2021 BRAM STOKER AWARD NOMINEE FOR SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A NOVEL
2021 INTERNATIONAL LATINO BOOK AWARD WINNER
"GUARANTEED TO MAKE YOUR HEART THUMP AND SKIN CRAWL”—The New York Times
A gripping, modern-day spin on the Pied Piper fairy tale, as well as a gritty love letter to the underworld of Chicago from acclaimed Bram Stoker nominee Cynthia Pelayo.
Reminiscent of the Bloody Mary urban legend, the Pied Piper’s story can be tracked back to the deaths of children for centuries and across the world—call to him for help with your problems, but beware when he comes back asking for payment.
Chicago detective Lauren Medina’s latest call brings her to investigate a brutally murdered teenager in Humboldt Park—a crime eerily similar to the murder of her sister decades before. Unlike her straight-laced partner, she recognizes the crime, and the new graffiti popping up all over the city, for what it really means: the Pied Piper has returned.
When more children are found dead, Lauren is certain her suspicion is correct. Still reeling from the recent death of her father, she knows she must find out who has summoned him again, and why, before more people die. Lauren’s torn between protecting the city she has sworn to keep safe, and keeping a promise she made long ago with her sister’s murderer. She may have to ruin her life by exposing her secrets and lies to stop the Pied Piper before he collects.
When Chicago PD homicide cop Lauren Medina, the protagonist of this impressive crime novel from Pelayo (Santa Muerte), was 14, her nine-year-old sister, Marie, was found drowned in a lagoon in Humboldt Park, a victim of suspected foul play. Marie's ghost has since haunted Medina, who blames herself, as she was responsible for picking up Marie after school the day of the tragedy, but didn't wait for her. The mystery of Marie's death is revived after Medina's called to the scene of the fatal shooting of Hadiya, a high school senior, above whose body someone wrote "Pied Piper" on a wall. Medina was mesmerized by the fairy tale when she was younger, and is horrified to learn that some who knew Hadiya believe that she was killed by the Pied Piper after his murderous spirit was summoned to claim her life. More people die before the dark truth about Marie's death emerges. Pelayo masterfully ratchets up the tension and the scares. Robert McCammon fans will be pleased.