Only the flame from a curious candleholder illuminated the murdered corpse of Karl Knock on a bitterly cold Massachusetts night twenty years in the past. When the efforts of local, state and federal investigators failed to cast more light on the crime than the little candle did, the case gathered dust, unsolved and forgotten.
But when horror novelist Finn Ryan gets an invitation to dinner from a beautiful but eccentric and reclusive colleague, Tally Serzak, a web of danger sends its first, tentative filaments from that candlelit room. And nothing will ever be the same.
Because Finn has secrets. So does Tally. And so does Newton, MA, Police Detective Warren Yost, who found Knock’s body on that cold morning so long ago. Now, on the eve of retirement, Yost decides to solve the old murder and go out with a last hurrah.
As Finn’s involvement with the strange Tally reaches an intensity that has him running into walls, he begins to see similarities between himself and his own characters. He’s in a horror novel, except this one is real. There are no ghosts, no zombies or vampires. There is only Tally and an unfolding story Finn doesn’t want to see, but can’t ignore. As she knew he wouldn’t.
Warren Yost sees the story as well, but can’t assemble its puzzle until Finn provides a last piece that will lead to a final, and deadly, resolution.
Other novels by Abigail Padgett
Bo Bradley series
BO BRADLEY is a child abuse investigator for San Diego County’s Department of Social Services, a job involving an endless chain of crises that range from the merely ridiculous to the flat-out terrifying. Further complicating things is Bo’s manic depressive disorder, a troubling but occasionally valuable problem for which she almost always takes her meds. Bo’s perspective on her cases is intelligent, quirky and, of course, driven. She’ll do whatever is necessary to protect the children whose cases she investigates. Even if her methods seem a little, well… crazy.
Child of Silence
When an old Paiute woman finds a four-year-old boy tied to a mattress in an abandoned shack in the hills above San Diego, Bo gets the case. Staff at St. Mary’s Hospital for Children assume the boy is mentally impaired because he cannot talk, but Bo remembers a little sister named Laurie. The boy, like Laurie, is deaf. Bo tangles with the system, first in attempts to place her young client in a foster home where sign language is used, and later, after someone has tried to shoot the child, in a desperate, manicky, midnight flight into the desert to save his life.
“A sensationally fine first novel… breathtakingly well-told…” The Los Angeles Times
The rape/murder of a little girl is exploited by a sensation-seeking psychologist, arousing the public to a frenzy of mindless rage toward “Satanists” while Bo struggles to protect the murdered child’s sister and save an unjustly accused man from prison. But both the system for which she works and the real killer are out to get Bo, in a complex case that threatens her with professional ruin… and death.
“A strikingly unconventional sleuth… (Padgett) knows how to tell a story with passion and purpose.” New York Times Book Review
A poisoned eight-month-old Maya baby boy living with paid caretakers on the American side of San Diego’s Mexican border grabs Bo’s heart and sends her into Tijuana, where she can legally investigate nothing, in search the little boy’s mother. When the mother, a successful singer from Guatemala, dies onstage in a Tijuana bar from a different poison, Bo finds herself snarled in a web of international intrigue that threatens the child’s future, and her own.
“A powerful novel with complex characters, a sophisticated love story, evocative descriptions, and heart-stopping action.” Minneapolis Star Tribune
Ghost Flower Lodge is an unconventional psychiatric treatment facility run by a band of Kumeyaay Indians, and host to Bo after the death of her dog throws her into an acute depressive episode. But when another guest at the lodge, successful comedian Mort Wagman, is shot and killed, Bo drags herself back to life in order to help Mort’s strange son, Bird, now an orphan. And in the process discovers a human evil more toxic than rattlesnake venom.
“…Padgett weaves strands of neurophysiological research, Indian ritual, murder, big business, WW II atrocities, family ties and romance… into a gripping novel.” Publisher’s Weekly
The Dollmaker’s Daughters
Fifth in the Bo Bradley series,following TURTLE BABY, in this psychological thriller Bo reaches out to 15-year-old Janny Malcolm, a teenage foster child found frozen in terror at a popular goth hangout. A battered antique doll is chained to Janny’s wrist. Against all departmental rules, Bo befriends Janny and picks up a 13-year-long trail of child abuse, deceit and murder that may involve Child Protective Services at the highest level. When Bo learns of a grim medical facility and secretly observes a closed funeral attended by only two people, her investigative instincts rev into high hear. This story is rich in atmosphere, and Bo, with her heightened psychological insight and empathy, is at her best.
“Excellent … a Bach concerto of a read… Fascinating… outstanding blend of the comic and the eerie … engrossing and enchanting … It is impossible to put down.”
—New Brunswick Reader
“This is a book I hated to put down until I reached its satisfying conclusion.”
—St. Louis Post-Dispatch