Book of Shadows

Book of Shadows

5.0 8
by Alexandra Sokoloff
     
 

Homicide detective Adam Garrett is already a rising star in the Boston police department when he and his cynical partner, Carl Landauer, catch a horrifying case that could make their careers: the ritualistic murder of a wealthy college girl that appears to have Satanic elements. 

The partners make a quick arrest when all evidence points to another

Overview

Homicide detective Adam Garrett is already a rising star in the Boston police department when he and his cynical partner, Carl Landauer, catch a horrifying case that could make their careers: the ritualistic murder of a wealthy college girl that appears to have Satanic elements. 

The partners make a quick arrest when all evidence points to another student, a troubled musician in a Goth band who was either dating or stalking the murdered girl. But Garrett’s case is turned upside down when beautiful, mysterious Tanith Cabarrus, a practicing witch from nearby Salem, walks into the homicide bureau and insists that the real perpetrator is still at large. Tanith claims to have had psychic visions that the killer has ritually sacrificed other teenagers in his attempts to summon a powerful, ancient demon.  

All Garrett's beliefs about the nature of reality will be tested as he is forced to team up with a woman he is fiercely attracted to but cannot trust, in a race to uncover a psychotic killer before he strikes again.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
At the start of Sokoloff’s solid crime thriller, the discovery in a landfill of the mutilated corpse of Erin Carmody, the 18-year-old daughter of a prominent Boston businessman, presents homicide detective Adam Garrett with a particularly sensitive case. Marks on the body suggest the killer was conducting Satanic rituals. When Adam and his partner, Carl Landauer, question the prime suspect, Jason Moncrief, a college friend of Erin’s, Jason chants the name of the demon Choronzon, then assaults Carl. Despite what appears to be an open-and-shut case, Adam can’t discount the claim that Jason is innocent made by Tanith Cabarrus, an attractive witch who comes to police headquarters to report that she dreamed of other murders—and who believes that supernatural forces are behind the slaughter. As usual, Sokoloff (The Unseen) does a good job keeping the reader guessing whether a supernatural agency is really at work. (June)
Library Journal
Bram Stoker and Anthony Award nominee and Thriller Award winner Sokoloff presents another dark and ominous tale (her fourth novel after The Unseen, The Price, and The Harrowing). Boston homicide detective Adam Garrett and his partner investigate the gruesome murder of a prominent female college student, Erin Carmody, and receive unexpected assistance from Tanith Cabarrus, a beautiful and mysterious witch from Salem. Garrett is torn between his burning attraction to Tannith and his reluctance to trust a clairvoyant. VERDICT Even though her plot is not particularly original, Sokoloff successfully melds a classic murder-mystery/whodunit with supernatural occult undertones. Note that the gore and language best suit this book for an adult audience.—Carolann Lee Curry, Mercer Univ. Medical Lib., Macon, GA
Book Reporter
"Alexandra Sokoloff is an award-winning author of dark fantasy works who has gained world-wide renown over the relative short course of three novels. BOOK OF SHADOWS, her latest --- and arguably best --- book, finds her blurring the genre lines between horror and crime fiction with memorable results."
Lee Child
"A wonderfully dark thriller with amazing is-it-isn't-it suspense all the way to the end. Highly recommended."
Publisher's Weekly
"As usual, Sokoloff (The Unseen) does a good job keeping the reader guessing whether a supernatural agency is really at work."
Romantic Times Book Reviews
"Compelling, frightening and exceptionally well-written, Book of Shadows is destined to become another hit for acclaimed horror and suspense writer Sokoloff. The incredibly tense plot and mysterious characters will keep readers up late at night, jumping at every sound, and turning the pages until they've devoured the book."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312384715
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
06/08/2010
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
8.14(w) x 5.48(h) x 1.08(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One September 22
It was a vision of hell.
A dismally foggy day over stinking heaps of refuse—a city land-fill, the modern euphemism for an old-fashioned dump. Caterpillar trucks and front-loaders crouched with metal jaws gaping, like gigantic prehistoric insects on the mountains of trash, an appalling chaos of rotting vegetables, discarded appliances, filthy clothing, rusted cans, mildewed paper: the terribly random refuse of a consumer society gone mad. A lone office chair sat on the top of one hill, empty and waiting, its black lines stark against the fog.
And below it, tangled in the trash like a broken doll, was the body of a teenaged girl.
Stiffened . . . naked . . . bloody stumps at her neck and wrist where her head and hand used to be.
Homicide detectives Adam Garrett and Carl Landauer stood on the trash hill: Garrett, with his Black Irish eyes and hair and temper, hard-muscled, impatient, edgy; and chain-smoking, whiskey-drinking, donut-eating Landauer, a living, breathing amalgam of every cop cliché known to man: middle-aged spread, broad sweating face, and bawdy, cynical humor—a lifer who used the caricature as a disguise. The partners were silent, each taking in the totality of the scene. The landfill was a succession of hills and pits and carefully leveled ground. Rutted roads wound up the slopes to the fresh dumping mound on which they now stood. A strong, cold wind whipped at their coats and hair, swirling plastic carrier bags across the trash heaps like ghost tumbleweeds and mercifully diffusing the stench. On a hot day the smell would have been beyond bearing.
On one side of the summit a forest stretched below, startlingly green and pure against the chaos of human waste. On the other side the city of Boston was a hazy outline, like a translucent Oz in the bluish fog. Far below, at ground level, were smaller hills of gravel, sand, broken chunks of concrete, logs and stumps, wood chips, various earthy colors of mulch, a black pile of tires. A corrugated tin roof sheltered an open-walled recycling center.
A row of BPD cruisers lined the dirt drive up to the landfill’s main office trailer. The temporary command post had been set up beside the trailer, and two dozen mostly African-American and Latino workers huddled beside it, waiting to give statements to a couple of uniforms, while other patrolmen walked the periphery of the fence. A long line of city sanitation trucks was stalled at the front gate, being diverted by traffic control. The first responders had done their best to establish a perimeter, considering the crime scene was a joke: how do you begin to process a mountain of refuse a hundred yards high?
Landauer looked over the reeking heaps of garbage, shook his head gloomily. “Shit.” He spat the word. “I don’t know if he’s the smartest perp I’ve ever seen or the dumbest.”
Garrett nodded, keeping his breathing even, trying not to suck in too deep a breath of the sulfurous stink. Smartest—because any trace evidence would be completely lost in the junk heap. Dumbest—because the unsub must have driven straight in past the office trailer and paid the attendant for the privilege of dumping his terrible cargo. Garrett lit a mental candle, half thought something like a prayer. Please let there be a record.
The partners turned away from the dismal panorama and climbed over trash to where Medical Examiner George Edwards, a stocky Irish banty rooster of a man, stood looking down at the body. Seagulls circled sullenly high above, their breakfast taken from them.
Two crime-scene techs were extracting and bagging one piece of garbage at a time from around the corpse, meticulously preserving as much evidence as possible in the hope that the refuse in which she lay might yield some personal connection to the killer. A videographer documented the original placement of each piece. All three technicians stood and moved back in solemn simultaneity so Garrett and Landauer could approach.
It was Saturday, which meant Garrett was the lead on the case. Department protocol was that partners alternated leads, but Garrett and Landauer had found through long experience that if they took regular days of the week and flipped for Sundays, it all evened out anyway. Garrett nodded to Dr. Edwards and crouched beside the body.
The young woman was as stiff as a Barbie doll—still half-buried and splayed on her stomach; a handless arm, a curve of buttock, one leg visible in the bed of trash. Garrett’s face tightened as he stared down at the jagged red stump of the neck, the gleaming white nubs of cartilage, the black stream of ants swarming over the gaping wound. The gulls had also been at it. But there was shockingly little blood; none at all on the trash below the severed neck and very little congealed around the stump—a small blessing: the decapitation had occurred after she was dead.
Garrett pulled a micro-recorder from his suit coat pocket and clicked it on. “Killed elsewhere and dumped,” he said aloud. “Decapitation was postmortem.” Above him, the M.E. grunted affirmation, before Garrett continued. “Head and hands probably removed to prevent identification.” It happened more often than anyone would want to think.
Garrett studied the visible arm and leg. Despite a fashionable slenderness and gym-enhanced muscle tone the girl’s limbs were rounded, and silky smooth, the heartbreaking plumpness of baby fat. Garrett felt hot and cold flashes of anger. He spoke aloud, biting off the words.
“Eighteen, nineteen years old. Twenty-five at the most, but I doubt it.”
Landauer shifted behind him grimly. “Yep.”
Garrett swallowed his fury and continued his visual inspection. He was fighting his assumptions, fighting to keep his mind clear. A naked young woman on a trash heap; so often these miserable victims were prostitutes. Sex killers notoriously trolled highways and rough neighborhoods for these easy, anonymous targets. But there was not that sense about this one.
Okay, why?
He looked her over, looking for the facts. He gently used a latex-gloved hand to lift a stiffened forearm. No track marks, no cuts or bruising, no ligature marks—although telltale abrasions might have been cut off with the hand. “No defensive marks, and it doesn’t look like she was bound.” Someone she knew? Or just someone with the element of surprise?
Garrett was about to set the arm down, then noticed a trail of six black dots along the partially exposed shoulder, about the diameter of a pencil eraser. Hard, smooth, shiny, irregular . . .
Scabs?
He used a fingernail to dislodge one of the drops and examined it on his thumb, held out the dot to Landauer, then Edwards. “Wax, I think.”
“Black wax? Kinky,” Landauer commented.
Garrett nodded to a tech, who crouched with an evidence bag to take samples of the dots.
Garrett turned his gaze to the exposed leg—not just smooth, but hairless—a salon wax, and fresh pedicure. The skin was healthy and blemish-free.
This was not a runaway, not a heroin addict, not a prostitute.
“Not a hooker,” Garrett muttered.
“Not any I could afford,” Landauer agreed.
Garrett stood, and the detectives watched as the techs resumed clearing the trash around the body like archaeologists uncovering an ancient skeleton, painstakingly removing trash one piece at a time, placing beer bottles, fast-food wrappers, orange rinds, a stained lampshade, into various sizes of labeled paper evidence bags. Garrett turned to the medical examiner.
“What do you say, Doc?”
“Livor mortis is fixed and she’s in full rigor. I’ll have to wait for the vitreous potassium tests to confirm, but given the temperature I’d put the time of death at no more than twelve to sixteen hours.”
The techs cleared several more pieces of refuse to reveal her back. Between her shoulder blades there was a single stab wound, in the vicinity of the heart. The slit was narrow and practically bloodless.
“Could be the fatal wound,” Edwards said neutrally. The photographer clicked off photos.
Garrett’s attention was suddenly drawn to the right arm, still mostly buried. “Look at that.” He crouched beside the body again, lifted a wet clump of coffee filter and grounds so the other men could see. The right hand was still attached to the right arm, intact.
The detectives looked at each other. “He takes the left hand but not the right?” Landauer said, perplexed. “ ’S the point of that?”
Garrett stood to let the techs back in. “Maybe he was interrupted. Didn’t get to finish.” But it sounded wrong as soon as he said it aloud.
With enough trash now removed from around her, the techs rolled the stiffened body onto its back.
“Holy shit.” Garrett heard Landauer breathe out behind him, as all the men stared down.
There were dark streaks of blood on her thighs, and the sight was a sick stab, though hardly unexpected.
The true shock was higher, in the pale flesh of the girl’s chest.
Someone had carved into the torso with a knife, cruel red cuts against the young skin, the number 333 and a strange design, three triangles with the points touching.
Looking down at the crude slashes, Garrett felt his stomach roil with apprehension, even as his investigative mind registered details. No bleeding from the cuts; they were done postmortem. So why the looseness in his bowels, the tightness in his scalp, the overwhelming impulse of fight or flight?
Landauer was speaking, the hoarseness in his voice hinting that he was struggling with a similar reaction. His eyes were fixed on the bloody carvings. “Is that supposed to be satanic?”
Garrett found his own voice, tried to breathe through the constriction in his throat. “Or someone trying to make it look that way.”
“Three-three-three?” Landauer blustered, some of his panache returning. “The fuck is that? The Devil Lite? Satan can’t count? I say someone’s messin’ with us.”
Garrett stood slowly, an anvil in the pit of his stomach. It didn’t feel like a game. Not at all.
The three men, and the techs behind them, stood looking down at the girl’s corpse, puzzling over the design. The three triangles were maddeningly familiar, and ominous. Garrett was fighting a creeping dread, a feeling of imminent danger. All of the men had moved slightly back from the body. Garrett realized what he was thinking at the moment that the M.E. spoke it.
“Radiation,” Edwards said suddenly.
The three crime-scene techs drew back, more noticeably this time.
“That’s it. The radiation symbol,” Landauer said, his voice thin.
“It’s not exactly, though. There’s something different about it. The fallout shelter symbol?” The M.E. frowned, thinking.
“Do you think she’s hot?” Landauer said. For once the morbid double entendre was completely unconscious. The wind gusted around them. All the men shifted slightly, uneasily.
“I don’t think so,” Garrett said, only half-aware that he spoke. The whole damn thing is weird enough already.
“I doubt it,” Edwards agreed. “I’ll call HazMat, but I don’t see any burns or inflammation.”
Radiation or not, this was a bad one. And the acid feeling in Garrett’s gut told him it was going to get worse.
Excerpted from Book of Shadows by Alexandra Sokoloff.
Copyright © 2010 by Alexandra Sokoloff.
Published in 2010 by St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

Meet the Author

ALEXANDRA SOKOLOFF is the Thriller award-winning author of The Unseen, The Price, and The Harrowing, which was also nominated for the Bram Stoker Award and Anthony Award for Best First Novel. She lives in California and North Carolina.

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Book of Shadows 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Book of Shadows" was a very good novel. It was 290 Nook pages. And, it was really well written. Normally, I would not put together these two topics (police procedural + supernatural mystery) in one book and call it successful. But, it works well for this author. The characters were stiff at first, but grew on me as the story progressed. There were enough twists and turns to keep you guessing "whodunnit". I thought that all of the magicky details enriched the plot and the characters. I was impressed by the highly informed and modern approach to Wicca, witches, lapsed-Catholics, and demonology were handled in this book. Also, there were sufficient descriptions of supernatural elements, such as Wiccan holidays and Satanist ideology, that even a newcomer to these things would be able to follow along. Addotionally, the standard police procedure and justification for police actions were well described. I felt the way that all of these ideas were presented, as a whole, seemed quite believable to me. I am going to refrain from describing the plot, since it has already been done by other reviewers in a more than satisfactory manner. This is the first novel that I have read by Sokoloff. And, you can be sure that I will be reading even more titles by the author very soon. I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy multiple murder mysteries solved by police officers with a bit of supernatural help. There are a lot of references to demons, witches, and satanists. So, if you are sensitive to any of these topics, then this is not the book for you. Otherwise, it was an enjoyable way to spend a few hours. -AvidReader
harstan More than 1 year ago
Even without the teenage corpse looking out of place like a broken doll, the landfill where eighteen year old Erin Carmody's mutilated body laid looked like hell. BPD Homicide detectives Adam Garrett and Carl Landauer lead the investigation into the murder of the daughter of a prominent Boston businessman. The etching on the corpse most likely means this was a ritual satanic killing. The two police partners interview suspect Erin's college friend Jason Moncrief. His response to any question is chanting Choronzon, an alleged demon when he suddenly attacks Carl. Although the evidence piles up making Moncrief guilty beyond a shadow of doubt, Tanith Cabarrus a self proclaimed witch insists he is innocent, more homicides have and will occur, and the supernatural is the culprit. Although pressure mounts from the brass, the media, and the family to hang Moncrief, Jason follows up on what Tanith says even as he wonders if she cast an attraction spell on him and whether she might be the mortal perpetrator. The key to this terrific police procedural is readers are kept off balance by Alexandra Sokoloff wondering whether the killer is a paranormal from beyond or a deranged human. Fast-paced with strong characterizations, fans will enjoy this superb thriller, as Adam and the audience wonder whether The Unseen could be the killer. Harriet Klausner
aly36 More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book as well. I like this author and will read more books from her. I am a big fan of anything with witches and demons and things like this, in a good book. If you like to read about the supernatural as well, check this book out.
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RebelJim More than 1 year ago
One of the most chilling books I've ever read. Couldn't put it down.
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