I am delighted to share my review today for The Flock by J. Todd Scott, this was a book I chose from the Prime Reading selection that you get with your Amazon Prime Membership at the beginning of each month. As I had recently watched the Amazon Prime program WACO, I decided it would be good to then read this book as it is based on a cult.
From J. Todd Scott comes a chillingly engrossing thriller about a cult survivor who must confront the horrors of her past to ensure the safety of the future.
Ten years after a fiery raid kills her family, former cult member Sybilla “Billie” Laure has a completely new identity. She’s settled in rural Colorado with her daughter, hoping for a quieter life. But the world has other plans.
With wildfires raging and birds dropping from the sky, Billie wonders if her cult leader father’s apocalyptic predictions are finally coming true. When an intruder murders her husband and kidnaps her daughter, Billie has no choice but to confront the secrets of her past. But Billie’s journey has other perils, too—namely, a police chief hot on her trail, determined to expose the dangers of the defunct doomsday cult.
To save her daughter, Billie will have to go back to where it all began—to the ruined compound in New Mexico where the real threat is the truth.
This is a book that I really enjoyed once I got into it, initially a little slow but this was due to me not really connecting with the characters. There are a few characters and it took a while for me to get my head around who they were and what they did or are doing. There are some who have different names in this book as well.
The story is one that has its origins in a cult. Sybilla and her daughter have escaped from the cult that they have known all their lives. Sybilla is seen as a chosen one and her standing within the group increases with the birth of her daughter. When she realises that the cult is not the place to raise a child she looks to leave. She eventually makes this departure and becomes a face known by many as she is photographed walking away from the burning compound with her daughter in her arms.
The story of what happened is gradually realised in small amounts throughout the book, this doe makes for an intriguing read as details are given. It has been a decade since that night and Sybilla has made a new life, she is married but not one for mixing. Then she comes home to find her husband has been murdered and her daughter has been taken. She knows that there is a new branch of the cult and that they will be responsible. Now she needs to find them and her daughter.
This is an intriguing book as the cult deals with end-of-the-world scenarios, and one of the signs is wildfires. As we have been witnessing wildfires around the world it is plausible that people will see this as the end of days especially given the pandemic, floods, climate change and other global events.
While Sybilla is looking for her daughter, there is also the matter of the murder. The local police chief, Elise, is trying to keep on the case, well I should say cases as this isn’t the only death. There is the danger that the FBI or CBI (Colorado Bureau of Investigations) could take over.
This is one that was a slow-burner to start, not so much in the action side of it, just in the way it took me quite a while to get into it. Once I got the basics then I seemed to fare a lot better and this then meant the pacing got quicker. I could then focus more on the story from the emotional side of a mother trying to find her daughter and how time is of the essence. There was a reason for the kidnapping and this is based on the date of Ascension according to the cult followers.
The author has done a really good job of showing how a cult can pray on the vulnerable, those who have gone through divorce or bereavement and are alone, those who feel displaced and misunderstood and then manipulate and basically brainwash.
This is a story that I enjoyed because I am aware of what happened in the Waco Siege of 1993, it is easy to imagine some of the scenes that are discussed. There is a lot of information about Waco and it does make for grim reading at times, as does this book. I think it is the sense that vulnerable people are being exploited, manipulated, used and brainwashed by controlling leaders that really angers me. But, I can see how easy it could be achieved.
The story does make you stop and think especially with the things that we are all witnessing on a global scale. This is a mix of a police procedural, crime thriller and psychological thriller that I would happily recommend to readers who prefer a grittier and hard-hitting subject in their reading.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
J. Todd Scott was born in rural Kentucky and attended college and law school in Virginia, where he set aside an early ambition to write to pursue a career as a federal agent. His assignments have taken him all over the U.S and the world, but a gun and badge never replaced his passion for stories and writing.
When he’s not hunting down very bad men, he’s hard at work on his next book.
His debut novel, THE FAR EMPTY, was published 2016 by Penguin Random House – G.P. Putnam’s Sons. The sequel, HIGH WHITE SUN came out in 2018. And THIS SIDE OF NIGHT, the third book in the Chris Cherry / Big Bend Series, was released in 2019.
His stand-alone Appalachian crime novel, LOST RIVER, came out in 2020.
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