Just when a mysterious death in Washington, DC, appears to have voodoo connections rooted in New Orleans, Trevor Black also receives an invitation to speak at the national ABA convention in the city.He knows he’ll be in enemy territory, both as a disbarred attorney and as a follower of Jesus, but he determines to travel there and confront the supernatural element. Right after a grisly murder in his hotel room puts him on the suspect list, his daughter disappears, leaving a note that suggests a connection to the local cult religion. Now Trevor must not only crack the case but try to protect Heather from forces of darkness clutching at her soul as well. And just as he discovers that his ability to sniff out the supernatural has its limitations, Trevor learns that this web of evil extends far beyond isolated murders, enslaving scores of innocent children, with its head perhaps linked to the highest seats of power.
About the Author
Joel Richards was the kid who did crazy things just to have a good story to tell afterward. On deciding to make his affection his profession, he received a BFA in acting and a BA in English from the University of Utah. He has narrated over 150 audiobooks and continues to tell his original stories to live audiences.
Read an Excerpt
TWO WEEKS EARLIER OCRACOKE ISLAND, NORTH CAROLINA
Even at the beginning, when I first learned about the death of Washington lawyer Jason Forester from my friend Dick Valentine, I had that peculiar sense of mine that a supernatural force was behind it. Dick was a New York police detective. We still kept up our unique partnership even though it had been years since I left New York City.
On that particular day, I had just launched out in my fishing boat to the deep blue sea when the call came in from Dick. He shared a lawyer joke. I pushed back with a cop joke of my own. We laughed. Then Dick got down to business. He said he had a strange case involving the death of a government lawyer he wanted to share with me. Once upon a time I had been a criminal defense attorney, so naturally I was all ears.
Dick told me everything he knew about the Jason Forester matter. He explained that on the day of his death, Forester, an assistant United States attorney for the District of Columbia, had been focused on a particular investigation he had been working for months. The target was a criminal enterprise as horrible as it was secretive. He had vowed to track it down and personally drag the bad guys to justice by the collar.
"Then, at one minute after six that evening, while most of the staff was packing up," Dick said, "a secretary was trotting out of the building for the day but stopped and rapped on the door of Jason Forester's office. She tossed a FedEx envelope on his desk. 'This just arrived for you,' she said. It was probably the last conversation anyone had with Forester before he died. At least that we know of.
"So, as far as we can tell, Forester was sitting there in his Washington, DC, office when he opened the envelope. It must have been only minutes later when his heart slammed to a halt. Fifteen minutes after that, the office cleaning crew wanders in and finds the corpse of Jason Forester. He was seated at his desk." From what Dick's source told him, Forester had a look of wild horror on his face, like something you might expect on a Halloween mask.
"Except for a couple of pens and a blank legal pad, the FedEx envelope was the only thing on his desk. Jason Forester was still hanging on to the letter."
Dick took a moment, then added, "It took two big paramedics to pry his fingers loose."
I didn't wait for the punch line. I interrupted Dick and asked what they knew about the FedEx delivery.
"It was sent from some printing, mail, and express delivery shop in New Orleans. The sender's name and address on the package were fakes."
"Any security cameras in the store?"
"Nah. And as luck would have it, the staff couldn't recall much about the person who dropped it off, except that the guy paid cash for second-day delivery."
"Sure," Dick said. "You'll never guess who headed it up. Vance Zaduck, Forester's boss. He's the head honcho as the US attorney for the District of Columbia. But the FBI lab didn't find anything on the letter or inside the envelope. You know, no anthrax. No toxins. So Zaduck reports there had been no foul play."
"What'd the letter say?"
"Death threat. Not unheard of in Forester's line of work. So Zaduck decided it was a hoax. Just happened to arrive at Forester's office with coincidental timing. Now, on the face of it, an unsuspecting mind could concede that Vance Zaduck had a point, because it turns out Forester had a medical history of cardiac arrhythmia. Autopsy confirmed it. So Zaduck concludes that Jason Forester died of 'natural causes.' Then kicks it up to the attorney general's office for the formal wrap-up. The word I'm getting is that the AG is simply going to rubber-stamp Zaduck's findings."
I knew there had to be more to the story, otherwise Dick wouldn't have bothered to bring me into it, and I told him that.
Dick said, "Yeah. There's a backstory all right. An anonymous tipster called me and gave me all of this intel. That's how I found out. Told me everything I just told you. With one more detail."
"The tipster, someone I suspect to be reliable, told me that Forester's demise was 'death by voodoo.' That's a quote."
Dick let that sink in, then asked, "What do you think?" "Me?" I replied. "I'd file it under 'possible death by supernatural causes. Further investigation needed.' But that's just me." "Thought so," Dick said.
He didn't push the matter. Not then.
A couple of days later, though, Dick called me again. About the same subject. Jason Forester, AUSA. The dead federal prosecutor.
When I picked up his call, Dick asked me, right out of the gate, "So, just wondering, is Trevor Black still chasing demons?" Dick didn't have to ask. He already knew the answer. Back when I was still collecting mail at my expensive penthouse in Manhattan, Dick took pity on my plight as an attorney in a mess of trouble and hired me as a consultant to his Manhattan police precinct.
Mind you, he hadn't employed me to deal with the usual fare. Instead, I worked on a crime spree that had all the gruesome hallmarks of the supernatural. At first, Dick's partners at the precinct treated me as a joke on two legs. But they stopped laughing when we caught the demon. I use the word demon in its literal sense. And now Dick Valentine does too.
Dick asked me if I remembered the details he had told me the last time we talked.
I hadn't forgotten, of course. How could I? Forester, the victim of voodoo.
"Well," he said, "any thoughts?"
I asked him a few questions. Like whether he had taped the conversation with the anonymous tipster or recognized the caller's voice.
"Nope," Dick said. "It came to my cell, not to my precinct desk. And the informer was using one of those voice distorters. Couldn't even tell whether it was a man or a woman."
Then I posed the obvious question. "Why 'death by voodoo'? I must be missing something."
"The person wouldn't elaborate on the voodoo part, except to say — and I quote — 'connect the dots.' That's exactly what I was told."
"Where do I fit into this?"
"Well, it's about a dead lawyer, and you have a legal background. Or at least you used to, you know, before they yanked your license to practice law."
"Thanks for the memories."
Dick rolled on. "Also, Forester's death is spooky, and we both know that's your home turf. And then there's the fact that you and Forester's superior, US Attorney Vance Zaduck, have a history together."
Dick was right, of course. My dealings with Zaduck went all the way back to law school, where we were not only classmates, we were opponents in the year-end moot court case (which I won). After getting our law degrees, we faced off again in a bitter criminal case. I still remembered, with a touch of nausea, that messed-up case with Zaduck where Carter Collins — my client, a promising young boxer — ended up going to prison, although Zaduck had to cover up some key evidence in order to win it.
"Any other reasons for sharing this with me?" I asked.
"Yeah," Dick said. "I knew Jason Forester. He was a good prosecutor. Tough. Honest. Part of a joint organized-crime task force set up between Washington and New York, which is how I met him. He prosecuted some mob bosses at first, followed by a stint going after terrorists. Switched to child porn investigations against creeps who kidnap kids and use them in perverted videos. Forester was a legal hero in my book. Then came his unfortunate black magic demise. And whenever I hear about a case that makes my skin crawl, well, I naturally think of you."
I took a moment. "Not sure. Was that a compliment?"
Dick chuckled. Then he got serious and added, "Trevor, if something from the other side was involved in Jason Forester's death ... you know, unseen forces, violent and nasty — your specialty — we both know that a routine Department of Justice investigation won't be able to get to the bottom of it. Not in a million years."
I needed to connect some dots of my own. "How do you know your unnamed caller was really an insider?"
"The caller rattled off the data on Jason Forester's federal PIV smart card, along with his Social Security number, his date of birth, and the date he began work at the US attorney's office. Everything checked out."
"So why you?"
"Somehow the phone tipster knew I had a law enforcement connection with Forester, and the caller needed to tell someone 'outside the Beltway.' I asked why that was. The informant said there was a criminal investigation Forester was running, and it might have something to do with his death. That the caller didn't know, quote, 'who can be trusted on my side of the Potomac.'"
Dick Valentine ended the call by asking if I would look into the Jason Forester incident. He wondered if I could help the US attorney's office to "see the light," convincing them that this incident required a deeper look-see. I told him I'd think about it.
I knew that if I said yes to Dick, it would mean another matchup against Vance Zaduck. That could send me down a very embarrassing, very public waterslide. I had read recently in the National Law Journal that Zaduck was receiving serious consideration for a judicial appointment to the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. That made him a rising star in the legal universe. The DC Court of Appeals is a prestigious bench. In fact, judges from that bench are frequently culled as possible nominees to the United States Supreme Court. No question about it: in recent years, Zaduck seemed to have the amazing knack of catching the wind at his back.
I, on the other hand, was a washed-up, ex–New York City criminal defense lawyer, disbarred for refusing to undergo psychiatric examination as a condition of saving my law license. Between me and Vance, guess who wins the credibility contest.
In the big picture, though, "credibility," as attorneys use that term, has only limited utility, mostly in things like lawsuits, media debates, and Washington politics. When you're doing combat with the powers of hell, "credibility" doesn't help you much.
Excerpted from "The Empowered"
Copyright © 2017 Craig Parshall.
Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
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
I first met Trevor Black in 'The Occupied'. A former high profile defense attorney who meets Jesus through a former client and new sees demons. Pretty simplified but then, honestly, sometimes simple is better. I mean the bigger picture is that every single day we are surrounded by the urging of the devil (demons) and faced with the choice of Christ (angels). As a rule, we don't see them. As a rule we probably don't even think about them. We just trudge through life doing the next thing that crosses our path. We don't give a blink to the idea that all of those choices we make are drawing, ultimately, between these two sides. I mean, that's not what this book is really about but then it also kinda is. Trevor doesn't even stop and think that each choice he makes, that each next step is ultimately drawn down to these two opposing sides and he's in the middle of it. I think for me that right there is what I keep finding missing in Trevor's stories. Because he is missing the bigger picture. I mentioned in my first review that I felt like there was a decided lack of the faith element. I still feel like, to a large degree, that it was still missing in this book. I mean we saw and heard him pray when things got tough. We even saw a few other transient characters pray. Trevor talked about his study of the Old Testament. But it felt like he was disconnected for the larger picture. He set his mind to things, he didn't always pray about those things. That being said this book brought to life a much larger issue than his faith and spiritual ability to detect and see demons. That alone may be too much for some readers but Parshall goes on to tackle the larger issue of human trafficking, rape, kidnapping, child pornography, and the 'dark web'. Obviously, this book might not be a good choice for every reader but don't let that hold you back. This book tells those stories with respect. I loved watching Trevor grow as a person, as a Christian, and with his gift. I enjoyed watching him and his daughter get to know each other and her own awakening to his faith. Well written through a myriad of plot twists that kept me engaged with the smaller intricacies of the story while also building the greater truths. I really enjoyed this book and I am looking forward for the next time I can drop in with Trevor Black. Watching his faith and talents develop, watching him understand the greater balance between the two sides, and seeing truth win out over any situation. I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by Tyndale House Publishers. I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.
This book is a crime thriller with a bit of sci if mixed in. Trevor Black is an ex criminal attorney that was disbarred for believing that he can see and hear demons. This was very interesting and had many twists and turns. Trevor meets his grown daughter for the first time and I hope she becomes a regular character if there are more books in the series. This book has God and Satan. This is well written. I received a copy of this book from Tyndale Blog Network for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own free will.
Read This with the Lights On! Trevor Black is a former New York lawyer, well known for his winning courtroom style. But after becoming a follower of Jesus, and shockingly having the ability to see--and even smell—demons, he is convinced there is an active dark side that is constantly attempting to hurt mortals. Trevor was disbarred, lost his lucrative law practice, and experienced lots of ridicule when he loudly proclaimed his beliefs. Now, he finds himself being drawn into New Orleans where a number of girls have gone missing--especially from the creepy, abandoned grounds of the Six Flags amusement park. As he tries to uncover what has happened to these girls, he finds it is a disturbing mixture of voodoo, human trafficking and possibly, a government cover up. Before it is over, attempts will be made to stop him by use of false murder charges, committal to a mental hospital, and vicious attacks by demons. Some people claim to be on his side, but he is mysteriously warned that not everyone can be trusted. While all of that is going on, he is attempting to get to know his recently discovered young, adult daughter. Unfortunately, she has no interest in Christian beliefs, and has lots of hostility towards him. Can he be successful developing a father-daughter relationship with her while, at the same time, being drawn into the confusing case in New Orleans? This fast-paced novel is very hard to put down. Trevor’s adventures will keep the pages turning while he confronts some interesting characters. They range from a southern lawyer who is not reveling all his secrets, to a mysterious artist whose mother was deeply involved in the voodoo of New Orleans, and met an unnatural death. Hair raising accounts of demon encounters should give pause to any Christian who doesn’t take satan’s threats to mankind seriously. The author, a lawyer himself, has spun a well-written and exciting tale. I highly recommend this 5-star book to anyone who likes suspense, mysteries, or fights between good and evil. Tyndale House Publishing has provided bookreadingtic with a complimentary copy of The Empowered, for the purpose of review. I have not been compensated in any other manner. All opinions expressed are my own, and I was not required, or influenced, to give anything but an honest appraisal. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
This is a book that is going to draw you in and hold you right to the end, and all the while the forces of evil are fighting and tempting God, and they are using Trevor Black, as he is saved in the blood. This is a story that I expected to read in the newspaper, of course, a lot would be left out, but with the child trafficking that is going on it is so very real, and so terrifying. From a person standpoint, I have a friend who faced the evil of a professed follower of Satan, and he lost his life. The author made this story so very real, and there is nonstop action from the beginning to end. All the while evil is trying to stop Trevor from upsetting their evil plans, and you will find yourself holding your breath as the events happen continuously as Evil tries to prevail. I recommend this read that really deals with spiritual warfare, and once you start you won’t be able to leave this read. I received this book through the Tyndale Blogger Program, and was not required to give a positive review.
Books about spiritual warfare and the invisible war that wages around us always fascinate me. This book follows Trevor Black, a former lawyer who can see past the invisible veil…he sees demons and is attuned to the demonic forces surrounding him. He is called by a former coworker to investigate a suspicious death which leads him to discover something very sinister behind everything. This book was very fast paced and exciting. The reader is taken from North Carolina to New Orleans to Washington DC and meets many colorful characters. Although there are a lot of characters in this book, it was fairly easy to keep track of who was who. The writing is very atmospheric. At one point, I was on a boat in a New Orleans bayou and I could almost hear the sounds and fear that a gator would attack. I truly believe in the battle of good and evil and appreciate that Craig Parshall writes about the subject. I will definitely pick up more books by him. This is book 2 in the Trevor Black series but it works as a standalone. I enjoyed it more than the first book, The Occupied…read my review of it Here. My Rating: 4.5 stars I received this book from Tyndale House to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Shake, shiver, turn the page.... Repeat! Seems like everyone is writing a book on human trafficking these days, but this one is written from a whole new angle. Likely, a truthful one, although, this book is fictional. This particular crime is so low, so vile, that it surprises me not the depth of the evil it comes from. The book is scary, creepy and yet, the author did such an amazing job, I could not quit reading. (sometimes I wanted to) I would certainly encourage a person to be of age before delving into this book. Demons, voodoo, and much more encompass the pages of this tale. Young girls being kidnapped and disappearing, Satanic worship, violence, and yet, there is also faith, forgiveness, love, salvation, and redemption. The evil runs deep and up to the highest level of authority imaginable. Those who begin to uncover the secrets must be eliminated at any cost! Reading will be thrilling and challenging! So be ready! This is my first book by Craig Parshall, but I will be coming back for more. After discovering this is the second book in the series, I am definitely intrigued enough to want to read the first and waiting to see what comes next. I was provided with a free copy of this book from the publisher (Tyndale). I was however, not required to review this book in a positive manner. This is simply my honest opinion of its contents.
While still firmly in the mystery genre I'm so fond of, The Empowered was a departure from my normal read. This story follows Trevor Black as he's pulled into a world of mystery and voodoo. At first, I was confused as to how this story fit under the umbrella of Christian fiction. In fact, I think the copy is a bit misleading. While The Empowered is a story about voodoo, it centers around the fact that Black has the gift of being able to see the spiritual warfare taking place around him. So, more than being a story focused on voodoo, it is a story that centers around the warfare that takes place in the world. Parshall uses this spiritual warfare to help explain why criminals act the way that they do. Spiritual warfare seems to be a more talked about concept in my world these days. So while at some times, Parshall's descriptions of the warfare happening around Black made me uncomfortable, they don't seem completely unbelievable. This was an enjoyable story that kept me guessing until the end. I had an inkling of what was going on since this is my favorite genre, but the story kept my attention. I received a copy of this book from Tyndale. This review is my own, honest opinion.
I loved the premise of this book, it definitely pulled me in and made me want to read it. I like things that are a little different. This book did deliver on the something different and supernatural aspect, even a bit graphic at times. However, that doesn’t that bother me, I can handle that. As much as I wanted to like this book I just didn’t. I think it might have simply been the style of writing, it didn’t grab me and make me want to keep reading. So even though this has an interesting premise, for me the story didn’t hold up and make me want to keep reading. As always, this is my opinion only. A copy of this book was given to my by the publisher. All opinions are my own.
** “It was time to remind myself that God still governed the affairs of the universe. Including those of men and of angels. And even demons.” ** Trevor Black, a man who has been given the gift of seeing and fighting demons, is back in Craig Parshall’s latest novel, “The Empowered.” After learning of an intriguing case where a lawyer is literally scared to death and dies a sudden “voodoo death,” Trevor travels to New Orleans, along with his newly acquainted daughter Heather, to look into the case after being asked to speak at a legal convention. Trevor is drawn further into the case when an assistant attorney general is also found dead … in Trevor’s hotel room … in an horrific voodoo cult manner. Using his special ability to detect demons and “combat with the powers of hell,” Trevor and Heather seek to determine the connection between voodoo and these deaths — and incidentally get drawn into the human trafficking world, particularly the trafficking of young girls. Will Trevor and Heather be able to connect the dots between the mysterious deaths, the disappearance of girls, and these high profile deaths? Will he be able to stop the trafficking ring? And will Trevor be able to keep both himself and Heather safe? “The Empowered” is a wild ride featuring murders, mental institutionalization, nighttime trips deep into the heart of the Louisiana bayous, voodoo rituals, high speed chases, and depravity at the highest levels. Parshall does a great job of blending a legal thriller with a supernatural thriller, although I will say “The Empowered” is more legal than supernatural, unlike his prior novel “The Occupied” which was heavier on the supernatural side. If you blended the novels of John Grisham and Stephen King, you’d come up with “The Empowered.” But other than being a fantastic legal/supernatural thriller, “The Empowered” offers up so many other goodies — it reminds us how easy it can be to slip into the dark side and how we therefore must be vigilant in seeking the light; Jesus won’t be crammed into a little box; we must seek and offer grace, forgiveness, and redemption; we must determine how deep our faith is; God can take the ugly and make it beautiful, and therefore He will also fix the broken parts of our lives; and we can seek the perfect power of God, which is filled with His unending love. Parshall takes his readers on a fast-paced, high-intensity, keep-you-guessing journey with his latest novel — right down to the crazy, heart-pumping end. I certainly hope there will be more Trevor Black stories to come! Five stars out of five. Tyndale House Publishers provided this complimentary copy for my honest, unbiased review.
What it's about: Ex-attorney, Trevor Black, is back at fighting the dark forces. This time in the city of New Orleans. Two government employees are dead, one in his hotel room, and both look like voodoo is possibly involved. What started out as a trip to talk at a convention turns to a murder investigation that has evil written all over it, Trevor finds himself dealing with the dark world like never before. In a fight against time, trying to locate his missing daughter and fighting against demonic forces, Trevor discovers a sinister, evil empire tied to human trafficking and young girls gone missing with webs strung all the way to top government officials. What I thought: Captivating and a bit eerie all at the same time. The voodoo/demonic slant gave me the shivers, but it added so much grit and depth to the story at the same time. This is considered a novel, but it is the 2nd book of Trevor Black. You could read this as a stand alone, but reading the first one helps in the backstory of the 2nd book. Parshall does an expert job weaving this story from the beginning to the end. Despite the dark side of the plot, the suspense is thick and the pace is fast. Would you read it: Think This Present Darkeness but in present day form. Add in technology and government and human trafficking and you have what this book is about. It is dark, and you may not want to read before bed, but it is also very hard to put down, so you may be up until the late hours trying to finish it. Tyndale House Publishers sent me this complimentary copy to review for them. Opinions expressed are my own.