The demonic evil that first became apparent in St. Adrian’s Academy for Boys spreads further in this sequel to Waking Hours (2011).
When a resident of Westchester County’s High Ridge Manor is 102, it’s not exactly surprising to find her dead. But no one can figure out just how archivist and author Abigail Gardener died—not county Medical Examiner Baldev Banerjee, not forensic psychiatrist Danielle Harris, not even Dani’s ex-fiance, neurochemist Quinn McKellen. One thing that seems certain is that Abbie’s passing follows from the murder of Julie Leonard, even though the death of Julie’s presumed killer, sociopathic St. Adrian’s student Amos Kasden, might have seemed to close that case for Detective Philip Casey of the East Salem Police Department. Another thing that seems equally certain is that there’s more than a whiff of sulfur and brimstone around St. Adrian’s. The place so reeks of infernal possession that Dani and her boyfriend, private eye Tommy Gunderson, try to snoop electronically on Dr. Adolf Ghieri, the school’s psychologist. Their failure to bug the sinister Ghieri’s computer kicks off another round of demonic manifestations, fueled this time by a warning angelic messengers deliver separately to Dani and Tommy: “Someone is going to betray you. Someone you trust.” As the intrepid pair, afraid to confide in each other, struggle to discern who the trusted betrayer is, the authors can’t resist spilling the beans to the gentle reader, cutting the mystery without significantly increasing the suspense.
Since Wiehl (Eyes of Justice, 2012, etc.) and Nelson’s pulp Armageddon runs into all the usual middle-of-trilogy problems—an ill-defined beginning, a cliffhanger ending and endless, relatively shapeless conflict in between—readers are advised to start with Waking Hours before entering this door to East Salem.