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Once again his best friend had betrayed him.
Sixteen-year-old Daniel Cooper sat sulking, hunched against the winter night, atop a wooden barrel behind Gregg's casket shop. A shaft of moonlight sliced the blind alley into two halves. Daniel sat in the dark half, in a dark mood.
He wanted only two things in life: to play his music, and to be left alone. Was that asking too much? Yet every time he played, someone showed up, drawn to the music like flies to honey.
"Why can't they just leave me alone?"
He stared at Judas, his black recorder. He used to call the woodwind Faithful Friend because it understood him. It never judged. And it always reflected his mood. Lately, however, he'd renamed it Judas for obvious reasons.
Even so, it was a sweet betrayal. If a soul could sing, Daniel's soul would be mistaken for a recorder -- a lone, haunting voice that did not belong to this world. Most people he knew preferred a lively fiddle or a foot-stomping banjo. Not Daniel. When he played the recorder, his very being vibrated with matching pitch.
Clutched in his hand, the instrument was silent now. So was the street, which wasn't surprising at this late hour.
"Dare we try again, old friend?"
He lifted the mouthpiece to his lips.
Closed his eyes.
The alley came alive with music. A mournful tune that wafted from wall to wall to wall, surrounding him, penetrating him. Daniel's soul sighed with pleasure.
He'd played less than a minute when a discordant animal noise slashed the melody. Frowning, Daniel lowered the recorder and listened.
The night lay under silentstars.
Daniel was certain he'd heard something. Possibly a complaining cat. He cocked an ear in the direction of the street. Whatever it was, it was gone.
Once again the recorder touched his lower lip, but before it uttered a note, the noise repeated itself.
A painful moan. A wounded cry.
There was a scuffle on the cobblestones, then another moan.
Daniel's heart seized. This time it didn't sound like an animal.
Just then a man stumbled into the mouth of the alley and collapsed. He whimpered. Tried to get up. Collapsed again.
Startled, Daniel's first impulse was to flee. But brick walls on three sides blocked his escape.
The man in the alley lay facedown, his breathing ragged and labored. He obviously needed help, though Daniel was at a loss as to what to do.
Setting the recorder aside, he slid off the barrel.
Two cautious steps and he pulled back, stopped short by an unseen, high-pitched voice. Like a child playing a game. Only it wasn't a child. And if this was a game, Daniel didn't want to play.
"Come out, come out! Where are you?"
The man on the ground heard the voice. It stirred him to life. Whimpering, the man's hands clutched at the icy cobblestones. He dragged himself deeper into the alley.
"Come out, come out!" sang the voice.
Daniel reversed his direction and dove behind a stack of barrels. Then, scrambling to the balls of his feet, he crouched, ready to explode out of the alley like a ball shot from a cannon.
It was at that moment that Daniel realized he'd left his recorder sitting in plain sight atop the barrel. He rose up to reach it, then stopped.
At the mouth of the alley, the voice had taken shape. A silhouette stood against the streaking moonlight.
Knee-length travel coat.
And in the man's right hand -- a knife large enough to gut a bear.
"Asa, he's gone."
Camilla Rush stood, one hand worrying the other, in the doorway of the study.
"Did you look in the -- "
"I think I scared him off." Her voice quivered as she spoke. Her eyes, normally a portrait of compassion, revealed a tender soul that was as attractive to Asa Rush now as it had been two decades ago, when he first fell in love with her.
"When I went to slop the hogs," she continued, "I thought I heard somebody behind the barn. I stopped and listened. Then I heard music. Oh Asa, he has such talent."
Asa slammed shut his book. Chair legs scraped against the floor. He reached for his coat and hat and cane. "A man can't support a family playing a pipe. Where did you see him last?"
"Running into the forest. When he finished his song, I clapped. Then, when I went to tell him how beautiful it was, all I saw was his back disappearing into the woods." She stepped aside.
Asa's cane struck the floor with force as he strode past her. "Don't wait up."
"Go easy on him, Asa. It's been hard on him."
"It's been almost a year. Long enough for him to know we have rules in this house. Long enough to know I expect him to obey them."
"There you are!"
The silhouette at the mouth of the alley held his arms wide. The voice was playful, but the blade in his hand deadly serious.
From his hiding place in the back of the alley, Daniel could hear the hunted man but not see him.
"No...no...please, no," the man pleaded. "I haven't told anyone, I swear."
The hunter threw the man's words back at him in a singsong voice. "I won't tell...I won't tell...Please don't hurt me!" Then the hunter's tone changed. Hard. Menacing. "You know, I believe you. Honestly, I do. But do you know why? I'll tell you. I believe you because it's hard for a man to tell anyone anything when he has no tongue. Harder still when he has no heartbeat."
The hunted man's whimpers turned to grunts. From the scratching and the way the barrels shook, Daniel feared the man was trying to claw his way up them. The stack shuddered and threatened to topple. Daniel braced them from his side.
There was a scuffle. Then a scream bounced off the same walls that, moments earlier, had provided sweet acoustics for his recorder.
The stack of barrels gave an earthquake rattle. Daniel looked up just as one of the barrels tipped over the edge toward him. He ducked. It hit him on the back with force, flattening him. He winced and bit back a yelp of pain as his head slammed against the cobblestones, the side of his face resting in a slushy patch of melting snow.
When he opened his eyes, to his horror, his head stuck out from behind the last barrel. He could see the length of the alley...and be seen...if he didn't scoot back.
At that instant, a mirror image of his fall occurred on the other side of the barrel. The hunted man's head hit the ground, his face toward Daniel. He was dirty, bloodied, eyes scrunched in pain. Then he opened them.
Both men's faces lit with recognition.
"Braxton!" Daniel mouthed.
He knew it was a mistake the moment he formed the name, because his bloodied mirror image began to say his name in reply. "Da -- "
Braxton never got a chance to finish. A hand grabbed him by the hair and lifted his head. A flash of silver crossed his neck.
Braxton's head hit the ground a second time. This time, however, nothing reflected in his eyes. The light in them had gone out.
Daniel began to shiver with fear. He bit back a whimper. If the killer heard him...or if Daniel moved, so would the barrel on top of him. And, for all he knew, he could set off an avalanche of barrels.
All he could do was lie still.
And stare into the lifeless eyes of Emil Braxton.
Daniel's heart jumped at the sound of whistling. But whistling was good, wasn't it? If the killer had spotted him, he wouldn't be whistling, would he? He'd be killing. Whistling was good.
Then it stopped.
Braxton's head moved away from Daniel. Was dragged away.
The back of the killer came into view. He pulled Braxton by one arm, then dropped it. Braxton's lifeless arm hit the ground with a fleshy thud.
The killer straddled the body. He searched Braxton's pockets. Then, when he grabbed Braxton's shirt to roll him over, the killer's head crossed into the moonlight. His hair fell to one side, revealing a tattoo of a coiled snake on the back of his neck.
From the street came the clatter of an approaching carriage. The killer crouched. His knife, looking eager for more blood, poised for action.
The carriage stopped at the end of the alley.
"There you are," said a voice that was familiar to Daniel.
The killer relaxed.
A portly man in a carriage climbed down and entered the alley on foot. "Did you find -- " A cry of revulsion cut short his sentence. "Why didn't you warn me? You know I can't stand the sight of -- "
Retching echoed in the alley.
Daniel watched as the man slipped on an icy patch, catching himself on the side of his carriage. Steadying himself with a hand on the wheel, he took several minutes to recover.
Meanwhile, the killer finished his business with Braxton. Heaving the dead man onto his shoulder, he strolled toward the carriage as casually as a sailor carrying a bag aboard ship.
"The deed is done, payment is due," said the killer.
Averting his eyes and steadying himself all the way around the carriage, the man climbed into the seat. "Just get rid of that thing. Come to the store tomorrow. I'll have your money."
With his free hand, the killer touched his hat to signal farewell.
The man in the carriage took several deep breaths.
Then Cyrus Gregg -- Daniel's employer and his uncle Asa's best friend -- grabbed the reins and drove away in the carriage.
Fury © 2006 by Bright Media Foundation and Jack Cavanaugh
Posted September 15, 2006
I¿ve said it before I have no problem saying it again. Jack Cavanaugh knows how to write historical suspense fiction like no other. Prior to the death of Bill Bright (1921-2003), the two talented authors got together and co-authored a series of books in the Awakening Series. Fury is the latest in that series, and it is properly titled. Emotional, physical and spiritual tensions build and build, right from the first page until the last chapter of the book. Fury takes place between 1825 and 1826. Sixteen-year-old Daniel Cooper is orphaned when his father, the famous preacher Eli Cooper, and mother drowned. Living with his Uncle Asa and Aunt Camilla, Daniel struggles to prove himself to his uncle. Feeling as if he is under constant criticism and an iron fist, Daniel turns away from God and just tries to live day-by-day. Regardless, when Daniel witnesses a brutal murder he feels like his family should believe him. Instead, they accuse of him of making up stories. Things go from bad to worse when Asa decides the best approach is to talk with those Daniel fingered in the murder, an attempt to clear up a big misunderstanding. Knowing that Daniel witnessed the murder, those involved set out to kill him and his uncle. Fearing for his life, Daniel runs away. Still not realizing there is actual danger all around him, Asa goes out in search of his nephew. Like a wolf in a children¿s bedtime story, the murderer is hot on their trail, and oftentimes too close for comfort. Power that only intense prayer can deliver is at the root of survival. With new friendships forming, evil relationships blossoming, and danger lurking on every page, Bright and Cavanaugh have released another top-notch novel.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 29, 2009
Fury starts out with a bang and doesn't let up! Set in 1825-1826, Fury captures the message of repentence and forgiveness through Charles Finney's preaching, when the revival now referred to as 'The Great Awakening' shakes upstate New York. The main character, Daniel, is running for his life. As the reader, your pulse will pound with his as he tries to evade a killer hot on his trail. If only he had obeyed his uncle and stayed in bed. If only he hadn't been out that night, he wouldn't have seen his coworker murdered. Thus the story begins... Daniel cries for help so many times, but no one believe his story about being pursued by the killer. He's angry with God, his uncle, and just about everyone for his losses. Daniel has also hardened his heart by resisting the Holy Spirit, but as he runs from the killer, he discovers that God had been there with him all along. Fury is an engaging story demonstrating the power of deep faith, and the discouragement that often comes from battling fear, such as the real threats erupting as perceived through Daniel's gut instincts. Many difficult choices have to be made, and often without much time. When Daniel is dragged to church by friends to hear Finney preach, his world is altered...permanently. Riveting and thought-provoking, Fury leads the reader down a dark path paved by the enemy, and places readers in various situations alongside the deceptive killer, the concerned uncle, the forsaken aunt, the runaway teen Daniel, and even Daniel's wimpy boss. From each of their points of view the reader gets a healthy dose of each characters' perspective. There are light moments as well, to help break up the intensity of the story, like when Daniel pretends to be a tree come to life to scare off some boys who were picking on a younger brother, whom Daniel fiercely identified with. There were also tender moments like when Daniel realizes for the first time that beauty in a woman is much more than skin deep. Fury is a passionate story about life during hard times, death nipping at the heels of a young man, the redemption of lives, and the impact revival can have on an entire community. Fury comes with my highest recommendation, especially to history buffs.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 9, 2008
Following his parents¿ ship sinking at sea as they were returning to America after preaching in England, teenager Daniel Cooper goes to live with his aunt and uncle in Cumberland. He works for casket maker Cyrus Gregg, a powerful businessman. One night in the alley behind the store, Daniel is playing his recorder when he hears a noise and sees fellow worker Emil Braxton knifed to death the killer and Cyrus make plans for Epps to get paid for the hit. Daniel informs his Uncle Asa and Aunt Camilla what he observed, but they don¿t believe him. Asa tells Cyrus what Daniel related to him. Daniel falls into a trap, but escapes Epps¿ attempt to silence him. Epps has fooled Asa, into thinking he is a pal so the two men chase after Daniel. --- In the upscale town of Wright¿s Settlement, Daniel befriends evangelists who heard a charismatic evangelist preach.. They keep him safe while he confronts Asa, who believes him about Epps but not his best friend Cyrus. When his Uncle returns to Cumberland, Daniel follows to keep him safe from the long lethal reach of Cyrus. --- FURY is a cat and mouse thriller that focuses on a protagonist still hurting from the loss of his parents leading to his turning his back on God until he finds him again when he most needs him. Epps is a complex villain, who likes Asa and regrets having to kill him and his nephew, but will do so because he wants to remain inside Cyrus¿ influential circle. Readers will enjoy this fine historical suspense tale. --- Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 12, 2012
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Posted July 20, 2009
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Posted November 30, 2011
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