The Lazarus Trap by Davis Bunn - Read Online
The Lazarus Trap
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For Val Haines, dying may be the chance of a lifetime.

Awakening in a jail cell and bleeding from his head, Val Haines remembers nothing. Not even his name.

As his memory slowly begins to return, Haines discovers that the world thinks he's dead. If his nightmares ring true, it may be for the best. Around him brews a conspiracy of embezzlement and murder for hire, fueled by the rage of personal vendetta. As he searches for a safe haven, enigmatic Audrey beckons, but can she be trusted?

With nothing but a few personal belongings and a sizable amount of cash, Haines must run. With his past behind him, he'll do anything to claim a new life for himself. Or die trying.

Published: Thomas Nelson on
ISBN: 9781418509231
List price: $5.99
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Praise for The Lazarus Trap

and Davis Bunn’s other novels

"Davis is a writer of immense quality. His latest novel, The Lazarus Trap, is a masterpiece. It will keep you on the edge of your seat from page one right through to when you reluctantly finish."

—Eddie Bell, former Chairman and CEO, HarperCollins UK

"The Lazarus Trap grabbed me on page one and propelled me right through to the very last words. It is an adventure in reading of unpar-alled intrigue, passion and suspense, one that rivals either Ludlum or Grisham. What a thrill to read this excellent author as he spins a tale of betrayal and redemption. An absolutely exhilarating story!! This is a heart-pumping novel that excites and engages the reader. The Lazarus Trap will appeal to everyone who enjoys a good mystery, and is surely to be a major hit in both the CBA and the ABA."

—Glenn McGinnis, former Chairman,

Christian Booksellers' Association

"Once again, Davis Bunn has defied expectations. A compelling and interesting read—the conflict is excellently portrayed and developed. The Lazarus Trap is easily in competition for his best book yet."

"This is the first book by Davis Bunn that I have read, but I can say certainly that after what I read here it will not be the last. The Lazarus Trap is full of excitement, intrigue and mystery. It kept me guessing from the first page up through the climax of the story, and it did so with flair."

—Cindy Burlingame,

"[In Elixir] Bunn crafts a competent suspense novel with faith themes that should appeal to both inspirational and general market audiences."

Publishers Weekly

Bunn has comfortably made the transition from evangelical to mainstream readers, and his popularity shows no sign of abating.

—John Mort, Booklist

Complex characters, exotic locations, and dry humor only add to the pull of this thrilling novel. If you start this book without setting aside time to finish it, prepare to lose some serious sleep.

—Katie Hart,

"[Elixir's] ending holds some surprising-and sweet-results."

—Bethanne Kelly Patrick,






The Great Divide

Winner Take All

Drummer in the Dark

The Book of Hours





Copyright © 2005 by Davis Bunn

All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, scanning, or other—except for brief quotations in critical reviews or articles, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Published in Nashville, Tennessee, by WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc.

WestBow Press books may be purchased in bulk for educational, business, fund-raising, or sales promotional use. For information, please e-mail

Publisher’s Note: This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. All characters are fictional, and any similarity to people living or dead is purely coincidental.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Bunn, T. Davis, 1952–

      The Lazarus trap / Davis Bunn.

        p. cm.

ISBN 0-8499-4485-6 (trade pbk.)

      1. Attempted murder—Fiction. 2. Embezzlement—Fiction.

    3. Amnesia—Fiction. I. Title.

      PS3552.U4718L39 2005



Printed in the United States of America

05 06 07 08 09 RRD 9 8 7 6 5 4 3

For Isabella

With all my love

"A wife of noble character,

who can find?"

Table of Content


HE DID NOT KNOW WHERE HE WAS, ONLY THAT HE WAS RETURNING from a far, dark place. The smell was the only thing he was sure of. He used it like a rope, pulling himself hand over mental hand back from the pit. There was a sharp familiarity to the smell. He knew he had been in a place before that had worn this appalling odor like a badge. In this addled moment, that knowledge was all he had.

He arrived back to a point where he could open his eyes.

He lay on a concrete floor under a cold fluorescent sun. Pain attacked with the return of sight. His head thundered. Every inch of his body cried out. His mouth felt gummed shut.

A bellowing thirst drove him to move. Testing each motion before committing, he managed to roll over. Next to him sprawled a snoring mountain of beard and leather and stink. He crawled around the other man and searched for water.

Well, lookee here. The dead is commencing to rise.

The words were meaningless. But he knew the tone. It fitted into the blank puzzle of his brain. It connected to the smell. He spotted a sink in the corner. He used a bench that was bolted to the floor to push himself to his feet. Only when he started shuffling across the yawning distance did he realize he had no shoes.

Bending over the sink almost dislodged his skull. The faucet creaked open. He stuffed his mouth under the flow and groaned as he drank. He doused his head, then used his one remaining jacket sleeve to dry his face. The other sleeve appeared to have been torn off. Colored threads dangled over his shirt like military braid. If only he could remember the battle!

He blinked through the sheen of moisture. Two sides of the chamber were the same grey-painted concrete as the floor. The other two were floor-to-ceiling metal bars. He shared the lockup with perhaps a dozen other men. More than half were still sleeping. Two youths in shiny athletic gear argued in words that he could not piece together. Only one man, perhaps the largest in the cage, met his eye. His weather-beaten features and flat, dark gaze had once probably sparked with intelligence, but now were merely aware.

The stranger waved him over. You come on over here and sit yourself down.

He hesitated.

You heard me. Get yourself on over here.

He shuffled over. The stranger waited until he was seated, then turned to the youths and said, Give the man back his shoes.

One youth responded with a curse.

You want to get on the wrong side of me? That really what you want?

What are you, his mama?

The other youth said, No, man, it’s just fresh meat. The dude’s looking after his own self. Wants to get the meat all close and cozy. Ain’t that right, meat?

The man said, I’m not asking you again.

The youth took off the soft black loafers and threw them. Hard. Wait till your honey drifts off, meat. I’ll be watching.

Don’t you listen to him. Put your shoes on.

I’ll be watching, the youth repeated. Got me a blade with your name on it.

The man eased forward a trifle. The youth was suddenly blocked from view. The difference between y’all and me is, I know what I’m in for. I made a mistake. Again. The giant spoke with a steady monotone. As if he’d been over this terrain a billion times. I fell. Again.

Like I care.

When I fall, these days what I do is I drink. After that, I got a problem with my anger management. So you two best hush up while you still can. Otherwise I’ll have to spend time on my knees for smashing you like a couple of shiny bugs.

The mountain let the silence hold a moment before turning around. Do you know your head is bleeding?

He reached up and touched the spot that thundered the loudest. His fingers came back red. But when he spoke, it was about what worried him the most. I don’t know who I am.

Me, I go by Reuben. Nothing seemed to surprise this man. I heard the cops talking about you. You were at a bar they had under surveillance. The bartender and his ladies, they had a scam going. They was slipping something in the johns’ drinks and rolling them. What you want to be going in a place like that for?

I don’t remember a thing.

They brought you in on account of you duking it out with one of their own. Sounds like you might need some of that same anger management yourself.

I hit a cop?

You tried. That’s what counts. Looks like they’re the ones that connected. Turn around and let me have a look at your head.

When he did not move fast enough, the man swiveled him easy as a doll. Fingers probed the wound. They gave you a couple of good licks, that’s for sure. Reuben held up fingers. How many you see?


Follow my hand. No, don’t move your head. Just your eyes. The fingers went back and forth, then up and down. I used to be an ER nurse. Which is where I got hooked the first time. That place is full of the most awesome drugs. Okay, cross your legs.

Reuben poked beneath the kneecap, making his leg bounce. Then Reuben gripped his chin and the base of his neck and swiveled the skull, still probing. You getting dizzy?

No. But everything hurts.

It ought to, after what you put your body through. Reuben dropped his hands. Probably shoulda had a couple of stitches. But you don’t seem concussed.

But I can’t remember.

Weren’t you listening? You got drugged, you took a couple of hits with the stick. You’re gonna need a while to wake up.

A steel door clapped open as a guard stepped from the bulletproof viewing station across the hall. Adams!

That you?

I told you, I don’t know—

The cop pointed straight at him. Jeffrey Adams! Front and center!

The black man helped him rise to his feet. Ain’t everybody gets called back from the pit, man. Question is, what are you gonna do when you find out who you are?

WHEN THE OFFICE STAFF STARTED HUSTLING IN AT A FEW MINUTES after eight, Terrance d’Arcy was at his desk as usual. Just another Tuesday morning in downtown Orlando. Except, of course, for the seeds of mayhem he expected to watch sprout. Any minute now.

When his secretary knocked on his door and asked if he wanted anything, Terrance did not acknowledge her. She gave him ten seconds of her patented mask, then left. Terrance remained as he was, his wireless keyboard in his lap and his back to his office. The credenza behind his immaculate rosewood desk held three flat screens. One showed quotes from the European markets and early currency dealings. The second was tuned to Bloomberg News with the sound cut off. The third scrolled through his daily cascade of e-mails. Terrance saw none of it. His fingers remained locked in stillness. Waiting.

Then the middle monitor burst into sound. An hour earlier he had keyed in several words to unlock the volume. Though he had been hoping for it, still the voice hit his shock button.

—explosion, the newscaster intoned. Reports are sketchy at this point. But it appears that several floors of the Rockefeller Center have been destroyed. Police are refusing to rule out terrorist—

Terrance slapped the keys to kill all three screens and bolted from his chair. He did not run down the hall. That would appear unseemly. He walked at a pace just slightly slower than a trot. He skipped the elevators and took the stairs. Only when the steel door slammed shut behind him did he bound up the three floors to the penthouse.

When Terrance entered the chairman’s office, he was greeted with Jack Budrow’s customary glare. The CEO detested Terrance d’Arcy. When time had come for the board to approve Terrance for the senior vice-presidency he now held, Jack had voted against him and for Terrance’s corporate enemy, Val Haines. Jack suspected that Terrance had counterfeited documents and effectively stolen the promotion, as Val maintained. Terrance’s admittance to Jack’s inner sanctum was a constant irritant. There had been times when Terrance wished he could wind back the clock and dislodge himself from the whole affair. But today, this minute, he was delighted to be here. Positively thrilled.

Terrance d’Arcy considered himself to carry a true Englishman’s heart. This despite the fact that he was only half British by blood, had lived most of his life in the U.S., and could not disengage his American twang no matter how many elocution coaches he hired. But one did what one could. Terrance’s suits were staid Saville Row. His shirts were Turnbull and Asser and starched to perfection. His cufflinks were twenty-two-carat-gold Dunhills. His only other splashes of color were his reddish-gold locks, a sprinkling of freckles that women considered boyishly attractive, and a four-hundred-dollar I Zingari tie. Terrance had a polite word for everyone. Combined with his freckles and his crystal blue eyes, this was enough to charm those who did not know him well.

Jack Budrow’s office encompassed almost a third of the former Dupont Building’s top floor. Dupont had erected the structure in the early eighties as an investment property, back during the first faint glimmerings that Orlando might become a regional powerhouse. Dupont had been right, but too early. The rents were too high for back then, the lobby too ornate, the building too New York flash for the gentrified South. But times changed. In the ensuing quarter century, Orlando’s dismal downtown had experienced an extreme makeover. Money and power and strict zoning enforcement had removed most of the dives, spruced up the remaining smaller structures, bricked the streets, and added art deco streetlamps with hanging floral arrangements. Newer high-rise centers shouted big money. Now the Dupont’s atrium was too squat, the marble too dull, the chandeliers not flashy enough. The metallic pinnacles fronting the building’s stepping-stone roofline were now faded by the fierce Florida sun. Insignia, Jack Budrow’s company, had obtained the long-term lease for a song.

The wall opposite Jack’s desk held a shoji screen of antique hand-painted silk. Behind this resided an eighty-two-inch plasma screen, the largest made. Jack used it for teleconferences and showing guests what was supposed to be an introduction to Insignia International. Terrance thought of it as a five-minute stroll down Jack Budrow’s personal hall of fame. Today, however, the screen showed three talking heads on Good Morning Orlando. Which, for Jack Budrow, was about par for the course. Good Morning Orlando news-breaks ran an ice age behind the national wire services.

Terrance walked to the desk, picked up the television’s controls, and switched to Bloomberg News.

The CEO barked, Do you mind?

Ease up, Jack. This from the third man in the room, Don Winslow.

Last I checked, this was still my office. Change back the channel!

Ease up, I said. Don came out of his customary slouch. You got something?


"—We can now confirm that the top two floors of the Rockefeller Center building fronting Forty-Eighth Street were completely destroyed early this morning by what appears to have been a massive explosion. No report of casualties has yet come through. According to preliminary police reports, the early hour spared New York from what otherwise would have been a massive death toll, as debris rained down on sidewalks that two hours later would be jammed.

The floors were home to Syntec Bank, an international merchant bank based on the island of Jersey. Police refuse to comment on the possibility of a terrorist attack. Adjacent buildings have been evacuated while a full search is underway . . . The announcer touched his earpiece, then added, We now take you live to our reporter at Rockefeller Plaza.

The rap on the door startled them all. Terrance killed the television. Budrow’s secretary, a stone-faced woman of indeterminate years, opened the door. There’s a caller on line one.

Jack’s voice sounded raspy from the sudden strain. I said no interruptions.

This one is for Mr. Winslow. The caller knew he would be in this office and insists it is urgent.

Don asked, He give a name?

It is a woman, sir. All she would tell me is that you are expecting the call. The secretary was clearly displeased with having her authority breached. She was most adamant.

Don said to Jack, I guess I better take it.

Put it through, Consuela. And no more interruptions.

When the door shut, Don said, This must be Wally.

Her name was Suzanne Walton, and she was a former cop. She had been working narcotics in Baltimore and got greedy. Don had insisted they hire her as their outside security consultant. When Terrance had asked what for, Don had merely replied, In case we ever need ourselves a hammer.

The phone rang, and Don hit the speaker button. Winslow.

I been trying to reach you for an hour.

My cell phone’s doing a fritz.

The woman asked, You heard?

We were just listening to Bloomberg. They’re talking terrorists.

They do that with everything these days. The woman’s voice rattled like a deluge of glass shards. It’ll pass.

Terrance watched Don smile approval of her attitude. So what now?

You get confirmation. I get payment.

We’ll be waiting. Don glanced at Terrance, then added, You need anything more, you go through Terrance d’Arcy.


The man who signs your paycheck. Don gave her Terrance’s cell phone number. My dance card’s about to get extremely full. When you talk to Terrance, you talk to me.

I don’t like change.

Don’s tone hardened. Deal with it.

They waited through a long moment, then the line went dead. Click and gone. Terrance shivered once more. He really had to meet that woman. See if reality lived up to the mental image and the one photo he had obtained through his sources. Wally was a tall brunette who would have been truly striking, had it not been for the scar running from her hairline to her left eyebrow. That and her dead-eyed cop’s gaze. Well, former cop, actually.

Don stretched his arms over his head until his joints popped. Don Winslow was executive vice president of Insignia, a company whose revenue topped two billion dollars a year. He was a graduate of Columbia Law School and earned a high six-figure income. But the man looked like a tramp. He could take a top-line suit straight off the rack, wear it five minutes, and look like he had fed it to his three Dobermans. The only hairbrush Don owned was the fingers of his right hand. He was a tennis fanatic, a long-distance runner, a fitness freak. He possessed no waistline to speak of, boundless energy, and a total absence of moral convictions. Terrance admired him immensely.

Don asked no one in particular, "Can you believe this?"

Jack responded as only Jack could. With our luck, they’d already finished their appointment and left the bank.

No, Terrance checked that out carefully. Don wagged his fingers. Remind the man.

I downloaded their latest schedules at midnight. They both showed at the Syntec meeting beginning at six-thirty this morning.

Which is a little odd, if you think about it, Don said. Our Val does love the New York nightlife.

They obviously wanted to get in and get out before the bank woke up.

Astonishing, Jack Budrow mused, perhaps for the thousandth time. I still can’t believe that Val Haines was a thief.

Don gave Terrance a sideways look. Right, Jack.

Well, really. The man’s been a trusted employee for almost seven years. Of anyone on my payroll, Val would be the last person I would ever imagine to do such a thing. It’s positively astonishing.

Astonishing, Don repeated, still watching Terrance. Absolutely.

And he was at it for almost three months, Terrance added. The pleasure of watching his corporate nemesis crash and burn was exquisite.

Jack Budrow shook his head. Being so wrong about someone is unsettling.

Tell you what I think, Jack. Don pointed with his chin at the television screen. The top of the New York building was a smoldering ruin. Looks to me like you won’t need to worry about him anymore.

A TRIO APPROACHED WITH FLAT COP EXPRESSIONS. ONE WORE A rumpled suit. The other two, a man and a woman, had gold detective badges clipped to their belts. Jeffrey Adams, that right? The male detective slid into the seat behind the desk. He was burly and pockmarked with eyes the color of congealed molasses. You recognize me?

His cop escort had led him into a bull pen of an office and manacled his wrist to a metal plate clamped to a desk’s corner. His wooden chair struck his bruised body like a paddle. Across the room a phone rang and rang. No, sorry.

Wish I could say the same. The detective swiveled far enough around to ask the woman, You got a Kleenex or something? The guy is leaking.

Thank you. He accepted the tissue and applied it to his oozing temple. Mentally, he repeated his own name. Jeffrey Adams. The words meant nothing.

His one free hand lay limp in his lap. His suit pants were filthy and one knee was torn. The ringing phone sounded like a panic alarm. The absence of any knowledge was like a vacuum inside his brain. The mental void threatened to collapse his head like an empty paper bag.

I’m Lieutenant Dangelo. This is Detective Suarez. The suit over there is Peters from the DA’s office. You got any recollection of taking a swing at me? I’m asking on account of the state you were in at the time. When I restrained you, you tried to lay me out with a roundhouse. Which is why you got clipped.

No, his partner corrected. First you tore his jacket trying to restrain him. When he wouldn’t calm down, then you clipped him.

Mind telling me why you were in the Barron’s Club last night, Mr. Adams?

I have no idea.

Do you realize you could be facing felony charges for striking an officer?

He made a procedure of inspecting the stained tissue. It looks like I’m the one who’s bleeding.

The prosecutor leaned on a desk across the narrow aisle. He wore a heavy brown suit and an expression to match the cops’. How long have you lived in Des Moines, Mr. Adams?

Des Moines. The name echoed through his pounding skull. I don’t remember.

You don’t know how long you have resided in your own hometown?

I told you. Everything is very muddled. Was I drugged?

The prosecutor exchanged glances with the cops. Have you been through this booking process before, Mr. Adams?

I assume you’ve pulled up my records.

There are no outstanding charges or convictions, the woman detective said.

Barron’s is an odd place for a tourist to visit, Mr. Adams. Where did you learn about the place? When he did not respond fast enough, the prosecutor barked, What exactly do you recall about last night?

Their gazes formed a pressure that shoved him with rude force. He deflected it as best he could by turning away. Midway across the bull pen, a woman wept and wrenched a handkerchief as an officer filled in a form. At another desk, a narrow-faced black man responded to a cop’s questions with the flat drone of someone already claimed by a fate he loathed.

He was surrounded by other people’s tragedies. The air was tainted by jaded indifference and a trace of the chemical odor from upstairs. But he was terrified of examining the space where his mem- ory should have resided. The internal nothingness bore the metallic taste of death.

I asked you a question, Mr. Adams.

Look. I honestly don’t remember anything about last night. He looked from one face to the other. Or anything else.

The two detectives looked at the suit. The prosecutor shrugged. What have we got?

He solicited an undercover cop, the male detective said.

In other words, we got nothing. You know the drill. What exactly did he say? Was money mentioned?

He flashed a roll.

I take that as a negative. The suit shook his head. Unless I’m mistaken, stupidity is not a crime in this city.

How do we know that’s all it was? The male cop upended a manila envelope on the desk. A driver’s license and a gold watch tumbled out. These were followed by two bundles of cash. One was rolled up tightly and held by a rubber band. The other was in a gold money clip. Mr. Adams, were you in Barron’s to buy drugs?

He reached over and picked up his driver’s license. He had not seen a mirror. He could not even identify the photograph as belonging to his own face.

Are you a user, Mr. Adams? Like a little snort from time to time? Somebody told you Barron’s was the place to score a few rocks?

If I am not going to be charged, could you please release the handcuffs?

The trio exchanged a glance. The woman leaned over and opened the manacle. An odor rose from her, a smoky, metallic scent that hinted at the night where she operated. She set the manacles on the desk and moved back. He could see it in her flat, hard gaze, the nearness of something more awful than losing his memory.

He rubbed his wrist. Can you tell me what drug they used on me?

Tit for tat, Mr. Adams. Would you be willing to testify in court that you were drugged and rolled while visiting the Barron’s Club on West Hundred and Eleventh?

If I can remember any of it.

"You don’t