The Innocents

Wil Hardesty Series #1
By Richard Barre

Available for: Kindle | Nook


There are seven of them. Children–innocents–whose long-buried remains are uncovered by a flash-flood. No one knows who could have committed such a crime. Clues are scarce, and with the media turning the story into a law enforcement nightmare, time is short. Only Wil Hardesty, a private eye who has more in common with the case than anyone knows, is willing to push hard enough–and dig deep enough–to find the cruelest of killers. The killer of The Innocents…

Winner of the 1996 Shamus Award for Best First P.I. Novel


“Barre enjoys modest success with a debut that, weighted with angst, stands uncertainly on a rickety plot. Aging surfer and Vietnam vet Wil Hardesty watches his marriage and sleuthing practice falter in the wake of his young son’s death. He does still get the odd case, however: in this instance, the father of a dead boy comes forward when the bones of seven children are discovered in the California desert. With the help of the father, who tells of giving his son up for adoption to a frightening man with a scar, Wil follows the trail to a powerful church, a charismatic preacher and a generous benefactor and the man with the scar. The scenario suggests serial murder, illegal adoption, pedophilia or satanic dabblings. Managing to steer clear of the expected, Barre falters in the end with a simplistic solution. His efficient narrative style begs to be used on a better story. ” —Publishers Weekly

“In 1968, a Mexican peasant, caught between a penniless present and a hopeless future, sells his son to an extralegal adoption agency. More than 20 years later, the skeletal remains of seven children are found in the desert east of L.A. The Mexican peasant, now a wealthy restaurateur, discovers that one of the children was the son he sold so long ago. He hires L.A. private eye Wil Hardesty to investigate because his family would be disgraced if the world knew he’d sold a child. Hardesty, who lost his own son years before in an accident for which he feels responsible, gets a lead on a man named Zavala, who fronts a brutal child-selling organization. There’s much to admire in this first Hardesty novel: crisp, street-smart dialogue; a likable protagonist; and very nasty villains. On the minus side, the violence level is well into the red zone: virtually everyone around Hardesty is killed or maimed, forcing him to spend virtually the whole novel in mourning. On balance, though, this is a solid debut.” —Wes Lukowsky, Booklist

“Sober, understated, intense.” —Kirkus Reviews

“The Innocents is a truly powerful and moving novel, going beyond the private eye genre as only the best authors do. Let’s hope that is only the first of a long and significant series.” —Otto Penzler, Mysterious Press

“A truly powerful and moving novel…an intriguing world of mystery, deceit and murder. Richard Barre is a skilled writer and The Innocents is a gripping story.” —Michael Connelly, bestselling author of the Harry Bosch mysteries

“A great read. Barre has a great command of all the elements–plot, character, and individual scenes. I suspect and hope that Wil Hardesty will be around crime fiction for many novels to come.” —James Crumley, bestselling author

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