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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Book "First Stone" by Gary Ballard

About the Book: First Stone is the first novel of Season 1 in The Stepping Stone Cycle series. Forensic psychologist Dr. Jack Carter wakes from a semi-catatonic state in a mental hospital, with no memory of the previous year. His wife Sarah has disappeared and as the last human being to see her alive, Jack is the prime suspect in her disappearance. Without a body and with no physical evidence to prove foul play, the lead investigator and Jack's friend, Bill West, must continue to search for the truth even if it means fingering Jack for the crime. When a serial killer in West Virginia's coal country claims to have killed Sarah Carter, Bill and Jack rush to the crime scene. What they find is a deeply disturbed man with no memory of his crimes or of taking credit for Sarah's death. As Jack tries to decipher the mysterious series of runic symbols the killer carved into his slaughter house, he unlocks a deeper cosmic mystery that goes beyond anything he could imagine.

About the Author: At the age of eleven, Mr. Ballard began creating his own fictional worlds and inhabiting those worlds with eccentric characters. As an artist, graphic designer, musician and author, he has spent decades enumerating a unique evolving vision of an absurd universe. His first four novels comprise a cyberpunk series called The Bridge Chronicles starring the amoral fixer of future Los Angeles, Artemis Bridge. The Bridge Chronicles in turn is one slice of cohesive universe that began as a pen-and-paper roleplaying game. Gary has recently begun a new series of novellas based on the Cthulhu Mythos made famous by H.P. Lovecraft called The Stepping Stone Cycle.
Mr. Ballard currently lives with his wife and three dogs in Mississippi, where he continues to write, blog, compose music and play video games.

My Review: This is a very interesting story, very well written and entertaining, that will keep you hooked until you turn the last page and it will leave you with the feeling of wanting more. 
I particularly like to read books with full stories (beginning, middle and end) in one volume. If the characters return in a future volume, that is OK. But apparently it is a trend now to write stories that are either trilogies or part of a series with unknown number of parts. 
But this particular book has a plot that is captivating, with characters very well developed and the plot develops with just the right pace, exploring all the psychological conflicts of dual or multiple personality minds. 
Our main character, Dr. Jack Carter, is suspect of having killed his wife Sarah, but he has no recollection of anything that happened in the previous year of his life. He just woke up on a hospital after being in semi-catatonic state for one year with this gap in his memory. Allowed to return to his work as forensic psychologist, he goes with his best friend Bill West to investigate a serial killer (George) that claims he killed Sarah. What he found when interviewing George is something that disturbed him a lot, because the killer also has no recollection of having killed anyone and he shows some symptoms of multiple-personalities. George left some symbols carved in the house where he killed the women and Dr. Jack is trying to figure out the meaning of the symbols, that are the same that appear in a stone left at the scene. This first novel of this series has an interesting ending and I just hope it will not take long for the second novel to be written. Kudos to Mr. Ballard for a well executed introduction to this Stepping Stone Cycle series.
I recommend this book to the permanent library of any reader who appreciate a well written mystery novel.

I received a copy from the author for reviewing and I was not requested to write a positive review. Opinion expressed here is my own.

If you read this review, feel free to leave a comment! 

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