Tour Stop & Excerpt: Sins of the Mother by August Norman

In small-town Oregon, tenacious journalist confronts white supremacy, zealous cult in exhilarating new thriller
Title: Sins of the Mother by August Norman
Caitlin Bergman Series Book Two
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 318 pages


August Norman returns with the second thrilling Caitlin Bergman novel, perfect for fans of Julia Keller, Tess Gerritsen, and Michael Koryta.

Caitlin went in search of her mother…but what she found may set the world on fire.

Caitlin Bergman’s mother is dead. That’s what the award-winning journalist has told everyone for the past forty years. Easier to lie than explain how Maya abandoned her only daughter before dropping off the map forever.

But when a rural sheriff invites Caitlin to the woods of coastal Oregon to identify her mother’s remains, Caitlin drops everything to face the woman she’s spent a lifetime hating. Unfortunately, the body–abandoned on the land of a reclusive cult, the Daughters of God–was left faceless. Instead, Caitlin finds the diary of a woman obsessed with the end of the world, one that hints the cult’s spiritual leader knows the identity of Caitlin’s real father. She’s not the only one looking for clues in her mother’s writing. Johnny Larsen, a violent white supremacist whose family runs the county, thinks the Daughters of God kidnapped his teen-aged daughter–and will do anything to get her back.

At the top of a hill, an army of women wait for the end of days. In the town below, the Larsens plot to purify their county. Caught in the middle, Caitlin must decide which is more important–learning the truth about her past, or saving Mama Maya’s chosen daughters from the end of the world.

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The woman selling Johnny his daughter back had only asked for five grand. Smart move. One dollar more and he’d have headed to a hardware store for a tarp, a shovel, and lime chalk.

Instead, the stack of twenties in his hunting jacket slapped against his side with each step down the rough logging road. A lightning strike lit the sky. Thunder rocked the mountainside seconds later, but no rain fell.

Dry lightning. Great. Fire season didn’t usually affect coastal Oregon, but Coos County hadn’t seen rain in a month, and the Siskiyou forest, less than two hours south, had burnt like a furnace for the last week.

Not that he minded the threat of lightning-sparked wildfire or even trudging uphill in the middle of the night’s asshole, but had this bitch asked for one dollar more, he’d have brought Gunner and Stupid Tom along and taken care of her. Both of those boys were loyal enough, but you didn’t get a name like Stupid Tom ’cause you’d cured cancer. Five measly grand kept the whole thing a solo expedition.

It also meant Johnny’d get Promise back without having to clean some cult nutjob’s blood out of his favorite camo gear.

He left the rough road for the last fifty feet of Douglas fir trees before the firebreak, pulled out his monocular night scope, and swept the road behind him. Nothing but his truck.

He turned back toward the break, a hundred-foot clearing from the base of the hill to the peak, then checked his watch: 12:27 am.

One minute later, two feminine figures moved from the opposing woodland edge toward the clearing, one guiding the other from behind.

On foot, on time, only two; just like they’d planned. Pocketing the scope, Johnny reached to the small of his back for his .45 and racked a round into the chamber. He hadn’t killed anyone since guard duty at Abu Ghraib, and never a woman, but if this shit was gonna go sideways, he’d be ready. He tucked the gun into his waistband and walked toward the intersection.

Fifty feet from the clearing, he could see the pair approaching. Again he reached for his scope, but stopped when a flash of lightning showed them clearer. Promise stood in front, blindfolded and wearing bright- orange safety earmuffs. The older woman held a handgun down to her side.He switched on a tiny flashlight and swung it back and forth.

Lady Handgun did the same. They faced off at the opposite edges of the firebreak. “What happens now?” Johnny yelled, competing with a roll of thunder.

The woman swung the flashlight to her left. “Put the money in the bucket.”

The light’s beam revealed a clothesline-style loop of rope strung from a tree at one side of the clearing to the other. At Johnny’s end, a plastic bucket hung six feet off the ground.

The woman lifted one ear of Promise’s earmuffs and gave a com- mand. Promise reached up until her hand hit the rope and caught hold. The woman grabbed the other side of the loop and tugged.

The bucket on Johnny’s end lurched forward a foot. In turn, Promise moved one step closer.

“The money,” Handgun repeated. “I get it,” he yelled back. He tossed the pack of cash into the bucket, then yanked Promise’s side of the rope.

Everything moved another foot. Then another.

A lightning flash cracked through the air, close enough that he could smell the ozone.

Johnny’s eyes went temporarily red, and his ears shook with the lat- est burst of percussion.

“Let’s get this done,” the woman called. He tugged hard on the rope again. “Shit would move faster if we both pulled.”

She must have agreed. The bucket lurched forward times two. Now ninety feet remained between Johnny and his daughter.

Eighty-five, then eighty, seventy-five. Then nothing. Johnny pulled again, but no tug followed. “What the hell?” He let go of the rope, raised his gun, and reached for the night scope. The second the viewfinder met his eye, two bright flares blossomed across from him.

Muzzle flashes. The bitch was shooting. He dropped face first onto the logging road and returned two shots, careful to aim away from Promise’s last position.

Hearing nothing further, he scanned the area. Handgun’s body lay crumpled where the rope loop met a tree. Prom- ise remained in place seventy-five feet away, one hand still on the line.

A new figure, another woman, stood in the middle of the logging road facing Johnny, holding a gun in a practiced isosceles-triangle shooting stance. Johnny dropped down, happy to eat a mouthful of dirt rather than face the volley of bullets that whizzed past. He shifted left, then fired two more times before yanking the scope up again.

The shooter was gone. So was Promise. He sprinted across the clearing. Fifty feet past the firebreak, the road veered left. He stopped and scoped the area. Nothing on the road. He whipped around, caught the shooter and Promise running uphill through the woods, and started after them. The woman stumbled once, and Johnny saw a glint of light, like a reflection off falling metal.

New lightning, further now, revealed a moss-covered footpath lead- ing over a ridge. Johnny gave it everything he had. No way he’d let his special girl go back to that cult. Two feet from the crest, he kicked some- thing metallic. The shooter had dropped her gun.

He reached down with his left hand. A jagged, solid object struck his right arm and spun him backward, sending his own gun into a clump of crisp ferns. He grabbed his wounded forearm and backed against a tree, warm blood trickling from elbow to hand.A woman dressed all in red, maybe fifty or sixty years old, stepped in front of the fallen gun, holding a three-foot tree branch.

Despite the searing pain, Johnny brought both hands up in fists. “She’s my daughter, you goddamned dog.”

The woman pulled the branch back like a Louisville Slugger. “Then stop trying to touch her, you sick son of a bitch.”

Author Bio

Originally from central Indiana, thriller and mystery author August Norman has called Los Angeles home for two decades, writing for and/or appearing in movies, television, stage productions, web series, and even, commercial advertising. A lover and champion of crime fiction, Norman is an active member of the Mystery Writers of America, the International Thriller Writers, the Sisters in Crime (National and LA), and regularly attends the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference. In addition, August is a founding member and regular performer with LA’s longest running improv comedy show, “Opening Night: The Improvised Musical!” For more information, visit

Author Links: Website * Facebook * Twitter * Goodreads

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