Michael Marshall's unique voice adds a chilling intensity to the serial-killer plot, combining dazzling narrative, a white-hot pace and a deeply disturbing backdrop of conspiracy.
Sarah tries to struggle, but the man holds her. The scream never makes it out of her throat. 'Nobody watching,' the man says with hateful calm. 'I made it this way. I can walk where nobody sees.’
Sarah Becker is the fifth girl to be abducted by this maniac. Judging from the state of the bodies that have been found, her long hair will be hacked off and she will be tortured. She has about a week to live.
Former LA homicide detective John Zandt has an inside track on the perpetrator – his own daughter was one of his victims two years ago.
But the key to Sarah's whereabouts lies with Ward Hopkins, a man with a past so secret not even he knows about it. His parents have just died in a car accident, but they leave Ward a bizarre message that leads him to question everything he once believed to be true.
As he begins to investigate his own past Ward finds himself drawn into the shadowy, sinister world of the Straw Men – and into the desperate race to find Sarah, before her time runs out.
‘Just when you think there’s nothing new under the sun in the world of the suspense novel, along comes one hell of a nasty spider call The Straw Men. It’s brilliantly written and scary as hell. Be the first on your block to stay up all night with this one; it’s a masterpiece, reminding us that even paranoids really do have enemies.’ STEPHEN KING
'A staggering, suspenseful journey through the darkness of American crime … succeeds in revitalising the serial killer novel with assured gusto… A new beginning for a major British writer, whose crime debut instantly moves him into the Thomas Harris division' Guardian
‘Brilliantly plotted, stunningly written … I read this in one go … if this isn't a hit, I am a monkey's uncle. And I don't think I am’. Independent on Sunday
‘Marshall’s descriptions of people and places are memorable and evocative and he has produced and absorbing mystery with a chilling denouement’ Sunday Telegraph
‘The Straw Men is a genuinely original thriller that combines the imagination and darkness of his previous work with bolts of nerve-screaming tension … Think “The X-files” meets “Hannibal”.’ Time Out
About the author
Michael Marshall lives in north London with his wife Paula, and is currently working on screenplays and his next book, while providing two cats with somewhere warm and comfortable to sit.
Marshall's debut thriller, which is essentially two seemingly independent stories that meet in the middle, takes its time hooking readers. But once the complex and disparate plot lines meld, this expansive work demands the reader's attention. In Dyersburg, Mont., narrator Ward Hopkins, attempting to make sense of the accident that killed his parents, discovers a note and videotape that lead him to believe their lives (and deaths) were not as they appeared. Meanwhile, the abduction of 14-year-old Sarah Becker renews the search for a serial killer who scalps his victims, embroiders their names into sweaters using their hair and then delivers the clothing to the victims' parents. As Ward and his CIA buddy slowly unravel the mystery surrounding Ward's parents, FBI agent Nina Baynam and former LAPD homicide detective John Zandt search for the elusive killer. Their paths cross when a series of connections is made between the victims and a bizarre cult known as The Straw Men. Marshall's book is filled with pages of uninterrupted description, which, while compelling, doesn't make for fast reading. But, to borrow a clich , the devil is in the details. That's certainly the case with this novel, whose graphic scenes of child abuse and dismemberment depict humankind at its most evil.
Great start to a great trilogy. Worth reading
The straw men
A gripping read from the start, it will have you reading avidly from cover to cover. Highly recommend