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Summary

Ritual murder. Archaic clues. A visionary killer. In this heart-stopping novel by the Wall Street Journal and Amazon Charts bestselling author of the Sydney Rose Parnell series, words can kill.

On the muddy banks of the Calumet River, a body has been found posed next to a series of mysterious glyphs and bearing wounds from a ritualistic slaying. Chicago detective Addie Bisset knows only one man who can decipher the message left by the killer: her friend Dr. Evan Wilding. A brilliant forensic semiotician, Evan decodes the etchings as Viking Age runes. They suggest either human sacrifice or righteous punishment. But to what god? And for what sins?

Only one thing is clear from the disturbing runic riddles: there are more victims to come.

As Evan races to determine the identity of the Viking Poet, he and Addie uncover the killer’s most terrifying secret yet: the motive. This startling discovery puts Evan’s life in mortal danger, and verse by ancient verse, time is running out.

©2021 Barbara Nickless (P)2021 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

Critic reviews

“Well-researched…”Kirkus Reviews

“[In] this intense psychological thriller…Evan and Addie race to prevent more bloodshed. Hints of a romantic relationship between the pair enliven the story, and references to Beowulf and Viking history add depth. Readers will hope to see more of Addie and Evan.”Publishers Weekly 

“Brilliant Evan Wilding, with his goshawk and unusual friendships, will fascinate those who read for character.”Library Journal 

What listeners say about At First Light

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Profile Image for Maudey
  • Maudey
  • 20-03-22

Lots of Potential

NO DOGS GET KILLED IN THIS BOOK. I was nervous about one part of the book and found myself wishing I had known that fact ahead of time!

I was eager to read At First Light because I have very much enjoyed the author's Sydney Rose Parnell series. This new series takes place in Chicago and features homicide detective Adrianne “Addie” Bisset and her friend, Dr. Evan Wilding. (Dr. Wilding is a person with dwarfism, which was interesting to read about. And his goshawk, Ginny, made me want to have one!) There were some other great characters, too, like Addie's partner, Detective Patrick McBrady, and Dr. Wilding's postdoc, Diana.

The story begins with a man lying dead with three fatal wounds. His neck has been slashed and he has a noose around his neck, as well. As if that weren't enough, he's also had his head bashed in. Around the ritually posed body are sticks covered with mysterious symbols, which turn out to be Viking runes. And there the book kind of lost me...

I wish At First Light had been more about everything else that was going on in the book and less about the runes. The author must have spent a TON of time researching them but I just. wasn't. interested. My eyes started to glaze over whenever Dr. Wilding went on and on about the symbols and what they might or might not mean. I personally felt as though the infodumps broke the flow of everything else that was happening in the book. After a while, I found myself skipping over those parts.

Tim Campbell was excellent with the delivery of the story

60 people found this helpful

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  • Kentucky Bohemian
  • 23-01-22

Pure Brilliance

Wow. This is a new author for me, and she's definitely got a new fan! This story is an intelligently designed, well-written masterwork of riddles, linguistics, and devious murder. The main character, Dr. Evan Wilding, is at once fascinating and fantastic. He's a bit reminiscent of LIncoln Rhyme and Aloysious Pendergast in that he is outside the norm of society and possesses superior intelligence yet is not narcissistic. He is not your average crime fighter. In fact, technically, he's not a crime fighter at all. But his specialized knowledge and unique mental acuity are a great asset to the police department, and he finds himself frequently drawn into cases by his detective friend, Addie.

This plot is a juggernaut of concepts, theories, and potential suspects. The murderer is quite brilliant and leaving clues that not just anyone could unlock. These clues are focused on ancient symbols and rituals of the Viking people as well as their runic language. Dubbed the Poet Viking, the ruthless murderer leads Addie and Evan on an incredible chase, and we, the readers, get to tag along from the comfort (and safety) of our armchairs.

As one who reads more than 300 books a year, finding a truly unique and engaging new hero is akin to winning the lottery. This one is a winner. I will be following this author and this series based solely on my enjoyment of this brilliant tale.

39 people found this helpful

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  • V_Bretton
  • 29-01-22

Tyrion Lannister?

The story is great and I enjoy the voice actor very much. Funny thing, all I picture and hear is Tyrion Lannister. Even the snarky egotistical sarcasm is similar. Wonder if I’m the only one who is visualizing a Game of Thrones character helping to solve a crime.

15 people found this helpful

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  • Christy
  • 13-12-21

I’ll read more of these

Interesting premise for a murder; good twist. I particularly liked the characters of Addie, her partners and other colleagues on the police force, and of course, Dr. Evan Wilding, the “semiotician” (a word I had never heard before) who happens to be 4’5” tall.

I enjoyed the friendship between Addie and Evan and am looking forward to reading more about them in future books. There is a gentle humor here along with the murder and mystery that is difficult to juxtapose. The narrator did a creditable job with different accents and distinguishing voices.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Arlene
  • 17-02-22

Loved this book

Great story, very well written and perfect narration. Look forward to the next book in series.

10 people found this helpful

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  • ROBERT W HICKLER
  • 01-01-22

weak

good characters. implausible story. narrator ok. yada yada yada yada yada yada yada yada yada

8 people found this helpful

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  • Peggy
  • 04-02-22

Intelligent

Nice to have some academic stimulation in a mystery story. Thank you for sharing knowledge.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Patches56
  • 09-03-22

Could not get into it

Really had a hard time getting into this book. All the history stuff bored me.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Tiger
  • 13-02-22

Binding

An interesting story shot through with interesting characters. Very enjoyable and educational. Looking forward to the next read.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Book Bug!
  • 12-02-22

Love this Book!

I have really enjoyed this book and wish there were more books in the series done already. The charters are terrific! Tim Campbell did a great job!
I am a new reader of Barbara Nickless and think I found a new favorite!

5 people found this helpful