The Pied Piper (Boldt and Matthews Series #5)

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The press is calling him the Pied Piper because infants have disappeared from San Diego to Seattle with only a penny flute left in the crib. With all signs pointing to a black market adoption agency, Boldt and Matthews must break the brilliantly conceived network of abductions that has shattered lives and terrorized communities. With few leads and no witnesses, Boldt and Matthews must battle not only the overwhelming odds, but the involvement of federal law enforcement driven by a news-hungry press and nervous ...
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New York, NY 1998 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 497 p. Audience: General/trade. Author awarded the Raymond ... Chandler/Fulbright Fellowship at Oxford and ALA Best Fiction Award. A heart-pounding story of deceit and betrayal featuring Seattle detective Lou Boldt and forensic pathologist Daphne Matthews. Read more Show Less

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The press is calling him the Pied Piper because infants have disappeared from San Diego to Seattle with only a penny flute left in the crib. With all signs pointing to a black market adoption agency, Boldt and Matthews must break the brilliantly conceived network of abductions that has shattered lives and terrorized communities. With few leads and no witnesses, Boldt and Matthews must battle not only the overwhelming odds, but the involvement of federal law enforcement driven by a news-hungry press and nervous politicians. The more deeply they probe the more elusive the truth seems - evidence is being stalled, paperwork misplaced, witnesses overlooked. Why, when so much is at stake?
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Ridley Pearson is a thriller writer with a bite. His novels, from Probable Cause to Beyond Recognition, carry the requisite killers, victims, smart cops, bad cops, forensic investigations, and other police procedural hallmarks to ensure a major readership, but what he also brings to the genre is a powerful talent for writing suspenseful scenes, in rapid-fire succession. I've been hooked on his stuff since Under Currents, and not one of his novels has been disappointing to me.

The Pied Piper is simply drawn, and yet I was completely entangled in its story line. Pearson is truly a master at work as he details the ins and outs of police work on a crime scene and sets up the mystery at the center of this delightfully entertaining thriller.

And yeah, it is a roller coaster, make no mistake. Hang on for dear life and just go with the suspense. It rarely gets better than this.

The setting is Seattle, and a woman is edgy as she and her husband board a special dinner train as a way of celebrating their anniversary. It's the first time she's left her two young children behind, and she feels trapped on the train, unable to check on their babysitter. When she finally calls from the train, there's no answer.

What a neighbor has already discovered is the babysitter knocked out cold on the floor, and the children gone. In the baby's crib is a small plastic flute. This is the hallmark of the Pied Piper, a kidnapper or ring of kidnappers who take children.

Before the parents even have a chance to leave their train, the police and detectives are swarmingoverthe small suburban home. Pearson fans will enjoy seeing the entrance of Lieutenant Lou Boldt as he joins his colleagues at the scene of the crime to try and piece together what happened and possibly find out why. Soon, his partner-in-investigations, forensic psychologist Daphne Matthews, joins him. Other faces familiar to Pearson fans also emerge, but Lou and Daphne definitely take over. Immediately they go to work to learn anything they can from possible witnesses. This is not the first kidnapping for the Pied Piper. Whoever has committed these acts has been terrifying communities for six months, and with diabolical brilliance. The FBI and police itself have been used by the Pied Piper, and their fumblings only served to allow this kidnapper to continue on his deadly course.

Daphne and Lou must work together to track the Pied Piper before another child is taken. And when another child is taken, it is too close to home for Lou Boldt.

This is a fast-paced psychological thriller that has blockbuster written all over it. Ridley Pearson has a real knack for keeping the action going through the various layers of his plot, and while some of the action might be predictable, it is never slow-going, and always fascinating. Lou Boldt and Daphne Matthews are wonderful detectives to follow as they — and we — find out more about the Pied Piper and the fate of the children he snatches.

For those who love masterful suspense and high-octane thrills, The Pied Piperis up there with the best of Ridley Pearson. Recommended.

Douglas Clegg

Vanessa V. Friedman
Despite the book's intricate plot, Pearson's wooden characters may make you wish you hadn't paid the Piper.
Entertainment Weekly
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A serial kidnapper called the Pied Piper--the villain of Pearson's ingenious, fast-moving 11th thriller--has targeted Seattle, and newly promoted Lieutenant Lou Boldt (last seen in Beyond Recognition) is called in on the case by John LaMoia of the Seattle Crimes Against Persons unit. Boldt, whose wife, Liz, is undergoing chemotherapy, soon discovers that the Pied Piper has managed to target families, steal children and vanish from city after city seemingly at will, although the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent Gary Flemming, has been chasing the serial kidnapper across the country for months. And it looks like the same thing will happen in Seattle, especially when vital information is withheld by the FBI in a turf battle with the locals. But just as Boldt starts asking the right questions, the Pied Piper abducts his daughter, Sarah. It's twists like this that fuel the rest of the novel as Pearson tightens the screws on Boldt as he tries to find his daughter and prevent another kidnapping. The plot begins simply and becomes wonderfully complex, stretching from Seattle to New Orleans; while the lucky car accident that helps break the case wide open is somewhat facile, the work of Boldt and an expertly drawn supporting cast of characters will hold the attention of readers. As will be clear even to neophytes, Boldt's relationship with forensic psychologist Daphne Matthews, and the ongoing affair between two members of the task force, point to a lot of history between these characters, none of it confusing for first-timers, who may be tempted to pick up earlier novels to see whether they're all this good. $250,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club selections; author tour. Agent, Al Zuckerman. (Aug.) FYI: A mass market edition of Beyond Recognition will be published simultaneously.
Vanessa V. Friedman
Despite the book's intricate plot, Pearson's wooden characters may make you wish you hadn't paid the Piper.
Entertainment Weekly
Kirkus Reviews
Seattle cop Lou Boldt's been promoted to Lieutenant and shifted from Homicide to Intelligence, but all the changes don't protect him from the most painfully intimate contact with a kidnapper of small children.

The Pied Piper, who restricts his prey to infants and leaves a signature pennywhistle in each empty nursery, has been plying his trade for long months up and down the West Coast before he snatches little Rhonda Shotz from her babysitter. And Gary Flemming, the bullying Seattle FBI agent, has been tracking him without success. Now that Boldt's been yanked from his wife Liz's side (she's hospitalized with lymphoma), and put in charge of the task force his own captain has formed, the usual jurisdictional sparks are bound to fly. This time, though, the sparks are as hot as the fires in Beyond Recognition (1997).

Just as Boldt and his team, his successor at Homicide, Sgt. John LaMoia; forensic psychologist Lt. Daphne Matthews; Scientific Investigation Director Bernie Lofgrin; and the scaldingly resentful FBI, begin to comb far enough through the scant physical evidence to link The Pied Piper to a low-rent shamus and a bustling methamphetamine lab, the Piper snatches Boldt's own daughter Sarah to insure that he keeps the task force muzzled. . . . . Slowly, slowly, Boldt moves from following the Piper to anticipating his next move, as the scene shifts to New Orleans, where the police 'emphasize relationships over the letter of the law.' Though the Piper, once revealed, scarcely seems monstrous enough to have caused the cast members so much heartache, Pearson proves once again that he can put together a big-scale, big-time police manhunt better than anybody else in thebusiness.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786863006
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • Publication date: 8/28/1998
  • Series: Boldt and Matthews Series, #5
  • Pages: 512
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.62 (d)

Meet the Author

Ridley Pearson
Ridley Pearson is the author of more than two dozen novels, including the New York Times bestsellers Killer Summer, Killer View and Killer Weekend, the bestselling Lou Boldt crime series, and many books for young readers. He lives with his wife and two daughters, dividing his time between St. Louis, Missouri, and Hailey, Idaho.


Crime may not always pay, but crime fiction always sells, and Ridley Pearson is one of the stars of the genre, the kind of writer whose royalties keep his family fed and cover a few extras as well (like, say, his own airplane). Yet Pearson didn't spend his youth dreaming of bestsellerdom. His first ambition was to be a musician, and he spent most of his twenties writing and performing folk-rock songs. The idea that he might become a novelist came later. As he explained in a Barnes and Noble interview, he was reading a Robert Ludlum novel when "a voice spoke up from inside me and said, 'I can do this.'" (Once he began writing and discovered firsthand the skill involved in crafting a cohesive thriller, he realized how much he had presumed!)

Pearson is renowned for fast-paced, thrill-a-minute suspense novels that include "a rare humanism and attention to detail" (Publishers Weekly). In a Greenwich Magazine interview he called his work "aerobic fiction, because I hope to get your heart pounding and get you turning pages." Entertainment Weekly dubbed him "the thinking person's Robert Ludlum."

As his fans know, Pearson works hard at nailing the details of forensic investigation and police procedure. In Undercurrents (the first novel in his Seattle-based Lou Boldt mystery series) his research was so thorough—he consulted an expert in oceanography—that the book helped convict an actual murderer. A Washington state prosecuting attorney happened to be reading it while working on a case similar to Pearson's fictional one: A woman's body had been found in a bay, and at first it appeared that she had committed suicide by jumping off a bridge. The oceanographer mentioned in Pearson's acknowledgments was called in as an expert witness to help prove that, based on tidal currents, the woman must have been dead before the time her husband claimed to have last seen her. Due largely to the expert testimony, the victim's husband was convicted of second-degree murder.

Of course, there's more to a Pearson novel than research. "Just what is it about Ridley Pearson that makes him the best damn thriller writer on the planet?" mused Bill Ott in BookList. "We've celebrated the forensic detail, the taut plotting, the multidimensional characters, and the screw-tightening suspense, but lots of fiction writers do all that. Here's a theory: Pearson is a master at manipulating opposites. His stories are forever jumping from high concept to small scale, from positive to negative charges, manipulating our emotions and minds with their polar hip-hopping."

When he's not writing, Pearson still makes music—he's the bass guitarist for the Rock Bottom Remainders, an amateur rock band made up of professional writers including Stephen King, Dave Barry, Amy Tan, and Mitch Albom (the group's motto, coined by Barry: "We play music as well as Metallica writes novels").

It was while Pearson was in Miami to play with the Rock Bottom Remainders that he told Barry about his idea (actually, daughter Paige's idea) for a prequel to Peter Pan. The two authors had such a good time hashing out possibilities over breakfast that Pearson asked Barry to write the book with him. Published in 2004, their clever collaboration Peter and the Starcatchers became a huge bestseller, spawning two sequels (Peter and the Shadow Thieves in 2006 and Peter and the Secret of Rundoon in 2007) and a series of spin-off children's chapter books.

Even though Pearson thoroughly enjoys crafting juvenile fiction, his adult fans need not worry that he's abandoned his high-voltage crime novels. Indeed, he has said that writing gives him the same "adrenaline rush," no matter which audience he is targeting: Readers of all ages appreciate the imagination, suspense, and an impeccable eye for detail he brings to all his fiction.

Good To Know

Pearson calls himself a workaholic, "not so much by desire as out of necessity," since he reserves a lot of time for his two young daughters. His hobbies, which he now defines as "something you once did and no longer have the time for," include recreational tree climbing, fly-fishing, backyard volleyball, snow boarding—and, of course, bass guitar in his rock band. An avid reviser, Pearson says, "I'm said to have a nervous, worrying disposition, but rarely feel I live up to that description—perhaps internal calm is expressed as external nervosa."

Pearson loves to travel, especially to southern France, with wife Marcelle and second child Storey, who is adopted from China. We're certain to do a good deal of international travel in the years to come. He also attends local symphony and theater. But his "favorite avocation is to spend an evening around our dining table with two or three other couples. This, I feel, is where many of the world's ills are solved, and many souls restored. Mine, especially."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Wendell McCall; Joyce Reardon
    2. Hometown:
      St. Louis, Missouri
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 13, 1953
    2. Place of Birth:
      Glen Cove, New York
    1. Education:
      Kansas University, B.A., Brown University
    2. Website:

Table of Contents

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First Chapter

The train left the station headed for nowhere, its destination also its point of embarkation, its purpose not to transport its passengers, but to feed them.

By early March, western Washington neared the end of the rinse cycle, a nearly perpetual curtain of ocean rain that blanketed the region for the winter months, unleashing in its wake a promise of summer. Dark, saturated clouds hung low on the eastern horizon. Well to the west, where the sun retreated in a violent display, a glimpse of blue cracked the marbled gray, as welcome to the residents of Seattle as any sight alive.

Arrival at the dinner train surprised Doris Shotz. She had thought her husband Paul was taking her to Ivar's, one of Seattle's more popular fish-house chains. A simple dinner date had presented her with a test of sorts, being that it was her first evening leaving her four-month-old baby girl, Rhonda, with a sitter. She'd finally decided she could handle an hour or two a few blocks away from home. But an entire evening stuck on a train in the woods was unimaginable, unthinkable!

"Surprised?" he asked, displaying the tickets proudly.

On the verge of total panic, Doris reminded herself that Julie was an experienced sitter, having taken care of Henry for the last year, as responsible a fifteen-year-old as one could ask for. Better to give Paul his moment than to start a fight.

They'd been talking about the dinner train for years. And Doris had to concede that over the last nine months, Paul had been a saint. She owed him.

"I can't believe it!" she said truthfully.

"I know. You didn't guess, did you?"

"Not for an instant. I promise: It's a complete surprise."

"Good." He reached down and took her hand and squeezed. She felt flushed. She wanted to be home with the kids.

"All aboard," he said.

The train lurched. Doris Shotz shifted to avoid spilling the cheap champagne that Paul had ordered. Although she didn't want to drink while nursing, she knew Paul would consider it an act of defiance to say no to any part of the celebration, and given that she had already gone this far to please her husband, she wasn't going to let one glass of champagne ruin the evening. When the train turned east, the frosted mountains flooded crimson with the sunset, Paul said with obvious satisfaction, "This is a long way from the backside of a computer."

Paul repaired PCs for Micro System Workshop, a name his employer had invented because it could be reduced to MS Workshop, and in an area dominated by Microsoft those two initials meant dollars. Paul drove a blue MS Workshop van around the city, crisis to crisis, fire to fire: hard drives, networks, IRQ ports -- Doris had heard all the buzzwords enough times to think she might be capable of a repair or two herself.

Paul provided for them adequately. He loved her in his own way. She loved him too, though differently than she once had. Now the children absorbed most of her time and much of her love, too. She wasn't sure exactly how to categorize her love for Paul; she simply knew that she would always be at his side, would attempt to put up with his moods. But the truth was that she lived for her children, Rhonda and Henry. She had never before known such a complete feeling. It warmed her just thinking about it.

She politely refused a refill of champagne as she watched her husband's cheeks redden behind the alcohol's effects. Clearly carried away with happiness and the light buzz that came from the champagne, he talked at her, but she didn't hear. Boys and trains, she thought.

"Do you think I should call home?" she asked him.


She motioned to the rear of the train car. "There's a pay phone. Cellular. I could call them."

"You know how much those things cost? Fifteen minutes, Doro," he pointed out, checking his Casio and saying sarcastically, "we've been gone a whole fifteen minutes!" He leaned closer and she could smell the sweet alcohol on his breath, a smell that reminded her of the occasional drunken violence that Paul had sometimes brought with him to their bed. "They're fine. Julie's perfectly capable."

"You're right," she said, offering him a fragile smile. He nodded and stared out the window. She felt sick with anxiety.

It occurred to her that in a few minutes she could excuse herself to go to the bathroom and use the phone. Paul would probably never know. The champagne bottle's white plastic cork rolled noisily at his feet. The train clattered past condominiums that reminded her of a Monopoly board. A few of the couples had dressed for the occasion, though most wore jeans and sweatshirts. It wasn't exactly the Orient Express.

It soon became clear that Paul's romance was with the train rather than her. Flushed cheeks pressed to the glass, his right foot tapping quickly as it always did when he drank in excess, her husband disappeared into the alcohol and she retreated into thoughts about her children.

Ten minutes passed with minimal conversation. Doris excused herself and made the call home. It rang and rang, but there was no answer.

Wrong number, she decided. At those prices -- $3.95 for the first minute, $.99 each portion of a minute thereafter -- Paul was certain to catch the charge on the credit card bill. But so what? She pressed NEW CALL. She redialed, again suffering under the weight of its endless ringing. She could envision Julie busy with a diaper, or in the middle of feeding. It didn't necessarily mean trouble....

A fire, she thought. Paul's home entertainment center -- a sports center was more like it -- crowded the outlets with far too many wires. What would Julie do in a fire?

The knot in her stomach twisted more tightly. Her fingers went cold and numb. Julie might be in the bathroom. Nothing more than that.

But her imagination wouldn't let it go. Perhaps Julie had a boyfriend with her in the house. In that case, she wouldn't be paying attention to either the kids or the phone. Doris stole a look around the corner and down the shifting train car's center aisle to the back of her husband's head. She had already been gone a few minutes, and it would ruin everything if he caught her at the pay phone. She had promised him she would wait to call until after dinner.

She hung up the receiver, deciding to slip into the washroom and then try again when she came out. But she emerged only to find someone else using the phone, ironically a mother happily talking to her children.

When the woman hung up, Doris tried again. This time the phone's endless ringing seemed a kind of punishment for trying at all. She glanced up the aisle at Paul, but now all she could think about was that there was something terrible going on. She decided to call her neighbor Tina, who answered on the second ring.

Doris concentrated on removing any panic from her voice. "Tina, it's Doris. I have a really weird favor to ask of you...."

In her mother's heart she knew: Something was dreadfully wrong.


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Interviews & Essays

On Friday, August 7th, welcomed Ridley Pearson to discuss THE PIED PIPER.

Moderator: Welcome, Ridley Pearson! Thank you for taking the time to join us online this evening. How are you doing tonight?

Ridley Pearson: I am doing great. I am in New Orleans on a book tour and it is hot here!

Jamie from Bryn Mawr, PA: Do you see a lot of yourself in Lou?

Ridley Pearson: I think the answer is yes and no. The yes is certainly in Boldt's appreciation of jazz and music and his love of his family. The no, is in that I am not a cop, though I do so much research sometimes I wonder about that...

Matt Stone from Bellingham, WA: Were there many or any external influences involved in the story of THE PIED PIPER? Any particular news stories set you off?

Ridley Pearson: Yes, I discovered on the Internet a legal filing in the case of an illegal adoption, and the case so intrigued me that it eventually led me to research that led to the writing of THE PIED PIPER. Some of that research was conducted down here in New Orleans and some, using the Lexus/Nexus legal search service -- but all combined to suggest that the kidnapping of infants for resale in an illegal adoption market is an ongoing climb in the United States. from Plano, TX: Do you ever do any Patricia Cornwell-like research with the police department? What type of reaction -- if any -- have you gotten from Seattle's Police Department? Do you know a lot of cops?

Ridley Pearson: Cornwell does Pearsonesque research! After all, I got here first! LOL. Yes, I do an inordinate amount of what I call hands-on/expert research. I have resources inside the Seattle Police Department with whom I have worked for over 10 years including a sergeant in homicide whom I didn't meet until a few years ago. And when I opened the door and saw him standing there, I found myself face to face with Lou Boldt! I could not believe it.

Berry from Williamsburg: How did you get started in your writing career? What were you doing before? Did you ever think you would get that first book published?

Ridley Pearson: Prior to writing I spent 11 years on the road as a folk rock musician. About halfway through those 11 years, I began writing scripts and teleplays in hopes of starting a writing career, and although I was starting a writing career, I wasn't starting a paid writing career. As it turned out, it would be eight and a half years of writing for the love of it before anything sold. I didn't focus as much on when my first piece would sell as I did on how to write better. Simply because it gets so frustrating not to sell, but as the writing improved, there was more and more interest and finally after nine scripts and two novels -- both of which went through over six drafts -- I was published! For more info check out

Mick22 from AOL: Being an expert in forensic evidence, I want to know what you think about the manner that the evidence was handled in the O. J. case? Any thoughts?

Ridley Pearson: I have lots of thoughts on the O. J. case, but they are probably better saved for another time. Primarily, the scene was not handled well from the beginning, and in any investigation that will later rely on evidence, if it gets off to a sloppy start, the investigators end up with their hands tied.

Michael from If you had your life lying in the hands of either Lou or Daphne, who would you choose? Why?

Ridley Pearson: Great question! I think if my life was in physical peril, I would want it in the hands of both -- if I was kidnapped or someone was threatening me. If I was just going to throw my life into the hands of someone, as a red-blooded male, who wouldn't pick Daphne?

Rudolph from Keene, New Hampshire: Did you base Crowley off of anybody in particular or is he more of a composite character of evil?

Ridley Pearson: Yeah, the latter. I have a lot of fun with the villainous characters in the books. I do quite a bit of advanced research with forensic psychiatrists. I present the deeds that these people do, and the psychiatrist then tells me who this person is and where he or she came from. from XX: Do you do a lot of research for this book? Did your research take you down to New Orleans? What was that like?

Ridley Pearson: Yes, I did a lot of research for the book, and it did take me down to New Orleans. It was a fascinating week or so that I spent down here, and it included a visit to a private boys home. It was an old brownstone edifice [of] a building that I end up describing in THE PIED PIPER, and my experience with the director was very much the same as Boldt's is in the novel. What I got out of that was that New Orleans had been through a corruption case where legitimate birth certificates were being sold out the back door of the Bureau of Vital Statistics for the purpose of illegal adoption. When I came upon that, I knew I had a book!

Matt Smith from Tates Creek, KY: You would think Lou would be a pretty jaded individual with all he has been through. Do you think you would have the thick skin necessary to ever be a cop? Also, what is your opinion of the current Seattle Police Department? What about New Orleans? Have things drastically improved in New Orleans since the embarrassment they had a couple of years ago with the cops killing cops and corruption? What in your opinion is the key to having an effective police department? The mayor? Like Rudy Giuliani up there in NYC?

Ridley Pearson: I agree that Lou with all he has been through might be pretty tough-skinned by now. But from some of the cops I have modeled him after, he still has retained a humanism and a sensitivity towards life just as they have. It is amazing to see these guys separate work from everyday life. How they do it, I am not sure; it seems to be a combination of morbid humor and an understanding of their own limitations. It would be interesting for me to be a cop for a month or two, and I have been tested on several occasions by some tough cops who wanted to shake me up, and I can tell you they shook me up.

Wes from Metaire, LA: I have read many of your past novels, but have not started your latest. Are there any plans to make a movie out of any of your books? What about this one? I loved CHAIN OF EVIDENCE -- what actor do you see as the Dart?

Ridley Pearson: Yes! Although the various novels have been under option off and on for over a decade -- some of them several times in a row -- we've never gotten the film out of any of them. My feeling is things are just about to change (take that with a grain of salt!). The latest project we are attempting to put together is BEYOND RECOGNITION, which is just out in paperback. Academy Award-winner Richard Dreyfuss called me about three weeks ago, and I went down to Los Angeles, and I had meetings with him about bringing it to [the] screen with Richard as Lou Boldt. from AOL: Your latest surely portrays the press in an interesting manner. What do you think of the press here in 1998? Worse than it has ever been?

Ridley Pearson: I think the press in this country is historically different than it has ever been, and much of that comes from the shifting technologies and the media it is represented in. It is funny that you should bring this up because in my next novel that I am currently finishing up, I delve deeply into the role of press in the society -- the manipulation in fact and the effects on all of us. Keep an eye out for the next book in August of '99.

Mike from Hello Ridley! Is your next book going to be another Lou/Daphne book? Or are you planning on writing about some new characters?

Ridley Pearson: The book that follows PIED PIPER is a Lou Boldt/Daphne novel and is nearly complete. As to the novel after that? I have it outlined and I am not sure if it is a Lou book or not.

Scott from San Francisco, CA: What do you think is an example of a movie that has carried over well from the written page to the screen? Any plans yourself?

Ridley Pearson: I wish I could remember the name of the script writer, but I can't. The adaptation of SILENCE OF THE LAMBS was incredibly true to the novel. One of the best movies that I have seen this summer and again an adaptation which was true to the novel is OUT OF SIGHT based off of an Elmore Leonard novel. What is interesting about "Out of Sight" is that the director chose to tell the story in a nonlinear fashion which makes it quite compelling.

Megan from Virginia: Does the small plastic flute have a personal significance to you?

Ridley Pearson: Well, I remember them as a kid -- they were metal -- but the significance of course is the flute's relationship to the story of THE PIED PIPER. It is interesting to note that the childhood fable that we all remember of children dancing behind the Pied Piper is a long way from the true story of the Pied Piper of Hamlin. In reality the Pied Piper was hired to rid the city of its rats. It is said that he did so, and then the city refused to pay him for doing his job. The frightening part of the real fable of the Pied Piper is that, determined to pay back the city for the wrong they had done to him, over the next eight to twelve months he led 80 children into the woods around Hamlin and killed them. The Pied Piper of Hamlin is in fact one of the earliest-recorded serial killers. (So next time pay that bill you owe!)

Matt S. from NYC: What is your opinion of the other contemporary authors in your genre? Are you happy with the thriller genre in general?

Ridley Pearson: Great question! For some reason, the espionage era lent itself well to thrillers, and some of the craft has been lost. In terms of police/crime fiction/suspense, there are some really good writers out there: Michael Connelly, Thomas Harris, and others -- and there are some also pretty lame ones. The nice and encouraging part of it all is that there still seems to be a large appetite for not only legal thrillers but cop thrillers as well.

Cindy from Detroit: What do you think of the way our nation's police departments handle crime-solving today? After all of your research for your books, do you see ways that crimes could be solved faster?

Ridley Pearson: Terrific question! I think that many police department are already in the process of a two-fold plan to improve policing, especially at the detective level. First off, many, many urban police departments are quietly adding requirements of college educations for their upper ranks. At the same time -- and in part because of cases like O. J. -- we are finally seeing money poured into the lab-side and the forensics side. There is so much available science to help track and apprehend criminals that has for years been out of reach because of budgets. The more of this lab side technology that comes online the more serious crimes we'll see solved. At the same time it takes well-educated, thoughtful, experienced law enforcement officers to correctly use, and know when not to use, that technology. As an aside I think we will see a controversy in the next year or two about the declining crime stats in our urban centers and nationally. Stay tuned!

SL from KC: I understand there was an auction for the cameo roles in THE PIED PIPER. Can you fill us in?

Ridley Pearson: One of the benefits that came as a result of some of these novels being bestsellers is that people became interested in seeing their name in print in a Ridley Pearson novel. That turned out to be something I could then turn into a bonus for charity. So on a few occasions, I have allowed a character name to be auctioned off for a good cause. In THE PIED PIPER, readers might recognize Sherrie Deach and Kay Kalidja. We have raised over $20,000 to date.

Fan from Pacific Northwest: It appears to me that Daphne and Lou are the perfect couple. A bit like Mulder and Scully?

Ridley Pearson: I know what you mean, and I think they know what you mean, but Boldt's married and happily so, and he has pushed that out of his mind over the last couple of years.

Lyons Woodhouse from Richmond, VA: Why do you think people are so drawn to reading suspense/crime novels? Is it our need to be shocked or scared?

Ridley Pearson: I think that there is a little bit of criminal in all of us as well as (hopefully) quite a bit of cop. We know it is not a black-and-white world, and yet in certain terms society demands that of certain behavior. The suspense thriller lets us ride the chills and thrills.

Chad Rapson from Richmond, VA: After writing so many different Lou and Daphne novels, do you feel a certain connection to these characters?

Ridley Pearson: Absolutely! I think I keep coming back to them because although the crimes wrap up in the novels, the character issues don't. There is quite a bit of me in Daphne, and Daphne in me, and likewise for Boldt. And I know that I will continue to write novels based around other characters, perhaps even serious characters started in other books, but Lou and Daphne remain dear to my heart, and I don't see them fading away any time soon.

Niki from Do you think police corruption is a serious and real problem that our forces face every day?

Ridley Pearson: This is a question that often comes up when I have discussions with public defenders who take the position that a good number of cops are constantly on the take in either minor or major ways. They emphasize that this occurs especially at the street level, whether it is a cop taking a free cheeseburger or $2000 a week in a protection scam. It is an incredibly disturbing issue for me because I see law enforcement [as] much more noble than that. I acknowledge that there are bad seeds in every company, every police and law enforcement agency, probably any large organization you can name. I bring them -- that is corrupt individuals -- into the novels as a way of turning up the conflict for the lead characters and to try to represent those bad people on the good side [who] do exist. Similarly, I try to show that on the bad side, there are often "good" motivations if not incorrectly carried out. Seattle is such a great place physically for such novels because it is so often gray there, and the true lines in all of these issues weave through the gray and rarely connect black and white.

Moderator: Thank you Ridley Pearson. It was a pleasure having you online tonight. Do you have any closing comments for the online audience?

Ridley Pearson: Thanks to everyone for being here. Keep reading. Please come visit It is my new web site and I am adding to it constantly. It has email links to me, and I always love to hear from readers. Thanks for supporting the books and giving me the life of a writer. I will continue to work to earn and maintain your trust. Goodnight to all.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2014

    Good book!

    Hard to put this down at night

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2012


    Good story line with recurring characters

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  • Posted February 25, 2010


    Good book with great intersecting plots all dealt with and resolved

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2007


    Fantastic book. A stunning read but then again its Ridley Pearson. He owns this genre I believe. I have read all his books and I like a few other authors but no one tells a story like Pearson. This one is top notch. It grabs you and just when you think you know what will happen next the opposite will happen. I found myself biting my nails while reading this. If you are looking for someone who really knows how to write a book look no further than Pearson and any thing in the Boldt series is worth it with this one or Undercurrents leading the way.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2001

    First and not the Last

    This is the first book I read by this author and have already given it to two of my co-workers to read. Since reading this book I have bought all the rest and have only three left to read. The Pied Piper makes you wish there were more pages to it. The whole book is well written and Mr. Pearson keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering how something like this could happen in everyday life. I would suggest this book to anyone that likes good vs. bad, and anyone that appreciates a good read

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2000

    A totally engrossing read

    The Pied Piper by Ridley Pearson Published by Hyperion, New York This is the first book I've read by Ridley Pearson but it definitely won't be the last. The book is filled with believable characters with interesting lives outside of their work and relationships that makes the skin tingle with tension. The plot is skillfully crafted and moves quickly from the kidnaping of young children to the internecine competition between the FBI and the Seattle Police Department. Someone within the two groups is giving the kidnapers inside information and when Lou Boldt's child is kidnaped and he is told to slow down the investigation or he won't see his child again, the tension rises to unimaginable heights. For those who are parents and perhaps even those who arnt, the thought of losing a child to kidnapers brings a dimension and intensity to the plot that is at times unbearable. This is a well written and carefully crafted book filled with excitement and enough twists and turns of plot to hold anyone. I can't wait for the next one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2000

    An Excellent Thriller

    This was a very enjoyable book, with well thought out charachters full of depth and passion. There is nothing wooden about them. The story keeps you guessing right up to the end. Good weekend read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews

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