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A Guide for Murdered Children
Cover of A Guide for Murdered Children
A Guide for Murdered Children
A Novel
"In her astonishing thriller, Sarah Sparrow has joined the ranks of Shirley Jackson and Stephen King. A warning: there is no safe place to read this book."
–David Cronenberg

Terrifying, thoroughly original and hauntingly written, A Guide for Murdered Children is a psychological thriller—and otherworldly surprise.

We've heard it said that there is no justice in this world. But what if there really was? What if the souls of murdered children were able to briefly return, inhabit adult bodies and wreak revenge on the monstrous killers who stole their lives?

Such is the unthinkable mystery confronting ex-NYPD detective Willow Wylde, fresh out of rehab and finally able to find a job running a Cold Case squad in suburban Detroit. When the two rookie cops assigned to him take an obsessive interest in a decades-old disappearance of a brother and sister, Willow begins to suspect something out of the ordinary is afoot. And when he uncovers a series of church basement AA-type meetings made up of the slain innocents, a new way of looking at life, death, murderand missed opportunitiesis revealed to him.

Mystical, harrowing and powerfully moving, A Guide for Murdered Children is a genre-busting, mind-bending twist on the fine line between the ordinary... and the unfathomable.
"In her astonishing thriller, Sarah Sparrow has joined the ranks of Shirley Jackson and Stephen King. A warning: there is no safe place to read this book."
–David Cronenberg

Terrifying, thoroughly original and hauntingly written, A Guide for Murdered Children is a psychological thriller—and otherworldly surprise.

We've heard it said that there is no justice in this world. But what if there really was? What if the souls of murdered children were able to briefly return, inhabit adult bodies and wreak revenge on the monstrous killers who stole their lives?

Such is the unthinkable mystery confronting ex-NYPD detective Willow Wylde, fresh out of rehab and finally able to find a job running a Cold Case squad in suburban Detroit. When the two rookie cops assigned to him take an obsessive interest in a decades-old disappearance of a brother and sister, Willow begins to suspect something out of the ordinary is afoot. And when he uncovers a series of church basement AA-type meetings made up of the slain innocents, a new way of looking at life, death, murderand missed opportunitiesis revealed to him.

Mystical, harrowing and powerfully moving, A Guide for Murdered Children is a genre-busting, mind-bending twist on the fine line between the ordinary... and the unfathomable.
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  • From the book ***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected copy proof***

    Copyright © 2018 Sarah Sparrow

    Wickenburg, Arizona

    Present Day

    WATCHING THE DETECTIVE

    In rehab now—

    —again.

    Detective Willow Millard Wylde.

    Fifty‑seven years old: shitty health and shaky spirits. Kind of a fattie . . .

    Which is usually what happens to him at the end of a run.

    He was drinking around the clock. Burning his fingers, his mattress, his couch, and his car seat with those bullshit alkie Marlboro Blacks. Burning down his anxieties and dreams. Chugalugging pain pills with Diet Dr Pepper from the moment he awakened to the moment he passed out—and even in the middle of the night, after being startled to wakefulness by his own stertorous snores and otherworldly screams.

    No diabetes—yet.

    No prostate cancer—yet. (Though tests showed peskily chronic microscopic amounts of blood in the urine, etiology unknown.)

    Just some scabby, top of the head, sun‑induced cancer, but no melanoma. Yet.

    Still no tangible signs of early‑onset dementia . . .

    Cialis seemed to work most of the time for those few and far‑between afternoon delights. Sometimes he had little romantic dates with himself when chemical enhancement wasn't required and performance wasn't the issue. But generally he's lost the urge.

    Generally lost all urge.

    Willow-that haunted half-oddity of an eccentric name that his grand­ mother bestowed on him, a name he love-hated, a name he'd always been forced to explain (women were enthralled, men were suspect)-Willow Wy­lde, that complicated, beautiful, ruined American mythic thing: Washed-Up Cop. That luminous travesty of premium cable, movies and fiction, high and low: retired alcoholic homicide cop (one of his exes called him a "functional assaholic'), bruised and battered three-years-into-forced-retirement cop, un­lucky in love, depressed, once flamboyant, once heroic cop, decorated then dirty then borderline absolved, now demolished, a revolving door AA member too played out to be a suicide threat. Friends used to arrive en masse to take his weapon away but after the first few interventions bailed in the ensu­ing months then years of relapses. In time, "Dubya"-he had the nickname long before George Walker Bush but didn't mind sharing it (sometimes he just wasn't in the mood to be Willow)-alienated even his die-hard boosters. Their patience and goodwill expired, and they were dispatched or dispatched themselves from his life one by one.

    On this day, late June, in the Year of Our Damaged, Dysfunctional Lord: He walks from building to building in the absurd, nearly intolerable blast furnace of Sonoran Desert heat. It gives him solace to singsong-whisper under his breath the mantra, 'I'm broken. Broken. Broken ..." The tidy personal prayer seemed to go well with the rehab's favorite motto, "Hurt people hurt people."

    Oh, true dat.

    His daughter Pace went online and found a place called the Meadows. She read that famous people went there. Well maybe they did but all Dubya knows of famous are a European automobile heir who looked like a comic book prince and a jovial, forgotten, once sitcom actor who resembled a spooked and bloated farm animal-mixed in with the usual head cases, drunks, dope fiends and sex addicts.

    Willow's wrist is in a cast, the bones having been broken in the collision with a barroom wall. A long pin crucifies the hand to secure the fracture. A tiny red button caps the pin and sits below the pinkie like a...

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    December 11, 2017
    This highly unusual and, at times, uneven synthesis of whodunit and paranormal suspense from the pseudonymous Sparrow, billed as a “distinguished award-winning novelist,” centers on 57-year-old Willow Wylde, an alcoholic former NYPD cop. Fresh out of rehab in Arizona, Willow, whose wreckage of a personal life is one long cautionary tale, accepts a job as the head of a newly formed cold case task force in Macomb County, Mich. One case in particular—the decades-old disappearance of a brother and sister—draws his attention. Further investigation leads Willow to some mind-blowing revelations: the spirits of murdered children are returning and inhabiting adult bodies, seeking a “moment of balance” so they can track down and enact supernatural retribution on their killers. The dense narrative is slow-building, but those readers who have patience to get through the somewhat confusing beginning will be rewarded with a touching, albeit brutal, tale of redemption. Agent: Andrew Wylie, Wylie Agency.

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A Guide for Murdered Children
A Novel
Sarah Sparrow
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