Sometimes, the most evil things come from the most holy . . .Conflicted with his faith in God and the hypocrisy of the church, Aidan Schaeffer, a young assistant pastor, is in a constant state of spiritual turmoil. When Aidan learns that his ex-fiancée is the first victim in a string of ritualistic killings, he finds himself in the middle of an even deeper fight. Tormented by demonic threats and haunted by spirits, Aidan throws himself into investigating Amanda’s death; all the while supernatural forces have begun to attack the people around him. The more questions he asks, the more he is drawn into the world of a mysterious Anglican priest, a paranormal investigation group and a rogue female detective investigating the murders. As the gruesome rituals escalate, ancient hidden secrets and an evil long buried threaten to rip Aidan’s world apart.
About the Author
Jonathan Ryan is an author, screenwriter, columnist, blogger, and member of the Horror Writers Association. His debut horror mystery novel, 3 Gates of the Dead (Open Road Media), earned rave reviews from the New York Journal of Books, the Midwest Book Review, and Library Journal. The second book in his 3 Gates of the Dead series, Dark Bride, is set for release in 2015. A practiced public speaker, Ryan incorporates topics of writing and religion into his lectures. He has contributed to the Huffington Post, Christianity Today, the High Calling, TAPS ParaMagazine, Intrepid Magazine, the popular horror site DreadCentral.com, and Patheos.com, where he has a regular blog called the Rogue. Ryan took his vows to become a Benedictine oblate novice with St. Meinrad Archabbey. He lives in South Bend, Indiana.
Read an Excerpt
3 Gates of the Dead
By Jonathan Ryan
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 2013 Jonathan Ryan
All rights reserved.
I don't know if I believe in God anymore.
I stared at the screen, my thoughts of the past few months boiled down to a single black and white sentence as I typed an email to my best friend, Brian. The thought rocked me back in my dark brown leather couch, the only nice piece of furniture I owned. Richard Dawkins' book, The God Delusion, trembled in my hands. I couldn't bring myself to read anymore and set the book down. I reached for a piece of gooey thin crust pizza.
Bishop, my gray and white Boxer, came over and laid his head in my lap. He looked at me with sad, watery eyes. I rubbed his ears. "I know, boy, I know. After all, believing in God is part of my job description, isn't it?"
My job. I rubbed my head as I glanced down at Dawkins' book. Most of the people at my conservative evangelical church would have a problem with me even reading Dawkins in the first place. I couldn't imagine what they would think of their assistant pastor beginning to believe much of what Dawkins wrote. Many would be mad. Many would be so discouraged they might give up their own faith.
I frowned as I looked at his author picture on the cover. On one hand, Dawkins was a bit of an asshole. While my own faith seemed to be circling the drain, I had no wish to ruin other people's beliefs. Dawkins, on the other hand, seemed like a crazed trucker plowing through a crowded shopping mall. He ran over other's beliefs with a sort of manic glee that made me wonder if he just liked pissing people off.
Bishop gave a soft woof as he sniffed the pizza.
"Sorry, buddy, your mommy wouldn't approve."
He looked up at me with wide eyes.
I sighed. "I know, buddy, not like she's around to say anything, eh?"
Bishop put his head on my knees. He missed Amanda, and so did I. Her leaving had been a punch to the gut for both of us. I figured that she'd at least visit Bishop, but she'd never even asked to stop by to see him. She punished the dog who loved her.
I sat back on the couch she had bought. Amanda had said my old threadbare love seat looked like something from a frat boy's dorm. I looked around the room and realized it was the only thing in my condo that had any style. The pizza box from the previous night occupied the other end of the table, nearly falling over from all the books shoving it toward the stained carpet.
Bishop woofed at me and went into the kitchen. I got up to get him some water and caught my reflection in the patio doors. For a twenty-eight year old, who the women supposedly swooned over, I looked like hell. My wavy brown hair was disheveled and shadows lurked beneath my dark eyes. Plus, all the pizza and beer I consumed had added about seven pounds to my former soccer player physique. Sucking in my stomach, I resolved to spend more time at the gym.
I almost bumped into a stack of books heaped on my coffee table, my reading list of the past few months. Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens on one pile, John Dominic Crossan and Sam Harris on another. Each book had been well read, underlined, and pored over as I began to question God's existence after Amanda left. Her leaving hadn't been the worst thing in my life, but it was the final straw.
I sighed and looked at the stack of Stanley Kubrick movies on the floor. Kubrick and Dawkins, I thought, quite a combination for the almost faithless.
My mind began to swirl, and I grabbed for a bottle of beer. As I opened it, I had to laugh at the irony. The man in my congregation who made beer would never have guessed it might bring some comfort as I struggled with my faith.
"One good thing about being a Presbyterian, Bishop, and not a Baptist ... we get to drink beer!"
Bishop ignored me and dove into his food bowl.
I sighed. "I've got to stop talking to the dog."
I went back to my computer and stared at my words on the screen. An email just wouldn't do it. I had to say the words aloud. I had to speak my doubts so I could sort through them with a real live person.
I picked up the phone and dialed the only person I could talk to at ten o'clock at night, my college buddy Brian. The phone rang, and I heard a click as he answered.
"So, does the SEC suck by accident or as a general rule?"
"Never doubt the superiority of SEC football, you Big Ten Ass." Brian paused. "So, you must have a reason for calling this late. What's up?"
I hesitated, regretting the decision to call Brian. My doubts had gnawed at me for months, and I didn't want to shock him. Brian never doubted anything in his life, especially not the idea that God existed. He had been like that since we first met in college, a small Christian liberal arts institution in Texas.
"Aidan, are you there?"
I took a deep breath. "Yeah, bud, sorry. I'm just struggling over here and needed a friendly voice."
"Speak to me, boy."
"Well, the whole doubt thing, I think it's progressed further. I'm not sure if I believe in God anymore."
"Okay, as in you don't know if Christianity is true?"
"No, way more basic than that. I doubt God's very existence."
Brian paused. "Wait a minute. I'm going down to the man cave."
I started to pace as I waited for him to get back on the phone.
"Now, lay it out. I'm downstairs with the door shut, so speak freely."
"In other words, cuss freely, because Ashley is upstairs, eh?" I said.
"You got it."
I shouldn't have called him. He didn't need this, the late night ramblings of a pathetic, heartbroken sad-sack who no longer believed in God. I took a bite of pizza and washed it down with a big gulp of beer.
"Sorry, Brian, just sort of regret calling you."
"Shut up, man. Just spill it."
I looked at the stack of books and the flattened copy of Dawkins. "Okay, you asked for it. I guess it starts with the science questions."
Brian chuckled. "Of course it does, science boy."
"Hey, at least I'm not an Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer."
"What kind of scientific questions?"
I ran my hands through my hair. "Part of it comes from the tensions I've always struggled with, the tension between science and faith. One seems to contradict the other in a number of different areas. For example, I have always thought that irreducible complexity destroyed the idea of evolution. But now that I've been reading Dawkins, I'm starting to wonder if that's true."
"Isn't Richard a bit of a dick?"
I nearly choked on my beer. "Yeah, granted, he is a dick. That doesn't mean he's wrong though, especially on irreducible complexity."
"Simplify. Me no speak science."
I sighed. "Take the eyeball, for instance. It's a part of us that can't function without everything in place. So the question would be then, which came first, the chicken or the egg?"
"Thus proving there is a designer," Brian reasoned.
"I'd always thought so until I read Dawkins' explanation. He doesn't deny the complexity but explains it came about through slow, gradual changes until it reached perfection. Therefore, there is no need for a designer. Just give it enough time, and the change will happen naturally."
He sighed. "That makes sense, but there are gaps in our knowledge, right? Maybe that is where God moves."
"See, that's what I would have said, but even a lot of Christians find that unsatisfying. Dawkins points out that just because we don't know certain things, it doesn't mean that God is the answer to fill in the gaps. It's flawed logic."
"I guess the main problem is that God isn't exactly open to scientific investigation," Brian said.
"Yeah, and that's been bugging me. Why isn't He? Why isn't there a sensory test for Him? I want to taste, touch, see and hear Him. I want to draw His blood, pinch Him, and pound on His chest to see if He's real. I want Him to show Himself to me!"
"Bud, you don't have to yell."
Sheepishly, I lowered my voice. "I'm sorry, man; this has all been building up."
"Evidently. You aren't the only one who feels this way, you know. I've felt it a few times. But I also know that His ways are not our ways."
I hated that response. Such a cop out. I wanted to throw the phone across the room. Instead, I took another swig of beer. "See, that is what I've always said. But I'm not satisfied with that answer anymore."
"Aidan, have you ever been satisfied with those answers? Ever since we met, you have had the whole science/faith tension. But you've always dealt with it before. Why are things different now?"
I scratched my day-off beard. "I guess I've always resolved those tensions by accepting the evangelical Christian filtering of what scientists say, rather than checking it out for myself. Stupid, I know. Lately, it's all started to crash down on me. I can't overlook my doubts any longer. I'm tired of it."
I had to be honest, it felt good just to lay out eight years of questions; all the stuff I had thought about but never said. It felt like someone pulled a thorn out of my flesh.
"I wish I could help you on the science stuff," he said. "But you know way more than I do in that area, Mr. Biology Major. It sounds like there is more to your doubts than just the science questions."
That was Brian, always looking for some other answer. For a lawyer, he sure avoided the facts when it came to his faith. I had seen that often enough, intelligent people turning a blind eye to what kept smacking them in the face.
I decided not to take the bait and be a smart ass instead. "Fine, it's not just about the science. How about the history? I guess you could say I have doubts about the Bible being real history, especially the Gospels!"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, my reading has taken me into questions I didn't think too much about in seminary. For example, when, how, and who wrote the Gospels?" Beads of sweat collected on my forehead as I continued to pace around the room.
"You mean you don't think it was Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John?"
I took another swig of beer, and the room started to spin. I sat down. "Not that I can tell. It seems to me that the Gospels were written by different faith communities. They wanted to justify certain aspects of their theology. You know, the Gospels were most likely written at least seventy years after Jesus died."
"Where is the proof of that?" Brian asked, his voice starting to fill with tension. I had gone way past guarding Brian's faith.
"Well, like how some people are named in one Gospel and not named in others. Not to mention we have four different accounts of which women were at the tomb to witness the Resurrection!"
Brian's voice lowered. "I see what you mean."
"Yeah, I mean, I'm sure there are certain historical events in the Gospels, but I just don't know anymore which ones to trust, if any."
"You would know those better than me, Aidan. I'm not much of a historian when it comes to the Bible."
Bishop laid his head on my lap. I paused and rubbed his ears. For some reason, tears welled up in my eyes. I fought to steady my voice. "But beyond all that, there is one reason that's most damning of all, the one reason Jesus himself talked about."
"'All men will know you are my disciples by the love you have for one another.'" I paused. "Christians are supposed to love one another as evidence that God is real. Don't see a lot of that going around." Tears ran down my cheek.
Brian paused and took a deep breath. "No, that's true. And you see evidence of that more because of your job. You are under a lot of stress with work, and you know, other things."
I gripped the phone. "What other things, Brian?"
"Don't you think your personal life has a lot to do with what you're going through? Maybe, just maybe, your doubts are more emotional than rational? I mean, I hate to bring this up, but you've had a rough year. Your parents dying in the fire and Amanda leaving are big things, bud."
I jumped up and sent the half-eaten pizza flying across the room. "Why the hell do you have to bring all that up? Can't a person have honest doubts about their faith without someone thinking they're having an emotional crisis? A lot of people don't believe in God! A lot of respectable people! Famous people don't! Smart people like Richard Dawkins or John Lennon!"
"But you're a minister," Brian fired back. "You have to believe. That's what people rely on you for, helping them with their own doubt. People in the church won't put up with it."
I kicked over a stack of DVDs. "So they get mad at me, and I lose my job. Big deal. It won't get me stoned or burned at the stake like it might have five-hundred years ago. It's been done, like when gay people come out. It used to be such a scandal, Time cover material. Now, it's a yawn fest. Very few people care anymore whether you are gay or an atheist. That is, unless you are running for president."
I paused and grinded my teeth. "The problem with you, Brian, is that you live this fairy-tale life, married to a sweet Georgia peach, have two Christmas-card kids and a huge house in the suburbs. I don't think you've fucking failed at anything in your life!"
A long bout of silence made me think Brian had hung up. My anger had clearly mixed with the beer and delivered a crushing blow. I figured he'd be too upset to reply, but I didn't care. It was about time he got a dose of the sad reality of my life.
"Listen, Aidan," he said in a soft tone. "I know things are horrible. I mean, you just lost your parents a year ago, and Amanda left a few months later. But I'm trying to help, so don't take your frustrations out on me, bro. Plus, how many beers have you had tonight?"
I looked at the empty beer bottles on the floor and on the table. "Ten, I think.
I'm sorry, man."
"Aidan, I know it sucks."
"It doesn't just suck, Brian, I-F-S!"
Brian laughed. "Yeah, man, I know."
I was glad our little college phrase brought some humor to the tense situation. We'd developed the acronym for "it fucking sucks" to avoid all the frowns from pretty, virtuous, southern-Christian girls for whom saying "fuck" ranked right up there with taking God's name in vain. That never made any sense to me, and I had many arguments as to why "fuck" is better. Most people in my evangelical school didn't buy it.
I plopped back on the couch. "I shouldn't have taken it out on you. I'm sorry. I feel a little lost. I don't have any direction right now."
"Maybe you read too much, did you ever think about that?"
"Well, yeah, you idiot. When you're not dating, you have a lot of free time on your hands, you know? It's not like I think dating and reading are mutually exclusive. I just don't have anything else to do."
Brian hit a sore spot. I hadn't dated anyone since Amanda broke off our engagement.
"Well, it's not like you aren't good-looking. I remember the girls at school loved to come out and watch you play soccer. All you have to do is man-up and ask someone. Use an online dating service or something."
I laughed, and Bishop raised his head. "Funny you should say that. I did exactly that two weeks ago."
"And what kind of responses did you get?"
"More info, man, more info."
I sighed. "It's like this. Half of the responses I get are from the unbelievably-holy Christian girl who was home-schooled, wants to marry a pastor and spend her life entertaining the ladies of the church. The other half comes from girls who, to put it nicely, wish to deflower a pastor. The joke is I've already been deflowered. Too bad for them."
Brian laughed. "Revenge on God by screwing, eh? Or an unhealthy church upbringing."
"I guess. Both types creep me out."
"Come on, Aidan, I'm sure something will work out. There's no need to give up your faith in God over it. I have a book that might help."
I busted up laughing. "Dude, that's such an evangelical response. Gloss over it and offer them a book. Besides, I've probably already read it."
"Well, have you talked to Mike?"
I closed my eyes. I had thought about it many times, but how do you tell your boss you may no longer believe the main values of the company?
Bishop peered up at me and whined. His boxer-mutt face pained with the look of a full bladder.
"Okay, buddy, I know, walk time."
Excerpted from 3 Gates of the Dead by Jonathan Ryan. Copyright © 2013 Jonathan Ryan. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A chilling read that keeps your attention! I am not a fan of slasher horror and prefer supernatural thrills woven through real life evil. The latter is exactly what you get in 3 Gates of the Dead. It is a very well written, paranormal mystery masterpiece that draws you in from its opening line and doesn't let you go. The characters are very real, the imagery is strong, the atmosphere creepy, and the setting Ryan creates makes you feel like you can walk right into Pastor Aiden Schaeffer's world. This is a great series opener that is destined for the big screen.
I wasn't able to put this book down and that's very rare for me because I'm difficult to please when it comes to this genre. Mr. Ryan doesn't disappoint. I look forward to more!!
3 Gates of the Dead, by Jonathan Ryan is a roller coaster ride of a horror story – the suspense keeps building and you know when you hit the other side you are going to come out screaming – but you can’t help turning the pages anyway. I was caught up in this book almost immediately. I liked the main character and really identified with what he was going through. I didn’t see the twists along the way coming and I found the story to be engrossing and some of the characters, especially Father Neil and Zoe to be particularly memorable. Detective Brown was also a really great character. Pastor Aidan Schaeffer is going through a crisis of faith. An Associate Pastor at an Ohio church he is tormented by the fact he no longer believes in God. He then becomes a murder suspect in the death of his ex-fiancée Amanda. Even when he is cleared, he remains involved in the investigation because of its ritualistic nature and supernatural elements. Will Pastor Schaeffer resolve his crisis of faith in time to save himself and those he cares for? Is the killer a sick serial killer or is there something more behind Amanda's death? Can Aidan figure out the clue Amanda has left behind in enough time to prevent the next killing and what is with the letters carved into Amanda's forehead? This book falls in with the tradition of the Exorcist and with Stephen King’s supernatural thrillers. There is a quality to the story that reminds me of Poe’s short stories at their best with their unforeseen macabre twists. This is a complete stand-alone book, but there is a bit of a cliffhanger at the end that means we will be seeing more books involving Pastor Schaeffer, Father Neal and the supernatural world from this promising new horror writer. I highly recommend this book to all readers of horror, suspense and the mysterious. It really is excellent.
a great mystery
A very entertaining book! It's a roller coaster ride of a horror story with many supernatual twist and turns it would make a great horror movie!
Great book!!!!!!! Can't put it down!!!! Love the story line. I can't wait to finish it. I end up coming back from lunch at work because I can't put the book down.
While I'm typically not a fan of horror, Ryan absolutely blew me away with 3 Gates of the Dead. It's entirely creepy and disturbing ... and that's a good thing. We start off with Pastor Aidan Schaeffer who's having a bit of a faith crisis. Actually, it'd be a huge faith crisis considering he's the associate pastor of an Ohio church, and pastors are supposed to believe in God. As if that's not enough, he finds he's suddenly suspected of the ritualistic murder of his ex-fiancee, Amanda. After being cleared of the charges, he sticks around to help the smexy Detective Brown work through the increasingly disturbing clues. With the help of some paranormal investigators and a priest you can't help but love, Aidan struggles to piece together the clues left by Amanda before the next murder occurs. Is it just some nutcase at work or is there something much more sinister at work? Ryan does an exquisite job in creating a novel that covers every element of storytelling to its fullest. Sharing the horror limelight with the likes of Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft can't be easy, but Ryan knocks it out of the park with 3 Gates of the Dead! Trust me when I tell you, you'll never look at footprints in the snow the same way again! If you like horror, suspense, and all things paranormal, you're definitely in for a treat!
If a book can't grab me in ten pages, I have no choice but to give up on it. Jonathan Ryan's '3 Gates Of the Dead' not only grabbed me within the first few pages, but wouldn't let me go as I found myselffalling under the spell of this supernatural story of a minister named Aidan who loses his faith after a series of personal tragedies that leave him empty inside andwondering of the existence of God. But soon Aidan is drawn into a paranormal mystery that forces him to question everything he knows, and keeps the readerbreathless in anticipation of where that mystery will take him as it draws to a deadly climax. I love a good scary read, but Ryan's '3 Gates' goes beyond just being scary. It has depth, emotion, chills,intelligence, and a character we have such compassion for right out of the gate. I look forward with delicious anticipation to the second book in the trilogy.
Spine-tingling, seductive and sinister! Jonathan Ryan has taken theological thrillers to new depths and depravities. No matter what your typical literary fare, this novel is a feast for theological thriller, mystery and horror fans alike. Exquisitely written, and objectively handled, Ryan’s story leaps off the page in a break-neck and terror fueled pace. Fiction and fantasy, for myself at least, must always have an anchor. Something that ties the fantastic or the mythological to the mundane, the real and tangible world. Ryan chose the setting perfectly for this title, in central Ohio. As an Ohio native, I was not only familiar with the locations that he had chosen, but familiar with some of the folklore surrounding those areas, and had spent many occasions during my childhood visiting these places. This further intensified my reading experience. 3 Gates of the Dead has mystery, horror, romance, and betrayal. It is not for the faint hearted or those that fear anything that goes “bump” in the night. It will grab you with unseen icy hands, and grip you tightly til the very end, then leave you begging for a sequel.
Couldn’t put it down.
Incredible story. Great plot. Characters that you care about and root for. An assistant Presbyterian pastor who's lost his faith gets involved in a cult-type homicide investigstion as a religious expert, then potential suspect, then expert again. He starts seeing things that don't make sense and that he can't possibly be seeing. He continues to help the beautiful detective working the case and is led to a Catholic Priest and his life gets turned upside down. Together they fight an evil magic that wants to take over the world. This was a great story filled with twists, turns, and surprises. Good backstory on characters. I couldn't put it down. Definitely reccommend!
Fast paced and fairly creepy. An intelligent read.
Couldn't put it down. It drew me in from the start. Can't wait for the next part.
A great read with unexpected twists.
I had high expectations based on other reviews, but the story got dragged down by questions of faith and religious details that didn't really make a differnce in the end. Don't think I willbe paying to read the next in the series.
Assistant pastor Aidan Schaeffer is questioning his faith and those around him. During this turmoil, he is drawn into a supernatural serial murder investigation. The flaws of the characters, in part, make them more realistic and more likeable or unlikeable, as the character and situation dictate. Also watching the characters deal with their flaws, and as at least in the example of the main character, try to deal and come to terms with his crisis/flaws, character development is presented. The dialogue is varied and typically rich in personality. Narrative is vividly detailed with thrilling action. Overall, an exciting ride!
A friend told me about this book. Fired up to read it on my new Nook!
Let me start with the positive. It was cool that this book was based in my hometown. I’d never read a book based there before, so it definitely added a certain heft to the book that it might have been lacking otherwise for me. (However, it also took away some of the mystery for me. I was internally shouting a few answers at the characters.) The characters were well-written. There were some genuinely creepy and disturbing scenes scattered throughout. The writer has a serious talent for writing believable dialogue and making his main character seem very joe-street, even as a pastor. Some of my favorite quotes were: “Dude, run!” – (This is one of those deals where the line itself wasn’t really funny, but the context – a faith-less preacher running from a haunted house – made it hilarious.) -*- “I wish I could be as good as you.” His eyes bore into me. “You’re not me. You’re you. Learn to be who you were created to be. ” – We need this message, we need this message everywhere. -*- “Then let me be more clear and direct. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, f*** off!” – This one quite literally had me snorting with laughter. Sometimes my love of horror and my distaste for religious hullabaloo cause me to have very conflicted feelings on books. Most of the time, it’s not a problem, and I’m easily able to just enjoy the book. However, this conflict was definitely present for 3 Gates of the Dead, which was an interesting attempt by author Jonathan Ryan to try to integrate man’s doubting his/her god into the course of a supernatural thriller. See, here’s the thing – there’s a certain point at which a book becomes less of a fun read and a thrill ride and more of an excuse for preaching some religious point. For the religiously-inclined, this is a wonderful book that reinforces its okay to have doubts, but that the presence of their chosen divinity is definitely there. For the non-religiously inclined, it’s a supernatural thriller that had the potential to be super interesting, and quickly just became a tad annoying. The main reason this happened for me was honestly the fact that it was obvious really early on that of course the main character was going to find his faith again. There was no doubt about it, so the doubts never really felt serious. If it had felt like there was any chance that he might legitimately not regain his faith, it would have been a lot more interesting. Overall, it wasn’t a bad read, but it could use some tweaking. There’s some repetitious imagery, some grammar and punctuation mistakes that got missed, and the internal drama needs to be a little bit more…dramatic. It is a mostly entertaining and quick read, though. I’d definitely recommend it to those who do the praying thing, but wouldn’t recommend it to us heathens that are just looking for a good supernatural thriller. Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
If you like this genre maybe but i doubt it
This is a very amateurish book, peopled by shallow characters and ridiculous events. The "hero," a pastor having the most puerile and adolescent crisis of faith ever, is much more like a frat boy than a minister. Many beers frequently are his answer to everything. At the same time, he is annoyingly sanctimonious about others' failings. Possibly the mosr entertaining part of this book is when this character attempts to explain why he no.longer believes in god with the kind of arguments an afolescent posits. For someone to go through seminary and suddenly be wracked by doubt by historical discrepancies in the bible is just hilarious. Why on earth would you not raise that objection much earlier - are we to believe this only jusr occurred to someone who had studied the texts for years? The protagonist also fancies himself an amateur detective, so this book is rife with all the nonsense of poorly done books of this type - refusing to make elementary and obvious connectons, giving the character police access that would never be granted in reality, and, most egregious and annoying, deliberately withholding information from the real detectives. The latter is never acceptable unless that information woukd seem to implicate the protagonist, but in this book there appears to be no reason to do that that is not just a transparent plot device. A really terrible book. Fortunately, it was cheap.