Guilty as Sin

Guilty as Sin

4.0 82
by Tami Hoag

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The abduction of eight-year-old Josh Kirkwood sent small-town Deer Lake, Minnesota, into a tailspin. Even now, after the arrest of a suspect and the return of the boy, fear maintains its grip and questions linger. What happened to Josh in the hands of his kidnapper? Why has he not spoken a word since his return, not even to name his abductor? Is the nightmare over or… See more details below


The abduction of eight-year-old Josh Kirkwood sent small-town Deer Lake, Minnesota, into a tailspin. Even now, after the arrest of a suspect and the return of the boy, fear maintains its grip and questions linger. What happened to Josh in the hands of his kidnapper? Why has he not spoken a word since his return, not even to name his abductor? Is the nightmare over or just beginning? Assistant County Attorney Ellen North knows her assignment to the Kirkwood case has landed her in the hot seat - a position she thought she'd left behind in the crime-choked Minneapolis court system. But politics and ulterior motives abound even in rural Park County. And if there was any hope of controlling the media frenzy, it is shattered when Ellen's boss grants full access of the case to bestselling true-crime writer Jay Butler Brooks. Now, as Ellen prepares for the trial of her career with an ex-lover arguing for the defense, her every move will be shadowed by Brooks, a man as mysterious as the case itself. All the while, another shadow follows Ellen with deadly intent. It is a soul-chilling whispered voice on the telephone. A knife-etched obscenity on the door of her car. The finger on the trigger of an apparent suicide...

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this follow-up to the Night Sins, a prosecutor tries to convict a respected college professor of kidnapping. (Jan.)
Library Journal
This suspenseful novel, though it stands alone well, is the sequel to Night Sins (LJ 1/1/95), in which a child is abducted for sport by kidnappers who taunt the police, priding themselves on their superior minds. As this novel begins, the child has been returned, terrorized into silence, and one of the kidnappers, a popular college professor, has been caught in the act of trying to kill a police officer. Ellen North is prosecuting a strong case against the professor, but an unethical celebrity lawyer represents him before a star-struck judge. Meanwhile, the unknown conspirators kidnap and kill another child and then stage a series of new events that make it seem likely that the cops got the wrong man. The judge dismisses the case. Fortunately, a true-crime writer has come to follow this case, and his research leads to the discovery of the other conspirators, though not before they have done a lot more damage. The aura of evil is powerful in this book. Characters and relationships are well drawn and convincing. Public libraries will definitely want this. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/95.]-Marylaine Block, St. Ambrose Univ. Lib., Davenport, Ia.
Mary Frances Wilkens
In this sequel to her 1994 hit "Night Sins", Hoag revisits Deer Lake, a small midwestern community that is shattered when a well-respected college professor abducts young Josh Kirkwood. The first novel centered on Megan the cop and ended with the professor's arrest. Here the focus is on the trial and Ellen the prosecutor, who thinks she has the case wrapped up until another child is abducted while the professor is in prison awaiting trial. The ironies multiply when Ellen discovers that the defense attorney is her former lover, a high-powered, big-city lawyer who makes Robert Shapiro look like a courtroom lightweight. What's more, handsome courtroom fiction writer Jay Butler Brooks keeps Ellen both cautious and intrigued. This is a competent whodunit, with enough plot twists to keep it interesting. Although the characters are little more than stereotypes, "Guilty as Sin" is a quick, exciting read, and libraries will want to stock up--especially considering the success of "Night Sins" and the publisher's aggressive marketing plan.
From the Publisher
Praise for Tami Hoag and Guilty as Sin
“Without a doubt . . . one of the most intense suspense writers around.”Chicago Tribune
“A chilling study of evil that holds the reader until the shocking surprise ending.”New York Times bestselling author Phillip Margolin
“The tangled relationships that lie just beneath the surface of Deer Lake are tantalizingly revealed.”The New York Times Book Review
“Accomplished and scary.”Cosmopolitan

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Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.90(h) x 1.40(d)

Read an Excerpt

"If I were after you for nefarious purposes," he said as he advanced on her, "would I be so careless as to approach you here?"

He pulled a gloved hand from his pocket and gestured gracefully to the parking lot, like a magician drawing attention to his stage.

"If I wanted to harm you," he said, stepping closer, "I would be smart enough to follow you home, find a way to slip into your house or garage, catch you where there would be little chance of witnesses or interference." He let those images take firm root in her mind. "That's what I would do if I were the sort of rascal who preys on women." He smiled again. "Which I am not."

"Who are you and what do you want? " Ellen demanded, unnerved by the fact that a part of her brain catalogued his manner as charming. No, not charming. Seductive. Disturbing.

"Jay Butler Brooks. I'm a writer--true crime. I can show you my driver's license if you'd like," he offered, but made no move to reach for it, only took another step toward her, never letting her get enough distance between them to diffuse the electric quality of the tension.

"I'd like for you to back off," Ellen said. She started to hold up a hand, a gesture meant to stop him in his tracks--or a foolish invitation for him to grab hold of her arm. Pulling the gesture back, she hefted her briefcase in her right hand, weighing its potential as a weapon or a shield. "If you think I'm getting close enough to you to look at a DMV photo, you must be out of your mind."

"Well, I have been so accused once or twice, but it never did stick. Now my Uncle Hooter, he's a different story. I could tell you some tales about him. Over dinner, perhaps?"


He gave her a crestfallen look that was ruined by the sense that he was more amused than affronted. "After I waited for you out here in the cold?"

"After you stalked me and skulked around in the shadows?" she corrected him, moving another step backward. "After you've done your best to frighten me?"

"I frighten you, Ms. North? You don't strike me as the sort of woman who would be easily frightened. That's certainly not the impression you gave at the press conference."

"I thought you said you aren't a reporter."

"No one at the courthouse ever asked," he confessed. "They assumed the same way you assumed. Forgive my pointing it out at this particular moment, but assumptions can be very dangerous things. Your boss needs to have a word with someone about security. This is a highly volatile case you've got here. Anything might happen. The possibilities are virtually endless. I'd be happy to discuss them with you. Over drinks," he suggested. "You look like you could do with one."

"If you want to see me, call my office."

"Oh, I want to see you, Ms. North," he murmured, his voice an almost tangible caress. "I'm not big on appointments, though. Preparation time eliminates spontaneity."

"That's the whole point."

"I prefer to catch balance," he admitted. "They reveal more of their true selves."

"I have no intention of revealing anything to you." She stopped her retreat as a group of people emerged from the main doors of City Center. "I should have you arrested."

He arched a brow. "On what charge, Ms. North? Attempting to hold a conversation? Surely y'all are not so inhospitable as your weather here in Minnesota, are you?"

She gave him no answer. The voices of the people who had come out of the building rose and fell, only the odd word breaking clear as they made their way down the sidewalk. She turned and fell into step with the others as they passed.

Jay watched her walk away, head up, chin out, once again projecting an image of cool control. She didn't like being caught off guard. He would have bet money she was a list maker, a rule follower, the kind of woman who dotted all her i's and crossed all her t's, then doublechecked them for good measure. She liked boundaries. She liked control. She had no intention of revealing anything to him.

"But you already have, Ms. Ellen North," he said, hunching up his shoulders as the wind bit a little harder and spit a sweep of fine white snow across the parking lot. "You already have."

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