The Programby Gregg Hurwitz
Called back into the fold of the U.S. Marshals Service -- having lost
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Leah Henning, the eighteen-year-old daughter of a famous Hollywood producer, has vanished into The Program -- a shadowy cult that practices mind-control and manipulation, led by its brilliant, messianic leader T.D. "Teacher" Betters. Leah surrendered her life, looking for peace. She found Hell.
Called back into the fold of the U.S. Marshals Service -- having lost his own daughter to evil -- Tim Rackley is determined to infiltrate the malevolent society and bring the confused teenager home. But what is going on within The Program is more shocking and horrific than he ever imagined. And his determination to rescue Leah and countless other innocent, vulnerable minds from the Teacher's lies and machinations could cost Rackley much more than his life ... and plunge him deep into a terrible and inescapable darkness.
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The ProgramA Novel
By Gregg Hurwitz
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2005 Gregg Hurwitz
All right reserved.
Dray walked briskly through the kitchen and entry, wiping barbecue sauce on her olive sheriff's-department-issue pants, which she still hadn't had time to change out of. She pulled open the front door, and the image hit her like a truck -- husky detective in a cheap suit thumbing a bound notepad, dark Crown Vic idling curbside behind him, partner waiting in the passenger seat, taking a pass on the advise-next-of-kin.
The detective crowded the door, imposing and cocky, which further added to her disorientation. "Andrea Rackley? Mrs. Tim Rackley?"
Ears ringing, she shook her head hard. "No." She took a step back and leaned on the entry table, displacing a tealight holder that rolled off the edge, shattering on the tile. "No."
The man's forehead creased. "Are yo u all right, ma' am?"
"I just talked to him. He was in the car, heading home. He was fine."
"Excuse me? I'm not sure what you ... "
He lowered his pad, which she saw was not a detective's notepad but a PalmPilot encased in fine leather. Her darting eyes took in that his suit was not cheap but a fine cashmere, the car was in fact a maroon Mercedes S-class, and the partner was not a partner at all but a woman with a wan face, waiting behind like a well-trained dog.
The flood of relief was accompanied by a torrent of sentence frag-ments even she couldn't keep up with. "You don't come to the door of a law-enforcement family all somber asking for a next-of-kin ID already lost someone in the family my God -- "
She leaned shakily against the wall, catching her breath. A draft sucked the doorknob from her grasp. Startled, the man skipped back, lost his footing at the step, and spilled backward, landing hard on his affluent ass.
Dray had a split second to note the pain and alarm register in the wide ovals of his eyes before the door slammed shut.
Tim stifled a yawn as he pulled into his cul-de-sac, the starch-stiff security-guard monkey suit itching him at the collar and cuffs. His baton sat heavy on his equipment belt, along with a low-tech portable the size of a Cracker Jack box, which seemed like a toy company's idea of a radio rather than the thing itself. A big comedown from his beloved Smith & Wesson .357 and the sleek Racals he'd used as a deputy U.S. marshal before his own shitty judgment in the wake of his daughter's violent death had forced him from the Service.
Yesterday he'd chased down a teen vandal at the facility where he worked on the northern lip of Simi Valley. The pursuit represented the second time he'd broken a sweat in the eleven months he'd been guarding RightWay Steel Company's storage warehouses; the first had been unglamorously instigated by a roadside-stand enchilada mole he'd injudiciously wolfed down on a lunch break. Eleven years as an Army Ranger, three kicking in doors with the U.S. Marshals Service warrant squad, and now he was a locker-room commando with a diminished paycheck. His current coworkers got winded bending over to tie their shoes, which seemed to come undone with such alarming frequency that he'd spent the majority of the monotonous morning debating whether to volunteer proficiency training on the matter. The old man's groan he'd inadvertently emitted while stooping to pick up a dropped key outside Warehouse Five had leached the superiority right out of him, and he'd spent the afternoon valiantly refraining from doughnuts.
He was reminding himself that he should be grateful for any work when movement on his walkway drew his attention. A man stood appraising his suit, dusting off the pant legs as if he'd just taken a spill.
Tim accelerated sharply, almost clipping a parked Navigator with tinted windows. He pulled into his driveway and hopped out as the man smoothed his clothes back into place. A woman had climbed out of the Mercedes at the curb and was standing meekly at the end of the walk.
Tim approached the man, keeping the woman in his field of vision. "Who are you? Press?"
The man held up his hands as if conceding defeat. He still hadn't caught his breath. "I'm here to ... speak with ... Tim Rackley. Marshal Tannino gave me your address."
The mention of his former boss stopped Tim dead on the lawn. He and Tannino hadn't spoken for the better part of a year; they'd been very close when Tim worked under his supervision, but Tim last saw him in the midst of a storm of controversy Tim had brought down on himself and the Service.
"Oh," Tim said. "I'm sorry. Why don't you come in?"
The man patted the seat of his pants, wet with runoff from the sprinklers. He glanced at the door nervously. "Truth be told," he said, "I'm a bit afraid of your wife."
The kitchen smelled sharply of burned chicken. Dray had forsaken her corn on the cob for a three-finger pour of vodka. "I'm sorry. Something about it -- the knock, his expression -- put me back there, the night Bear came to tell us about Ginny." She set her glass down firmly on the stack of overdue bills a t the counter's edge.
Tim ran his fingers through her hair and let them rest on her shoulders. She leaned into him, face at his neck.
"I thought my heart would just give out there at the door. Good-bye, Andrea, hasta la vista, sayonara, I've fallen and can't get up."
Her voice was raised and, Tim was fairly certain, audible to the couple sitting on the couch one room over.
"He's a friend of the marshal's," Tim said softly. "Let's sit down, see what he wants. Deal?"
Dray finished her vodka in a gulp. "Deal."
They shook hands and headed into the living room ...
Excerpted from The Program by Gregg Hurwitz Copyright © 2005 by Gregg Hurwitz. Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
Gregg Hurwitz is the critically acclaimed author of The Tower, Minutes to Burn, Do No Harm, The Kill Clause, The Program, and Troubleshooter. He holds a B.A. in English and psychology from Harvard University and a master's degree from Trinity College, Oxford University. He lives in Los Angeles.
Dylan Baker, an award-winning stage performer and Tony® nominee, has appeared in over 20 films, among them A Gentleman's Game, Random Hearts, and Happiness; he has been a series regular on Murder One and Feds.
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Excellent plot and very likeable characters. Would recommend to anyone who likes mystery/detective type stories.
Outstanding thriller that also explains how cults work. The first half of the book is almost painful, as you live through being indoctrinated into a cult. During that part it was hard to keep reading, but almost impossible not to. As the end of the book gets closer it became so riveting that I didn't put it down until I finished it. Gregg Hurwitz is a terrific, highly skilled author, that I can't believe I had never heard of. And, he has enough books now that I can revisit him often. This is like discovering the mother lode of thrillers.
Control is always a fascinating subject, and it comes to the fore in Gregg Hurwitz's thorough, compelling study in 'The Program.' Also coming to the fore is Tony nominee Dylan Baker who gives a suitably chilling reading to this absorbing tale. Once again we meet U.S. Marshall Tim Rackley who's hired by a mega rich Hollywood producer to rescue his daughter, Leah, from a cult. Problem is Leah doesn't want to be rescued. She's been totally brain washed by charismatic mind-controller T. D. Betters, who is making a mint by getting people to willingly turn over their assets to him. Tim impersonates an initiate in order to convince Leah to leave. But, more than rescue Leah he wants to put an end to this sick scene. How can he do that when Betters is doing nothing illegal? Listen as author and reader take on this seemingly insurmountable challenge.
A killer murdered U.S. Marshal Tim Rackley¿s little girl and all he wanted was vengeance. Acting on that desire got him tossed in jail and the loss of the job he loved. He now spends his days as a security guard, unfilled and empty. Will and Emma Henning come over to his house asking him to kidnap their daughter Leah from a cult who has her brainwashed. Will has enough clout to get him reinstated as a marshal and he takes the job.......................... Figuring Leah was recruited on her college campus so Tim hangs around there and connects with her handlers who invite him to a self-improvement course. They are targeting wealthy and confused people and Tim plays that part so well he is invited to a three day retreat at an unspecified location. He finds members turn their own fortunes over to the leader of The Program and he sees them kill a former member they turned away. He breaks into the files and sees all manner of crimes the group has committed. He eventually leaves with Leah whose trust he gained. Time discovers no judge will issue a warrant on the evidence he¿s got. A courageous Leah and Tim go back to the retreat and put themselves in danger to find the evidence that would destroy the cult before they have a chance to ensnare more victims in their web........................... THE PROGRAM is an electrifying thriller that teaches the reader about the insidiousness of cults and their diabolical methods of recruitment and control. This time Tim is determined to work within the law to break up a group that has committed all manners of crimes. Gregg Hurwitz has written a work that is frightening because it is based on actual cults and their methods to gain and lose members. Readers who like thrillers with great characterizations must read this book........................... Harriet Klausner
The character of Tim Rackley is also seen in a previous novel, 'The Kill Clause'. Tim returns to service with the US Marshals and goes deep undercover of a cult to locate Leah Henning. This cult is into mind control, which can be (and normally is) a nightmare! .......................... Tim goes in as a willing participant. What he witnesses makes him determined to shut The Program down once-and-for-all. To do so, Tim must face his own horrible past and fears. It is the only way to convince the leaders of the cult that he is sincere. But one thing is certain: Tim will either shut down The Program or die trying. ........................... ***** You will stay up a few extra hours reading this psychological tale. Each character is masterfully detailed and I could not help but sympathize, especially with Tim Rackley. I can only hope that there are a few real officers out there with Rackley's morals. Gregg Hurwitz's writing is down right engrossing. *****