In Baldwin’s debut thriller, a drug cartel, with roots planted firmly in an otherwise idyllic North Carolina city, bribes, threatens and murders to stay in power.
Fathers House, to all appearances, is a home for wayward boys in largely crime-free Duraleigh, N.C. But there are some who believe the city harbors a drug syndicate, Fathers Disciples, which uses the boys home to recruit young members and the adjacent Fathers Funeral Home to launder money. Assistant District Attorney Ben Lovison, a Fathers House alum, and others work toward exposing the syndicate—not easy since many of the city’s prominent officials are on the take. The author keeps the plot moving and the tension pulled tight: The home’s basement serves as a locus of terror, and distrust is pervasive. Baldwin’s story also explores a thematically rich father motif: Ben, whose own father abandoned him and his mother, is worried about being a new father; the home is run by Mayo Fathers; and a standout among the many characters, Detective Leo Johnston, who’s told to re-examine a murder case and finds evidence in shockingly short supply, also fits the motif, having stayed in a loveless marriage for the sake of his two sons. The story features striking imagery, including a scene in which a hired killer retrieves a candy bar while a body burns, passing a door that leads to the dreaded basement. Throughout the book, Baldwin mischievously adds twist after twist, including suspicious suicides, witnesses who turn up missing, and gunfire during a funeral—a riveting action sequence.
A resounding story of fatherhood, packaged as a tense thriller.