When forensic psychologist Dr. Jack Carter returned to consciousness, he and his wife, Sarah, had been missing for over a year. With no memory of their last days together, Jack became the prime suspect in her disappearance. Vowing to search for her to the ends of the Earth, he's drawn to the site of a gruesome double murder in small-town Mississippi. Two normal teenage boys with no history of violence slaughtered two girls named Sarah in an occult ritual, and their jailhouse confession idolizes the lyrics of a song by doom metal band The Metal Black. Blaming the teen's violence on the song's macabre lyrics, their grieving mother brings a lawsuit against the band. Brought on to the case as an impartial psychological consultant, Jack finds eerie similarities between the song's descriptions of the violent death of a woman named Sarah, his wife's disappearance, and the teen murders. When Jack meets the songwriter, he discovers a mystery beneath the sleepy town that causes him to question his own fragile sanity.
The Metal Black is the second book in a series called "Stepping Stones". If you have not read it already, go back and read The First Stone before reading The Metal Black , because it does not work as a stand alone.
Author Gary Ballard has the stepping stone series set up in what he is calling episodes. In this, episode 2, Dr Jack Carter is still desperately searching for answers about what happened to his wife Sarah. He still has no memory of the day she disappeared.
Jacks job is to determine if people awaiting criminal trials are fit to stand trial, and thanks to his friend and co worker, he finds himself involved in a case that seems like it may be related. In a small town, two teenage boys murdered two girls named Sarah and their reasoning has to do with the name Sarah. Does this case have anything to do with his own Sarah's disappearance? And is Jack, the man whose job it is to determine the sanity of others, losing his own mind?
What I find the most fascinating about this series is the psychology aspect of it. Watching Jack as he struggles with his own inner demons, and also watching the process he goes through when determining whether a person is fit to stand trial for their crime or not, and last but not least, watching him try to turn things around him into puzzle pieces to solve the mystery of his own missing wife. I will definitely be reading the next book in the series. 4 stars