Blood Bayou

( 9 )

Overview


To Save a Victim, Camille St. James May Have to Become One Herself.

Seven years ago, tragedy ended the troubled marriage of Camille and Jack Vermillion. Now, as head of the Truth Project, her life safe and orderly, she focuses her lawyerly skills on freeing wrongly incarcerated individuals on death row.

Jack paid a bitter price for his mistakes. No longer a high-powered ...

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Blood Bayou: A Novel

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Overview


To Save a Victim, Camille St. James May Have to Become One Herself.

Seven years ago, tragedy ended the troubled marriage of Camille and Jack Vermillion. Now, as head of the Truth Project, her life safe and orderly, she focuses her lawyerly skills on freeing wrongly incarcerated individuals on death row.

Jack paid a bitter price for his mistakes. No longer a high-powered corporate attorney, he's now pastor of a small church in Blood Bayou. Unsure of her own beliefs, Camille is highly skeptical of the conversion of this man she hasn't seen in seven years.

Then tragedy strikes again. Jack's sister is murdered, apparently by a prisoner Camille has set free. To prove his innocence, Camille must return to Blood Bayou. But that means facing the hostility of the town — and Jack.

And as She Works to Find the Real Killer, Someone Is Determined to Stop Her...by Any Means.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Karen Young is a writer of rare emotional power and conviction, exploring the darkest corners of the human heart and finding redemption there. This is storytelling at its finest, the kind that stays with you long after the last page is turned." — Susan Wiggs, author of #1 New York Times bestseller Fireside

"Blood Bayou kept my heart beating overtime with its perfect blend of romance and suspense. This was my first Karen Young novel, but her compelling characters, snappy dialogue, and a gorgeous bayou setting that had me fanning myself on a winter day in Kansas, land her permanently on my must-read list. One of the best books I've read this year!" — Deborah Raney, author of Yesterday's Embers and Almost Forever

"Master storyteller Karen Young has written a gripping tale of second chances, rescue, and redemption. I became absorbed in the story, the characters, and the mystery from the very first paragraph. This is a page-turner that will long linger in my mind." — Debbie Macomber

"Karen Young's Blood Bayou grabs the reader by the throat from the beginning and does not let go until the last page. More importantly, along the way the reader enters into a significant faith journey with the characters, one that begins with sin and ends with repentance and love. It is a rare book that can offer a superb story, wholly believable characters, and a heart-wrenching narrative of evil and redemption. Yet Karen Young has written just such a book. I simply cannot wait for her next one!" — Diane Mott Davidson

Publishers Weekly

Young's 35th novel comes from an evangelical Christian imprint, and this outing adds to her blend of suspense and romance spiritual elements that would make sense to many readers outside the Christian market. Lawyer Camille St. James gets a convicted murderer exonerated and off Death Row, only to see him arrested for murder days after his release. Camille's ex-husband, Jack, a former lawyer and recovering alcoholic turned minister, re-enters her life because the murder victim is his sister. The two are thrown together again as Camille pushes hard to discover the real murderer, drawing not only a response from a criminal but from a small Louisiana town eager to blame her for freeing a man capable of murder. The experienced author competently spins suspense and romance while adding the element of redemption through faith that is natural to her plot. Camille is skeptical about the thoroughness of her ex-husband's spiritual rebirth, making the faith component even more credible. Young's readers can easily follow her move to more explicit spiritual character development, and she should gain new readers in the Christian market with her well-crafted inspirational fiction. (May)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416587507
  • Publisher: Howard Books
  • Publication date: 5/5/2009
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 448
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Karen Young is the international bestselling author of thirty-eight novels.
She has more than ten million books in print and is the recipient of the coveted RITA award from Romance Writers of America and the Career Achievement and Reviewer’s Choice awards from Romantic Times magazine. She is known as “a spellbinding storyteller who writes with sensitivity about issues facing contemporary women.” Karen's career in writing fiction for women has run the gamut from traditional romance to mystery thrillers to inspirational fiction. In her relationship-driven plots, she creates characters that could easily be her readers, and then places them in extraordinary circumstances while adding suspense to the mix.

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Read an Excerpt

prologue

Luanne Richard opened the door to her killer wearing a smile and little else. With a drink in one hand and invitation and mischief dancing in her eyes, she sensed no danger. After several martinis, her instinct for danger was hazy at best.

She'd been lounging on the patio in her bikini when the doorbell rang. It had occurred to her that a cover-up might be the proper thing, but she wasn't much into doing the proper thing. Never had been. It got really boring trying to live life properly. Now, glancing through the peephole, she saw he was alone and thought it might be fun to tease him a little. No one around, as far as she could tell. So she let him in, closed the door, and turned to face him.

That is when she saw the knife.

She sobered instantly. And when he raised it and lunged, aiming for her throat, she recoiled on instinct alone, tossed her drink at his face and somehow — miraculously — managed to evade that first vicious slash. While he cursed and blinked gin from his eyes, she turned and ran on bare feet.

She raced through the huge house wondering frantically how to escape. She cursed her carelessness in leaving the gate open when she drove home from the club. It came to her that she stood no chance while inside, so she flew through the living room and made for the den and beyond — the patio. She prayed the door was open, that she'd failed to close it when she got up and came back in.

Please, oh, please...

Halfway there, she took a quick look over her shoulder and screamed. He was close and gaining. He would be on her if she didn't do something. As she streaked past a very expensive Chinese vase, she gave it a push to tip it over, thinking to trip him. He stumbled but didn't go down. He picked it up, tossed it side, and laughed. Laughed!

This couldn't be real. This kind of craziness happened in nightmares to other people, not to her. Hadn't she had enough grief in her life? Hadn't she tried her best to fight the demons that tormented her? Hadn't she often resisted temptation? Was she to be damned for the times she didn't?

I'm sorry, God. I'm sorry. I'm sorry...

No! She wasn't going to let this happen. She had a lot of life to live yet. She would change. She had changed. Nobody understood how hard it was for her to keep to the straight and narrow. She kept to the path. Almost always.

Once out on the lawn, she realized she couldn't make it to the front. It was too far away. He'd overtake her before she got halfway there. And there was no time to punch in the security code to open the gate. She was trapped.

Mad with fear, she ducked around lush landscaping, making for the walk that led to the pier and boathouse. She veered to avoid the cherub fountain and stumbled, twisting her ankle painfully. She flung out a hand for balance only to have it slashed on the lethal thorns of a pyracantha. Sobbing now, she dashed through a grove of wax myrtles, wincing at the slap and sting of limbs before finally reaching the pier jutting over the bayou. It was her only chance.

She looked again over her shoulder. He'd slowed, knowing she had no place else to run. The knife blade glinted brightly in the sun. She whimpered, trying to think. Blood dripped from the gash on her hand and her ankle throbbed. Scalding tears ran down her cheeks. What to do?

"Gotcha now, Luanne," he taunted. "The boathouse or the bayou, babe. What's it gonna be?"

Not the bayou. Never the bayou.

She had a fear of Blood Bayou. It had almost claimed her once. None of the romantic legends spun about it held any charm for her. The water was too dark, too still, too deep, too alive with slimy things, predatory things. The bayou was death.

She was out of breath and in pain when she remembered the telephone in the boathouse only a few feet away. Checking behind her, she saw that he was still coming, but moving almost leisurely, as if enjoying the chase, savoring her fear. Anticipating the kill?

The thought made her leap onto the pier. Hot from the August sun, the wooden planks burned the soles of her bare feet. Below the pier, black water slapped against the pilings, disorienting her. Don't look down! Eyes straight ahead, she finally reached the boathouse door, grabbing at the latch, fingers clawing. Panic and blood from her wounded hand made her clumsy, all thumbs, as she worked at the strange fastener. But at last she got it, wrenched it open.

Inside it was dark and dank and, like the bayou, smelled of rotting vegetation and decaying fish. But it was sanctuary and she scrambled inside, slammed the door shut, and set the bolt. It would not keep him out for long, but it offered a few precious seconds. Her eyes struggled with the dark. It was her only chance. But one thing nagged: Why was he giving her this chance? No time to worry about that. She flew to the wall-mounted phone, grabbed the receiver, and punched in 911.

He was at the boathouse now, rattling the door. Terror leaped in her chest. With her heart in her throat, she strained to hear the ring connecting her to 911. But nothing. In a panic, she jiggled the button up and down. Listened for a dial tone. Nothing. She frantically pressed the button up and down again. And again nothing. She gave an anguished cry and slammed the receiver against the wall. The phone line was dead!

She screamed at the thunderous crash. He kicked the door open. It slammed against the wall, shaking the boathouse to its foundation. As she watched, petrified, he took an unhurried step inside, filling the doorway. With the sun behind him, he loomed as large as a truck. He paused, no doubt to let his eyes adjust to the dark interior. He took his time. Then he began to move slowly toward her. "I've got you now, sugar," he taunted, his smile grotesque.

Incoherent with terror, all she saw was the knife. She scrambled backward, desperate to get out of his reach. But he kept coming. With a bump, she backed against the sleek hull of a boat. Trapped! Below was bottomless, black water. Sobbing, she looked at him piteously. She was going to die. The bayou was going to claim her after all.

Blood Bayou © 2009 Karen Young

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Introduction

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

Which character did you like most? The least? Why?

What personality traits did you find most appealing in the character you liked most? Which trait(s) did you like least?

Did you guess the killer? When?

Ray Wyatt was a retired cop. Did you find it believable that he abandoned his principles for money? Or was the inclination for evil always there?

Cops see the dark side of humanity every day. Some "go bad." Why? Do you think that is rare or not so rare?

Secondary characters can add richness to a story. Which character(s) did you like?

Camille's father was a controlling parent. What traits in her behavior might be traced to her controlling father?

Jack's father was an alcoholic. Did he display characteristics of the classic "adult child of an alcoholic?"

Did you find it believable that Jack could overcome his many character flaws?

Camille worked diligently to free Chester. Statistics show that there are people on death row who might be innocent of the crimes for which they are incarcerated. Do you think the death penalty is right?

Camille divorced Jack when he caused serious injury to a boy while driving drunk. Was her decision legitimate? Was it moral?

What about her marriage vows? What about sticking through sickness and health, through good times and bad?

When a marriage is in crisis, what are some of the ways to resolve issues rather than to resort to divorce?

Jack caused great pain and suffering to others. How do you feel about those individuals when they have attempted to make amends?

Do you think Jack did all within his power in hoping for and praying for Camille's conversion to faith? Name things he might havedone, but didn't.

Once Camille and Jack are reunited, what do you feel their future holds? Will Camille have difficulty assuming the role of a minister's wife?

Karen Young is the author of thirty-four novels with more than ten million copies in print. Her many awards include the RITA from Romance Writers of America and both the Career Achievement and Reviewer's Choice awards from Romantic Times magazine. She is a frequent public speaker and a teacher of the craft of writing.  Currently, she resides in Houston, Texas.

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Reading Group Guide

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

Which character did you like most? The least? Why?

What personality traits did you find most appealing in the character you liked most? Which trait(s) did you like least?

Did you guess the killer? When?

Ray Wyatt was a retired cop. Did you find it believable that he abandoned his principles for money? Or was the inclination for evil always there?

Cops see the dark side of humanity every day. Some "go bad." Why? Do you think that is rare or not so rare?

Secondary characters can add richness to a story. Which character(s) did you like?

Camille's father was a controlling parent. What traits in her behavior might be traced to her controlling father?

Jack's father was an alcoholic. Did he display characteristics of the classic "adult child of an alcoholic?"

Did you find it believable that Jack could overcome his many character flaws?

Camille worked diligently to free Chester. Statistics show that there are people on death row who might be innocent of the crimes for which they are incarcerated. Do you think the death penalty is right?

Camille divorced Jack when he caused serious injury to a boy while driving drunk. Was her decision legitimate? Was it moral?

What about her marriage vows? What about sticking through sickness and health, through good times and bad?

When a marriage is in crisis, what are some of the ways to resolve issues rather than to resort to divorce?

Jack caused great pain and suffering to others. How do you feel about those individuals when they have attempted to make amends?

Do you think Jack did all within his power in hoping for and praying for Camille's conversion to faith? Name things he might have done, but didn't.

Once Camille and Jack are reunited, what do you feel their future holds? Will Camille have difficulty assuming the role of a minister's wife?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 9 )
Rating Distribution

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(7)

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(2)

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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 1, 2012

    This is my first book review in response to Library Thing's Earl

    This is my first book review in response to Library Thing's Early Reviewer program. I would like to first of all express my appreciation to the publishers (Simon and Schuster/Howard Books) for having sent me this book in exchange for a review. It has been a rewarding experience. I have not previously read a Karen Young novel, and am grateful for this opportunity to be introduced to her.

    Blood Bayou was truly enjoyable. I was actually a bit surprised to discover how much I liked it. I had been a bit skeptical as I started reading the book, for a number of reasons. I don't often read murder mysteries, I had not read any works by Karen Young previously, and I just about never read a book categorized under the "Christian Fiction" genre; as it sounds entirely too religious in theme.

    The story grabbed my interest from the start, however; and had me in its grip until the very end. That's not always easy to do, even by a work from one of my favorite tried-and-true authors. The characters are well defined and the story masterfully crafted. Karen Young is an excellent writer; which is all too much of a rarity these days. Time and again, I will start a "bestseller" and end up in frustration and disappointment from a poor and clunky writing style. I have found a new author to add to my "good" list!

    The Christian theme of the story was not too overpowering to take away any of the enjoyment of reading it and, in fact, added a great deal of depth to the storyline. The plot was suspenseful and believable. I am really looking forward to delving into more Karen Young novels soon and would definitely recommend Blood Bayou.

    RESPONSE FROM AUTHOR KAREN YOUNG:

    Hello, Shirley, Thank you for your positive review of my book, Blood Bayou. I'm glad my publisher selected you from a number of reviewers to receive the book. I'm glad you liked it and hope you'll look for other releases in the future. As you will see on my web site, I have written many books, but Blood Bayou is my first effort at writing Christian fiction. I was nervous at first, but words of encouragement such as you've written in your review go a long way to assuaging my anxieties. Again, thank you. Best wishes, Karen

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  • Posted August 27, 2011

    Loved it

    One my first Nook Books. What a great treat and she has more books to enjoy. I love finding cool authors than bring books alive and then find out that they have more books available at resonable prices with a few clicks on the Nook! Ricky...and a huge fan!

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  • Posted June 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Louisiana Suspense

    I enjoyed this suspense novel set in Louisiana. It includes romance mixed in with murder, an attorney and a pastor who were married and bitterly divorced. The theme of redemption and forgiveness runs rings true in this work of Christian fiction.

    The two main characters are believable, and the plot moves at a steady pace. After spotting the killer, the reader will hold her breath as the characters continued to interact with him.

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  • Posted June 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Captivating

    Karen Young explodes onto the Christian scene with Blood Bayou, a story that bares the hearts and souls of Camille St. James and Jack Vermillion. The faith and forgiveness aspect is well-balanced and adds richness to the mystery storyline. With raw emotion, sharp dialogue and fast-paced suspense, Young grabs her readers and does not let go until the very end.

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  • Posted May 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Touching, inspirational, with an excellent Southern feel to it

    Camille St. James has worked tirelessly to gain funding and respect for the Truth Project, a college-supported program to free wrongfully convicted prisoners. After several years of nose-to-the-grindstone investigative work, her most newsworthy success has freed Chester Pelham from his incarceration on death row, where he awaited execution by lethal injection for a murder he did not commit. But even before the press conference announcing his release is over, Chester is accused of yet another vicious murder with the same exact MO. Camille is shocked to find the victim is her ex-husband's younger sister.

    Seven years before, Jack Vermillion's obsessive behavior and alcoholism destroyed his and Camille's marriage, his career, and the lives of others around him. Camille hasn't spoken to him since their divorce. Only after he lost everything did Jack find salvation. Now he's a minister and serves God by serving others.

    He has never stopped loving Camille, but she doesn't trust Jack's newfound piety. Jack's faith makes her uncomfortable because her own spiritual journey is not yet complete.

    When Camille refuses to allow Chester to be railroaded for yet another crime he didn't commit, her questions irritate the wrong people, putting Camille in jeopardy time and again. Jack teams up with her to protect her and to find his sister's true killer. In his heart, he prays that Camille can find a way to forgive him for their past. But the chilling events that follow might send this couple to their heavenly reward before their love is renewed.

    I stayed up entirely too late to finish this book. I think that is the greatest compliment one can give an author. I've enjoyed Karen Young's novels for years. Ms. Young delves into the darkest secrets of her characters, and compels her readers to join them in their journey to redemption. By adding an inspirational element to her already riveting romantic suspense, her storytelling has reached a new depth of richness, which leads to a very satisfying ending.

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  • Posted May 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Entertaining, but needed a bit more work

    After her horrible divorce, Camille St. John poured her life into the Truth Project, an organization that helps wrongly convicted people prove their innocence. Just as a man from one of her recent cases has begun his old life again, a woman is found murdered and the evidence points to him.

    The entire town of Blood Bayou is convinced that Camille's client is the killer. Even more disturbing than that is the identity of the victim: her ex-husband's sister.

    Despite her vague connection to this murder and how difficult it will be to see her ex-husband, Jack, Camille feels it necessary to pay respects to her ex. After all, she and the deceased were once sisters of a sort. Camille finds Jack completely changed. Once a drunk, he is now a pastor. At first Camille doesn't buy his so-called life change. But as they search for the real killer, Camille can't help but see the truth: Jack is not the man he was. They still share a rocky past. Can they work together to find the real killer, who now seems bent on making Camille his third victim?

    This is the first Karen Young book I've read. I always enjoy a good mystery. This one starts out really good, but I feel like it needed some more time in the rewrite stage. It was entertaining. The characters were well written and realistic. But it was obvious to me "who done it." I wish that the author had introduced a little more suspicion into some other characters to keep the reader guessing. Also, the story is entirely in Camille's point of view, until it nears the end. Then we are suddenly privy to a few other points of view. I'm a stickler for a well-written book. And while this one was written well, with engaging characters, these few mistakes felt lazy to me. I appreciate a book more when the author takes the time to perfect it, and despite being entertaining, this one felt like it needed a bit more work.

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  • Posted May 9, 2009

    Highly recommend

    "I've read a lot of Karen Young's books before this one and have always been a fan of hers. I didn't realize this was an inspirational novel when I bought it and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a great story and it's just like her other books except it has a spiritual element to it, but it's not one that's noticeable right away. The only way I can describe it is that one of the characters is searching for what she wants to believe. I really enjoyed this book and felt like it was very real, very true to life. It was a compelling story to read and I didn't expect the ending. Excellent writing and the story kept my attention the whole time. I shouldn't be surprised, though, because Karen Young has been around for as long as I've been reading. She's a real quality author."

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  • Posted May 3, 2009

    Karen Young is back and better than ever!

    After several years without a new release, Karen Young is back and better than ever.

    BLOOD BAYOU is her first Christian fiction novel, but the genre designation is the only thing that has changed. Karen delivers a spell-binding suspense that starts with murder and will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page.

    Camille St. James believes in justice and the law. A professor at Talbot College she heads The Truth Project, an organization dedicated to the exoneration of innocent individuals who have been wrongly convicted and sentenced to death row. Their work on behalf of Chester Pelham is successful, but within hours of his release from prison another woman is dead and Chester is found wearing bloodstained clothes. His arrest lands Chester in the hospital in a coma. The Truth Project is suspended and Camille is forced to take a month's vacation.

    Camille is devastated to learn that the murdered woman is her ex-husband's sister. A former attorney and recovering alcoholic, Jack spent several years in prison after a tragic drunk driving accident. During his incarceration, Jack found his true calling and his salvation in the word of God. Jack and Camille have been divorced for seven years and he is now a minister.

    Camille knows that his sister's death will devastate Jack and is certain he will blame Camille and The Truth Project. Still, she feels obligated to tell him how sorry she is for his loss and drives to Blood Bayou so she can do so in person. It won't be easy to face him after all these years, but it is the right thing to do. Camille is surprised by the changes in her ex-husband and uncomfortable with his religious calling.

    As evidence mounts against Chester, Camille is the only person who believes him innocent. She launches her own investigation, forcing her to stay in Blood Bayou and thus remain close to Jack. But someone doesn't want Camille nosing into things and several attempts are made to chase her out of town, which quickly escalate to attempted murder. Jack has never stopped loving Camille and is determined to keep her safe.

    Can this star-crossed couple rekindle their love, even as she works to free the man accused of killing his sister? Can she accept and ever be comfortable with the changes religion has brought into his life? Will her blood be the next to pollute the waters of Blood Bayou?

    Don't miss this who-done-it that offers all the clues, and still delivers a surprise ending!

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  • Posted March 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    An exciting suspense thriller with a romantic subplot that fits perfectly into the main storyline

    Lawyer Camille St. James works for the Truth Project, an organization whose mission is to get innocent people off death row and out of prison. Their latest success story is Chester Pelham, a man with low intelligence who was convicted of killing socialite Stephanie Hill in Blue Bayou New Orleans. After new evidence surfaced, the Louisiana Governor pardoned Chester. However during the news conference, a reporter blindsides Camille with the news that Chester was arrested in the death of Luanne Richard.---------

    To make matters personal, the victim is Camille's former sister-in-law. She has not seen her former husband Jack in seven years, but heads to Blue Bayou to make a condolence call. Jack has come a long way from driving drunk and running over Camille's student as he is now a pastor. He blasts her for freeing Chester, but she defends herself and furthermore insists he is innocent. She intends to prove Chester did not kill Luanne. Someone makes two attempts on killing Camille, which shakes Jack up as he agrees to help her find the real culprit. As their love reignites, she does not have his faith and has doubts about ever forgiving him for what he did to them even as the killer waits for the right moment.----------

    BLOOD BAYOU is an exciting suspense thriller with a romantic subplot that fits perfectly into the main storyline. The heroine is dedicated to insure justice occurs as she works for what is the equivalent to the Freedom Project; however that same obstinacy that is so helpful in her vocation prevents her from forgiving Jack who desperately wants a second chance. Although the theme of a stalking killer in the lurk is old, Karen Young refreshes it with the Truth project, strong characterizations especially the star-crossed lead pair, and a terrific whodunit rivaling the suspense of Mary Higgins Clark.--------

    Harriet Klausner

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