Cover image for The left hand of God
The left hand of God
Holton, Hugh.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Forge, [1999]

Physical Description:
384 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
"A Tom Doherty Associates book."
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Larry Cole's seventeen-year-old son Butch is staying with his father for the summer. When Butch visits a nightclub on the north side he stumbles across a plot to fix an Olympic basketball game between the U.S. and the Italian National team. Meanwhile Cole has uncovered a plot to assassinate the sultry newscaster Orga Syriac, when he escorts her to a political ball. The would-be assassin, a demented catholic priest, is intent on stopping her from exposing a secret right-wing organization. With the help of beautiful and smart investigative journalist Kate Ford, Cole must foil the would be homicidal maniac, keep an eye on his teenage son, and prevent an international game-fixing scheme that could tarnish the Olympic sports world forever.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Chicago Police Chief of Detectives Larry Cole just can't stay away from outrageous adventures. In his latest outing, Cole faces a case involving the fictional University of Chicago Human Development Institute, whose mission is to make society safer for the world's wealthiest citizens by getting rid of all "undesirables." As Cole tries to put the evil (but well-funded and politically influential) Institute out of business, he finds himself dealing with two kidnappings, several murders, and a gambling plot involving the 2004 U.S. Olympic team. But most daunting of all, Cole must contend with an Abo-Yorba, a legendary (and most think imaginary) shape-shifter from Africa. Disguised as WGN news reporter Orga Syriac, Abo-Yorba is capable of shifting into a terrifying taloned monster at the slightest provocation. Holton's latest is part nightmare, part weird sci-fi adventure, part riveting murder mystery, and part tongue-in-cheek spoof. For those who don't mind extending the boundaries of the genre, this one is a real hoot. --Emily Melton

Publisher's Weekly Review

The new outing for high-ranking African-American Chicago cop Larry Cole is an ambitious but cluttered mix of clandestine politicking, crooked gambling and black magic. In rural Mississippi in 1956, a secret organization, the Human Development Institute, attempted to murder a benevolent "she-devil." Nearly half a century later, the institute is still around‘and so is the shape-shifter, or Abo-Yorba. Now calling herself Orga Syriac, she is newly employed as a TV journalist in Chicago, and at the moment is acting as the glamorous companion to none other than Cole at a PAC dinner. An HDI agent, posing as a priest, has gone inexplicably rogue and has decided to kill all those at the dinner with well-placed explosives. Cole's son, Butch, meanwhile, is club-hopping at a trendy spot owned by Jack Carlisle, a criminal intent on blackmailing Chicago Bulls star Pete Dubcek into throwing a game. Holton, himself brass in the Chicago PD, demonstrates that a plethora of plotting‘some of it quite exciting‘can come very close to papering over a bland prose style. Cole, too, is dull, a wooden soul adrift in a caper where things happen for hazy reasons. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

When Chief of Detectives Larry Cole attends a dinner party for the Human Development Institute, he does not know that he and everyone he is with will be marked for death. Chicago in the year 2004 is pretty much business as usual. The Cook County Political Action Committee, a right-wing group, is attempting a political takeover of the area. The Human Development Institute, a covert, cultlike organization, is trying to direct the course of humanity. Orga Syriac, a reporter for WGN-TV and Cole's date for the dinner party, is supposed to be the new Oprah but in reality is something quite different. And the Abo-Yorba, an African shape-shifter, is in town for revenge. The various plot lines are woven into a cohesive tale that rockets to a spectacular ending. As usual, Holton (Chicago Blues, LJ 4/1/96), a longtime member of the Chicago Police Department, has written a complex story, combining police procedure and the supernatural. For thriller fans.ÄJo Ann Vicarel, Cleveland Hts.-University Hts. P.L., OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter One Chicago, Illinois June 11, 2004 3:40 P.M.     Chief of Detectives Larry Cole stood in the back of the interrogation room watching Sergeant Manny Sherlock question serial killer Dwight Frazier. Frazier was alleged to have murdered fifty-one men, women, and children in Chicago over the past eight years. It had taken Cole and his crew of Lieutenant Blackie Silvestri, Sergeant Judy Daniels, and Manny six months of intensive investigation to apprehend this vicious killer. Now, in the presence of a Cook County state's attorney, a court-appointed defense attorney, and a stenographer, the murderer was candidly confessing to each crime along with providing the minute details of his offenses.     Cole, a tall, broad-shouldered, handsome black man with thick black hair streaked with gray, studied Dwight Frazier with barely concealed awe. The killer was a nondescript type of short stature with gray hair he parted severely to one side. He wore steel-rimmed glasses with thick lenses and looked like a librarian or file clerk. In actuality, like the infamous Richard Speck, Frazier had no occupation but drifted from job to job. He had been a dishwasher, busboy, janitor, and school custodian. Working at the latter job in a West Side school, he had been responsible for the kidnap, brutal sexual assault, and eventual murder of eleven grammar-school children.     "Tell us about the women," Manny said.     Cole noticed that Sherlock had adopted an interrogation manner very similar to that of his former partner Lou Bronson, who had retired five years ago. Bronson had been one of the best detectives Cole had ever met.     In response to the sergeant's question, Frazier smiled. "I don't understand the fuss you people are making about them," he said in a quiet, near-cultured voice. "I did the men of the world a favor by getting rid of those sluts. They were disease-ridden, foulmouthed parasites. Because of them, many a man's life has been destroyed." He chuckled and leaned toward Sherlock, as if he were attempting to tell the sergeant a secret or make him a coconspirator in his crimes. "You know I was very inventive in disposing of them. I drowned a few in cheap motel-room bathtubs. Held them under and watched their eyes glaze over in death. Sent those harlots on the road straight to hell."     Cole noticed the court reporter's back stiffen, but she kept her fingers working rapidly over the keys.     "In a few cases," Frazier continued, "due to time constraints, the weather, or some other thing I couldn't control, I'd open their guts up with a butcher knife or take a straight razor and slit their throats. But that's really messy, Sergeant. Do you know what I mean?"     "I know, Dwight," Sherlock responded.     Larry Cole knew Manny Sherlock well and knew that deep inside, the detective sergeant had nothing but loathing for the serial killer. However, his job demanded that he become as friendly with him as possible in order to get the confession that would send Dwight Frazier on his own road to hell.     A lull had developed in the interrogation, and after a brief pause Sherlock said, "Tell me about your family, Dwight."     The serial killer's attitude changed instantly. He seemed to become smaller, as his shoulders slumped and he lowered his head. He wouldn't look at Sherlock. He said, "Do we have to talk about them?"     "I think we should."     There was a long moment of silence. Finally Frazier sighed and said, "Okay. What do you want to know about my family?"     "Why don't you start at the beginning?" Sherlock said. "Where were you born?"     Dwight Frazier's eyes swung to the ceiling and he squinted as if the memory was difficult for him to recall. "Let's see, I was born in Toledo, Ohio, on October sixth, 1950. I was raised on a farm about a hundred miles from Toledo. My stepfather was named James Townsend. He tried his hand at raising a variety of crops, but nothing ever came to much. Most of the time we were on the dole."     "The `dole'?" Sherlock questioned.     Frazier's face twisted in a lopsided grin. "That's kind of an old-fashioned term for welfare."     "Did you have any brothers and sisters?"     "There were six of us. Three Fraziers: me, my younger brother, Billy, and my baby sister, Meg. The rest were Townsends: Joey, Beth, and Wanda."     "What about your mother?"     The question hit Frazier hard. He tensed and took in a deep breath. He was obviously going through a fierce struggle for control of his emotions. A struggle that he lost. He let out a wail and began to sob. Tears ran down his face and his entire body became racked by his internal pain.     The cops silently waited him out.      "Would you like a glass of water?" Sherlock inquired when Frazier's crying was reduced to soft whimpers.     "Please," he managed.     There was a metal carafe and a stack of paper cups on the table. Sherlock poured the killer a cup of water, which he took and gulped down. When he was finished, he sniffled noisily and ran the sleeve of his seedy sports jacket across his tear-streaked face.     Cole came off the wall and walked over to the prisoner. From his inside pocket Cole removed a white handkerchief.     "Thank you, Chief Cole," Frazier said, taking the folded square of white cloth. "You are most kind."     "You can keep it," Cole said, returning to his place against the wall.     After giving Frazier another moment to control himself, Sherlock said, "Shall we continue?"     The killer nodded. In a hoarse voice he said, "My mother was a very beautiful woman. I don't remember much about my father. He worked for the railroad and wasn't home much. Then one day, before I had even started school, he stopped coming home at all. Then she, that is my mother, met Townsend."     A bitterness had crept into his voice at the mention of his stepfather. Sherlock waited patiently for him to continue.     "Townsend was a brutal man, but he believed in God or rather God's wrath. We ate, slept, and breathed the Bible on that miserable piece of dirt he called a farm. And for the slightest transgression he'd take us out to the barn, strip us naked, and take a strap to us until he drew blood. He'd even whip my mother when she displeased him, which was often."     For a moment it appeared that Frazier was going to break down again, but he took in a deep breath, expelled it slowly, and continued.      "It was about this time, I was maybe thirteen or fourteen years old, that I began experimenting with animals."     "What kind of experiments, Dwight?"     Frazier shrugged and in that simple gesture was transformed from a man with a troubled past back into one of the most vicious serial killers who had ever operated in the city of Chicago.     "Yeah," he chuckled before responding to Sherlock's question, "I liked to open them up and see how they worked. Chickens, dogs, cats, raccoons. It really didn't matter. I'd catch them in these little cages I made, beat them senseless, and go to work with my knives."     "Didn't you get into trouble with Townsend for doing that?"     "He never found out about it, but my mother knew." Again Frazier began misting up. "In the long run I think that's why she left me there. She'd gotten fed up with Townsend's Bible-beating and abuse, so one day, while I was working the fields with Townsend, she took Billy and Meg and just left. Heard they went to California, but they never tried to contact me. Left me with Old Man Townsend and his litter of Christian fanatics."     Frazier paused for a moment. His eyes glazed over momentarily and he said softly, "So I guess you could say that I had no choice. You see, I realized that with my mother gone Old Man Townsend would eventually get around to blaming me. My life would have really been hell then. So that first night, after my real family left, I slit Townsend's throat. I had to kill his kids too. Didn't want any witnesses. Then I burned the farmhouse down and took off on my own. Been by myself ever since."     The interrogation continued. With Sherlock guiding him, Frazier talked freely. To Cole, the observer, the serial killer was actually eager to tell his story. Like the majority of criminals, he made half-hearted, illogical attempts to justify his crimes. But Cole could tell that Frazier knew that he had committed a number of atrocities and was actually confessing to relieve himself of the guilt he had carried for so many years.     The confession was finally coming to a conclusion. Sherlock asked his final question. "Is there anything that you'd like to add, Dwight?"     Frazier reflected for a moment before saying, "No, Sergeant, I think that's just about it."     Sherlock turned to look at Cole in case there was anything else the chief of detectives wanted him to ask. Cole nodded, signaling to Manny that he was satisfied and that the interrogation could now end.     The sergeant turned back to face Dwight Frazier. "Has everything you have told me been given of your own free will without threat or coercion?"     "Oh yes, Sergeant, and I must say that you are a very good listener."     On that note Cole let himself out of the interrogation room. As he headed back to his office, he felt a heavy fatigue drop over him. This was something he had begun experiencing more frequently of late at the end of big cases. It was as if with each one, more and more of his essence was being drained. That his contacts with the worst society had to offer, such as the likes of Dwight Frazier, were chipping away at his soul bit by bit until someday there would be nothing left.     He reached his office and found Lieutenant Blackie Silvestri sitting in his cubicle next to the door marked "Chief of Detectives." Blackie was going over a report and did not notice his boss approach. Cole stopped outside the cubicle and watched his old friend for a few moments. On Thanksgiving Day they would be friends for twenty-eight years. It didn't seem like it had been that long. In fact, Cole didn't feel any different than he had on that winter day when he'd been assigned as Nineteenth District tactical officer Blackie Silvestri's new partner. In appearance Blackie didn't look much different than he had in 1976. Sure, he was heavier, and his once black hair was thinner and shot with gray. There were fatigue lines etched into his face caused over the years by his perpetual scowl. However, if Cole altered his gaze to take in the whole rather than the specific, his old friend would appear to have aged only ten years as opposed to close to thirty.     Cole recalled reading somewhere that agelessness went hand in hand with how someone felt about and lived his life. And Blackie lived life to the fullest. He loved good food, a few beers now and then, and those funny little twisted black cigars he was always smoking. He had only two passions in life: his family and catching crooks.     Involuntarily, Cole's own life flashed before him. He was as passionate about police work as Blackie; however, the only other thing with any lasting value in Cole's life was his son Butch, who was now a teenager staying with Cole for the summer. Larry "Butch" Cole Jr. lived with his mother in Detroit and Cole did not see as much of him as he liked. So it all came back to the CPD, and Cole realized that his relationship with the department could change in the blink of an eye. A case blown, falling into political disfavor, which had happened to him before, or the appointment of a superintendent who wanted his own man as the chief of detectives and it would be all over for Larry Cole. He had seen it happen to other demoted command officers. Some of them didn't weather well the demotion back to their career service ranks of lieutenant or captain. It had even killed a few.     As Cole had this thought, Blackie looked up. "What's cooking, boss?"     Cole smiled, but didn't respond right away. With that look and those words Blackie had reminded Cole of just how much they meant to each other.     When Cole didn't say anything, Blackie frowned. "Larry, are you okay?"     Cole's smile dimmed a bit. "I'm fine, Blackie. Manny's wrapping up Frazier's confession. It will probably run to about three hundred fifty pages."     "That much, huh? I bet Barbara Zorin, Jamal Garth, or Kate Ford could have a field day with that transcript."     Cole headed for his office. "Someday they probably will, but we've got to try Frazier first."     "You do remember that you're supposed to go to that reception at Navy Pier tonight. It's a command performance. A select few members of the top brass, to include you, must attend."     Cole frowned. "I know."    "You don't look like you're in much of a partying mood."     "Maybe it's because of the people I'm being forced to party with." Chapter Two June 11, 2004 4:05 P.M.     Thomas Kelly entered the Days Inn Hotel on Clark Street across from the Lincoln Park Zoo. He was a tall man with snow white hair and a ruddy complexion. He walked with a cane, which he leaned on heavily, as he traversed the lobby to the front desk. A man and woman in jogging outfits were on their way out of the hotel and noticed Kelly. The woman remarked that he bore a striking resemblance to Senator Ted Kennedy.     The desk clerk was talking on the phone when Kelly came up to her station. Placing her hand over the mouthpiece she said, "I'll be with you in a moment, sir."     He smiled and replied with a lilting Irish brogue, "Take your time, darlin'. I'm in no hurry."     A few moments later she hung up and said, "May I help you, sir?"     "I'm looking for the Reverend Father James Lochran."     "Yes, sir. Just one moment and I'll ring him for you." She picked up the house phone and punched in a number. Thomas Kelly watched her as enough time passed for the telephone at the other end to have rung at least five times. The call being finally answered caused the clerk to frown.     "Father Lochran?" She paused and then said, "Are you okay, sir?" Another pause. "There's a gentleman at the front desk to see you." She looked at Kelly. "Could I have your name, sir?"     He told her and she announced him.     "Father Lochran's in room eleven oh seven. You may go up now."     He started to ask her what was wrong, but he already knew. With a smile and a wink at the clerk, he headed for the elevator. Thomas Kelly knocked on the door to room 1107. After a moment, the sound of the chain being released and locks being undone carried out into the hall. Then the door opened.     The man standing at the threshold to room 1107 was short, balding, thin, and quite drunk. The room had recently been made up, but cigarette smoke hung heavily in the air and there was a strong smell of whiskey present. "Good day to you, Thomas."     "And to you also, James."     Slowly, Lochran turned and walked unsteadily back into the smoky room. Kelly followed him, making sure he shut the door securely behind him.     James Lochran made it to an easy chair over by the window, which provided a panoramic view of Lincoln Park and the western shore of Lake Michigan below. On a table next to the chair was an ashtray overflowing with cigarette butts, a package of Salems, a half bottle of Bushmills whiskey, and a single glass. An ice bucket rested on the floor beside the chain Collapsing into the chair, Lochran picked up his glass and raised it in salute to Thomas Kelly: "God bless all here."     Kelly took a seat on the bed facing Lochran. He placed his cane across his lap.     "Amen to that, James, but you're not supposed to be on the booze. After all, you're posing as a Catholic priest."     Lochran took a pull of his drink prior to saying, "Some of the biggest drunks I know are priests, Thomas."     "You also have a job to do in a couple of hours. It wouldn't be proper for you to show up in your current state."     Lochran lit another cigarette, coughed as he got it going, and said, "A shower, a bite to eat, and a little mouthwash will have me as good as new."     "I heard that's what you told them in Denver before you passed out and didn't show up at all."     Lochran glared at Kelly. "So I made a mistake, Thomas. After being in this business for twenty years I'm entitled to one."     Kelly, using his cane as a brace, got slowly to his feet. "Do you mind if I join you?"     "Now that's the ticket. Let me get you a glass."     Lochran got up and crossed to the washroom. He flicked the light on and was reaching for one of the hotel glasses when he heard a noise behind him. He spun around in time to catch the full force of Kelly's cane right in the center of his forehead. James Lochran, priest impersonator, fell backward to land hard against the toilet bowl. His skull had been split open and his eyes were already glazing over in death.     Thomas Kelly stepped over him and examined his handiwork. There was no need for another blow. There never was. He could have killed Lochran in the bedroom, but it was much harder to get bloodstains out of fabric than was the case with the cold porcelain and tile of the bathroom.     Looking down at the body of his onetime comrade, Kelly said, "I actually did you a favor, James. The booze would have killed you in a great deal slower and more painful manner." The assassin emitted a sigh. "Now I'm going to have to take your place myself, and I'll be a damned sight better priest than you've ever been."     He returned to the bedroom and picked up the telephone. Dialing 9 to get an outside line, he made a local call. After one ring the phone was answered: "Human Development Institute"     "I'd like to speak to Dr. Walker. Dr. Wendy Walker."     "I'm sorry, sir" a male voice said, "but Dr, Walker is no longer with the Institute. I can provide you with a forwarding address"     "No" Kelly said, "that won't be necessary. Thank you for your time."     He hung up.     Thomas Kelly returned to the washroom and retrieved the clean glass which James Lochran had gone in search of as the last act of his life. On the telephone, in code, Kelly had requested a cleanup team to respond to the hotel to remove the body and every trace of the man's presence, including checking him out and paying the bill. When the operator at the Human Development Institute had offered to provide him with a forwarding address for Dr. Wendy Walker it was an acknowledgment of the cleanup order.     Now Kelly picked up the bottle of Bushmills and poured himself a neat shot. Before downing it he raised the glass and said, "God bless all here." Copyright © 1999 Hugh Holton. All rights reserved.