Cover image for The 37th hour
Title:
The 37th hour
Author:
Compton, Jodi.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Delacorte Press, 2004.
Physical Description:
vi, 324 pages ; 22 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780385337137
Format :
Book

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X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
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Summary

Summary

In a suspense novel of astounding power and depth, Jodi Compton unleashes a haunting tale of secrets and betrayal...and of one woman's search for her missing husband that spirals into a dark journey strewn with bitter truths and damged lives. Here debut novelist Compton introduces an extraordinary character: Detective Sarah Pribek, a woman of strength, complexity, and instinct, a woman caught in an unimaginable nightmare... The 37th Hour On a chilly Minnesota morning, Sarah comes home to the house she shares with her husband and fellow cop, Michael Shiloh. Shiloh was supposed to be in Virginia, starting his training with the FBI. A seasoned missing-persons investigator, Sarah is used to anxious calls from wives and parents. She's used to the innocent explanations that resolve so many of her cases. But from the moment she learns that he never arrived at Quantico, she feels a terrible foreboding. Now, beneath the bed in which they make love, Sarah finds Shiloh's neatly packed bag. And in that instant the cop in her knows: Her husband has disappeared. Suddenly Sarah finds herself at the beginning of the kind of investigation she has made so often. The kind that she and her ex-partner, Genevieve, solved routinely -- until a brutal crime stole Genevieve's daughter and ended her career. The kind that pries open family secrets and hidden lives. For Sarah this investigation will mean going back to the beginning, to Shiloh's religion-steeped childhood in Utah, the rift that separated him from his family -- and the one horrifying case that struck them both too close to home. As Sarah turns over more and more unknown ground in her husband's past, she sees her lover and friend change into a stranger before her eyes. And as she moves further down a trail of shocking surprises and bitter revelations, Sarah is about to discover that her worst fear -- that Shiloh is dead -- may be less painful than what she will learn next... In a novel of runaway tension, Jodi Compton masterfully weaves together the quiet details of everyday life with the moments that can shatter them forever. At once a beguiling mystery and a powerful rumination on family, friendship, and loss, The 37th Hour is a thriller that will catch you off guard at every turn -- instantly compelling and utterly impossible to put down. From the Hardcover edition.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

This nail-biter of a debut novel takes off from this proposition: If, as crime experts hold, the first 36 hours in a missing-persons investigation are crucial, what happens after that window has slammed shut? Minneapolis sheriff's detective Sarah Pribek, who sometimes works on missing-persons cases, sees her cop husband off on his trip to the FBI Training Academy in Quantico. He never makes it, but Pribek, not expecting to hear from him during the first flurry of training anyway, doesn't realize things have gone terribly wrong till days--and opportunities--have passed. Compton skillfully weaves together strands of Pribek's life--her husband's disappearance, her best friend's grief over a murdered daughter, and her own foray into saving a suicidal teen--into a complex, shocking whole. From the first scene--a teenage girl teetering on a railway trestle over the Mississippi--to the harrowing resolution, Compton uses suspense as a powerful propellant. --Connie Fletcher Copyright 2003 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Compton's bleakly authentic debut procedural set in Minneapolis features Sheriff's Det. Sarah Pribek, who specializes in missing-person cases. Sarah's partner and mentor on the force, Genevieve Brown, retreats to near-catatonia after her daughter is raped and murdered. Compounding this tragedy is the escape of perpetrator Royce Stewart, aka Shorty, who slips the clutch of justice on a technicality. Sarah's husband of two months, Mike Shiloh, a detective with the Minneapolis Police Department, is scheduled to leave on a four-month training stint with the FBI. When Shiloh turns up missing, Sarah finds herself investigating the disappearance of her own husband. Because there are no clues in the present, she sets out on a long and twisted journey into her husband's murky past. Compton tells her story slowly and deliberately, allowing the reader to discover Sarah's secrets as well as Shiloh's, revealing both as complicated, unpredictable characters with dark former lives. Interviews with Shiloh's disaffected family in Utah turn up a sister, Sinclair, who is a deaf poet and university instructor. Even though Shiloh had never mentioned her existence, she proves pivotal to the story and provides vital background clues that point Sarah back home to Minneapolis. There, Genevieve rouses herself and joins Sarah in the Shiloh investigation, which veers in an unexpected direction and leads the two of them to a confrontation with the evil Shorty. Readers looking for perky heroines with sassy girlfriends and humorous man problems would best be advised to seek their mysteries elsewhere. Compton's world is complicated, shadowy and violent, with little cheer and only the barest traces of hope and resolution. Look for Sarah to appear in a sequel, but don't expect it to be easy for anyone. This is first-class, serious crime fiction. (Dec. 30) Forecast: If the publisher can get the word out on newcomer Compton, this should be a series to watch. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Sarah Pribek, a sheriff's detective in charge of missing persons cases, knows the increasing difficulty of locating individuals as time lapses: after 36 hours, there is little chance of even recovering the body. But when her husband, Shiloh (also a cop), goes missing without a trace, Sarah isn't willing to give up after that time period. Her search takes her across country and into the heart of dark family secrets. Meanwhile, Sarah's partner, Genevieve Brown, is on leave following the brutal beating death of her daughter but comes out of her funk to help Sarah. The plot twists grow more and more incredible with each page in this impressive debut, the first in a series about Sarah. If in the future Compton sharpens the suspense and adds more depth to her plots, she could compete with writers like John Grisham and John Lescroart. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.-Jetta Carol Culpepper, Murray State Univ. Libs., KY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

chapter 1 Every cop has at least one story about the day the job found them. It's not uncommon. Out on the streets, on duty or off, suddenly an officer sees two guys in baseball caps and sunglasses run out of a bank as if their heels were afire. By pure luck, there's an officer on the scene even before Dispatch takes the call. With missing-persons cases, though, it's a little different. The people you're looking for, generally, are already dead, out of town, out of state, or in hiding. As a rule, they're not in highly visible places, waiting for you to all but run into them. Ellie Bernhardt, fourteen, was to be the exception that proved the rule. Yesterday, Ellie's sister had come to see me, all the way to Minneapolis from Bemidji, in northwest Minnesota. Ainsley Carter was 21, maybe 22 at the outside. She was thin and had that tentative, nervous kind of beauty that seems proprietary to blondes, but today, and probably most days, she hadn't chosen to accentuate her looks save for some dark-brown mascara and a little bit of concealer under the eyes that didn't erase the shadow of a poorly-slept night. She wore jeans and a softball shirt--the kind with a white body and colored long sleeves, blue in this case. A plain silver band rode her right hand; a very small diamond solitaire the left. "I think my sister is probably in town somewhere," she said, when I'd gotten her settled before my desk with a cup of coffee. "She didn't come home from school the day before yesterday." "You contacted the police in Bemidji?" "In Thief River Falls," she said. "That's where Ellie still lives, with our dad. My husband and I moved after we got married," she explained. "So yes, they're looking into it. But I think she's here. I think she ran away from home." "Does she have a suitcase or bag that's missing?" Ainsley tipped her head to one side, thinking. "No, but her book bag is pretty large, and when I looked through her stuff I thought that some things were missing. Things that she wouldn't take to school, but would want if she were leaving home." "Like?" "Well, she had a picture of our mother," Ainsley said. "Mom died about six years ago. Then I got married, and Joe and I moved away, so it's just her and Dad." It seemed an anecdote was forming out of what had started to be generic background information, so I said nothing and let it unfold. "Ellie had the usual amount of girlfriends growing up. She was a little shy, but she had friends. But just in the past year or so, I don't know, Dad says they've kind of cooled off," she said. "I think it's just because Ellie has gotten so pretty. All of a sudden, within almost a year, she was tall, and she was developing, and she had such a lovely face. And that same year she was out of grade school and into junior high, and that's a big change. I think maybe the girls felt differently about her, just like the guys did." "Guys?" I said. "Since Ellie turned 13 or so, boys have been calling. A lot of them are older boys, Dad says. It worries him." "Was Ellie seeing someone older, someone your father didn't have a good feeling about?" "No," Ainsley said. "As far as he knew, she didn't date at all. But I don't have a good feel for her life." She paused. "Dad's nearly 70. He doesn't talk about girl things with us, he never has. So I can't get a good idea from him what Ellie's life is really like. I try to talk to her on the phone, but it's not the same. I don't think she has anyone to confide in." "Ainsley," I said carefully, "when you talk to Ellie, when you visit the house, do you ever feel something isn't right about her relationship with her father?" She understood immediately what I was asking. "Oh, God, no," she said, and her tone left me no room to doubt she meant it. She picked up her coffee; her blue eyes on me suggested she was waiting for another question. I licked my teeth speculatively, tapped a pen against my notepad. "What I hear you saying is that you worry because she doesn't have any friends or nearby female relatives to talk to. Which is unfortunate, I guess, but what I don't see here is a crisis that caused her to run away. Can you think of anything?" "I did," Ainsley said more slowly, "talk to her friends. Her classmates, I mean." "What did they say?" "They didn't say much. They were kind of embarrassed, and maybe feeling guilty. Ellie's run away, and I'm her sister, and probably they felt like I was there to blame them for not being kinder or more supportive of her." "They didn't say anything useful?" I prompted. "Well," she said, "one of the girls said there were some rumors." "What kind?" I asked. "That Ellie was sexually active, I guess. I tried to get her to say more, but the other two girls jumped in, and said, 'You know, people just talk. Something like that. I couldn't get anything more out of them." I nodded. "But you said Ellie didn't date. It seems like there wouldn't be much grounds for those kinds of rumors." "Dad would let her go to sleepovers." Ainsley lifted her coffee cup, didn't drink. "He thought they were all-girls parties, but sometimes I wonder. You hear things, about what kids are doing at earlier and earlier ages. . . ." Her voice trailed off, leaving the difficult things unsaid. "Okay," I said. "None of this may be relevant at all to why she ran away." Ainsley went on with her train of thought. "I wish she could live with us," she said. "I talked to Joe about it, but he says we don't have enough room." She twisted the diamond ring on her hand. "Why do you think she's in the Twin Cities?" "She likes it here," Ainsley said simply. It was a good enough answer. Kids often ran away to the nearest metropolis. Cities seemed to promise a better life. "Do you have a photo of Ellie I can use?" "Sure," she said. "I brought you one." The photo of Ellie did show a lovely girl, her hair a darker blond than her sister's, and her eyes green instead of Ainsley's blue. She had a dusting of kid freckles, and her face was bright but somewhat blank, as is often the case with school photos. "It's last year's," she said. "Her school says they just took class pictures, and the new one won't be available for a week or so." It was early October. "Do you have another one that you can use?" "Me?" she said. "I have a full caseload right now," I explained. "You, though, are free to look for Ellie full-time. You should keep looking." "I thought . . ." Ainsley looked a little disillusioned. "I'm going to do everything I can," I reassured her. "But you're Ellie's best advocate right now. Show her picture to everyone. Motel clerks, homeless people, the priests and ministers who run homeless shelters . . . anyone you think might have seen Ellie. Make color photocopies with a description and hang them up anywhere people will let you. Make this your full-time job." Ainsley Carter had understood me; she'd left to do what I'd said. But I found Ellie instead, and it was just dumb luck. At midmorning the day after Ainsley's visit, I'd driven out to a hotel in the outer suburbs. A clerk there had thought she'd seen a man and boy sought in a parental abduction, and I'd been asked to look into it. I handled all kinds of crimes--all sheriff's detectives did--but missing-persons was a kind of subspecialty of my partner's, and along the way, it had become mine, too. The father and son in question were just packing up their old Ford van as I got there. The boy was about two years older and three inches taller than the one I was looking for. I was curious about why the boy wasn't in school, but they explained they were driving back from a family funeral. I wished them safe driving and went back to the registration desk to thank the clerk for her civic-mindedness. On the drive back, just before I got to the river, I saw a squad car pulled over between the road and the railroad tracks. A uniformed officer stood by the car, looking south, almost as if she were guarding the tracks. Just beyond her, those tracks turned into a trestle across the river, and I saw the broad- shouldered form of another officer walking out onto it. It was a scene just odd enough to make me pull over. "What's going on?" I asked the patrolwoman when she approached my car. Sensing she was about to tell me to move along, I took my shield out of my jacket and flipped the holder open. Her face relaxed a little from its hard-set position, but she didn't take off or even push down her mirrored shades, so that I saw my own face in them, distended as if by a fish-eye lens. I read her nameplate: officer moore. "I thought you looked familiar," Moore said. Then, in answer to my question, she said succinctly, "Jumper." "Where?" I said. I saw Moore's partner, now standing out on the train tracks mid-bridge, but no one else. "She climbed down on the framework," Moore said. "You can kind of see her from here. Just a kid, really." I craned my neck and did see a slender form on the webwork of the bridge, and then the flash of sunlight on dark-gold hair. Excerpted from The 37th Hour by Jodi Compton All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.