The Kaminskys, former publishing folk who took up writing, abandon their old pen name (Brooks Stanwood) and high-glitz suspense (Talent, 1989, etc.) to settle for the rewards of a middlebrow thriller. Their premise is strong: Village of the Damned cast by David Koresh. In 1994, a Branch Davidian’style cult of Christian fundamentalists, The Patriots’ Redeemer Congregation, has holed up in Blanco Mesa, Arizona, and held off the FBI and government troops in a 37-day siege. Cult leader Josiah Hummock has released ten children to agent Nick Barrows, aided by child psychologist Dr. Sandy Price, who suspects that Hummock has gone into full suicidal mode. As its last two children are released, the cult’s redoubt goes up in a vast explosion that barely leaves identifiable body parts. Is Hummock really dead? The 12 children show no shock about the loss of their parents or closest relatives; they know Hummock will rise again. In the meantime, they—re dispersed to various families: Sandy herself adopts the youngest, three-year-old Sarah. After the disaster, heavy-drinking Nick, who had a shot at becoming FBI director, is put out to pasture as head of the Tulsa office and loses his globe-hopping wife. Five years pass. Suddenly the children all disappear from their homes and gather in a secret place. The two eldest each commit a murder to cover their tracks. Sandy quickly links the kids to a series of vengeful acts clearly orchestrated by Hummock before he blew up the compound. First, Nick’s old boss Ed Trainor, now retired, is murdered while out rowing, run down by a powerboat in the Gulf. Then, former Attorney General Clayton Bosworth, who authorized the siege, is blown up by two pounds of Semex in his lawn mower. Who will be next? An intriguing time-passer that sets us up for a sequel.