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Cover image for Don't say a word
Don't say a word
Publication Information:
New York : Pocket Books, ©1991.
Physical Description:
310 pages ; 24 cm
Psychiatrist Nathan Conrad confronts urban paranoia and murderous insanity when his family is watched and followed, and later brutalized, by a criminal with a twisted mind and a mad giant who thrives on the suffering of others.


Call Number
Klavan, A.

On Order

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

YA-- This psychological thriller chronicles the kidnapping of the adored child of a successful psychiatrist in New York City. From the time two men knock at an elderly woman's door and ask permission to conduct a maintenance check until Jessie is reunited with her mother, the pace never slackens. The vulnerability of the honest person to the evil purpose of criminals is made bone-numbingly clear as readers are alternately privy to the inner thoughts and actions of family members (including Jessie), the terrorists, and the police. Escape literature to spellbind mature teens and perhaps nudge them closer to discarding their youthful sense of immortality. --Barbara Hawkins, West Potomac High, Fairfax, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Klavan, an Edgar winner who also writes as Keith Peterson, expertly interweaves the disparate worlds of a psychiatrist who takes on the hard cases: catatonics, schizophrenics and the criminally insane. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus Review

After writing five mystery thrillers as Keith Peterson (The Scarred Man, 1989), Klavan at last puts his real name on one--and no wonder: this tale of a psychiatrist trying to save his kidnapped daughter is a virtuoso display of Chinese puzzle-box plotting and slick emotionality, worthy of Hitchcock at his best. ""The right apartment was tough to find, so they murdered the old lady""--sociopath Sport and his monster-sized retarded sidekick Maxwell, that is, setting up in this opening sentence their rental of the suddenly vacant apartment across the yard from the one owned by mild-mannered shrink Nathan Conrad, wife Agatha, and five-year-old daughter Jessica. The Conrads become aware of Sport and Maxwell when they awake one day to find their apartment broken into, Jessica snatched, and Sport on the phone. The ransom? Nathan must visit Elizabeth Burrows, the paranoid angel-faced murderess he's treating at the request of fellow shrink Jerry Sachs, and ask her, ""What is the number?"" And ""don't say a word"" to the cops, warns Sport, whose surveillance of the Conrads through binoculars convinces the couple that they're being watched by hidden cameras and microphones--a lie that cuffs Agatha as she tries to call for help from a neighbor and a plumber: Or is one of these men Sport in disguise? Meanwhile, Nathan dashes to the asylum, confronts Sachs, and visits fragile Elizabeth, discovering, as twist follows twist, that her paranoia is based on a hideous reality. Breaking her out, Nathan races with Elizabeth to a rendezvous with Sport (be at the clocktower by 9 p.m. or Jessica dies) as she reveals ""the number""--key to a fateful secret. But even after Nathan settles with Sport, can he--as asked in an extended and astonishingly cathartic climax--find Jessica in time to keep monstrous Maxwell from tearing the little girl apart limb by limb? Not profound, and blatant in its emotional manipulations, but peopled with rich characters and intensely gripping and suspenseful: one of the most entertaining psycho-thrillers in many months. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

A secret is buried with the body of Elizabeth's drug-riddled mother. And as Elizabeth's mind decays, the imaginary friend who protects her becomes a creature of substance. But she tells no one--except Dr. Nathan Conrad, known as "the psychiatrist of the damned." Conrad, however, has problems of his own: the abduction of his daughter, Jessica, and the secret cameras and microphones that stop him and his wife from calling the cops. This is truly dark territory, every bit the equal of Thomas Harris' The Silence of the Lambs, even though Klavan, who garnered an Edgar under the pseudonym Keith Peterson and wrote the screenplay for the Michael Caine psychological thriller A Shock to the System, isn't the neogothic stylist Harris is. The book's good guys, the doctor and his family, are warmly drawn, while the investigating cop is simply a big, flatulent dollop of low-level humanity. Klavan's sinewy links between the killers, the messed-up Elizabeth, and the kidnapping are slick and ingenious. If you're foolishly trying to get to sleep after watching Jonathan Demme's celluloid treatment of Lambs, best forget it. Crack open Klavan's eerie masterwork instead. The rest of a long night awaits. ~--Peter Robertson

Library Journal Review

A parent's nightmare becomes reality for psychiatrist Nathan Conrad when his five-year-old daughter is kidnapped by a sociopath and his sadistic partner. With their apartment apparently bugged, Conrad and his wife cannot even contact the police. Only when he discovers a link between the kidnapping and one of his patients can Conrad begin trying to save his daughter's life. Klavan has crafted a tight, taut, edge-of-the-seat thriller with multiple plot twists and surprises, a decidedly unstereotypical hero, and a fascinating psychological background. The almost unbearable suspense of what may be the thriller of the year is guaranteed to keep the reader's heart pounding right up to the last page. Recommended for all popular fiction collections.-- Eric W. Johnson, Teikyo Post Univ., Waterbury, Ct. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.