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Prayer For The Dead [Mass Market Paperback]

David Wiltse
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dec 12 2012
Approached by the police, former government hitman John Becker emerges from a self-imposed retirement to hunt down the twisted killer who has been preying on innocent people. Reprint. NYT. AB. PW.

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From Publishers Weekly

Wiltse displays powerful writing skills in this spellbinding thriller. Retired FBI agent John Becker reluctantly agrees to help the police chief of a small Connecticut town investigate the cases of 15 missing men. Becker has personal reasons for not wanting to become involved, but the gravity of situation draws him in. Learning that many of the men have mothers with Scandinavian maiden names, Becker guesses that someone with access to such information might be the culprit. Via clever sleuthing, he discovers that the same insurance salesman had visited all of the missing men: he is the seemingly quintessentially ordinary Roger Dyce. Becker gets a chance to question Dyce when the latter lands in the hospital after an intended victim beats him up, but Dyce senses danger and escapes. Hoping to predict the killer's next moves, Becker struggles to fathom the the psychopath's mind, succeeding in a feat of amazing intuition. But even as Becker closes in, Dyce takes more lives. Alternating between Dyce's and Becker's points of view, Wiltse (The Fifth Angel) builds tension with subtle, chilling precision.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Another serial psycho-killer from a specialist in the genre (The Wedding Guest, The Serpent, The Fifth Angel). Roger Dyce is a Connecticut insurance agent who likes to inject young men of Scandinavian extraction with a paralyzing drug, drain their blood (slowly, over several days), and dress them in the clothing of his beloved grandfather before dismembering their bodies. As he's disposing of his eighth victim, Dyce is drifting uncharacteristically toward Helen--a supermarket checker whose life expectancy dramatically declines--and eyeing as his next victim Eric Brandauer, a young tough who has ideas of his own. When his trap to catch Eric lands him in the hospital with an Eric-broken nose, Dyce comes face to face with his nemesis/double John Becker--an ex-FBI agent who quit the Bureau out of fear of his uncanny empathy for killers and his own growing propensity for violence.... The motivation of both men is tediously spun out--via italicized flashbacks revealing the nature of Dyce's attachment to his grandfather and Becker's sessions with his rock-climbing girlfriend and his psychiatrist--but the plotting of thrust and counterthrust, and the morituri musings, are chillingly understated. Creepy stuff, all right. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Riveting July 4 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
John Becker returns to the serial hunting fold when men mysteriously disappear. Flashbacks were a bit much. The mode chosen to murder the victims was gruesomely sick. I couldn't stop reading though.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it! Jan. 5 2000
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
After having read "Black Notice" by Patricia Cornwell ( which is not worth the time) reading this book was a welcome thrill. Becker is a good guy that isn't too good, and that's the way I like my protagonists. I have already ordered the 2nd book in the series "Close to the Bone" and can't wait to start reading it. Becker has a mystery surrounding him and I will enjoy discovering his secrets!
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By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is a good "beach" book. I found the characters less rich and engrossing than I had anticipated from reviews and readers comments. Much of the plot was predictable and more graphically violent than I prefer. I will read more of John Becker, hoping that the books grow in depth and intensity. Overall, a deverting, quick read.
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By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
David Wiltse's A PRAYER FOR THE DYING is the best serial-killer thriller since Thomas Harris's RED DRAGON. In it, Wiltse introduces us to a brilliantly conceived lead character, FBI agent John Becker. Becker has the rare gift of pure empathy and projection, enabling him to invade his quarry's subconscience and sift through his motives and dreams. Like DRAGON'S Will Graham, Becker is ashamed at his ability and views himself as a freak, yet, when pulled deeply enough into the hunt, he greedily feeds on his ravenous bloodlust, becoming as deranged and psychologically unstable as his prey.
The madman Roger Dyce, who calmly drains his victims of blood to the point of death, is complex and fascinating in his endeavors, and Wiltse expertly catalogues his behavioral levels, so Dyce's reasonings become lucidly clear to the reader. The prose and dialogue are very inspired here, lending considerable grace to the central premise, momentum to the narrative, and texture and nuance to the characters. This is a wonderful piece of fiction that goes to the head of the class.
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