Robert Swartwood is the USA Today bestselling author of The Serial Killer's Wife, The Calling, Man of Wax, Legion, and several other novels.

The Serial Killer’s Wife by Robert Swartwood

Five years ago Elizabeth Piccioni's husband was arrested for being a serial killer. Her life suddenly turned upside down, she did what she thought was best for her newborn baby: she took her son and ran away to start a new life.

Now, living in a quiet part of the Midwest with a new identity, Elizabeth is ready to start over. But one day she receives a phone call from a person calling himself Cain. Cain somehow knows about her past life. He has abducted her son, and if Elizabeth wants to save him she must retrieve her husband's trophies—the fingers he cut off each of his victims.

With a deadline of one hundred hours, Elizabeth has no choice but to return to the life she once fled, where she will soon realize that everything she thought she knew is a lie, and what's more shocking than Cain's identity is the truth about her husband.


Robert Swartwood shows an incredible talent for misdirection in this novel. You think you know what’s going on, only to find out the truth has been in front of you all along and you’ve been blind to it. It’s all about the gut-wrenching surprises with this one that make you need to know more. – Jason Letts



  • "This is a scary, thrilling, page-turning, race-against-the-clock novel if ever there was one, with a true shocker of an ending. Miss this one at your own peril."

    –Blake Crouch, bestselling author of Pines and Wayward
  • "An explosive summer thriller. Robert Swartwood is a sharp writer, his prose lean and mean as a razor blade. He notches up the tension from chapter to chapter like a master storyteller, keeping you reading long into the night."

    –The Man Eating Bookworm
  • "Robert Swartwood is the next F. Paul Wilson—if F. Paul Wilson’s DNA was spliced with Michael Marshall Smith. If you haven’t yet read Swartwood, you’re missing out."

    –Brian Keene, bestselling author of The Rising and Ghoul



"What is it?" Reginald Moore asked. "What's wrong?"

Elizabeth stood motionless, transfixed by the bright red numbers that had quickly begun to count down on the alarm clock.

4:57 … 4:56 … 4:55 …

In her ear, Cain said, "In less than five minutes Reginald Moore will die. There's no changing that. The collar he's wearing is filled with C-4. Do you know what C-4 is, Elizabeth?"

She had been gripping the tire iron tightly, but now her fingers relaxed and the makeshift weapon fell to the floor. Her gaze shifted back to Reginald Moore. She just stood there, completely frozen, watching him as he bucked in the chair, jerking his head back and forth as if that might release the collar around his neck.

"Elizabeth, do you know what C-4 is?"

"It's a bomb."

Her voice hardly sounded like her own, too hollow and small.

Cain seemed to chuckle. "A simple way of saying it, but yes, it's a bomb. Wrapped around inside that collar is enough plastic explosive to kill both of you right now."

She glanced back at the clock: 4:26 … 4:25 … 4:24 …

"I know what you're thinking, Elizabeth. You're wondering if it's possible to take the collar off him without bringing harm to either of you. It's a noble thought, but the answer is no."

A tear fell from her eye, sloped down her nose, over her cheek, held in place on the end of her chin for an instant before falling to the floor.

She whispered, "Why are you doing this?"

4:01 … 4:00 … 3:59 …

"To give you an example."

"An example?"

"Yes. Of what's to come."