cover image Sacrificial Ground

Sacrificial Ground

Thomas H. Cook. Putnam Publishing Group, $16.95 (287pp) ISBN 978-0-399-13339-8

The author of Blood Innocents, Tabernacle and other critically hailed mysteries, Cook creates a haunting atmosphere that envelops the reader of his strange new novel. Frank Clemons, a homicide detective in Atlanta, is obsessed by the murder of beautiful Angelique Devereauxpuhlease!. Her body is found in a slum, far from the mansion where Angelique lived with her older sister Karen, an artist. Orphans since childhood, both girls had been oddly uncommunicative although occupying the same house. Questioning the students at the dead girl's school, Clemons learns she had isolated herself from them also. All he knows is that she was lovely and pregnant, which propels him into a near-fanatic search for even a whisper about Angelique and her unknown lover. As the officer follows the trail to the victim's last few days, he arrives at a staggering truth that leaves him, and the reader, limp. The writing and characterizations are flawless, particularly as Cook unobtrusively but surely commands empathy for Frank Clemons, a good cop and a real human being. 50,000 first printing; $50,000 ad/promo; Mystery Guild selection; Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club alternate. (March)