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At First Light (Dr. Evan Wilding Book 1) Kindle Edition
Ritual murder. Archaic clues. A visionary killer. In this heart-stopping novel by the Wall Street Journal and Amazon Charts bestselling author of the Sydney Rose Parnell series, words can kill.
On the muddy banks of the Calumet River, a body has been found posed next to a series of mysterious glyphs and bearing wounds from a ritualistic slaying. Chicago detective Addie Bisset knows only one man who can decipher the message left by the killer: her friend Dr. Evan Wilding. A brilliant forensic semiotician, Evan decodes the etchings as Viking Age runes. They suggest either human sacrifice or righteous punishment. But to what god? And for what sins?
Only one thing is clear from the disturbing runic riddles: there are more victims to come.
As Evan races to determine the identity of the Viking Poet, he and Addie uncover the killer’s most terrifying secret yet: the motive. This startling discovery puts Evan’s life in mortal danger, and verse by ancient verse, time is running out.
An Amazon Best Book of the Month: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
“Well-researched…” —Kirkus Reviews
“[In] this intense psychological thriller…Evan and Addie race to prevent more bloodshed. Hints of a romantic relationship between the pair enliven the story, and references to Beowulf and Viking history add depth. Readers will hope to see more of Addie and Evan.” —Publishers Weekly
“Brilliant Evan Wilding, with his goshawk and unusual friendships, will fascinate those who read for character.” —Library Journal
“At First Light is a winner.” —Denver Post
“…a high intensity thriller that will take your breath away…Barbara Nickless is an awesome talent.” —Mysterious Book Report
“The moment I finished this intelligent and pulse-pounding psychological thriller, I was ready for Book Two…Dr. Evan Wilding is one of the most interesting fictional characters I’ve met in some time…Author Nickless’s prose is crisp and, at times, poetic. Her descriptions are vivid but balanced. I became immediately attached to her engaging and well-drawn characters. In some respects, At First Light is reminiscent of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. I highly recommend this book to fans of fast-paced thrillers that include riddles, ancient languages and literature.” —Claudia N. Oltean, for the Jacksonville Florida Times-Union
“At First Light is a stunner of a tale. Barbara Nickless has fashioned a deep exploration into moral depravity and the dark depths of the human soul in a fashion not seen since the brilliant David Fincher film SE7EN. This wholly realized tale is reminiscent of Lisa Gardner, Karin Slaughter, and Lisa Scottoline at their level best.” —Jon Land, USA Today bestselling author
“Barbara Nickless has crafted a dark, twisty thrill ride with a bad guy to give you nightmares, and a pair of protagonists you will want to come back to again and again. Lock your doors and curl up with this book!” —Tami Hoag, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Boy
“At First Light by Barbara Nickless is one of the best books I’ve read in a long, long while. With unique and unforgettable characters who match wits with a devious, sophisticated and ritualistic serial killer, this complex and compelling story is as powerful as a Norse God and just as terrifying. I can’t wait for the next book in the series featuring Detective Addie Bisset and Dr. Evan Wilding! Bravo!” —Lisa Jackson, #1 New York Times bestselling author
From the Publisher
My background and passion have long been placed in mystery and thrillers, so I’ve been introduced to a lot of great fictional investigators—private eyes, police detectives, investigative journalists—but semiotics professor is new for me. With his charm, inquisitiveness, humor, and brilliance, Dr. Evan Wilding might be one of the most interesting characters I’ve come across yet.
When a murder victim is left with strange markings on his body at a ritualistic crime scene, Dr. Wilding is brought in to consult on the case. He soon finds himself delving into medieval languages, modern day Vikings, and cryptic messages from the killer. When another case follows, he realizes he is communicating in code with a serial killer.
With At First Light, bestselling and award-winning author Barbara Nickless has created a spellbinding mystery that will keep readers guessing until its final page.
—Liz Pearsons, Editor
- ASIN : B088R4TLHT
- Publisher : Thomas & Mercer (December 1, 2021)
- Publication date : December 1, 2021
- Language : English
- File size : 5564 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 395 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #7,116 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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The book has two main protagonists: Detective Addie Bisset, and her friend the forensic semiotician Dr. Evan Wilding. A semiotician is someone that studies signs, and in this case the quirky Evan also has knowledge of different languages, runes, history and more. Evan has dwarfism and stands at four foot five, and we are introduced to him as he is with his pet goshawk named Ginny, who has been authorized to hunt pigeons in the park in Chicago. When Addie is called to a very strange ritualistic murder scene with cryptic runes, she immediately summons Evan to help with the case.
It becomes clear that there are riddles to be solved to determine the identity of the disturbed killer, and Evan's unique expertise makes him the perfect person to get to the bottom of it. There is quite a bit of focus on the two main characters; with Addie being an almost formulaic strong female police detective, while Evan is a snarky brilliant academic type; and there are even some hints at a slight romantic tension between these two friends. The pair must work together to solve the mystery, before more lives are lost.
Overall, while I did find some of the historical information and mythology to be interesting, it was also hard for me to suspend disbelief and become invested in the mystery elements of the story. The characters and interactions seemed so unlikely and forced; and even the reveal at the end seemed somehow both predictable and unrealistic at the same time. It felt like the author was trying too hard to create quirky and endearing protagonists, instead of crafting a clever and gripping murder mystery. This isn't exactly my cup of tea, and I was a bit disappointed with the plot; but maybe you'll connect with these characters more than I did.
Addie and Evan lead us through the action, and Ms. Nickless deftly describes both characters as they race to catch the unknown suspect before there is another killing. The deep knowledge of runes, epic poetry, and the ritualistic customs of people who lived long before us lends an aura of believability to the story. While Addie is pounding the pavement searching for and verifying clues, Dr. Wilding is performing his own style of police procedural research, each matching the other step by step. The crafted result by Ms. Nickless creates a perfect pacing that draws the reader into the story, keeps us interested during the middle section, and finishes at a run.
If you’ve never read a Barbara Nickless novel before, you are in for a rare treat. Her members of the police force are hardened but not to the point where they have become jaded and lost sight of the human aspects of their job. Dr. Wilding is an interesting character, and Ms. Nickless provides a detailed sketch that emphasizes both his talents and his flaws, certainly enough to cause me to want to see him in a future book. Highly recommended. Five stars.
My thanks to the author and Thomas and Mercer for a complimentary advance copy of this book.
Top reviews from other countries
The characters are weakly drawn with a nod to the usual list of ‘tick box’ inclusions- maverick cop undermined by her supervisors- quirky civilian aide; in this case an intelligent professor with dwarfism- romance simmering under the surface- etc etc.
The focus of a murder is an Anglo Saxon setup with clues of ancient language, runes, bog bodies and Vikings and boy, every other page contains some over the top waffle, including some full pages of squiggles and indecipherable poems.
The police investigators are pathetic. No impact whatsoever. The plot is unbelievable, tilting towards ridiculous.
Whilst this book will appeal to many readers who enjoy history there was far too much for my liking. I found it difficult to decide on what rating to give. As a thriller/police procedural, 1star ( and that is generous ). As a researched history lesson 3stars. I’ll stick to two stars.
Evan Whiting is not your normal clever consultant, he uses his mind to analyze things and, in this story, to translate the puzzling messages left behind. Very puzzling cryptic messages, open to multiple interpretations, which adds greatly to the enjoyment. Personally, I enjoyed the explanations of the Viking history and Old English stories (Beowulf) that were weaved into the plot. I noted that many who gave a poor review didn't like those parts.
I found the book well written with many cleverly phrased comments slipped in and I liked the author's style. I am sure I will get the next in the series to follow Evan's adventures. Being an academic myself, it's nice to come across an investigator who isn't a super fit. 6 ft tall ex SAS person and uses his brain instead of his muscles and guns.
While I'm sure I've read another murder story where the clues were in runes, that didn't distract from the story. After all, there are thousands of detective stories where the super-fit fighting detective wins the day, so one where the hero is a bit small and not a fighter, unlike his post doc assistant, makes a refreshing change.
So if you want a story that's a bit different and sets your mind thinking, you should enjoy this. And book 2 is due out this month...
Why only four stars - the boss detective was a standard male chauvinist git who treated the lead female detective as if she was the tea lady at times. He was just a bit too much standard stereotype. Although at the end of the book, he might be changing this attitude a little bit.
Go on, enjoy something a bit different.
I loved Evan, a man of passion and a hero, whose weapon is his mind. Evan's body doesn't conform to what is considered 'normal' but his spirit lifts him far above his limited height. I kept imagining Peter Dinklage as Evan.. perfect casting if there was ever a TV series.
And Addie. I loved her too. I particularly appreciated her experiences of sexism at work. Very well observed, and in my experience, true to life.
I found 'At First Light' exciting and intriguing and I want to read more about Evan and Addie, so I have pre-ordered the next book.