The Witches' Hammer
Baker & Taylor
When Beatrice O'Connell's father is murdered shortly after receiving a rare book on witchcraft, she searches for the killer, finding traces of an evil conspiracy, even as she becomes progressively fascinated with the witchcraft tome
Blackwell North Amer
Jane Stanton Hitchcock's second novel is a chilling and unpredictable story in which the powers of darkness and pathology lurk just beneath the surface of modern life.
Her first novel, Trick of the Eye, was nominated for both the Edgar Award and the Hammett Prize for "best first mystery novel." Now Hitchcock practices her narrative skills even more convincingly in this sinister thriller about a vulnerable young woman drawn deep into a web of evil who must unravel the coils of her own sexual identity and womanhood.
Beatrice O'Connell's orderly life is shattered when her father, a gentle man preoccupied with rare-book collecting, is viciously murdered. Discovered missing from his library is a seemingly harmless fifteenth-century grimoire - a manual of black magic or, as some would believe, the "work of the Devil." What is the secret of this apparently unprepossessing volume that powerful people are prepared to risk so much to possess? Does it contain a demonic spell? Or is the map for a hidden treasure buried within its timeworn pages? And so what begins with the casual acceptance of a book of black magic with obscene illustrations ends with the discovery of a vast contemporary witch-hunt.
With the help of a chain-smoking occultist, a libidinous social worker in Spanish Harlem, and a remorseful ex-husband, Beatrice struggles to piece together the puzzle...in Oklahoma, where the book first surfaced; in upstate New York, home of an enormously wealthy foundation with strong ties to the Church; in London, where the daughter of a Nazi official sheds light on one corner of the dark Nazi past; in Italy, where a demented former Vatican official forces Beatrice to pay an uncompromisingly high price for a vital piece of the puzzle. And finally in Switzerland, where she must confront evil incarnate in the most direct way imaginable.
Exposing evil that is at once centuries old and efficiently modern, and probing the dark paths of sexuality and madness, Jane Stanton Hitchcock has written a rich, complex, relentlessly suspenseful thriller.
When Beatrice O'Connell's father is murdered shortly after receiving a rare book on witchcraft, she searches for the killer, finding traces of an evil conspiracy, even as she becomes progressively fascinated with the witchcraft tome. 35,000 first printing. $35,000 ad/promo.
New York : Dutton, c1994.
401 p. ; 24 cm.