In a world where the dead can testify against the living, someone is getting away with murder. Because to every generation are born a select few souls with violet-colored eyes, and the ability to channel the dead. Both rare and precious-and rigidly controlled by a society that craves their services-these Violets perform a number of different duties. The most fortunate increase the world's cultural heritage by channeling the still-creative spirits of famous dead artists and musicians. The least fortunate aid the police and the law courts, catching criminals by interviewing the deceased victims of violent crime. But now the Violets themselves have become the target of a brutal serial murderer-a murderer who had learned how to mask his or her identity even from the victims. Can the FBI, aided by a Violet so scared of death that she is afraid to live, uncover the criminal in time Or must more of her race be dispatched to the realm that has haunted them all since childhood From the Paperback edition.
Shades of Minority Report and The Eyes of Laura Mars color Woodworth's chilling debut novel, which is set in an alternate present-day setting where a small percentage of people are born with violet irises and the ability to channel the dead. Naturally, the government has stepped in and regulated their lives, using them as tools in murder trials; an early scene in which a judge instructs the jury how to "weigh the testimony of the deceased" nicely sets the book's tone. When it becomes clear that a serial killer is targeting the Violets themselves, FBI agent Dan Atwater is paired with Natalie Lindstrom, a Violet, to investigate. Here Woodworth turns the conventional murder mystery on its ear: there are a fixed number of suspects from the beginning, but since the deceased can inhabit the bodies of Violets, none of the players ever exit the story, even when they are killed. Moments after dying, the victims take over Natalie's consciousness, bringing their tale of the Faceless Man who killed them and their suspicion that he may be working with someone on the other side. This twist makes for a tantalizing puzzle rife with red herrings, one made all the more entertaining by brisk pacing and strong internal logic. Agent, Jimmy Vines. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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August 30, 2004
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Excerpt from Through Violet Eyes by Stephen Woodworth
Crouching behind the wooden tool shed along the back fence, the man watched the little strawberry-blond girl at play in the yard. Perspiration blotched the featureless weave of the black veil that obscured his face, and sweat oozed under the Latex of his gloves as he flexed his fingers.
It hadn't rained in Los Angeles for almost six months, and the haze of accumulated smog cast an amber pall over the pink bungalow house and its tiny back yard. The late September heat wave had dried the grass to brittle yellow needles, and patches of bare dirt mottled the lawn like mange. An inflatable wading pool decorated with Winnie the Pooh characters sagged in the center of the yard, and the girl squatted in its shallow water, wearing a one-piece bathing suit with Tigger on the front. Her wispy hair hung in horse-tail tangles about her freckled face as she made her naked Barbie doll swim in big circles around her.
The man's breath quickened, the air hot and stifling underneath his mask of crepe. The child's mother was at work, and the babysitter had gone into the house more than twenty minutes ago. It was the first time in three days that the man had seen the girl left unattended. Nevertheless, he hesitated.
Then he saw her begin to twitch.
She dropped the doll in the water and clapped her hands over her ears. "Somebody's knocking! Somebody's knocking!"
The man tensed, and mouthed words under his breath. He imagined that he could hear the soundless whispers now sifting into the girl's skull.
They had found her.
The girl stumbled out of the pool, still clutching her temples, jerking her head as if in the throes of a seizure. "Somebody's knocking! Somebody's knocking!"
The man shot a wary glance toward the back door of the house and lunged toward her.
Seeing him, the girl yelped and broke into a zigzagging run toward the house. He blocked her, but she dodged his grasping hands and doubled-back on him, scrambling toward the back yard gate. When he cut her off, she scampered to the chain-link fence that bordered the neighbors' yard, locked her fingers on its wire mesh, and shook it, screaming.
As he took hold of her shoulders, though, a sudden exhaustion seemed to overwhelm her, and she drooped against the fence. Her face pinched with concentration, she whispered the letters of the alphabet like a rosary. "A-B-C-D-E-F-G...H-I-J-K-L-M-N-O-P...Q-R-S-T-U-V..."
Her voice trailed off. The contours of her face subtly changed, her expression darkening.
Strength surged back into her small frame, and she whipped around, snarling, and clawed the fabric of his mask, trying to pull it from his face. Anticipating that she would do this, the man caught hold of her arms and forced them down.
"Who are you " The girl's voice resonated with adult authority. "Why are you doing this to us " She glared at him with gleaming violet eyes.
The smooth, shallow hollows of his masked face betrayed no emotion, but the man trembled visibly. Holding the struggling child at arm's length, he clasped her head with his rubber-skinned hands in an almost tender caress.