k Peretti grew up in Seattle and was a natural-born storyteller. He would sometimes gather the neighborhood kids for some of his unique and lively story sessions. Released last year, The Wounded Spirit, his first work of nonfiction, shows another side of Frank's youth; kids can be really cruel to anyone they might see as a little weird. His caring about the kids that have to face problems such as these is what has made him a best-selling author.

That caring comes through in Hangman's Curse, the first thrilling book in the Veritas Project series. In it, Elijah and Elisha are a set of high school twins that just happen to be part of a secret government agency, the Veritas Project. (Veritas is the Latin word for truth.) The twins and their parents are sent by the president to investigate and discover the truth behind some of the most mysterious happenings in the nation. This time they find themselves at a high school in Baker, Washington, where a mysterious plague has inflicted casualties among three students, and they are all nearly comatose, deliriously blabbering the name Abel Frye. There is also an irritable police officer that just wants to arrest anyone and everyone that may be involved.

Elijah befriends Ian Snyder, a student known by all his classmates as a guy who is into witchcraft. His sister Elisha finds a friend in another student named Norman, who is commonly beat up by the bigger and stronger guys in his class. Their lives intertwine in this compelling suspense story that draws them together and shows the true futility of the high school social structure.

Peretti clearly displays the Christian nature of his characters numerous times throughout the book. He wrote it to address the "pervasive problem of bullying" that plagues all high schools. (Believe me, I know all about that.) Hangman's Curse, although fiction, has many relevant life themes that a reader could embrace, such as mistreating others can provoke retaliation out of frustration and that everyone deserves a second chance.

Paul Steele is a sophomore in high school. When he's not hiking to the edges of the world, he enjoys reading.

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