These Violent Roots, an all-new psychological thriller from New York Times bestselling author Nicole Williams is available now!
Grace Wolff spends her days fighting monsters, and her nights hiding from her own. As a public prosecutor in the sexual crimes unit, she knows more about rapists, pedophiles, and deviants than most people dare to consider.
Dr. Noah Wolff is as acquainted with monsters as his wife. While Grace dedicates her career to putting violent men away, Noah is more interested in rehabilitating them. A renowned psychiatrist specializing in sexual deviance, he counsels a burgeoning number of court-appointed patients wrestling with evil in its vilest form.
When she discovers a long line of pedophile suicides have been murders in disguise, Grace is duty-bound to aid in the investigation. But in her quest to track down the killer, Grace faces an ethical impasse. As a steward of the law, she has an obligation to seek justice for the murders. As a human being, she accepts that “innocent until proven guilty” is laden with loopholes criminals slip through too easily, and too often.
As she hunts the hunter, Grace is forced to acknowledge a complicated truth. To defeat the swell of monsters preying upon humanity’s most innocent, one must become a monster themselves.
Parked outside the police precinct in downtown Seattle, I found myself fixated on a particular piece of graffiti sprayed on a concrete column buttressed beneath an overpass. This was different than the typical profanities, initials, or gang signs spewed across old abandoned buildings and freeway infrastructures.
Freshly painted, given its prominence above the rest of the graffiti, an oval with a line cutting horizontally through the center stretched several feet long. Done in black, it was the Greek symbol for theta, the eighth letter of the Greek alphabet.
It was the symbol for death.
It had also become a mark the public had assigned to the Huntsman. A black theta. The mark of death.
It had started small, only known about in fringe society, but then a major news station ran a report on it and the concept exploded into the mainstream. A few weeks ago, a person might pass the occasional weirdo with a theta symbol penned in black Sharpie across the back of their hand, but fast forward a few weeks and a person couldn’t drive to the grocery store without passing bumper stickers, shirts, and pins hanging off backpacks and purses, from your average high school student to your aging veteran.
At the Public Market, vendors were carrying shirts with the theta symbol accompanied with the caption of Justice for all. They were selling out.
The Huntsman had been elevated from a cult following to an icon of pop culture, the first serial killer to gain mainstream acceptance. Serial killers before him had always drawn a small fan base of emotionally fragile women, but this was different. The Huntsman not only came with the adoration of those unstable girls wanting to marry him whenever he was caught and thrown into prison for the rest of his life, but your everyday mother, from inner-city to suburban, supported his mission of wiping out pedophiles. They saw him as the dark but necessary hand of justice, an angel of death who protected the most innocent and vulnerable of society.
The Huntsman had support in the male category as well, from dads, husbands, boyfriends, and students because, veiled as they might keep it, most men at their base believed in good old-fashioned justice where eye-for-an-eye was more life-for-an-eye.
The elderly, who had known hard times those of us under fifty couldn’t begin to understand, regarded the Huntsman as a necessary evil who was finally cleaning up the streets. And the kids . . . they talked about him almost as though he were the latest and greatest superhero to hit the big screen. An analogy I’d heard from one of the other attorney’s pre-teen was Deadpool meets Suicide Squad meets Batman.
Whatever that meant.
Huntsman fever hadn’t only hit the Greater Seattle area, but had swept across the nation. Rallies were arranged by satellite supporters in most major cities in the country. Protests had begun to crop up as well, Huntsman supporters waving signs outside of courthouses and demanding true justice for those standing accused inside. The supporters had even christened themselves with a name—The Disciples. As though they were some devote band of followers who’d do anything for their leader, some of which I didn’t doubt would.
The Huntsman’s mark—I was still staring at it, half-hypnotized. Up until now, the public had praised the efforts of anyone involved in catching a serial killer, but not this time. No one would thank us for catching the Huntsman. Some would probably attempt to impede our efforts. But I was a state’s attorney, a guardian of the law the way it was written.
I didn’t have the luxury of deciding which murders were justified and which should be prosecuted.
Biographies are impossible for me to write without landing somewhere in the realm of lame. Which is ironic since I’m a writer attempting to, you know, do what I do and write. For whatever reason though, trying to sum up who I am is enough to make me rock myself into a psychiatric-something in a dark corner.
I could try explaining what I love: books, writing, adventures, the outdoors, animals, my family, my friends. I could list what I don’t love: hate, needles, narrow-mindedness, pantyhose, celery. I could go into my background and my sources of inspiration, sprinkling throughout witty bits of commentary and the expected author-fare of a few words that make a person scratch their head and reach for a dictionary. But the true biography of who I am is penned on the pages of my books, hidden between the words. Where I’ve been, who I am, where I’m going—it’s all there.
At the end of the day, I’m an open book.
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