Natalie Lindstrom was once one of an elite group of investigators with the power to interview the dead victims of violent crime. But now Natalie has had enough. Enough of the violence. Enough of the darkness that has already gotten too close to her five-year-old daughter. Yet as she tries to build a new life and protect her child from the world she has left, Natalie still knows injustice when she sees it. And she knows that in a high-profile California trial, a young man is getting away with murder. The case against Prescott Hyland Jr. is airtight-until a corrupt Violet delivers devastating testimony against another man. Now Natalie is being drawn back into her former career and a danger far worse than she can imagine. For while one killer is being tried in a courtroom, another has gone horribly free: to unleash a storm of vengeance-aimed straight for the heart of Natalie's new life. Because, in the world of the Violets, sometimes your past can literally come back to haunt you.
Woodworth's fast-paced and imaginative sequel to his amazing debut, Through Violet Eyes, revisits the world of the Violets, a small group of individuals born with violet eyes and the ability to communicate with the dead. Society has accepted the idea that death is not the end, and courtrooms regularly employ Violets to introduce testimony from murder victims. When a teenage boy is put on trial for shooting his wealthy parents, a well-known Violet takes the stand and channels the dead parents to confirm that it was someone other than their son who pulled the trigger. Meanwhile, Natalie Lindstrom, a Violet who has retired from the job and is working hard to prevent her daughter, Callie, from entering it, examines the case and discovers that the Violet on the stand might be falsifying the postmortem testimony, something previously thought impossible. Natalie's also grappling with her mother, a Violet institutionalized years ago; her mother says she has been visited by the Thresher, a ruthless killer who refuses to stop his ghoulish work even though he has been executed. The separate story threads weave together seamlessly as Woodworth unveils the "Needlepoint killer," whose viciousness makes Hannibal Lecter seem like a Sunday School teacher. As with Through Violet Eyes, the violence in this book is matched by its intelligence. Agent, James Vines at the Vines Agency. (Jan. 4) Forecast: Blurbs from a wide range of authors-Lisa Gardner, Iris Johansen, Greg Bear, Joe R. Lansdale, Elizabeth Hand-will help cement Woodworth's reputation as one of the more original thriller authors in recent memory. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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December 27, 2004
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Excerpt from With Red Hands by Stephen Woodworth
Prescott "Scott" Hyland Jr. fidgeted in his chair, discomfited by the oxford shirt and Dockers he wore. Left to choose his own wardrobe, he'd be in a wife-beater T-shirt and board shorts, but Lathrop insisted he go for the preppie look.
"And lose the rings," the attorney had commanded, referring to the silver bands that pierced Scott's ears and eyebrows. "The press will be on your tail twenty-four/seven until this thing is over."
Scott smoothed his left eyebrow. The holes were already starting to close. Lathrop had accomplished in five minutes what his parents had failed to do in three years.
If only Dad could see me now . . .
The thought unnerved Scott, and he pushed himself straight up in the chair, focusing on what the lawyer was saying as if his life depended on it, which it did. Although Scott was still technically a minor at seventeen, the D.A.'s office had pushed to try him as an adult in order to seek the death penalty.
"I don't need to tell you, we've got a lot of points against us." Malcolm Lathrop leaned forward in his leather-upholstered throne and consulted some papers on his desk as if reviewing a grocery list. "Although your parents' bedroom appeared to have been ransacked, almost nothing of value was taken, and every other room in the house was left untouched--including yours."
Scott shifted in his chair and said nothing.
Not a single ruffled hair disturbed the perfect rayon wave of Lathrop's pompadour. "Then there's the broken window, where the 'burglar' supposedly entered the house. Unfortunately, the police found glass fragments outside the window, not inside. And as for those little accounting 'mistakes' you made at your father's business--well, the less said, the better."
Scott picked at a hangnail but still said nothing. Lathrop had forbidden him to say anything more about the case, even in private.
The attorney rose and strolled around the enormous walnut altar of the desk. "The good news is, we now have your parents on our side."
"My parents?" Scott's scalp prickled. In his mind, he saw his dad slumped back against the headboard of the bed, a crimson impact crater in his chest, while his mother sprawled on the floor nearby, the left half of her face blown off, her skull bleeding brains . . .
Lathrop regarded the boy as if he'd just slouched out of a cave. "You are familiar with the North American Afterlife Communications Corps, aren't you?"
"Yeah." Last year his dad had dropped a bundle on a brand-new painting by Picasso or some other dead guy. It looked like something you'd stick on your refrigerator with Snoopy magnets.
He'd seen NAACC dead-talkers in cop shows and movies, too, of course. Purple-eyed freaks known as Violets, they'd allow murder victims to take over their bodies and speak with their voices. But if the killer wore a mask, the victims' testimony wouldn't matter . . . would it?
"The Corps' conduit for the L.A. Crime Division recently contacted me," Lathrop informed him. "He's kindly offered to summon Elizabeth Hyland and Prescott Hyland Sr. to testify at the trial."