Wounded Prey by Sean Lynch is the first Detectives Farrell and Kearns thriller (available May 28, 3013).
In 1967, the Vietnam War was in full swing, and Staff Sergeant Bob Farrell is on the hunt for a killer after a Saigon prostitute’s little boy is found hanging from his ankles from a light post, his throat cut. Luckily, there were witnesses, and it wasn’t too hard to figure out who the culprit was, especially since he was described as having a pronounced limp. Anti-American sentiment made it hard to conduct a thorough investigation, but when MPs search the convalescent barracks; they get more than they bargain for.
Luckily, they are finally able to take him down, but not without serious injury to the two MPs. Lance Corporal Vernon Emil Slocum is in custody, but unfortunately, Farrell’s investigation is over before it begins. Slocum is ferried away by unnamed men, and Farrell doesn’t see him again. Now it’s 1987, twenty years after the events, and Farrell is a retired cop, chain-smoking and drinking in his dingy apartment, wondering why he hasn’t done all the things he’s planned, when he sees a headline in the newspaper about a young girl killed in much the same way as the little boy in Saigon, and about the rookie police officer, Kevin Kearns, who happened to be nearby and attempted to take on Slocum with no success. Farrell is suddenly very certain about what he must do. Kearns will be used as a scapegoat for the crime, and Farrell knows it, and a monster is on the loose.
Kearns is also painfully aware of what’s about to happen to him.
He knew the public’s perception of the horrific incident was clouded with anger, grief, and a need to lay blame. A child was dead, and doing his best to prevent it hadn’t been enough. A brave schoolteacher was also dead. Like him, she’d done her best to prevent the tragedy and it cost her life.
What Sergeant Evers told him at the hospital was true. People would try to make sense of what happened, though maybe there was none to be made. And part of that process for many people would be finding someone to blame. Folks were struggling to understand why he survived and Tiffany Meade did not. He’d be easy to point the finger at; he was a cop. When the sheep get attacked by a wolf, they blame the sheepdog. Even Kearns, with less than a year on the job, knew that.
Farrell uses his considerable skills to find any info he can on Slocum and his possible whereabouts, and what he finds brings back painful memories.
He was beginning to remember thing he’d forgotten long ago. Things he’d hoped were put to rest. He thought he’d exorcised Slocum from his nightmares, but seeing the name again reminded him he was wrong.
Sometimes he’d see Slocum’s eyes watching him in his dreams. He felt those eyes on him today when wide awake. When he read the newspaper.
Farrell tried to convince himself his trip to the Oak Knoll Naval Hospital was sparked by little more than morbid curiosity and fueled by boredom. But somewhere in the corner of his mind, a corner dark for two decades, a voice was calling. A voice he tried to convince himself he couldn’t hear.
The voice howled in frustration over a career toiling in a justice system that couldn’t stop criminals like Vernon Slocum. The voice shrieked in concert with the cries of tortured, dying children. The voice moaned in shame by failing to deal with a monster when it had the chance. The voice wailed in self pity over a life spent watching loved ones drift away. It was a voice Farrell tried to drown in a sea of bourbon, yet could still be heard.
It was a voice Bob Farrell could ignore no longer.
It’s because of this voice, and his desperate need for retribution and redemption, that Farrell attempts to enlist Kearns to hunt Slocum down and put a stop to his reign of terror, on their terms. Kearns has his own inner voice crying out for vengeance, and now, he feels he really has nothing to lose. The hunt for Slocum won’t be easy, and if you think you’ve seen evil, you haven’t met Slocum. He’s just about as bad as it gets.
Sean Lynch understands his heroes and what drives them, and while they have considerable skills on their side, Slocum is a true monster, his reign of terror is shocking, and he really does seem larger than life. While redemption is the biggest theme of the novel, the author also deftly explores the inner workings of a very, very sick mind, and what made Slocum what he is. Be prepared to go to the dark side in this harrowing, fast-paced thriller.
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