The Game Master
While in Vegas for the American Poker Grand Slam, BB Thomas—the Game Master—is suddenly arrested by the FBI and taken to a top-secret laboratory. A scientist has been murdered in a bizarre manner, and BB’s daughter has been kidnapped. Reluctantly joining forces with his ex-wife, Linden, BB plunges into a labyrinthine mystery incorporating the world’s oldest and best-known games and taking them to Paris, Dubai, Pyongyang, and Alexandria. Pursued by a relentless FBI agent and an unknown assailant who wants him stopped at any cost, BB races to uncover an insidious plot involving secret societies, ancient cover-ups, and savage vengeance. Someone is playing a deadly game, and the object is the destruction of every government on the face of the earth—no matter how many people die in the process.
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Sometimes her eyes seduce. Sometimes they stare straight at the kind of sights most people turn away from. But in the blazing neon and searing sun of Las Vegas, she can't see the man who is watching her and thinking to himself: She is the one...
From the mountain views beyond the Strip to the dingy dens of forbidden pleasure, Susan Pulaski loves Las Vegas. A woman who wears a gun at her side and her heart on a sleeve, Pulaski is the perfect fit for her city and her job: unraveling the minds of deviant personalities. Until a killer begins decorating Sin City with the horribly disfigured bodies of once beautiful young women...and Pulaski's own demons go on a binge.
Eight months after her cop husband's death, her life is spinning out of control–just as her detective colleagues start searching for a serial killer who methodically stalks his female victims and plunges them into an orgy of terror. When a violent incident earns Pulaski a pink slip from the LVPD and a trip to detox, she's out of the hunt altogether, so she begins to desperately try to regain her job, her reputation, and custody of the niece she's been raising on her own. It seems hopeless–until Pulaski meets the one person who can lead her into the mind of a madman no one else can understand. Darcy O'Bannon is a twenty-five-year-old autistic savant whose relationship with the world around him is so unusual that it forces Pulaski to view the crimes from a bizarre–but ultimately insightful–perspective.
White-knuckling her way to the center of the case, she becomes the key player in a desperate hunt for a killer who believes he has found divine inspiration in the works of Edgar Allan Poe. But even with the assistance of Darcy's astonishing skills, Pulaski is in even more danger than she knows. For the man she seeks is watching her, seduced by her frailties and strengths, her beauty and boldness. To finish his masterwork of horror, he needs her.
In a blistering novel that brings together glitz and goth, human weakness and human genius, and a murderous psychopath who is all too chillingly real, master storyteller William Bernhardt has created an unparalleled literary Las Vegas thrill ride that will leave readers breathless until the final, stunning page.
This book is the result of two events that fused together in my mind to produce one of my best books. My dear son, Harry, is autistic, very smart, very high-functioning, with a fabulous memory and a gift for noticing what no one else ever would ever observe. He and I often talk about his future, what he wants to do with his life, and some of those conversations have been pretty wild.
I have read bedtime stories to all my children (still do) and as I was reading a Sherlock Holmes story to Alice one night I thought, You know, if Sherlock Holmes isn't autistic, he's something darn close. Which led to the thought, What would Harry be like as a detective? His gift for keen observation is clearly there, and he has great puzzle-solving skills, an incredible memory...but he just doesn't understand people. He would need to work with someone who did, like maybe...a psychologist, someone who specializes in understanding people, particularly the aberrant ones who commit serious crimes...
So now you know where Susan and Darcy came from. I loved writing this book so much I wrote a sequel, Strip Search. I hope to return to these characters one day, because I have a sense that their story is not quite complete. A trilogy would be nice, don't you think?
"Murder in Sin City, as investigated by a tough woman cop and her incomparably gifted young associate–Bernhardt and Las Vegas go together like fire and gasoline."
– Stephen Coonts, New York Times bestselling author of Liars and Thieves
"Showcasing William Bernhardt at the height of his storytelling powers, Dark Eye is a Silence of the Lambs meets Rain Man thriller that will chill you while its two unique and endearing protagonists steal your heart."
– Lisa Scottoline, New York Times bestselling author of Killer Smile
"Bernhardt keeps his foot flat on the accelerator, producing action at every turn of the page."
– Orlando Sentinel
Category: Fiction, Fiction - Suspense, Fiction - Mystery & Detective
Format: Paperback, 480 pages
On Sale: January 31, 2006
ISBN: 978-0-345-47016-4 (0-345-47016-8)
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The Code of Buddyhood
My first "non-crime" novel, although now that I think about it, there is a murder. Also corpses, subterranean passageways, and a spaceman from another planet (sort of). If Bobby Beresford seems a lot like Ben Kincaid, it's because he is. Since I couldn't get "Code" published (at the time), I reused much of his background when I created Ben. I think of it as an early Ben book, sort of Ben's adventures before he became an attorney.
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I really had no business writing a book about golf, but I rather like the way it turned out. I couldn't figure out how to make golf interesting to non-golfers, so I focused on the characters, gonzo pro golfer Conner Cross, and his caddy, Fitz. The research on the Masters tournament was great fun.
The Midnight Before Christmas
Another great favorite of mine. A true Christmas book, in the Dickensian sense. This book is so pure I've even let Alice read it. Several high school teachers have used it in their English classes. I've had many readers tell me they re-read it every Christmas. I love this book.
My attempt to write a straight-ahead thriller, which I enjoyed so much I began adding more "thriller elements" to the Ben books. I still wouldn't mind revisiting Travis Byrne— or whatever name he's currently using.
Anthologies Edited by William Bernhardt
I started this project to raise funds for extremely worthwhile projects for The Nature Conservancy, but once I recruited ten of the best writers in the country, it actually turned into a very good story! I wrote the first chapter and the last. Each of the other authors wrote a chapter, based only upon what they read the in the previous chapters—no collaboration or consultation was permitted. And it turned out great! Go figure.
Legal Briefs: Stories By Today's Best Thriller Writers
The short story is generally considered an American art form (thank Edgar Allan Poe for the literary theory that gave it shape) but in today's world they are very difficult to publish. I invited many of the writers I admire most—starting with John Grisham—to contribute a story. I think everyone enjoyed the chance to stretch their short form muscles—and to raise money for charity at the same time. Philip Margolin's story was selected for the Best Mystery anthology for the year.
For Young Readers
Equal Justice: The Courage of Ada Sipuel
The First Lady of the State of Oklahoma, Kim Henry, told me she wished there was a book for young readers that would make Oklahoma students more aware of the achievements of civil rights pioneer Ada Sipuel. I thought it was a wonderful idea and was happy to help make it happen. This book was chosen to be an Official Oklahoma Centennial publication and has been distributed to grade schools throughout the state.
Princess Alice and the Dreadful Dragon
This book began as a bedtime story I told my three children, Harry, Ralph—and Alice. Thanks to the glorious illustrations of my dear friend Kerry McGhee, it has become something much more. This project was a delight from start to finish. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
She likes the sudden seconds of sheer terror. The neon dreams fit perfectly with the dreams that wake her up at night: about the man she loved and lost, about the constant temptations in her life, and about the odds that inevitably she'll be in the right place at the right time to look naked, human madness in the eye.
Welcome to the world of Susan Pulaski, an unconventional and unusually subversive Las Vegas police behaviorist who's already been canned once and has never been needed more. In the Sin City, someone is ritually murdering handpicked victims, each with dirty secrets in their past. The killer's gimmick: Not only does he leave behind parts of the victims' bodies, he also writes obscure mathematical formulas-in their blood. Pulaski doesn't have a clue what the codes mean. But she knows someone who will.
Darcy O'Bannon is a twenty-six-year-old whose autistic savant skills are perfect for unraveling such mysteries as how many rivets are in the Eiffel Tower and how many Elvis impersonators there will be in the year 2020. As it turns out, innocent Darcy can also think along the arcane lines of Vegas's most savage serial killer, peering into a numerological mystery that stretches back hundreds of years.
With her own life one spark away from going off the rails, her department turned against her, and the lives of those she cares most about in jeopardy, Pulaski hunts for dangerous prey in the shadow of the Strip-with herself as the perfect bait. And the closer she gets, the more terrifying and intriguing the case becomes, for the person she's tracking possesses truly ingenious powers-and a heart full of hate.
The incomparable William Bernhardt brings to life America's most fascinating city and the people who police it, while he invites the reader to join one woman's fight to stay sane, stay alive, and keep a killer from making the most shocking score of all.
This is the long-awaited sequel to Dark Eye, which many people think is my best book. Six months after the events of Dark Eye, police psychologist Susan Pulaski has cleaned herself up and put her life back on track–but some people insist on focusing on her past mistakes. Autistic savant Darcy O'Bannon is still struggling to convince his father he is capable of police work–when a bizarre killer with a fixation on weird math and Kabbalistic theology begins stalking the Vegas Strip. The killings seem random; only Darcy can see a pattern...
I love these characters. They are very real to me. Darcy is based in part on my son; Susan is based on a dear friend who has undergone many of the challenges Susan has confronted. I was anxious to show how their lives progressed after the events of the previous book (and I'd like to revisit them one day in a third book). I also love the Vegas environment, not just the neon-tinged Ocean's Eleven-glitter but the real city and the real people who inhabit this absolutely unique place.
As a side note: While I wrote this book, I was also finishing up my Master Degree work in English Literature at the University of Tulsa. As a result, most of the names in the book are taken from students, teachers, or faculty at TU. I tried to be even-handed about this, and as long as the professors didn't give me any trouble, I didn't turn them into serial killers...
"The ghastly puzzle comes together in a breathtaking, suspenseful finale."
– Publishers Weekly
"The story is compelling, grittily gruesome in a Jeffrey Deaver kind of way."
Category: Fiction, Fiction - Suspense, Fiction - Mystery & Detective
Format: Paperback, 416 pages
On Sale: November 25, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-345-47020-1 (0-345-47020-6)
Download Excerpt (PDF)