Winner of the 1996 Shamus Award for Best First PI Novel!
There are seven of them. Children — innocents — whose long-buried remains are uncovered by a flash-flood. No one knows who could have committed such a crime. Clues are scarce, and with the media turning the story into a law enforcement nightmare, time is short. Only Wil Hardesty, a private eye who has more in common with the case than anyone knows, is willing to push hard enough — and dig deep enough — to find the cruelest of killers. The killer of The Innocents …
Barre enjoys modest success with a debut that, weighted with angst, stands uncertainly on a rickety plot. Aging surfer and Vietnam vet Wil Hardesty watches his marriage and sleuthing practice falter in the wake of his young son's death. He does still get the odd case, however: in this instance, the father of a dead boy comes forward when the bones of seven children are discovered in the California desert. With the help of the father, who tells of giving his son up for adoption to a frightening man with a scar, Wil follows the trail to a powerful church, a charismatic preacher and a generous benefactor--and the man with the scar. The scenario suggests serial murder, illegal adoption, pedophilia or satanic dabblings. Managing to steer clear of the expected, Barre falters in the end with a simplistic solution. His efficient narrative style begs to be used on a better story.