When three violent deaths occur in a quiet Ohio town, personal calamity befalls forensic psychologist Doc "Skeet" Cullum and his technology wizard buddy, Jake Morrison, in this compassionate thriller about how we live, love and die.
The Crowning Circle takes place in an imaginary mid-sized town called Chatsford, Ohio. Doc Skeet Cullum, is a forensic psychologist who helps detectives in the city's homicide department. Skeet has a strange theory about death which he uses to unravel tough cases. Jake, Skeet's friend, is an inventor-engineer who owns a company called Solutions, Inc. On Thursdays, this duo get together at Jake's house to play guitar.
The book opens on the morning of one of these Thursdays as three violent deaths - one a murder without apparent motive - occur. News of the first interrupts Skeet's proposal to his half-Vietnamese girlfriend of seven years. That night it's obvious to Jake that Skeet, usually stoic, is deeply upset.
In the next four days, personal and public calamities fall like dominoes as the formerly reclusive Jake sets out to help Skeet, without telling him. Their friendship withstands all strain until Jake tries to penetrate Skeet's inscrutable facade - under which, Jake finally suspects, is something crucial. He is right.
Thursday, 9:03 a.m.
Oaklawn District, Chatsford, Ohio
Gloria Wentworth Hampton stood in her driveway, her face shaded by her broad-brimmed gardening hat. She wished the shadow would somehow widen, darken, descend to the ground, and envelop her. Since coming to America from England a year ago, she'd often felt this way.
"Do come with us, Mum. Won't you please?" her daughter begged, pulling at her skirts.
"Maybe another time, darling . . . " Gloria began and, from recent habit, looked up and down the sidewalk. It was vacant except for a boy, perhaps eighteen, wearing jeans and plaid shirt. To Gloria he looked the typical American male, who thought himself a Wild West cowboy. She glanced away, feeling suddenly empty, wondering why she'd become so judgmental.
Her husband, Jim, held their son's hand and looked exasperated.
"Surely we should go as a family," he said. "It's their Founder's Day."
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