Charlotte Prentice literally has everything: beauty, intellect, wealth. She is also very dangerous. Driven dispassionately to success, the reader must decide Charlotte's guilt or innocence. After reading The Narcissist: A Dark Journey, what will be your verdict in the case of Charlotte Prentice?
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense
Release Date: July 19, 2016
Blog Tour Date: 19 - 26 July 2016
Post Review: any time
In The Narcissist: A Dark Journey, Charlotte Prentice is beautiful, intellectual and dangerous. She will do whatever it takes to achieve the adoration and success she desires.
Who is this woman whose beauty is only overshadowed by her intellect?
Charlotte herself doesn't know.
Outwardly, she is a woman who fights against discrimination and poverty, an advocate of education and freedom. To the onlooker, Charlotte is perfection. But on the inside, there is something darker lurking, something that pushes her single-minded plans forward without empathy.
She and her ilk are the scourge of our society, driven to success to satisfy their needs at any cost. They are the business leaders and politicians who woo us with deceit and shallow promises. Sometimes we are amused by them. Other times we are stricken by them. But make no mistake: they are not amusing; they are calculating and dangerous.
Is she guilty of her crimes, or the victim of the ills of society? In The Narcissist: A Dark Journey, the reader is both judge and jury where Charlotte Prentice is concerned.
Buy The Narcissist: A Dark Journey on Amazon, Kindle, iBooks, and KoboBooks.
Graduated from Valley College, attended Cal State Northridge University, and the masters program at Pepperdine University, Jon Zimmer began a career in business, running several divisions of large corporations, and started up two companies.
The Narcissist: A Dark Journey is his fifth novel. His other titles include: The Trinity Pact, The Cozy Place, Generations-Birth of an American Aristocracy, The Secret Invasion Book One of the God Chronicles, and The Dark Journey of Charlotte Prentice.
Learn more about Jon D. Zimmer and his books at:
Charlotte Prentice's conscious life began when she was four years old. Though she had glimpses of memories before that, this was the first time she'd experienced real tragedy in her short life. This wasn't one of those childhood traumas where things just didn't turn out the way she'd wanted. No, this was a tragedy of grandiose proportions for a four old, a tragedy that she was, incredibly, able to plan, and execute all on her own.
It was a portend of things to come for Charlotte Prentice.
It all started when she began kindergarten. Her mother, Rachel, had walked with her the two blocks to school. After a week of walking together, Rachel asked Charlotte if she would like to walk to school by herself. Charlotte was beside herself, she loved the idea.
Charlotte hadn't noticed the dog until after her mother had left her completely by herself. One day, seemingly from out of nowhere, it appeared. It was a large, mongrel dog, with a big head, and short, brown hair, just standing there in the driveway. For some unknown reason, Charlotte stopped and stared at it.
At first it looked causally looked back at her, then its ears perked up, it barked a little, and began to move in her direction, slowly at first, but with a quickening pace, until it seemed to Charlotte that it was charging at her.
Charlotte was so filled with fear she couldn't move. Her mind raged as the dog grew even closer. She stood there, her mind full of images of being savagely mauled, of actually being eaten by this dog.
She the few remaining yards to school, faster than she had ever ran before. Once inside the gate she stopped and quickly turned to see if the dog was still chasing her. It wasn't. It was gone, nowhere in sight. She felt safe, and her panic and fear were gone, at least for a little while.
All day in class she thought about the dog, fixating on the dreaded walk home. Charlotte didn't tell anyone about what had happened, not wanting her classmates to know she was afraid of dogs. She had seen others being teased and tormented about similar things, and she didn't want to be the object of taunts or ridicule from her classmates, which to Charlotte was more fearful to her than the dog.
After school, she stayed behind the gate, looking for him. Though he was nowhere to be seen, the thought of having to leave the safety of the schoolyard was just too frightening. She waited as long as she could, until she was one of the last students left, when she finally found the courage to set out on her short walk home.
Charlotte got about ten or fifteen yards before panic set in. She imagined that dog jumping out of every driveway she was about to pass, and she ran as if chased by demons. When she finally arrived home, she felt the need to be safe for the second time that day, but then her thoughts turned to tomorrow, and even in the sanctuary of her own home, the fear returned.
She didn't go directly to the kitchen when she got home like she usually did. Instead, she went to her bedroom, and laid down on the bed. It felt good to be in her room. At the moment it was the one place where she felt secure.
Her mom came into the bedroom and asked, "Are you all right?"
She didn't speak for a second, feeling ashamed about being afraid of a dog, "I'm fine," she finally told her. "Just resting."
Her father came home a couple of hours later, and the rest of the evening was normal. Her mother read her a story, they all watched television, and she went to bed. Charlotte slept well, and by morning she had completely forgotten about The Beast, as she now thought of it.
She had breakfast and left for school. The dog returned to her thoughts the moment she stepped onto the sidewalk. She walked toward school, cautious to look all around her as she went. Even though there was no dog in sight, she picked up the pace a little. That was when she noticed it. There, standing in the driveway, glaring at her as she walked by.
It moved toward her, slowly at first, then a little quicker. Her mind screamed in fear, and she broke into a run, not daring to look back until she'd once more reached the safety of the school yard. It was then Charlotte turned around to look for him as she had the day before, but she saw nothing. It had gone, just like last time. It was almost as if she had been selected as the object of an apparition's haunting.
The same scenario played out on the way home as it had the day before. Upon arriving home she once more went directly to her bedroom. She laid down on her bed, and knew she had to do something. She couldn't just go through this every day of her life, her frightened and over-stimulated mind imagining she would ultimately be eaten by the beast. Nor did she not want to put her fear on display for everyone to see, so they'd think of her as a coward, or even worse, not normal, and be forced to experience her worst fear—having to suffer the brunt of her peers' ridicule.
Charlotte resolved that this was her problem, and it had to be solved by her. It was Friday, and she had the weekend to develop a plan that would hopefully end her nightmare.
She anguished over the various ways she could get rid of the dog. Maybe she could scare it by throwing rocks at it. Maybe she could find a large stick to hit it with when it came close. No matter what ideas she came up with, she discarded them out of the fear that none of them would work, and she was sure to be eaten.
It never entered her mind to go to her mother for help, tell her that a large dog was chasing after her on the walk to school each morning, and that she was concerned the dog might bite her, or worse. If she had asked for help, it might have been the end of it. She never would have been exposed as a coward, or branded abnormal as she feared, her mother would have contacted the owner, and the dog would have been locked in its backyard.
That this never entered her mind was because as far as Charlotte was concerned, there was only one way to solve her problem, and that was Charlotte's Way. Even at this very early age she resolved to solve this problem, regardless if it ended tragically. As long as it ended with no consequences for her, the fallout wasn't her concern.
The only solution she could imagine at this point was to kill the dog. But how might she go about that? She had no knowledge of death, or how to kill anything, other than maybe a bug. Her mind was at a standstill, and she resigned herself to perpetual torment by The Beast.
That Saturday morning, she was overwhelmed by a helplessness due to the inadequacies she felt at being unable to resolve her problem. She tried to forget everything associated with The Beast. To help, she asked her mother to turn on the television after breakfast so she could see her cartoons.
After watching for a few minutes, she saw the solution to her problem, right there in front of her. In the cartoons, everybody and everything was injuring or killing each other.
She watched intently, looking for something she might employ to kill that dog. All the characters were slapping or hitting or chasing; cars slammed into all sorts of things. She saw nothing she felt capable of doing, but continued to watch anyway, hoping to find something she might ultimately use.
Finally she was rewarded. One of the cartoons had a car chase, the climax of which depicted the car hitting a group of people who went flying like bowling pins just hit by the ball. That’s it, she thought. Getting the dog hit by a car was the answer. This would solve two problems for her as she would not be directly involved, and the dog would be gone.
The question now was, how might she get a car to hit it? Then it came to her: she would have to do the one thing her mother told her never to do under any circumstance—cross the street. Disobeying her mother this one time would be worth the risk, if it got rid of The Beast.
Her plan was simple. On the way to school in the morning she would cross the street a couple of homes before the driveway where the dog lived. There were always parked cars on the other side of the street that she could hide behind. Then, when a car approached, she would jump out from between two of the parked cars and taunt the dog with the hope it would charge after her as it had every day it saw her, and then one of the cars would hit it as The Beast crossed the street to eat her.
She left for school on Monday morning with a purpose. Charlotte never considered what she was about to do was wrong--how could it be when it was either her, or The Beast?
Everything went according to plan. Charlotte crossed the street, and positioned herself behind a car where she had visibility of the street in both directions. That was when she saw it, The Beast, lying in the driveway directly across the street from where she was hiding, waiting for her, waiting to pounce.
Charlotte calmly waited. At last, she saw her opportunity—two cars were coming toward her, one on each side of the street, approaching in opposite directions. This was it, she thought. She was sure she could get one of them to hit The Beast. Charlotte moved out from between the two cars so she'd be visible to the dog.
Its ears perked up when it saw her. It rose and started walking toward her, but when it got to the street, it stopped without crossing.
The approaching cars were getting closer. Charlotte had to do something to lure it into the street, and fast, so she started gyrating and making subdued noises—it wouldn't do if her plan were discovered because she was heard or seen.
It worked. The dog darted into the street just as both cars crossed in front of her. Her vision was momentarily obscured, but she heard a thud, followed by a loud yelp, and she knew The Beast had been struck by one of the cars.
The driver of the car stopped his vehicle about twenty feet in front of Charlotte. The dog had been thrown about five feet in front of his car, and lay there on its side, whimpering in the street, then he fell silent.
The owner of the dog, a young woman, came running out of her house, and rushed to the now motionless figure in the street.
She lay down next to her dog and wept. The driver picked the dog up and put it in his car. The lady got into the car with him, and they sped away.
Charlotte couldn't hear what they were saying, nor had she any idea where they were going. She left the scene immediately, so no one would know she was there.
It took her no more than three or four minutes to get to school from where the accident had taken place. No one at school was aware of what had transpired, except, of course, Charlotte, and she liked that. The rest of the school day was one of her most pleasant. She no longer spent the day dreading the walk home. She had smote The Mighty Beast. It was gone, and so were her agony and her fear.
She got home that afternoon still feeling a sense of happiness and accomplishment. Her plan had worked perfectly. She was enjoying her newly acquired sense of security and pride when she overheard her parents talking about Mrs. Williams' dog being hit by a car.
Her mother said, "Poor Mrs. Williams. She loved that dog. It was her husband's, and after he died in Korea the dog helped to fill some of the void in her life. It was like he'd left a part of himself behind. I don't know what she'll do now."
Jeffery was silent as he listened to his wife. His eyes watered slightly—rather than the war hardening him, it had done just the opposite, making him a more sensitive person. He spoke softly. "Can you think of anything we can do to help her?"
She shook her head. "All we can do is just pray the dog survives. I heard from Joan, her next door neighbor, that he's in critical condition at the veterinarian's."
Charlotte couldn't believe her ears—The Beast still lived! Another revelation was that her parents knew the owner of the dog. After hearing Mrs. Williams' tragic story, she began to feel sorry for the woman, a woman for whom she had just caused so much suffering.
Charlotte felt conflicted. She wanted the dog dead, but she didn't want Mrs. Williams to suffer. There was nothing she could do about the situation, but if worse came to worse, her fear overrode Mrs. Williams' grief, and she much preferred the death of the dog.
Two nights later she again overheard her parents talking about Mrs. Williams and her dog. "I talked to Joan today," her mom said, "and she told me the dog was going to live, but that he would be crippled. He will be able to walk, but not to run."
"That’s great!" her dad said. "The important thing is that Mrs. Williams will get her dog back."
Charlotte thought about what she'd just heard, and the fear began to creep back in, but the more she thought about it, the more she realized this was the best of both worlds—Mrs. Williams would get her dog back and he wouldn't be able to ever chase her again. Charlotte was now even more pleased with the outcome of her plan than she was before.
The next morning, Charlotte walked to school, confident that The Beast no longer posed a threat to her, but as was her nature, she had to see it before she would believe it. After all, she'd only heard about the dog being crippled from her parents' conversation, and that wasn't enough to make it real for her.
Charlotte planned to test the ability of the beast by tempting it to chase her. As she approached the once dreaded driveway, she still experienced a little fear, but it wasn't enough to stop her from needing to see the damaged, living thing.
When she got close enough to the property she saw it there, lying on its side, next to the side door of the house. Mrs. Williams sat beside it, softly stroking its fur, cooing to it, "How does my precious feel today? You'll be much better soon. I'll be here…" Her voice tailed off when she saw Charlotte standing in front of the driveway, watching her. Mrs. Williams smiled, and asked how she was.
Charlotte, still a little concerned about The Beast's physical status, replied, "I'm fine. I heard about your dog being hit by a car. Is he okay?"
Mrs. Williams said, "Roger is doing fine. He just won't be able to do the things he used to, but he can walk well enough to get around. The main thing is he has no more pain."
"I'm so glad he's all right," a very joyous Charlotte said. "I have to get to school now, but I really am happy he can get around a little bit." Charlotte said goodbye, turned away, and left for school.
Her world was hers again, unencumbered by anything that might give her displeasure. She had solved the problem herself, she didn't need anyone's help, and she'd orchestrated the best possible outcome: The Beast could no longer catch and eat her, and Mrs. Williams still had Roger. Charlotte was overwhelmed with a sense of joy and pride, as she had made this happen all by herself.
At this point in her life, Charlotte felt no remorse for taking whatever action was necessary to lead to her pleasure, or resolved a problem that was annoying her.
More importantly, her peer image had remained pristine.
Why I Write
by Jon D. Zimmer, author of The Narcissist: A Dark Journey
When I started college I majored in English. I wanted to be a writer. I had written several short stories when I was eighteen, and felt like I was about to join the hallowed halls of Shakespeare and Hemingway, but reality seems to have a way of trumping fantasy. I got married, changed my major to business, and had a successful career. However, I didn't like the cold world of profits at all cost, particularly the human cost.
As soon as I was able I retired, left that dispassionate world, and began to write. To me, writing was a pathway of expression, of sharing the ideas and emotions that we all feel, of creating characters and events that the reader can relate to. And I didn't limit myself to any particular genre. I wrote The Trinity Pact, a spiritual book; The Cozy Place, a murder mystery; An American Dynasty, historical; The Secret Invasion: Book One of the God Chronicles, a fantasy; and my latest novel, The Narcissist: A Dark Journey, a psychological thriller.
Though they were different genres, I was able to express the human condition at its best, and at its worst. In The Cozy Place, a consuming love begets a serial killer, exemplifying love at its worst, however, we all sometimes show our love in a less than a loving way. We abuse, physically and psychologically, we deceive, and we lie to those we love, and when we do it, we wish we hadn't, as sometimes it takes more than a lifetime to make it up.
In An American Dynasty I took an American family through four generations of American history to depict the absolute role that politics and wealth plays in the lives that we lead. Throughout history, wealth has been able to control, and in many instances, enslave populations. It could happen here and now, to us. I love politics.
My latest novel, The Narcissist: A Dark Journey, is a psychological trip through the psyche of one Charlotte Prentice. She literally has everything: beauty, intellect, wealth--and yet she is a very dangerous person. She is someone we all know, or know of, and in ourselves. She and her ilk are dispassionately driven to success, and are our scourge, but in this novel I have left any judgement of guilt up to the reader. How would you judge Charlotte?
I am almost finished with Book Two of the God Chronicles, a fantasy in the event humankind continues after this life. In this new life, I have tried to remove all of the reasons for our really bad, nasty habits. There is no requirement for sustenance, there is no celebrity, no gender, no sickness, but I am really challenged, even with all of those things that cause us to do naughty, bad things, to eliminate the nature of humanity. But I think I have. That's the beauty of writing.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I have no specific age or date when I thought about being a writer. I know that all through my school years my favorite subjects were English and Science. When I started college I had written several short stories. I considered being a writer at that time, however marriage and economics made my decision to postpone writing for a while.
How long does it take you to write a book?
There are several factors that determine the amount of time it takes me write a book. First is the amount of research that is required for the novel. After that there is the passion I have for the project, availability of my time, and does my plot have many twists. It could take five months, up to ten months.
What is your work schedule when you're writing?
Again, an answer that involves several factors. My passion for the work is foremost. In this case, I will begin writing after going out for breakfast, and reading the daily newspaper. I Return home about ten o'clock in the morning, and write until five o'clock in the evening. I don't tend to write at night, because it keeps me from sleeping.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I think one is in my last answer. I need to go out to eat breakfast, and catch up on the news before starting to write. As to writing itself, I try to avoid foul language.
How do books get published?
It has to be an excellent book, however that is far from being the sole criteria, as many good manuscripts are rejected by publishers. Research the publishers, so you send it to the correct one for your genre. You need an excellent query letter to grab a publisher. Perseverance is important, too. Keep sending it out, and if everything fails, you might consider self publishing, but this is a major choice that more than likely will cost you a lot of money, and is rarely successful.
Where do you get your ideas or information for your books?
Ideas for books pop into my head all the time. I will never write all of the books that I would like. Social issues and the emotions surrounding them are the main source of my ideas.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I wrote some short stories when I was eighteen, and a book when I was in my thirties, which I never did anything with. The first novel that I submitted, and was published was in my fifties. I truly wish I had pursued my dream to write as a youth.
What does your family think of your writing?
They love it, and are very supportive.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I have a passion for horse racing and politics. My father owned race horses when I was growing up, and I also developed an ardor for them. I go, sometimes, on weekends to the local tracks. Politics fascinates me. There is so much misery in our society, and I see an ignorant electorate perpetuating their condition by voting against their best interests, over and over. I write some political essays that are posted on LinkedIn, and my social media.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
Getting into people's heads. Expressing emotions that the reader can feel and relate to is what writing is about.
How many books have you written and which is your favorite?
I have written six novels, and the one I just finished, The Narcissist: A Dark Journey, is my favorite to date. However, the novel, Tranquility: Book Two of the God Chronicles that I am currently writing is going to be my new favorite. It is a fantasy about an afterlife, if there is one, that is believable.
Do you have any suggestions to help people become better writers. If so, what are they?
That’s a very hard question. I could give one of the standard answers and say, just believe in yourself, and that is true, but far from a success story. You need to be able to tell a tale that will satisfy your reader, both emotionally and time well spent.
Do you hear from your readers much? What do they say?
You mostly hear from friends and relatives about your books, and they are usually favorable, as expected. However, reviewers are a little more honest. Sometimes they grasp your theme, and other times they don't. It's up to you to determine true criticism.
Do you like to create books for adults?
I do like to create books for adults. I have never written a children's book, but have used children and their emotions in my books.
What do you think makes a good story?
There are so many things that make a good story, regardless of genre. But the basic thing is that the reader becomes involved, even if he/she doesn't share the emotions, or theme, they come away with an understanding of them, and when they're finished, they feel good about the experience.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I was athletic as a child, and I wanted to be a football player, then I changed to wanting to be a scientist, but never a writer, not until I was eighteen.
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