It is not that I really hate Steven Barnes' books. If that was true, I would not try to read one from time to time. I don't do it because he is a fellow writer living in the Pacific Northwest, either. If that was the case, I would be able to tolerate Michael Crichton in book form. I read an occasional Barnes book because I am always hoping he will win me over. So, far, he has failed to do so. My most recent venture into Barnesville, Charisma, reveals why.
An African-American has risen to household name stature due to his business acumen, status as a military hero, intelligence and political aspirations. Indeed, the man ran for president during the 1980s, without the civil rights movement baggage that holds Rev. Jesse Jackson back, before suddenly withdrawing. His death, equally sudden, was mysterious.
Jump forward to almost now. Throughout the country, some low-income children at risk for failure, academically and socially, are adolescents. Delve closely and you will discover that more than 1000 of them who attended the same chain of daycare centers are behaving exceptionally, becoming intellectual standouts when the rules of the American game say they shouldn't be. After all, they are supposed to be genetically and/or culturally inferior.
Unfortunately, their notable behavior is not limited to be precociousness. Some of them have been plagued by violent, sexually oriented dreams since they were in kindergarten. The children at the daycare center in Claremont, Washington, a small lumber town near Portland, were briefly the focus of one of those sex abuse cases that were too common during the 1980s and 1990s. No evidence of molestation was found and the case unraveled after ruining the caretakers.
Not everyone has lost interest in the children of the daycare chain. A group of six men is systematically killing them off. Two of the children in Claremont are on their list and a third soon will be. A fourth, a girl who moved to California, has already been run down by a speeding car as she rode her bicycle to the store. All of the men used to work for the great American success story, Alexander Marcus. With him since his tour in Vietnam, he called them his Praetorian Guard.