Strawgirl

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Overview

Three-year-old Samantha Franer is dead of internal injuries brought on by rape. Worse yet, an eerie symbol - the spiked face of a straw-like man - has been painted on her abdomen. All fingers of guilt point at the child's stepfather, Paul Massieu, known member of an obscure cult based in New York State. Pompous pediatricians, presumptive police, and an eager press cry "satanism." Bo knows better. She has long ago learned to heed her heightened perceptions and her own intuition. This time they tell her that this ...
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Overview

Three-year-old Samantha Franer is dead of internal injuries brought on by rape. Worse yet, an eerie symbol - the spiked face of a straw-like man - has been painted on her abdomen. All fingers of guilt point at the child's stepfather, Paul Massieu, known member of an obscure cult based in New York State. Pompous pediatricians, presumptive police, and an eager press cry "satanism." Bo knows better. She has long ago learned to heed her heightened perceptions and her own intuition. This time they tell her that this is no case of ritual abuse. Then the victim's sister vanishes, undoubtedly kidnapped by Massieu, and Bo is placed on the case. Tracking eight-year-old Hannah Franer leads her to the misty hills of New York's Hudson Valley and the cult's "hideout." But Bo sees no evil here, a feeling underscored by the cult leader, an Iroquois mystic who is as wise as she is ageless. Two other things Bo senses strongly: Paul Massieu is not guilty; and only the truth can free young Hannah from the psychic torment that could destroy her. Following her instincts, Bo vows to uncover the real monster and save the lives of future victims. It is a desperate search that will lead Bo into the deepest recesses of the mind and the darkest caverns of the earth. And it will place her livelihood - and her life - in dire jeopardy.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this stirring, insightful follow-up to Child of Silence , San Diego child abuse investigator Bo Bradley puts her job and her life in jeopardy with her efforts to clear an accused child molester. When three-year-old Samantha Franer dies after being raped, police suspect her mother's boyfriend Paul Massieu. But he has already taken Samantha's eight-year-old sister Hannah from school and headed to the upstate New York camp of the Seekers, a group of people who believe they've had contact with extraterrestrials. Self-aggrandizing psychologist Cynthia Ganage claims that Samantha was the victim of ritual Satanic abuse and is convinced that this ``cult'' membership proves Massieu's guilt. Bo, who is sent to retrieve Hannah and place her in protective custody, is not sure she agrees. When Massieu is arrested, Bo allows the emotionally frail Hannah to remain with her adopted grandmother, who owns the Seekers' headquarters. All hell breaks loose when the girls' mother commits suicide and Ganage is murdered: the media takes up the Satanism cry, and Bo is in deep trouble with her supervisor as she hunts for the real child molester. A corker of an ending, in which the killer hunts down Bo during a storm, aptly rounds out this tale enriched by its taboo-shattering frankness about Bo's struggle with her manic-depressive illness. (Feb.)
Kirkus Reviews
Another nasty case for manic-depressive San Diego child-abuse investigator Bo Bradley (Child of Silence, 1993): the rape-murder of three-year-old Samantha Franer, whose distraught mother Bonnie commits suicide hours after her lover, French Canadian Paul Massieu, takes off for the Adironidacks with her surviving daughter Hannah. Amid the feeding frenzy of anti-Satanist investigators led by self-promoting pop psychologist Dr. Cynthia Gamage, Bo, catching up with Massieu and Hannah atop Shadow Mountain (home of the Seekers, an enclave of people convinced they've had or will have contact with extraterrestrials), elects to buck the system by pretending they've escaped to Canada and returning them secretly to San Diego in the interest of Hannah's fragile sanity—even as the killer, whom Hannah identified only as "Goody" before she lapsed into muteness, plots further violence under cover of the Satanist paranoia. Painful, powerful, and wholly original. Even more radically than in her striking debut, Bo's gutsy work redefines the role of the detective in a darkly contemporary society.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780892964895
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 2/1/1994
  • Pages: 256

Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2004

    TIME WELL SPENT

    Strawgirl is another fine novel by Abigail Padgett minus a few points for story improbability. A three-year-old rape victim suffering mortal wounds would not have kept quiet. Three-year-olds don't possess that level of cognitive reasoning to be silenced by a threat of bodily harm to their mother. And detective Reinert's comment about arresting a guy who kept his dead sister's body locked in a closet for four years so he could collect her social security checks is despicable, but not likely. The overwhelming smell of decaying flesh would have attracted the neighbor's attention as well as every dog and rat for miles. Yet Strawgirl is worth the read. There's a wealth of information regarding mental health told very cleverly throughout its pages. Padgett never allows her dark topics drag the reader into depression nor does she preach. The story is entertaining, informative and the reader walks away a better person for it.

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