British mystery and thriller writer Mo Hayder (The Devil of Nanking) will please her growing body of fans with this latest novel, her fourth. It's a book best read on a night when the wind howls and the rain lashes against the windows. Just be sure the doors are locked.

Joe Oakes, a journalist whose specialty is debunking hoaxes, is summoned to Pig Island, off the coast of Scotland, by the members of a religious cult known as the Psychogenic Healing Ministries, to calm the uproar caused by a video of a half-human, half-animal creature cavorting on the island's beach and rumors about the practice of satanic rituals there. When Oakes encounters the PHM members, he finds a seemingly benign, if slightly furtive, group of voluntary exiles from conventional society. But the group lives in fear of its charismatic founder, Malachi Dove, who's fled to the other half of the island to live in grim isolation, walled off from his former followers by a line of pig skulls, an electrified fence and chemical waste drums.

Not satisfied with the evasive explanations for Dove's frightening behavior offered by the island's inhabitants, Joe sets off to find the truth. His investigation leads indirectly to a horrific act that devastates the PHM community and to the discovery of Dove's daughter, Angeline, who is afflicted by a bizarre congenital deformity. With Angeline in tow, Joe flees to the mainland, where his troubled wife, Lexie, who narrates a significant portion of the novel in counterpoint to Joe, has been awaiting his return. From that point on, the novel recounts the heart-pounding race between the authorities who are trying to bring Dove to justice for the crimes they believe he's committed and the deranged killer. Pig Island is not a book for the squeamish, but it's one that will keep readers turning the pages until the horrifying mysteries of the island ultimately are unraveled.

Harvey Freedenberg writes from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

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