In this riveting thriller, the first of a planned trilogy, James (Story
) introduces FBI agent Patrick Bowers. His professional specialty is environmental criminology, which attempts to track lawbreakers by analyzing the significance of the time and place at which the crime occurred. When corpses of young women start turning up near Asheville, N.C., Bowers is called in. The killer’s MO is to tie a yellow ribbon in his victims’ hair and leave a chess piece somewhere on the scene. Bowers begins to suspect that the governor of North Carolina, rumored to be the next Republican presidential contender, is somehow connected to the murders, and that a cult with links to Jonestown might also be involved. Making matters trickier, the special agent supervising Bowers turns out to be a longtime colleague with whom Bowers has some bad blood. Bowers, a recent widower with a surly teenage stepdaughter to raise, tries to keep his grief and parental confusion at bay so that he can focus on the case as the killer targets more innocent women. Christian faith makes a subtle appearance in the story and appears to be a theme that will be developed in future installments. A gripping plot and brisk pacing will win James some fans eager for his next offering. (Sept.)
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