Cover image for Show of evil
Show of evil
Diehl, William.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Ballantine Books, 1995.
Physical Description:
483 pages ; 25 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


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

On Order



"Spine-tingling" said the New York Times of William Diehl's Primal Fear, the national bestseller about brilliant defense attorney Martin Vail and the psychotic murderer he saves from execution. Now, in Diehl's spellbinding new novel, Vail has become Chicago's chief prosecutor, the man with the power to tear down enemies in high places. But he must also confront his worst legal nightmare--a nightmare that he, himself, helped to create. It begins with a shocking, unsolved murder: a young mother named Linda Balfour is butchered in a small town in southern Illinois, and no one can turn up a single lead. But then, months later, a tiny crack opens up in the case. By a stroke of pure chance, an investigator in the Chicago D.A.'s office discovers that Linda Balfour died with a coded inscription printed in blood on the back of her head. It is the exact combination of letters and numbers that was found on the head of Bishop Rushman, the beloved Chicago clergyman who had been slashed and dismembered years before by an angelic-looking altar boy named Aaron Stampler. The same Aaron Stampler whom Vail saved from the electric chair. For the past ten years, Stampler has been locked away in a high security institution for the criminally insane, with no access to the outside world. So how could he have killed Linda Belfour? And then another altar boy turns up dead--with a similar inscription in blood on the back of his head. If Aaron Stampler isn't committing these killings, who is? Martin Vail's career--maybe even his life--hangs in the balance.... In one bestseller after another, William Diehl has dazzled readers and critics with his riveting plots. But nothing Diehl has written before will prepare his fans for the explosive suspense of Show of Evil. Filled with unforgettable characters, crackling with the energy and hustle of Chicago, shocking in its insights into the mind of a psychotic killer, Show of Evil is Diehl at the peak of his powers.

Author Notes

William Francis Diehl was born in Jamaica, New York on December 4, 1924. During World War II, he served as a ball turret gunner on a B-24 Liberator where he flew 24 missions over Germany. He was the recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, and Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters. He received a B.A. in creative writing and history from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1949.

He began his writing career in 1949 at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution where he served as a writer, photojournalist and editor. Additionally, he worked as a freelance photographer and an actor. His articles have appeared in Esquire, Life, Look, and New York.

He started writing his first novel, Sharky's Machine, while serving as a juror. The novel was published in 1978 and was later made into a movie. His other works include Chameleon, Hooligans, The Horse, Show of Evil, Reign in Hell, and Eureka. His novel, Primal Fear, also became a movie. He died of aortic embolism on November 24, 2006. His last work, Seven Ways to Die, was completed by Kenneth Atchity and published in 2012.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Martin Vail, formerly one of the most successful defense lawyers in Chicago, saved psychotic murderer Aaron Stampler from a death sentence. Ten years later, he has become the leading prosecutor in the D.A.'s office, where he and his group of young lawyers, dubbed the Wild Bunch by the media, become mesmerized by a string of murders that seems to have a common thread--a similarity that frightens Vail because it involves Stampler. Ironically, it is Jane Venable, the unsuccessful prosecutor in the Stampler case, whom Vail enlists to help unravel the complicated, gruesome details. A nice respite amid the gore is the relationship that develops between the two middle-aged attorneys who worked too hard to ever fall in love. From a legal perspective, Show of Evil is impressive in its accuracies and procedural details (in fact, State v. O. J. fans will find informative background information here). From a dramatic perspective, though, Diehl tries to cover too much territory; rather than sticking to the main whodunit, there are minimysteries throughout. Still, this is an exciting thriller that should keep crime fiction readers asking for more. (Reviewed Apr. 15, 1995)0345375351Mary Frances Wilkens

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this sequel to Diehl's Primal Fear, an incarcerated serial killer's enemies begin meeting grisly deaths. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Diehl, the author of previous hits Chameleon (1982) and Sharky's Machine (1978), has the makings of another best seller here. Defense attorney-turned-district attorney Martin Vail comes to regret having saved a murderer, Aaron Stampler, from the death penalty; Stampler wasn't suffering from multiple personality disorder but was merely a vicious killer who has many more scores to settle. When Stampler proves smart enough to convince an egotistical psychiatrist that he is now sane and can return to society, Vail has to out-think him to save not only his own life but the lives of everyone who contributed to the killer's ten years in a mental institution. The action is gripping, and the characters are well drawn. Buy for suspense collections and for Diehl's established fans. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/95.]-Marylaine Block, St. Ambrose Univ. Lib., Davenport, Ia. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.