FBI Special Agent Jake Cole was called back to the family home in Montauk, New Jersey after his father unsuccessfully attempted to turn himself into a roman candle. As Cole rummaged through the house where he grew up with his father’s alcoholism and abuse, he discovered hordes of canvases painted with disturbing shapes in grays, red and black. Cole’s father was a brilliant painter before dementia began eroding his abilities along with mental capacity. The night of Cole’s arrival in Montauk he was called to the scene of a gruesome double murder of an unidentified woman and little boy. They had been skinned alive, the woman’s pain so extreme she bite off her tongue before she died.
Over the course of four days, Cole must confront the many ghosts from his distant past including his mother’s unsolved murder, substance abuse and reappearance of a murderer he thought dead. Although Cole lacked his father’s painting gift, his uncanny ability to reconstruct murder scenes in his head made him a welcome addition to some of the worst murder cases in the country. It is a skill that will be put to the test as the body count rises. Cole wants nothing more then to wrap up the investigation and his father’s affairs in order to return home to his wife and son but with a monster hurricane bearing down on the shoreline, that isn’t going to happen any time soon. As Cole closes in on the murderer, old acquaintances begin putting some pieces together for themselves and the picture they come up with is chilling.
This outstanding debut novel has all the tension, mystery and gruesome twists of seasoned authors. “…a dozen Styrofoam soup containers half-filled with sludge well on its way to becoming petroleum…” is just one of the fun turns of phrase that help lighten this very dark, bloody tale. The hurricane sweeps through Montauk with the same swath of destruction that returning home has on Cole’s life. The character development and pace are first rate and the killer’s identity remains a mystery right up to the surprising end.
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