the devil can wait
The city of Chandler, Massachusetts is plunged into terror when the bodies of three local teenagers wash ashore. While homicide detective Sam Harper hunts down the guilty, a sinister plot emerges overseas. From the Vatican to the jungles of South America, a cursed black pearl ring, the demonic prophecy it represents, and the men who pursue its powers find their unfortunate way onto Harper's turf.
Enthralled by the ring's story and a front-page spread, newspaper reporter Jennifer Blake agrees to pick up the ring at a local pawnshop for her former college professor. When she does, unforeseen events shoot Blake to the top of Harper's prime suspect list. Soon, the seemingly unrelated cases converge and the heat is on for Harper to expose the truth behind a Vatican secret and stop the self-righteous man who does the unthinkable in the name of God.
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THE DEVIL CAN WAIT, the second installment in Marta Stephens' Sam Harper series is a thrilling read!!

The bodies of teenagers in Chandler, Massachusetts, are turning up in the bay, and homicide detective Sam Harper has been assigned to the case. What Sam and his partner, Dave Mann, do not know is that not only are those cases related, but there is more to this than a serial killer on the loose. This case reaches from the jungles of South America all the way to Rome and has ties to the Vatican that can change the lives of everyone and not in a good way!

As if the end of the world wasn't complication enough, Sam finds himself trying to out-pace and protect a reporter for the local newspaper, Jenny Blake, who is dead-set on making a name for herself and using this case to do it.

THE DEVIL CAN WAIT is an incredibly entertaining, completely enthralling, and masterfully written novel. Ms. Stephens grabbed my attention from page one and never let it go! This story had me gasping for breath and left me begging for more! I can't wait for the next installment in the Sam Harper series. And if anyone in Hollywood is paying attention, this one would make a great feature film as well!

Laine Estep

Detective Sam Harper (the protagonist in Stephens’s first novel, SILENCED CRY) of the Chandler Police Department in Massachusetts, is summoned out of bed on a freezing morning before sunrise to view a floater by the bay, the third tattooed teenaged male to wash ashore in weeks, each murdered by different means; bludgeoning, strangulation, and now this, a throat rendered open by what appears to be knife-play. Sure, there seems to be a link among the deaths but where are the clues? At this point, there are none.
And so begins Harper’s search for a serial killer. This kind of assignment is routine stuff to him, but in no way is he prepared for the journey that leads to the crime’s resolution. And here is where THE DEVIL CAN WAIT parts company with other novels of this genus. From a small city in Massachusetts, we are suddenly transported to Mitu, an equatorial republic of Colombia, South America, where we are introduced to Alejandro, badly beaten as a consequence of skimming drugs from a dealer named Lorenzo. Alejandro’s mother, Anita Salas tends his wounds while he ponders her fate. She is wanted by the military for the alleged murder of three priests from a local church who regarded her as a witch and devil worshiper. More worrisome, is her possession of an inscribed, black pearl ring believed to be prophetic and that is coveted by Lorenzo the drug dealer . . . and others.
The body count increases. We eventually meet Chandler Times reporter Jennifer Blake who receives a phone call from her former Professor of Anthropology, Gaylord Mittendorf. Apparently, he possesses some inside scoop about the origins of a certain black pearl ring in South America that is drawing attention of individuals not of the legitimate auction variety.
Where does all of this lead us? To the Vatican and a mesmerizing, centuries-long history of a corrupt and perverse papacy tied to the black pearl ring and ultimately to the serial killer whose handiwork we were introduced to at the book’s start. Where is Sam Harper and how is he linking these seemingly disparate events to the story’s exciting closure? You will just have to be patient and read THE DEVIL CAN WAIT.
Marta Stephens’ keen knowledge of forensics and her use of crisp dialogue and descriptive locales allow her to peek over the heads of other mystery writers in this overcrowded field. As Harper stands above the teenaged corpse, we can feel icy wind blowing over a snow-covered, New England beach. Alejandro struggles to sustain consciousness while a thug chauffeurs him through the jungle to his mother’s house, and we smell the jungle canopy steaming with rainfall and palpate our own face as Stephens describes Alejandro’s multiple head wounds. And finally, Sam Harper is not the caricature of a wise guy, fast-talking urbane dick but is instead a believable police detective rife with character flaws and a doggedly determined persona. THE DEVIL CAN WAIT is a perfectly paced, 5-star read from beginning to end.
Harry Hughes, author THE BAIT SHACK, Amazon and BeWrite Books