Metropolitan newspaper writer Zack Walker has a knack for stumbling onto deadly stories. But it’s one that his good friend Trixie Snelling doesn’t want told that’s about to unleash a storm of trouble. As a professional dominatrix in the suburbs, Trixie has her share of secrets, but Zack has no idea what she’s really hiding when a local newspaperman threatens to do an exposé on her…not until Zack finds a dead body strapped to the bondage cross in her basement dungeon.
Now Zack is implicated in a murder, Trixie is missing, and everything he thought he knew about his friend, his town, even his own marriage, reveals a darker side. Zack’s twisted trail to the truth will lead to a long-unsolved triple homicide, bikers, drug wars, and a stone-cold killer hell-bent on revenge. It’s a story that’s already cost him his job and possibly his wife, and, if Zack’s not very lucky, it will cost him his life.
“A talented writer with a gift for the absurd and a wicked take on life.”—January Magazine
“Barclay is the master.”—The Wall Street Journal
Newspaper writer, family man, and reluctant hero Zack Walker has stumbled onto some dicey stories before, but nothing like what he’s about to uncover when a mutilated corpse is found at his father’s lakeside fishing camp. As always, Zack fears the worst. And this time, his paranoid worldview is dead-on.
While the locals attribute the death to a bear attack, Zack suspects something far more ominous—a predator whose weapons include arson, assault, and enough wacko beliefs to fuel a dozen hate groups. Then another body is discovered and a large supply of fertilizer goes missing, evoking memories of the Oklahoma City bombing. But it’s when he learns that his neighbor is a classic Lone Wolf—FBI parlance for a solo fanatic hell-bent on using high body counts to make political statements—that Zack realizes the idyllic town of his childhood is under siege. The fuse is lit to a catastrophe of unimaginable terror. And with time running out, Zack must face off with a madman.
“Barclay is a very funny—and insightful—writer with huge potential for the long run.”—Flint Journal Review
“Fans of the crime caper will rejoice” that Linwood Barclay is back with the hilarious follow-up to his “riotously funny and irreverent” debut, in which paranoid pop Zack Walker plotted to transplant his city-savvy wife and two teenage kids to the tranquillity of the burbs–where planned communities prevail and fathers rest easy. Well, not quite…and now the Walkers have moved home only to find themselves living in the precarious crosshairs of urban sprawl once again, and Zack can’t help but be worried–really worried–that just around the corner lurks the presence of some really bad guys.
Zack is back, and much to his family’s relief, the work-at-home science-fiction writer has left the house to take a job as a features writer for the city paper. But now that Zack’s incessant plotting can no longer be hatched from the comforts of his own home, he must be ever more vigilant to outwit the evil at large, whether in the suburbs, the city, or his own imagination. Zack is ready…or so he thinks.
While researching his first feature article, Zack stumbles upon a real-life crime scene, but what seems like an ordinary hit-and-run may actually be a homicide linked to a gang that’s been burglarizing Crandall’s high-end shops. Suddenly Zack finds himself at the center of a violent crime wave and destined for a confrontation with Barbie Bullock, an unsettling figure infamous in the crime syndicate for his ruthless business tactics and peculiar proclivity for collecting dolls.
And all is not quiet on the home front either. Zack’s protective instincts launch into overdrive when he discovers that his daughter’s rejected suitor has been tracing her every step and may harbor a much more ominous motivation than winning a Saturday night date. Nor does his son’s strange behavior and recent friendship with a creepy computer recluse inspire joy in a father’s heart.
As worlds begin to collide and boundaries between family and foe blur, Zack goes on the attack, and heaven help the bad guys when this resourceful father comes to make good on a deal gone bad.
In the too-quiet town of Oakwood, only the lucky die of boredom . . . and new homeowner Zack Walker isn’t feeling lucky. Whoever said the burbs were boring will think twice after reading Linwood Barclay’s hilarious debut mystery, in which Dad learns the hard way that he doesn’t always know best.
Zack wouldn’t blame you for thinking he’s safety-obsessed. True, he masterminded a plot to trade his family’s exciting city lifestyle for one of suburban tranquillity. True, even after this strategic move, Zack still has issues with family members who forget their keys in the front door, leave their cars unlocked, or park their backpacks at the top of the stairs—where you could kill yourself tripping over them. Just ask his wife, Sarah, or his teenage kids, Paul and Angie, who endure their share of lectures.
Zack knows that he needs to chill out and assume the best for once—but we know what happens to those who assume.
When Zack realizes their two-faced developer sent a petty thief to fix their leaky shower, he starts fighting hard to ignore the fact that Oakwood isn’t the crime-free paradise he was hoping for. But his brief state of denial comes to an abrupt end when, during a walk by the creek, he stumbles across a dead body. Even more shocking, Zack actually knows who the victim is—and who might want him dead.
With a killer roaming around their neighborhood and Zack’s overactive imagination in overdrive, he’s sure things can’t get any worse. But then another local is murdered—and Zack’s paranoid tendencies get him implicated in the crime. While his wife is trying to remember why she married him in the first place, and his kids are considering whether it’s time to have him committed, Zack decides there’s only one thing he can do. To protect his family—and avoid being busted for a crime he didn’t commit—he’s going to have to override his safety-first instincts, tap into his delusions of machismo, and track down the killer himself.