The Inquisitor by Mark Allen Smith is a paranormal thriller featuring an investigator who can detect a lie without any electronic help (available April 10, 2012).
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If you read but one book this year, make it this one. I literally found myself holding my breath during many scenes and that usually doesn’t happen to me. The Inquisitor by Mark Allen Smith is the best first novel I have ever read, and I’ve read a lot of books.
Geiger is a mysterious man who takes his job very seriously. He’s in information retrieval—by any means necessary, and I do mean any means. He has wealthy clients who pay him a lot to find out what they need to know. His whole life is a secret . . . even to him. He has no memory of his life before he arrived on a bus at the Port Authority Terminal in New York City. However, his dreams are unlocking those secrets at the worst possible time in his life. Geiger works with Harry, a former alcoholic bum who is a computer genius and knows how to retrieve information on the computer like no one else. Of course Harry comes with his own problems, which include a schizophrenic sister who finds solace in singing, wherever she is.
This book is a thriller is every way possible. It has puzzles wrapped in enigmas covered with riddles and surrounded by dilemmas. I’m not kidding. It’s that complicated and it unravels slowly like a sweater you snagged. But it’s a beautiful unraveling and once it begins, you don’t want to stop until you get to the end.
Geiger’s free hand grasped Matthew by the hair. A short yelp slipped from Matthew—not a response to pain but an involuntary bark of recognition of what was to come—and Geiger deftly inserted the needle between vertebrae in Matthew’s neck. Matthew didn’t flinch, and his gaze never left Geiger’s implacable face.
“The fact is, the human being is a remarkably vulnerable construct. This needle is lighter than a sparrow’s feather, Matthew. A child’s tear balanced on its end could bend it.”
Geiger wiggled the needle slightly, triggering a riff of shrill screams. Then he removed it and the yowling stopped. Tears streamed down Matthew’s cheeks, his breath racing in and out of him in short, tight huffs.
“There’s also manipulation of joints, application of intense heat and cold, forced ingestion of liquids. The fact is, Matthew, I could work on you for days without repeating a process.”
Geiger removed the headphones from Matthew’s head and put them and the microphone on the floor. “As for psychic pain, I think your sensitivity to physical stimuli makes that area unnecessary to explore. As for emotional pain— according to your file, you are single, unattached, an only child with no living parents, so I see no benefit in going there. You may not believe it, Matthew, but you’re a very lucky fellow.”
The client wanted Geiger to pound on Matthew so he’d confess and bring this to an end. Then the client could make his phone calls and go home. But he’d sensed when he’d met Geiger that it wouldn’t be like that.
“I’m not going to ask you yet, Matthew, because I can tell you’re not ready to tell the truth, and I don’t want to make you lie.”
Some of these scenes are so chilling they’ll leave you with goose bumps, but remember, Geiger is out to get information, whatever it takes. Making the client happy is all that matters. However, all that ends for Geiger when a client sends him a child, a helpless twelve-year-old boy whose only crime is being left alone by a father who has what the client wants.
Now Geiger has found his limit and his ability to care what happens to another human being. The chase is on, and the action never slows.
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Leigh Neely is a former newspaper and magazine editor. She currently does freelance work, blogs at womenofmystery.net, and recently wrote the short story, “A Vampire in Brooklyn,” which is in the anthology, Murder New York Style: Fresh Slices. She is currently working on paranormal novels with a partner under the pseudonym of Neely Powell.