On a quiet afternoon in the park, four-year-old Joey plays in the sandbox, when a stranger approaches looking for his puppy. While Joey’s mom, Crystal, talks on her cell phone, the stranger convinces the child to help search. By the time Crystal turns around, her son has disappeared. Yet her reaction is odd, not what one would expect from a distraught mother. Is Crystal somehow involved in her son’s abduction?
Meanwhile, on a ranch outside Houston, Texas Ranger Sarah Armstrong assesses a symbol left on the hide of a slaughtered longhorn, a figure that dates back to a forgotten era of sugarcane plantations and slavery. Soon other prizewinning bulls are butchered on the outskirts of the city, each bearing a similar drawing. The investigations converge at the same time a catastrophic hurricane looms in the Gulf. Finally, as dangerous winds and torrential rains pummel the city, Sarah is forced to risk her life to save Joey.
Casey's turbulent third mystery featuring Texas Ranger Sarah Armstrong (after 2009's Blood Lines) draws the criminal profiler into a breathless drama as scary as a hurricane's eye. When Sarah's boyfriend, FBI special agent David Garrity, asks for her help in a missing child case, Sarah is eager to assist. Someone took four-year-old Joey Warner from a Houston playground while his young mother was arguing on a cellphone with Joey's dad. Aided by Sgt. George "Buckshot" Fields, Sarah also looks into the decapitation killings of prize-winning longhorn bulls, whose hides are scrawled with cryptic African drawings. As she seeks help from a former Tulane professor who's an expert on African symbols, Hurricane Juanita approaches the Gulf Coast. When clues surface that imply an eerie link between the two investigations, a terrifying cat-and-mouse game develops, pointing to more stormy weather ahead for Sarah in the best in the series to date. (Nov.)