About the Book
Title: Mrs. John Doe
Author: Tom Savage
In the adrenaline-laced new novel of suspense from Tom Savage—hailed by Michael Connelly as “a master of the high-speed thriller”—an American actress in Europe races to find the truth behind her husband’s mysterious accident. What she uncovers makes her the target of a shocking conspiracy.
Nora Baron’s life is perfect. She lives on Long Island Sound, teaches acting at a local university, and has a loving family. Then one phone call changes everything. She’s informed that her husband, Jeff, has died in a car crash while on a business trip in England. Nora flies to London to identify the body, which the police have listed as a “John Doe.” When she leaves the morgue, a man tries to steal her purse containing Jeff’s personal effects. Clearly, all is not as it seems.
At her hotel, Nora receives a cryptic message that leaves her with more questions than answers. She follows the message’s instructions to France, where a fatal encounter transforms her into a fugitive. Wanted for murder, on the run in a shadowy landscape of lies, secrets, and sudden violence, Mrs. “John Doe” must play the role of a lifetime to stay one step ahead of a ruthless enemy with deadly plans for her—and for the world.
Dr. Gupta was very kind. The small Indian man in the well-tailored blue suit had an apologetic manner that actually made Nora feel somewhat stronger, more assured, as though she should be comforting him instead of the other way around. They’d been shown into his third-floor office, and now he’d brought them to a bank of elevators, one of which would take them down to the basement of the hospital.
“A formality,” he explained in his mildly accented English as they descended. “Mr. Howard has already been here, but we require an immediate relative. Otherwise, I wouldn’t—”
“It’s okay,” Nora said. “It’s quite all right. I—I want to see him.”
The elevator opened into another corridor lined with offices, at the end of which was a large gray area with gray carpets, couches, and chairs. The waiting room, Nora thought with a shudder. An old woman and a middle-aged man sat together on a couch, probably a grieving wife and son, but otherwise the place was empty. Nora glanced at Bill Howard, who chose a seat across the room from the others and said, “I’ll be right here.” She nodded and handed him her shoulder bag, and Dr. Gupta led her over to another door. Nora braced herself when he opened it.
It wasn’t as bad as she’d imagined it would be. Industrial tubes concealed in a false ceiling brightly lighted the big, long chamber, and the temperature dropped some fifteen degrees the moment they entered. The walls were lined with shiny metal stacked drawers above the green linoleum floor. She’d half expected to find the cast of CSI hunched over stainless steel tables with frightening-looking drains, burrowing rubber-gloved hands into gaping chest cavities. But no such horror was in evidence, only two silent young men in hospital blues awaiting the doctor’s instructions. The autopsy surgeries would be elsewhere, of course, down the hall or in a subbasement. She’d been watching too much television; this place was merely for storage. Storage of human beings. Her step faltered, and the doctor reached out to grasp her arm.
“It’s okay,” she said again. “I’m okay. Let’s do this.”
At a nod from the coroner, one of the orderlies went to a low drawer and pulled it open, then stepped back, discreetly out of the way. Dr. Gupta gently peeled back the white sheet, revealing the head and naked shoulders. Nora came forward to stand beside the drawer, staring down.
She said, “Yes, this is my husband. This is Jeff.”
His face was slack, calm, almost smiling. He was pale, with a bluish tinge to his waxen skin. She studied the features in repose, the closed eyelids, and the faint bruise on his right cheek by his ear. She glanced down the length of the sheet that covered most of him, wondering what it concealed. Should she ask? Did she really want to know? In the end, Dr. Gupta made the decision for her.
“It was a heart attack,” he said quietly. “A sudden, massive myocardial infarction. It may comfort you to know that he was most likely, er, gone before the car struck the wall. That”—he pointed to the bruise—“was probably sustained when the air bag was deployed, but it didn’t develop, which indicates a postmor—er, well, otherwise, there is no visible damage.”
She nodded again. A single tear made its way down her face, and she reached up to brush it away. She wondered what she should say at this point, but the doctor saved her the trouble once more.
“I’ve called it an accident, officially. There won’t be any further legal activity, no inquest or anything like that. You’re free to take him home. One thing: He had heart and liver damage, and some of the scarring goes back years. Was he on medication for it?”
She shook her head and told the truth. “This is the first I’m hearing about it.” Then she said, “I’m going to have him cremated. Can—can that be done here?”
“I mean, now?”
Dr. Gupta nodded. “Yes, we’ll see to it. If you’ll come back tomorrow afternoon, I’ll have everything ready.”
“An urn?” she asked.
“A box,” he said. “You may choose the final containment when you’re back in New York. That would be best.”
“And the—the transportation?”
“Your airline will be able to assist you. They’re used to these things.” More quietly, he added, “With security these days, I’m afraid it will have to be the cargo hold.”
She didn’t know what to say to that, so she simply nodded again. Another tear ran down her cheek.
“There are a few forms for you to sign,” he said. “My assistant is bringing them down from my office. Are you—are you ready now?”
“Yes,” she whispered. She reached out as though to touch the upturned face on the steel pallet, but her hand stopped before it reached its destination, slowly returning to her side. At a nod from the doctor, the orderly pulled up the sheet and rolled the big drawer shut. The harsh metallic clang seemed to reverberate in the frigid, sterile room.
Tom Savage is the author of six suspense novels: Precipice, Valentine, The Inheritance, Scavenger, A Penny for the Hangman, and Mrs. John Doe. He wrote two detective novels under the name T. J. Phillips, Dance of the Mongoose and Woman in the Dark. His short stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, and anthologies edited by Lawrence Block, Harlan Coben, and Michael Connelly. His short story, “The Method In Her Madness,” was nominated for the Barry Award. His bestselling novel, Valentine, was made into a Warner Bros. film. In his younger days he was a professional actor, and he also wrote a Broadway show, Musical Chairs.
Tom was born in New York and raised in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. He attended Point Park College and Hofstra University, majoring in drama and minoring in English. After acting and writing plays, he worked for many years at Murder Ink®, the world’s first mystery bookstore. He’s a member of Actors Equity Association, ASCAP, the Authors Guild, Mystery Writers of America, the International Association of Crime Writers, and International Thriller Writers. He has served as a director on the national board of MWA, and he’s served several times on the Best Novel committees for MWA (Edgar® Awards) and IACW (Hammett Prize). He is a founding member of MWA’s Mentor Program, assessing and encouraging new mystery writers. He lives in New York City.
Buy the Book:
Penguin Random House: http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/250956/mrs-john-doe-by-tom-savage/