Deep in the bowels of Staten Maximum Security Prison, a saint sits in his cell — healing others while harming himself.
His name is Sonny, and the prisoners love him. They say he has healing hands, and can absolve you of your sins. He’s good to talk to, mostly because he just listens.
He just sits and watches with those eyes.
The corrupt prison hierarchy loves him, too, but for different reasons. He’s willing to take the rap for murders that take place outside of the prison walls in exchange for heroin. Killings their equally-corrupt friends need swept out of their zone of blame, and into someone else’s.
Someone who’s happy to take others sins onto himself.
Sonny is in his thirties. He’s spent over a decade rotting in prison, expecting nothing but junk for blame, convinced he deserves this, somehow.
But then someone comes to confess something to him — something that changes everything — and then Sonny is gone. He pulls off a daring escape from the prison he’s called home, and the people who’ve been using him to cover up their murders.
And then he starts to kill people for real.
Some time ago, Jimm Juree was an up-and-coming crime reporter for Chiang Mai’s paper of record, and felt that she was going places. Unfortunately, her mother had other ideas on the destination, and packed most of their odd and contentious family down to the southernmost part of Thailand — there to manage a dilapidated holiday resort in Maprao for reasons known only to her. Since then, Jimm’s writing has consisted of English translation, counter-scamming online charlatans, and the occasional fluff piece for the local rag.
Given that she’d much rather be writing about crime, death, and other mysterious happenings, one might think that it’s a good thing that the world seems intent on sending them her way. Unfortunately, this has the habit of making her a target — something she’s had some experience with by now. But she at least has the consolation that, if her wits can’t keep her ahead of the perpetrators, at least her contentious family has her back.
Which is a good thing, right about now, as what started as a fluff piece — interviewing a European author who’s settled in their neck of the woods — has percolated into a potentially deadly mystery.
When Junior Bender was a young man, just starting his criminal career, he had an on-the-job run-in with an older, more experienced burglar: the one and only Herbie Mott. The guy could have just told Junior to scram, or else set him up for a fall, but for some reason he took the kid under his wing. And, over time, he taught the up-and-coming crook the tricks of his trade, both practical and esoteric, and become something of father figure to Bender — maybe the only real father he had, as things would turn out.
But the long and short of it is that Bender knows Herbie pretty darn well, as there’s a lot of the old man’s style in him. So when “executive crook” Wattles (of the many blow-up dolls) shows up at Bender’s hotel room, creepy hitman in tow, and “asks” him to find out who broke into his office — or else prove it wasn’t him — he’s got a pretty good idea who was actually responsible.
Problem is, when he goes to ask Herbie what he thought he was doing, he finds the old man dead — murdered quite painfully, in fact. Read more…
Somewhere in America, there’s a rich man who turns the less fortunate into killers.
He’s got skills, a pattern, and a plan, this high-tech Svengali. Give him your poor, shattered castaways and he can transform them into something broken, obedient, and lethal. Before long he’ll have them snapping to attention and doing whatever they’re told, because he’s the only one who can make the visions go away.
Visions that can shatter a man’s mind, and leave him just south of human — perfect for his murderous purposes.