First Stone

First Stone

by Gary Ballard

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First Stone is the first novel of Season 1 in The Stepping Stone Cycle series. Forensic psychologist Dr. Jack Carter wakes from a semi-catatonic state in a mental hospital, with no memory of the previous year. His wife Sarah has disappeared and as the last human being to see her alive, Jack is the prime suspect in her disappearance. Without a body and with no physical evidence to prove foul play, the lead investigator and Jack's friend, Bill West, must continue to search for the truth even if it means fingering Jack for the crime. When a serial killer in West Virginia's coal country claims to have killed Sarah Carter, Bill and Jack rush to the crime scene. What they find is a deeply disturbed man with no memory of his crimes or of taking credit for Sarah's death. As Jack tries to decipher the mysterious series of runic symbols the killer carved into his slaughter house, he unlocks a deeper cosmic mystery that goes beyond anything he could imagine.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940148811282
Publisher: Gary Ballard
Publication date: 12/01/2013
Series: The Stepping Stone Cycle , #1
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 722 KB

About the Author

I began writing things down at the age of eleven, and I haven't stopped since. I have written far too many things that have gone unpublished, from very terrible horror novels in my teens, to comics during my time at Belhaven College until finally settling on cyberpunk science fiction after graduation. In 2009, I published my first novel, Under the Amoral Bridge as part of a series of cyberpunk novels called The Bridge Chronicles. The Bridge Chronicles in turn is one slice of cohesive universe that began as a pen-and-paper roleplaying game.

I currently live with my beautiful wife and three very insane dogs in Mississippi, where I continue to write my novels, play guitar and video games, and blog on my personal blog at

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First Stone 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Ksiddall 27 days ago
Engrossing, totally engrossing! After a particularly brutal case, forensic psychologist, Dr. Jack Carter, takes a much needed vacation with his wife, Sarah, up the east coast into Maine. A month later, Jack is found, catatonic, standing on the side of the road and there is sign of Sarah. Sometime later, he regains consciousness in the Meridian Mental Health Institute in Meridian, Connecticut, with no memory of what had happened nor where Sarah is. The police believe he’s killed her and is faking amnesia, but there’s no evidence to confirm she’s even dead. He spends the next year and a half there recuperating and in treatment, and when he’s finally cleared for release, he returns to his and Sarah’s home to try and pick up where his life left off and to search for his missing wife. A former work connection in the FBI, Special Agent Bill West, has been assigned Sarah’s case however, it has come to a standstill for lack of any additional leads. But when a new case which has a possible connection to her disappearance comes to his attention, he contacts Jack to join him in the investigation. The mutilated corpses of a number of women have been found in an old shack up in the mountains of West Virginia and the guy all the evidence points to claims he also killed Sarah and wants to talk to Jack. But when Bill and Jack travel to meet the killer, he changes his story. He claims he is innocent of the murders and has never heard of Sarah or Jack. As Bill follows up on any leads he can from the crime scene, Jack begins interviews with the accused to determine his fitness to stand trial, and things get more bizarre as every day goes by. What a great start to the mysterious “Stepping Stone Cycle” series by Gary Ballard. The story held my attention from start to finish and now I have to read more! Jack is a likeable but tragic figure and his FBI pal, Bill West, is as comfortable as a real friend. The story is not a straight up mystery either. There are spooky, paranormal, horror goings-on as well. I recommend this story to mystery readers looking for something out of the traditional “serial killer” genre that don’t mind paranormal/horror aspects. Good story!
rmattos More than 1 year ago
This is a very interesting story, very well written and entertaining, that will keep you hooked until you turn the last page and it will leave you with the feeling of wanting more.  I particularly like to read books with full stories (beginning, middle and end) in one volume. If the characters return in a future volume, that is OK. But apparently it is a trend now to write stories that are either trilogies or part of a series with unknown number of parts.  But this particular book has a plot that is captivating, with characters very well developed and the plot develops with just the right pace, exploring all the psychological conflicts of dual or multiple personality minds.  Our main character, Dr. Jack Carter, is suspect of having killed his wife Sarah, but he has no recollection of anything that happened in the previous year of his life. He just woke up on a hospital after being in semi-catatonic state for one year with this gap in his memory. Allowed to return to his work as forensic psychologist, he goes with his best friend Bill West to investigate a serial killer (George) that claims he killed Sarah. What he found when interviewing George is something that disturbed him a lot, because the killer also has no recollection of having killed anyone and he shows some symptoms of multiple-personalities. George left some symbols carved in the house where he killed the women and Dr. Jack is trying to figure out the meaning of the symbols, that are the same that appear in a stone left at the scene. This first novel of this series has an interesting ending and I just hope it will not take long for the second novel to be written. Kudos to Mr. Ballard for a well executed introduction to this Stepping Stone Cycle series. I recommend this book to the permanent library of any reader who appreciate a well written mystery novel. I received a copy from the author for reviewing and I was not requested to write a positive review. Opinion expressed here is my own.