joe Hart PDF Book Free Download - HUB PDF

Or Else: A Thriller When novelist Andy Drake returns to his hometown to care for his ailing father, a reconnection with his childhood friend Rachel escalates into a secret love affair. For Rachel, struggling to maintain the facade of a picture-perfect life, it’s an escape from an emotionally abusive marriage. Then Andy receives an anonymous note warning him to end the affair. Or else.

URL: https://amzn.to/3HXEjtD

Author: Joe Hart

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