This book begins with a bang and ends with a bang, a tale that winds through the dark secrets of the past to explode in a great collision of outrage in the present: “If we are all so insignificant, why did settling the accounts of the dead matter so much?” Drawing inspiration from a real-life incident, seasoned journalist Neely Tucker builds his new novel on the 1998 case of Russell Weston, who entered the Capitol Building and killed two officers before being wounded. With that incident in mind, Tucker plunges
his popular protagonist, Washington DC Metro newspaper reporter Sully Carter, into another exciting adventure, Carter adept at intuiting riveting stories. It’s no secret that Carter is fearless and determined, a stint in Bosnia robbing him of his lover and almost his life. Sully has settled into home base--at least for now--controlling a struggle with alcohol and hoping for a deeper relationship with Alexis, who also works for the
While on assignment, Carter happens upon a shooting in the Capitol Building, people scrambling to escape the carnage as an unidentified man strolls through the halls, randomly shooting. The building eerily quiet, the shooter makes a 911 call, confessing to his bloody deeds: near the Speaker’s Office, he has killed Representative Barry Edmonds from Oklahoma, shot two officers and other bystanders. It is Edmonds
who Sully stumbles across while seeking a place to hide, two ice picks piercing the dead man’s eyes: an unfathomably brutal act. While other reporters have barricaded themselves in nearby government offices, Sully plunges into the surrounding chaos, following the shooter’s sounds while people flee to safety. Keeping a running commentary with his editor on his cell, Sully draws closer, overhearing the telephone call and eventually witnessing the capture of the criminal, Terry Waters, from an Indian reservation in Oklahoma.
Now that Carter has the story for the Washington DC Metro, he must maintain its exclusivity, an eyewitness with an edge, a monster scoop that requires diligence until the story is completed. Ironically, Terry Waters assumes a bond between them: the unsolved deaths of both their mothers. Eventually he seeks contact with the reporter through a series of telephone calls. The hunt for the killer culminates in a series of violent confrontations and a chaotic court appearance. Waters is placed temporarily in the infamous St. Elizabeths Mental Hospital for observation.
The tension accelerates for the staff of The Washington DC Metro while Terry Waters is held for observation, deep background needing to be excavated as the story evolves. Sully is the lead reporter on the story, working closely with his editor.
An army of reporters is assigned to cover all aspects of the case, details grown even more mysterious when Sully tries to piece together the fragments Waters shouted during his arrest and in his court appearance. Reporter’s intuition tells Carter there is far more to this tale than a Capitol massacre or the gruesome slaying of the
representative from Oklahoma with an ice pick in each eye.
It is at the crux of the novel that Tucker’s experience in journalism pays dividends: through his own years in journalism and instinct for human interest angles, he builds a solid story that tracks smoothly from one obscure fact to another, a journey that takes Sully from Washington and the massive grounds of St. Elizabeths Mental Hospital to Waters’ Oklahoma birthplace and tragic family history. Whatever happens elsewhere, the Indian
reservation keeps its own secrets, unwilling to trust government agencies or even reporters in search of stories. Sully finds another world in Oklahoma, a tangled web of families and connections as he rolls back the years in search of the catalyst for the current D.C. tragedy. Ultimately he unearths a new tangent in the original story, an explosive connection that the paper must put together and expose Waters’ motivations, what Faulkner describes as “a scratch mark on the face of oblivion,” a frantic attempt to excavate the truth from the past.
Tucker goes far beyond the mystery/suspense format, injecting his tale with the excitement of the unknown and outrages of the past, adding the twisted drama of a devious mind in control of circumstances, a puppeteer howling with laughter as his destructive plans unfold.