The bestselling author of The Genesis Code and The Eighth Day now strikes his most harrowing chord, with a chilling novel that pushes suspense to nearly inhuman limits.As a television news correspondent, Alex Callahan has traveled to some of the most dangerous corners of the globe, covering famine, plague, and war. He's seen more than his share of blood and death, and knows what it means to be afraid. But what he's never known is the terror that grabs him when, on a tranquil summer afternoon, he ceases to be an observer of the dark side and, to his shock, becomes enmeshed in it.
A parent's worst nightmare is realized in Case's expertly written new thriller. During a summer-long, last-ditch attempt to reconnect with his family since separating from his wife, Washington TV reporter Alexander Callahan loses his identical twin six-year-old sons at a Maryland Renaissance fair. After facing the media avalanche outside his house, Alex and police detectives discover mysterious objects placed inside: a carefully crafted origami rabbit, a bowl of water in the closet, seven winged Liberty dimes in a neat stack. Following a "maelstrom of emotion," Alex is eliminated as a suspect and authorities concede a lack of reliable leads. Scouring the Internet, Alex discovers connections between several cases of abducted twins and his own situation, and with relentless determination he continues his investigation, traveling to Daytona Beach, Fla., to interview wary sources and Las Vegas, Nev., to research the horrific deaths of two abducted young showgirls. The kidnapper, it seems, is a malevolent magician dabbling in voodoo practices. Case's pace reaches a fever pitch as Alex chases more leads to New Orleans, where he teams up with a local albino sleuth and ends up on the doorstep of a witchdoctor who insists on a nightmarish rebirthing ritual before he'll break his silence on the killer. Northern and Southern California provide the final backdrops for a harrowing conclusion that will leave readers breathless. A long, winding narrative that's impossible to put down, this is another work of superior suspense from the author of The Genesis Code. Agent, Elaine Markson. (Oct. 12) FYI: John Case is the pen name of husband-and-wife team Jim and Carolyn Hougan. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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October 11, 2004
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Excerpt from The Murder Artist by John Case
Five hours of sleep. I rub my eyes, head out front, and bend down to extract my rolled-up copy of The Washington Post from beneath an azalea bush. I never know where I'm going to find the thing; whoever pitches it never got past T-ball.
"Good morning! Beautiful day in the neighborhood." It's Yasmin Siegel, my eightysomething neighbor from across the street, with her black Lab, Cookie.
"I guess." I slide the paper out from its transparent plastic sleeve.
"Seriously, Alex, a day like this in Washington, D.C." She shakes her head in disbelief. "It's a gift. End of May? You can get some real stinkers." She points her finger at me. "You enjoy it, you and those boys."
"I was hoping for rain," I tell her, looking up at the cloudless blue sky.
"Ri-ight," Yasmin chuckles. "O-kay, Cookie. I get the message." She gives me a jaunty wave and heads toward the park.
Actually, I was hoping for rain. I check the weather map on the back of the Metro section, just in case.
No. No rapidly moving front, no storm pelting toward D.C. from Canada or the Outer Banks.
A beautiful day.
Back in the house, I set up the coffeemaker. While I wait for it to do its thing, I put out bowls and spoons for the boys, pour two glasses of orange juice, tear off a couple of bananas from the bunch, toss them onto the table, get the giant box of Cheerios down from the cabinet.
The problem with the beautiful day is that I've got work to do, last-minute cuts on a piece scheduled to air tonight. But cuts or no cuts, I promised the boys--my six-year-old twins--that every Saturday they could pick out some kind of excursion. And they're dead set on this Renaissance festival, which naturally enough is all the way to hell and gone, way out past Annapolis. The drive alone will take more than an hour each way. It's going to kill the whole day.
And since this is the boys' first visit since Christmas--and only their second visit since Liz and I separated--this is the first of these excursions. No way I can bail.
I tell myself there's nothing for it. Get on with it. I need to make the cuts in time to drop off the file at the station on our way out of town.