I vividly remember thumbing through a remainders catalog and needing to select a third book to get a discounted price and coming across a book called Red Dragon by Thomas Harris. It was what I thought would be a throwaway purchase; amazingly I couldn’t tell what the other two books were, but the supposed throwaway ended up being one of the most memorable books I ever read.
I can now add Ethan Cross’ latest installment in the Shepherd series, The Father of Fear to that list. Cross does a masterful job of weaving not only memorable characters into his story, but can also send readers reeling with an armload of “I didn’t see that coming” plot twists. In Thomas White, Cross has created a character that rivals Harris’ Hannibal Lecter in his sick, malevolent, genius. Fear, has a new face.
White not only carries out his own string of serial murders, he goes as far as creating his own series of killers to do his bidding. This evil bastard even goes so far as to perform his own version of brain surgery to alter his minion’s ability to even comprehend what they are doing. In even more delicious twist White’s sons, one a victim of his father’s evil surgery’s and a serial killer in his own right and the other serial killer hunter in the employ of a shadowy division of the Justice Department have formed an unlikely partnership to hunt down dear old Dad.
Cross’ creation of White’s “Coercion Killer” scenario that forces ordinary average people to kill in a seemingly helpless effort to save a loved one in a back to the wall desperation move will have you asking what would I do? The team tasked with the hunt ratchets up the tension. This journey headlong into fear will have me tracking down Cross’ other efforts; because this one is certainly among the best I have read this year.