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Review: 'Original Sin' is tense, disturbing thriller told by a gifted storyteller

"Original Sin" (Reputation Books), by D.P. Lyle

The dying old man on cardiac surgeon Lucy Wagner's operating table was bleeding out from an aortic aneurism. As she desperately massaged his failing heart, a chill flowed into her fingers, up her arm and into her chest. And then she fell, collapsing onto the hospital floor.

The patient, as it turns out, was John Scully, the pastor of a secretive, snake-handling cult that held services outside Lucy's small hometown of Remington, Tennessee. As far as Lucy knew, neither she nor anyone close to her had any connection to him. But she was wrong.

When science and faith collide, author D.P. Lyle wants us to know, things can get contentious — and occasionally violent. Followers of each are seekers, walking very different paths to find answers to life's mysteries. And, Lyle demonstrates in this tense and disturbing thriller, not all mysteries have answers.

In the aftermath of Scully's death, Lucy has vivid, frightening dreams. She has trouble remaining upright while she is operating. Her surgical patients, too, begin having similar dreams.

And then the murders begin.

Lucy's best friend is Samantha Cody, the California police officer-protagonist in a series of Lyle's novels. In town to visit her friend, Samantha joins local police officer Ty Everson and Lucy in an increasingly desperate attempt to unlock the mystery behind the escalating violence. The investigation draws them into the bizarre world of Scully's church and a collision with the preacher's monomaniacal successor, his hired thugs and shocking secrets about Lucy's past. The key to the case, Lucy comes to suspect, is locked inside the addled mind of the old woman who raised her.

Lyle, a practicing cardiologist himself and the author of numerous non-fiction books and thrillers, handles the medical details of the tale with expected precision. But he is also a gifted storyteller with a talent for character development. The result is a fine thriller that crosses into the sub-genres of medical mystery and police procedural.


Bruce DeSilva, winner of the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Award, is the author of three crime novels including "Providence Rag."



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