During the bitter winter of 1920, the naked body of an unidentified teenaged boy is discovered in a wooded area of a small Georgia town. There is no direct evidence of murder, but the body bears marks of what seems to be a ritual beating. The investigation falls into the inexperienced hands of the newly appointed chief of police. His intelligent, obsessive hunt for the boy's tormentor begins a story that ultimately weaves through decades of deceit, hatred, perversion, and political drama that inexorably envelops the lives of two other chiefs -- one himself a murderer, the other hiding a secret that, if revealed, might destroy not only himself but also the promising career of a rising political figure.
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Stuart Woods is the author of more than sixty novels, including the #1 New York Times bestselling Stone Barrington series. He is a native of Georgia and began his writing career in the advertising industry. Chiefs, his debut in 1981, won the Edgar Award. An avid sailor and pilot, Woods lives in Florida, Maine, and New Mexico.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
THE BOY ran for his life.
He poured forth an effort born of fear and a wild sense of freedom regained. At first he ran entirely unconscious of his injuries, then, tearing recklessly through the dark woods, he struck a tree and went down. He lay stunned for a time he could not account for, and when he was finally able to struggle to his feet, the full force of the pain and the winter air swept over him and made him stagger.
He heard the dog and the man crashing through the brush, and he ran again, wildly, blindly, the undergrowth tearing at his naked body. Abruptly, he broke through onto a road, hesitated, decided against it, and threw himself across the open area into the brush on the other side. He was momentarily in thick, thorny blackberry bushes, then found himself on a narrow path.
He was failing now, sucking in air with a loud, rasping noise, his muscles aching, legs wobbling. He heard the man fighting through the blackberry bushes, cursing, and he flung himself forward with his remaining strength. He knew he would rather run until he died than go back to that house. He willed his heart to burst, God to take him, hut his exhausted body still carried him unsteadily forward.
The path turned sharply to the right, but he lunged ahead into thick brush again, hoping for safety. Then he saw stars ahead through the bushes and thought he might break through into a field, while his tormentor followed the path. He gathered his last strength and plunged forward and down, hoping to lie on the ground undetected.
There was no ground; the earth fell away beneath him. He believed himself to be falling into a ditch, but his ditch had no bottom. He fell, twisting in the air, trying desperately to get his feet under him, while the hard earth waited far below him.
Copyright 1981 by Stuart Woods
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