Cover image for The piper's sons
The piper's sons
Fergusson, Bruce.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Dutton, [1999]

Physical Description:
342 pages ; 24 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


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

On Order



What would you do if you discovered you were adopted...and that your biological father was a serial killer?Paul Sinclair's real father is the Pied Piper, a mass murderer never caught but presumed dead. Now, decades after his disappearance, it seems the Piper is back...and has a new, even more chilling agenda, an agenda that draws him closer to Paul, to Paul's wife, Ellie, and to their son, Michael. Events unfold quickly and Paul becomes caught up in something far beyond his control. Ellie sees his increasingly erratic behavior as obsessive and dangerous, and even Paul starts to doubt himself.All of the threads of the novel come together in the unforgettable final struggle between hunter and hunted on the wreck of a World War II freighter run aground on an island north of Seattle. Terrifying and inventive, The Piper's Sons breaks new ground in psychological suspense.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

The interrogations drag on endlessly when Seattle resident Paul Sinclair decides to investigate what's behind the series of catastrophes that plague his family. His mother committed suicide; his six-year-old daughter died in a tragic hiking accident at the same place where his brother, Stephen, vanished without a trace on the day Paul married his wife, Ellie. If that's not enough, Paul's father's lover also disappeared en route to that wedding; and his father was later killed in what was staged to look like a suicide. When Paul discovers that he was adopted and that his true father was a serial killer known as the Pied Piper, the plot thickensÄlike cement. Yet Paul trudges through each dense narrative twist, obtaining clues that keep leading him toward the man he believes is stalking him, Ellie and their son. Interrupting this story is a series of strange dialogues between a sadist and his captive, who develop a psychological bond that's just as dubious as the long-time captive's ability to give a coherent, articulate statement the moment he is rescued. Although locations surrounding Seattle are nicely integrated into the plot, the tale grows so overloaded with information that readers may be impatient with these meandering descriptions. The full mystery unravels with many unpredictable obstacles and intriguing knots along the way, but the narrative stumbles when debut novelist Fergusson yokes his plot's resolution to a surfeit of psychologically improbable mistaken-identity contrivances. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

It's bad enough when your father is a mass murderer dubbed the Pied Piper. But what if, after being gone for years and presumed dead, he returns to haunt your family? A scary debut. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter One Above Shilshole Would I have gone after the girl if my own daughter, Emma, were still alive?     I'd like to say yes, but the answer is probably no.     I had just delivered a bookcase in Ballard to some people named Langdalen, and was coiling rope by my pickup when I saw a stick arcing over the sidewalk. A young golden retriever scrambled after the stick, mouthed it, trotted back. Someone clapped.     "All riiiight, Zeke! Good dog!"     The stick flew again, landing this time near the end of the driveway. An oak tree blocked my view of the girl--it was a girl's voice. If I'd seen her, I would have stared, watching her play with the dog, and that might have made her uncomfortable. I catch myself doing that sometimes, when I drop my son, Michael, off at school: seeing Emma in a girl who is about the age my daughter would have been.     I listened to the high, playfully stern voice, the dog's barking, and folded the flannel sheet with which I'd covered the bookcase for the drive from my shop in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood. A beige Corolla passed slowly on the street, pacing Zeke as he returned another throw of the stick.     I got into the cab, started up the truck, turned on the radio, not wanting to hear the girl's voice anymore.     I didn't see the dog going after the stick, and the parent in me approved because it probably meant the girl had gone in for the evening. I glanced at my watch. Almost eight o'clock. Five minutes to get to the softball game under the lights at the Ballard playfield. My wife, Ellie, and I were half of the outfield for our co-rec team.     I pulled out to the street, ready to wave at the girl if she was still there. She wasn't on the sidewalk.     But the retriever was trotting down the middle of the street, away from me, the stick in his mouth. A block away, the beige Corolla was moving fast, too fast for this residential neighborhood.     The dog dropped the stick, confused, as if his play had been interrupted.     If the girl had gone inside, wouldn't she have taken the dog, too?     Who would have taken off like that? There was no reason for it, unless... There should have been a scream, a shout. I would have heard that, even over the radio .... Even over the roar of the falls and the river. One minute she was there, and when I looked back, along the path, toward the falls, she was gone, my Emma, gone, forever.     It takes only seconds to get there. The seconds were ticking away.     The man in the Corolla had taken that girl. I almost hit the dog, spinning out of the driveway, gunning the pickup down the street. I snapped off the radio.     The car took a left on Thirty-second Avenue. By the time I did the same, the Corolla was disppearing over a rise in the road. At the intersection of Eighty-fifth and Thirty-second, I lost the car. I looked down Eighty-fifth, easily a half-mile stretch, didn't see him. He had to have gone straight, taking the narrowing road that twisted around the Shilshole bluff. I pushed the needle to forty in a zone marked fifteen, careening around the curves.     I passed the entrance to the park. Trails in the thick woods sloped steeply down to the Burlington Northern railroad tracks and Golden Gardens beach. There, alone in the lot, next to the closed rest-room facilities, was the Corolla.     I braked--and was almost rear-ended by another car. There was no shoulder to use, to back up. I had to keep going and sped up, with getaway haste, only I had to get back--fast--before it was too late.     There was no reason why a father would take his little girl into the woods at this time of the day, leaving a game of fetch with the dog.     At the bottom of the hill, the road widened before switching back under the railroad tracks. Distantly a whistle sounded--Amtrak or a Burlington Northern freight bearing down from the north. I turned off so sharply I spun out, could feel the pickup want to keep going, to roll. I almost lost it then. The guy behind me shouted out, "What the fuck're you doing?" and flipped me off as he passed.     I crushed through the gears going back up the hill. The valves rattled in third. Down to second...     Too slow, Christ, too slow ...     I swerved into the parking lot, right next to the Corolla, and grabbed the softball bat from the cab behind the seats.     If I was wrong about this...     The Corolla's license number was GGN-458.     I slammed the door loudly, so the man might hear, hear someone coming and stop what he was doing, or was about to do, but the train noise was getting louder, rushing through the woods.     To my left, concrete steps descended down the hill, flanked by troughs for the runoff. The main trail bordered a small meadow with braziers and picnic tables. Near the last one, the trail disappeared in the dense woods. At the edge of the meadow, a large stone sculpture seemed to be guarding that entrance. It was jarring to see my father's sculpture now, somehow made what I was doing inevitable, as if my own daughter had been taken.     I ran past it, hoping to find them a short way down the path, father and daughter walking hand in hand, looking for the something the girl needed for a craft project, a gift. Anything. Maybe there was a good reason why they'd left the dog behind, loose on the street, not taken him for a romp in the woods.     I felt the fear in my legs, gut, and hoped that I was wrong, that it was all a mistake. Would he snatch his daughter, shove her behind him, his eyes spilling fear at the sight of a six-foot-two, 190-pound guy barreling down the path with a thirty-two-inch aluminum bat in his hand? And here he was, all alone with this crazy, with nothing to protect his daughter but fists he'd never learned how to use. His anger would come as explosive relief, despite my apology. I'd want to tell him why I'd done this, but the man would just say, Get the hell out of here ... get the hell away ...     But I wasn't wrong. Copyright © 1999 Bruce Chandler Fergusson. All rights reserved.