Milt Kovac, Sheriff of Prophesy County, Oklahoma, is called upon by an old lover to investigate the disappearance of her teenage son. Milt has intentionally had no contact with Lora, the old flame, in years as she manipulated him into a love affair years before to cover up a series of murders her husband was committing in Milt's jurisdiction. Being first and foremost a lawman of the greatest integrity, Milt starts to investgate. He learns early on that Trent, the missing teen, had joined up with a fledgling religious cult in Prophesy County and that he didn't join alone. A local girl from the wrong side of the tracks, Amanda, joined him. While enroute to the farm where the cult has taken up residence, Milt discovers a murdered girl who is quickly identified as Amanda.
Milt confronts the leader of the cult about the murdered girl found near their abode. The man, Brother Grigsby by name, is immediately defensive of his clan and refuses to allow Milt and his small force of deputies onto the property to investigate. Milt displays his working knowledge of police procedure in securing a search warrant and seizing evidence from the cult. Grigsby is a suspicious acting individual, and some of his followers are really whacko, but Milt is still torn by suspicions about the missing Trent. After all, his father was an active serial killer operating right under Milt's nose. Milt and his deputies conduct a series of searches, interviews, behind the scenes investigations, and a final raid of the cult before the real murderer's identity is revealed.
All the while, Milt remains the same unique individual he has always been. He is getting older now (near 60), with a small child and psychiatrist wife at home to care for. He's now established as the Sheriff of Prophecy County and not just a senior deputy reporting to a borderline unethical elected figurehead. His force includes Emmett Hopkins, a cynical and somewhat embittered cop who is arguably a better investigator than Milt. Also included is Jasmine Bodine, the tough but sensitive female deputy and Dalton Pettigrew, who is still pretty slow but seems to have wisened up a bit since the earlier books. Even moreso than before, Milt is still determined to unravel the truth, rescue the hostage, and bring the bad guys to justice.
This report prepared by Bill Luke
St. Martin's, Jan 2003, 22.95, 224 pp.
His former lover Laura Marshall hysterically demands that Prophesy County, Oklahoma Sheriff save her teenage son Trent from the Seven Trumpets religious community that she swears kidnapped him. Though he prefers distance from Laura, Milt reluctantly follows up on her complaint and quickly learns that Trent's girlfriend Amanda Nederwald has failed to come home either.
Milt visits the Seven Trumpets estate, but before he sees anyone, he finds the corpse of a young female that is later verified is Amanda. Trent remains missing. Milt visits the church where he notices that most of the flock consists of pregnant women. His interview with the founder Brother Grigsby goes well, but also leaves Milt feeling a bit creepy. He returns with his wife, psychiatrist Dr. Jean McDonnell, so she can provide him with a quick assessment of Grigsby. As Milt and his department investigate the homicide and missing boyfriend, his niece becomes a recruitment target of the Seven Trumpets.
LYING WONDERS is an exciting police procedural that readers will enjoy due to the clever interweaving of the overflow of Milt's past personal life into the murder investigation. The story line never slows down even when the hero's sister and niece go at it. Milt is a strong character that makes the rest of the cast seems real because he comes across as a person with complex relationships. Though his sarcastic behavior in his second encounter with Grigsby seems out of character for the calm sheriff, Susan Rogers Cooper provides a delightful who-done-it.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner