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When a man dies from what appears to be a random snake bite in a quiet country village, the hospital seeks the expertise of wildlife vet Clara Benning. But the post mortem reveals this was no freak accident. Clara finds herself drawn into the hunt for a brutally inventive killer, putting herself in grave danger as she unravels links to a barbaric ancient ritual, an abandoned house and a 50-year-old, unspeakable tragedy. For someone the truth must remain buried in the past, even if they have to kill to keep it there.
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Promotional Information

A terrifying, heart-racing up-all-night thriller perfect for fans of Gillian Flynn and Tess Gerritsen

About the Author

S. J. Bolton was born in Lancashire. She lives near Oxford with her husband and young son, and is currently working on her next thriller.


In Bolton's sophomore effort (after Sacrifice), solitary wildlife vet Clara Benning is called to investigate when snakes appear to be overrunning her small Dorset village. Then a man dies from what is believed to be a snakebite, but his body is full of too much venom to have been naturally caused by a single snake. At the same time, Clara's mother dies, bringing up painful childhood memories revolving around Clara's facial scar. Bolton has written a dark, eerie tale worthy of Edgar Allan Poe but in the modern style of Barbara Vine and Simon Beckett. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

"Bolton has elevated herself to the High Priestess of English Rural Gothic. If she carries on like this she will have worshippers in their millions" * The Times * "This book writhes and glides and slithers its way into the readers psyche...[Bolton] knows precisely how to ratchet up the tension and tell a cracking story" * Guardian * "A tour de force - totally grips from beginning to end" -- JENNI MURRAY "An original and atmospheric chiller" * Daily Mail * "Assured and original. Sacrifice was good: Awakening is even better" -- SIMON BECKETT

Clara Benning, a reclusive vet who's the narrator of Bolton's solid second thriller (after Sacrifice), spends her days treating badgers, boars and other wildlife at the Little Order of St. Francis in an isolated Dorset, England, village. When a distraught mother calls on Clara to remove a venomous snake from her baby's crib and another family's home is overrun with snakes, including a deadly Australian taipan, Clara realizes there must be a human agency behind the snake attacks, at least two of which will prove fatal. With the help of Assistant Chief Constable Matt Hoare and eccentric herpetologist and TV star Sean North, Clara begins to unravel a tangle of long-kept village secrets stretching back generations. Bolton milks the myriad snakes, even the harmless ones, for all they're worth, but falters with Clara, whose fraught family history (she bears disfiguring facial scars from a rarely discussed childhood accident) tends to undercut the suspense. (June) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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