Title: The 8th Circle by Sarah Cain
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
A year ago, Danny Ryan lost his wife and son in a car accident. He’s still reeling from the tragedy when Michael Cohen, his friend and fellow journalist, drives into the pond in front of his house with a bullet through his gut.
With Michael’s death ruled a murder, Danny must work to get his name crossed off the list of suspects, and that means digging into Michael’s last article, an expose of the twisted side of Philadelphia politics. But powerful people are ready to kill to protect what Michael was about to uncover, and if Danny’s not careful, he’ll be next.
The dark heart of the city is on display in Sarah Cain’s gripping debut thriller, The 8th Circle.
Sarah Cain’s debut mystery, The 8th Circle, is a mesmerizing thriller that takes the reader into the dark and seedy underbelly of murder, sex and politics.
Danny Ryan is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who has been deeply depressed since the death of his wife Beth and their young son Conor a year earlier. Living in solitude, he has little interest in resuming his regular life until the inexplicable murder of his friend Michael Cohen. Before dying, Michael whispered the word “inferno” to Danny and that is just one of many puzzles surrounding his friend’s death.
Danny cannot resist looking into the mysterious circumstances surrounding Michael’s death. His interest is definitely piqued but he also feels guilty over pushing Michael away when he came to him for help months earlier. He suspects whatever Michael was into then has bearing on his murder but with little to go on except “inferno”, Danny does not make much progress at first. But when his house is broken into and he receives a threatening phone call, he begins his investigation in earnest. The stakes become even higher after many the people Danny talks to are murdered.
During his investigation, Danny runs afoul of local cops, his ex-father-in-law ( who is also a senator with presidential aspirations) and a highly respected philanthropist. He receives help from unlikely sources such as his estranged cop brother Kevin and recovering addict sister Theresa in addition to his mentor and Michael’s father, Andy and his wife, Linda. Another unexpected resource is his ex-father-in-law’s assistant, Kate Reid, who has intimate knowledge of the organization Danny is investigating. His investigation also has a shocking connection to his cop father’s last case and a serial killer known as the Sandman. But the most stunning revelation is exactly how Michael stumbled onto the case in the first place and who is responsible for his murder.
Danny’s quest for answers takes him deep into the heart of an organization whose members are wealthy, privileged and hold positions of power. He is ill-prepared for the depths of their depravity and how far they will go to protect their identities and their secret society. Nothing is off limits for those wealthy enough to buy their way through the doors of the exclusive clubs where their every desire can be fulfilled (including murder and sexual acts so vile they are almost unspeakable). Dark, twisted and sickening acts of perversion are just the tip of the iceberg as Danny searches for the truth about Michael’s murder.
The 8th Circle is a compelling and suspense-laden mystery that is not for the faint of heart. Violence and evil permeate the story but Danny proves to be a formidable foe as he fights for justice for his slain friend. Startling twists and turns bring the novel to a shocking and completely unexpected but harshly realistic conclusion. A brilliant debut which features a surprisingly likeable protagonist that I hope to see again in future novels by Sarah Cain.