Dr. Trajan Jones, psychological profiler
Dr. Michael Li, trace evidence expert
Clarissa Jones, Trajan’s great aunt
Marcianna, Trajan’s ‘wild African dog’, which is another name for a cheetah
Lucas, Derek and Amber, locals whose parents have left them for a better life
I’m not really sure if there’s such a place as Surrender, New York, or if there is, it is anything like the town described in this novel. There, Dr. Trajan Jones, a psychological profiler and Dr. Mike Li, a trace evidence expert, are called in to assist in what looks like a murder investigation. A ‘throwaway’ child’s body is discovered in an abandoned house, but the doctors are not convinced that it was murder. A couple of local law enforcement officers call in the doctors because they have doubts about the official cause of death too. Is it a suicide? Or is it murder. Dr. Jones and Dr. Li had illustrious careers in New York City before running afoul of some big time politicians who effectively ended their careers in forensics in the big city. They have retreated to Aunt Clarissa’s dairy farm in upstate New York and there they teach online courses in criminal profiling. They set up shop in an old war plane housed in a hangar that belonged to Trajan Jones’ grandfather. A nearby enclosure houses Dr. Jones’ rescued cheetah, Marcianna who endured torture and abuse at a now-defunct petting zoo. They keep themselves to themselves but soon become involved with a couple of live throwaway children, Lucas and Derek. When Lucas’ parents up and left he went to live with his blind older sister, Ambyr. Later on she took in his friend Derek and became the boys guardian. The doctors begin to realize that there’s something of an epidemic of throwaway children. They are left behind when their parents, many of whom become addicted to drugs after failing to find sustainable work in the area, leave for warmer climes. When the team is called in they soon realize that this is not the first death, but one in a string of deaths of these unfortunate young kids. The doctors recruit Lucas and Derek to try to find out about other abandoned kids at their school in hopes that some questions that came about as a result of their highly professional forensic skills have uncovered. Trajan and Mike come to believe that the string of deaths are suicides, that the children have been lured to New York City by someone, or a group of someones, and that only after they make the trip do they return to upstate New York and end their lives.
The tale is fairly long and complex but well worth the read. No easy solutions are found in Surrender, New York.