Former CIA operative Ward Hopkins is shocked to learn of the death of his parents in an apparent road traffic accident. When he discovers a hidden message left by his parents before their death, he begins to suspect foul play. Meanwhile, ex-homicide cop John Zandt is contacted by his former lover, FBI agent Nina Baynam, to help her investigate the disappearances of a series of teenage girls, apparently the work of the killer who calls himself "The Upright Man". The same man responsible for the disappearance of Zandt's own daughter, years previously. Ward's search for his parents' killer, and Zandt's investigation converge in a shocking denouement.
This report prepared by Stephen Coombs
Jove, August 2002, 6.99, 400 pp.
Ward Hopkins returns home to Dyserburg, Montana only to step into what seems like an episode of the Twilight Zone when he finds a book taped to the underside of a recliner. Contained inside the book is a note that states his parents aren't dead. Tearing the house apart, he stumbles upon a video showing his parents and two twins, one who they leave behind in a crowded area. Unable to believe his parents are capable of such an act, he along with his CIA friend Bobby discovers that there is no record of Ward's birth.
While Bobby and Ward seek the truth, a teenage girl is kidnapped in Santa Monica with the FBI believing they are once again dealing with the Upright Man serial killer. Former cop John Zandt and his friend FBI agent Nina look to find Sarah before she is killed like the three others before her. John and Nina cross paths with Bobby and Ward. They begin working together making the necessary connections to find the Upright Man and his supporters the Straw Men.
Eerie, gothic like suspense that has more realistic twists and turns than the world's most serpentine roller-coaster, THE STRAW MEN never slows the ride until even Yogi would agree it's over. From the very beginning readers connect with a befuddled Ward at a very fundamental level. Fans root for him and his cohorts to succeed in their interconnected missions that seem so hopeless. Michael Marshall's debut novel is a very special reading experience for crime thriller fans.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner