The Devil Walks in Mattingly
Sheriff Jake Barnett has spent the past month waking in screams from a nightmare he can’t escape. His wife, Kate, faces her own nightmares while awake, and tries in vain to fend them off by doing good deeds. For recluse Taylor Hathcock, the nightmare has morphed into a madness that drives him to kill. Connecting them is a shared sin that has festered for 20 years: the murder of teenager Philip McBride, whose body was found along the river in the ominous woods of Happy Hollow. Philip’s death was ruled a suicide, but the guilty trio knows the truth, and aches for a redemption that remains elusive because it is so deeply buried by lies, guilt, and the inability to lay their sins at the foot of the cross. When that sin rises to the surface and leaves two people dead and Kate’s brother badly burned, the small town residents are convinced that the devil walks in Mattingly.
"This story of sin, secrets, grace and redemption will keep your mind spinning long after you turn the final page."
Taylor has seen a sign, and that’s all he needs to set his madness in motion. For 20 years he has lived a secluded life in the dark woods of Happy Hollow, gazing down at the “evil” town of Mattingly. When he discovers a set of footprints emerging from the mysterious black hole in the hollow, Taylor believes they are leading him to town…and the woman he’s been seeking for two decades. But that’s only part of his desire to briefly reenter civilization. He believes he has been supernaturally tasked with “waking” people. The problem is that to “wake,” one must die. Taylor convinces his only human contact, Charlie Givens, to assist him with an errand in town. By the time that errand is done, a gas station owner and teenage boy are dead, and a teen girl is missing.
Lucy Seekins hates her life. Her father is gone on business most of the time, and drunk on moonshine in between. Her mother died in childbirth, a fact that Lucy is sure her father blames on her. Boys pretend to like her long enough to have sex, then drop out of her life. All alone, lost in a fit of rage, Lucy witnesses something going on at the gas station, though she can’t see what’s happening inside. When Taylor appears, clearly needing to get away, Lucy comes to his rescue.
While Lucy is being lured into Taylor’s madness, Jake is watching his façade of authority slowly slip through his fingers as fear and anger stir up the town residents. Adding fuel to the fire is his estranged father, who has formed a posse to hunt for Taylor. But that’s only the beginning. Lies have built a wall between him and Kate, and someone has painted the word “coward” on the door to his office.
Secrets, lies, guilt and shame have enveloped Jake, Kate, Lucy and Taylor in a desolate darkness, where each will have to decide whether to grasp the almighty hand that can pull them out, or stay mired in their sins.
Fans of WHEN MOCKINGBIRDS SING will love THE DEVIL WALKS IN MATTINGLY, which takes place four years prior to MOCKINGBIRDS. Author Billy Coffey is gifted in the art of developing characters who live and breathe, and stories that touch your heart while keeping you seated on the edge. This story of sin, secrets, grace and redemption will keep your mind spinning long after you turn the final page.
Reviewed by Susan Miura on May 25, 2014