From Chapter 1 of TIGHTROPE:
“There is no need to fear robots,” Dr. Pickwell declared. It was clear that the suggestion that robots would displace workers annoyed him. He raised his voice to be heard above the murmurs of the crowd. “I urge you to consider that these machines could take the place of soldiers. Wars of the future will be fought with robots, not human beings. Think of the lives that will be saved.”
“You’re mad,” someone else shouted. “You want to create robots that can kill? What if these machines of yours decide to turn on their creators and try to destroy us?”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Pickwell snapped. “Robots are nothing more than mechanical devices. Fundamentally, they are no different than the cars we drive or the radios that we use to get our news.”
“Futuro looks mighty dangerous to me,” the man in the front row called.
“Nonsense,” Pickwell said. “Allow me to demonstrate how useful Futuro can be. Futuro, what is the forecast for tomorrow?”
The robot answered in a scratchy, hollow voice. “There will be fog in the morning but by noon the day will turn warm and sunny. No rain is expected.”
Pickwell faced his audience. “Think about how useful it would be to have Futuro in your home at your beck and call. It won’t be long before there will be robots that can cook and clean and do the laundry.”
But the crowd was no longer paying any attention to Pickwell, because Futuro had once again lurched into motion.
“What’s that thing doing?” Hazel whispered.
“I have no idea,” Amalie said.
They watched along with everyone else as the robot opened the suitcase that it had just placed on the bench. Pickwell finally realized that he had lost the attention of the crowd. He turned away from the podium to see what was going on at the bench.
Futuro reached into the suitcase and took out a gun.
There was a collective gasp from the audience.
“No,” Pickwell shouted. “Futuro, I command you to put down the gun.”
The robot pulled the trigger. Twice. The shots boomed throughout the theater.
Pickwell jerked under the impact of the bullets. He opened his mouth to cry out but he could not speak. He collapsed onto his back.
Futuro calmly clanked offstage, disappearing behind the curtain.
Stunned, Amalie stared at the unmoving figure on the stage. It was a trick, she thought. It had to be some sort of bizarre charade designed to shock the audience.
Most of the crowd evidently believed the same thing. The majority of the people in the seats did not move. They appeared stunned.
But not everyone was frozen in shock. Amalie glimpsed motion out of the corner of her eye. When she turned to look, she saw that Luther Pell and the stranger who had accompanied him to the theater had left their seats and were making their way to the stage steps. They were moving fast, almost as if they had been anticipating trouble.
When they reached the stage they were joined by Oliver Ward, who had managed to move with surprising speed, considering that he had a noticeable limp and was obliged to use a cane. His wife, Irene, was not far behind. She had a notebook in one hand.
Luther Pell and the stranger vanished behind the curtain. Ward crouched beside Pickwell and unfastened the inventor’s tuxedo jacket to expose a blood-soaked white shirt.
The theater manager evidently had been watching the demonstration from the last row. He rushed down the center aisle toward the stage.
“Is there a doctor in the house?” he shouted.
Amalie saw a middle-aged man in the center section make his way quickly down the aisle.
“I’m a doctor,” he said in a loud voice. “Call an ambulance.”
The manager disappeared through a side door, presumably in search of a telephone.
Onstage, Ward was using both hands to try to staunch the bleeding. The doctor arrived and quickly took charge.
Luther Pell reappeared from behind the curtains. He looked at Oliver Ward and shook his head. Ward looked grim.
The stranger finally emerged from behind the curtain. He was in the act of reaching inside his white evening jacket. Amalie caught a glimpse of something metallic just before the elegantly tailored coat fell neatly back into place.
It took her a couple of seconds to comprehend what she had just seen. Then understanding struck. Like any self-respecting mobster, Luther Pell’s friend from out of town had come to the theater armed with a gun.
(C) Amanda Quick, Berkley, 2019
An unconventional woman and a man shrouded in mystery
walk a tightrope of desire as they race against a killer to
find a top secret invention before it’s too
Former trapeze artist Amalie Vaughn moved
to Burning Cove to reinvent herself, but things are not
going well. After spending her entire inheritance on a
mansion with the intention of turning it into a
bed-and-breakfast, she learns too late that the villa is
said to be cursed. When the first guest, Dr. Norman
Pickwell, is murdered by his robot invention during a
sold-out demonstration, rumors circulate that the curse is
In the chaotic aftermath of the spectacle,
Amalie watches as a stranger from the audience disappears
behind the curtain. When Matthias Jones reappears, he is
slipping a gun into a concealed holster. It looks like the
gossip that is swirling around him is true—Matthias
evidently does have connections to the criminal
Matthias is on the trail of a
groundbreaking prototype cipher machine. He suspects that
Pickwell stole the device and planned to sell it. But now
Pickwell is dead and the machine has vanished. When
Matthias’s investigation leads him to Amalie’s front door,
the attraction between them is intense, but she knows it is
also dangerous. Amalie and Matthias must decide if they can
trust each other and the passion that binds them, because
time is running out.
About Amanda Quick
Amanda Quick, a pseudonym for Jayne Ann Krentz, is a New York Times bestselling, award-winning author of contemporary and historical romances. There are nearly forty million copies of her books in print. She makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Frank.