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Desolation Sound : A Novel

Fourteen severed feet. Twenty-two missing blondes. One knife.


Review by Kristen Downer of

September 2, 2015

‘Desolation Sound’ is a terrifying twisted game of cat and mouse with a psychopathic serial killer ready to keep the police guessing. Fraser C. Heston and Heather J. McAdams teamed up on this captivating story and did not disappoint. I enjoyed this book more than I was expecting, which is always a pleasant surprise. The story follows ex-Seattle homicide detective Jack Harris and RCMP corporal, Liz MacDonald as they try and solve the case of feet washing up on the shores in the misty British Columbia. These are not just any feet though. They are feet from about 22 missing runners (all blondes!), not all feet found yet, that RCMP have been brushing off as wash ups from suicides. One foot, maybe. Two feet, I might buy it. But 14 feet and 22 missing runners? Doubtful in my opinion!

The story takes you on a roller coaster ride of ups and downs while Liz and Jack fend off some obvious chemistry all while chasing some pretty gruesome scenes and interview some interesting characters. What I found the most exhilarating was at the end… turns out this is based on real life events. Events still left unsolved. Real crime! Heston and McAdams did a fantastic job of developing characters and connections in the short span of this book. My only disappointment was the length of the book. It felt like some of the book was rushed to fit into the tight confines of this novel. I would have preferred maybe 30-40 more pages filled with more backstory, details, and scenes that needed more time to play out.

With that said, the ending was a complete shocker. I love when an author can keep me guessing the entire time and still surprise me at the end. That’s talent! Heston and McAdams proved to be a dangerous duo in drawing me in while making me want more. I mean… come on! I wanted MORE book! That has to be a compliment. If you are into murder/mysteries with a twist of reality embedded in the story, then pick up ‘Desolation Sound’. It is a riveting tale of a psychopathic serial killer’s reign of terror. You will not be disappointed. Four out of five stars happily awarded! Good read!

Review by Liz Terek of Devoted Mommy of 3 blog

August 28, 2015

I was more than a little intrigued when I read the synopsis. Thankfully, I was not disappointed. Our team of Heston and McAdams have a definite winner here and I truly hope they’ll keep this going as a series. For me, a huge plus was having the plot involve the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Too often, authors stick with American police procedures and FBI storylines. It was a refreshing change to read about the efficiency of the RCMP and how their laws differ from those here in the US. I have to give bonus points for an excellent female lead as well. Corporal MacDonald is not afraid to show off her brain power and athleticism. Even though her job title is officially a Media liaison, she was not shy about asking for additional work and definitely not afraid to break a nail. She remains feminine but still a policewoman through and through.

Jack Harris is perfectly imperfect. He’s upfront about his personal demons and sticks his neck out for the RCMP although he didn’t have to do so. Despite being from the US and retired, he tries to remain respectfully within the bounds of those working, currently in law enforcement. Sure, he takes a little creative liberty here and there, but for the most part, he does try to be a law-abiding citizen.

As nutty as this may sound, I enjoyed the severed foot storyline. Gruesome, yes, and morbid, but very unique! It’s not often that a thriller/mystery has only a single body part to go off of and no sign of the rest of the body. Readers will be intrigued with this aspect until the very end.

My only complaint was that the book wasn’t long enough! That’s something I rarely say. But, for its brevity, our authors worked with a limited cast of characters-all important to the plot- that gave us enough evidence to solve the mystery on our own (maybe). I was back and forth until the final chapter.

I will be looking for a sequel. I recommend you give this one a try. It’s a 5-star rating from me.

Review by Lori Duff, author of The Armadillo, the Pickaxe and the Laundry Basket

August 27, 2015

Desolation Sound is a book written by Fraser Heston (son of Charlton) and Heather J. McAdams, who is a sorority sister of mine. You can decide for yourself which is a greater link to legend. Ha ha.

Seriously, though, since proximity to greatness is completely unrelated to quality, this is in fact a well written book. It takes place in the Pacific Northwest – northern Washington State and southern Canada. The breathtaking landscape there is described so well you can see it, feel the cold winds, and smell the water. That said, this is not a contemplative book – it is a detective story that is based on a real life mystery. In real life, a disturbing number of seemingly unrelated severed feet — in running shoes, no less – washed up over a period of time on the shores of the Pacific. The Canadian Police said something along the lines of “nothing to see here – no evidence of foul play, eh?” and the mystery remains to this day.

Heston and McAdams took the story at “nothing to see here” and used their considerable imagination to peek behind the curtain and imagine a conclusion to the mystery. I won’t give spoilers, but I will say that there is one scene told from the perspective of the bad guy that will make you sleep with the lights on for a while.

To buy this book and/or for more information, click the Handy Dandy Amazon link below.

Review by Joe Crowe of Revolution SF blog

This murder mystery novel is short, violent and thrilling. It’s written by Fraser C. Heston, son of the legendary Charlton Heston. I give my highest recommendation to reading this book in the voice of the writer’s father. Two detectives are the stars, a grizzled old guy and a rookie lady. She is the action hero of the whole thing. There’s a creepy villain and a climactic battle. It’s old school in the best way.

The book is based on a real-life mystery. Since 2007, fifteen severed feet have appeared on the shores of British Columbia and Washington state.

What kind of bizarre stuff goes on out in Seattle, besides people throwing fish at you? I have friends there. Should they be worried about their feet?

Review by Patricia Gallagher of Gallagher’s Travels

August 8, 2015

Loosely based on a real-life unsolved mystery in Washington State and British Columbia where human feet are found having washed ashore. Not one or two but fifteen individual feet have appeared since 2007.

The book opens with a retired Seattle police detective, Jack Harris, finding a foot on the shore of an island he frequently fishes. Previously Seattle’s top serial killer case solver, he’s become a loner since his retirement along with a heavy drinking habit. Finding the severed foot on the rocky shoreline thrusts him into the world of the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police). Jack feels the work they are doing on the severed feet cases is sloppy. Interestingly in real life, the RCMP has officially declared all the found feet as being from suicides.

In the meantime, Liz MacDonald a public relations person for the RCMP is thrown into a sting operation to catch a rapist. She is a runner and a beautiful blonde, the rapist has already attacked seven women in Stanley Park who are also all blondes.

Liz and Jack get together to try and solve the crimes, very much against her boss and RCMP partners wishes. They, Richards and Fouché are anything but receptive to Harris’ ideas and don’t like an outsider from the United States interfering with their work.

The setting for the book is the beautiful islands off the coast of British Columbia. While reading this book one can smell the pines and sea air…keeping an eye out for severed feet!

This book will keep you frozen to your spot until the unbelievable end. Several reviewers are hoping it will soon be made into a movie, I can agree with that.

Review by Kim Boschee of The Bed Rest Book Club

August 25, 2015

One of the cool perks about writing this blog is I get offered lots of free stuff. I rarely accept unless I feel it will enrich my life and yours. I'm especially picky about books since there's a time-component to reading. As a wise friend once said, time is our greatest commodity; use it well. I have a hard time investing time and energy into a book if I don't think it's going to have a good pay-off. Therefore, I offer to review very few - unless it really strikes a chord.

This one did. When I first heard about Desolation Sound, a novel by Fraser C. Heston and Heather McAdams, I was immediately intrigued. Anything involving serial killers is an automatic. I could chat about psychopaths all day. Set in the Pacific Northwest? Even better. Rain is super spooky. The killer targets runners? Blond runners? Yikes! Now I can't look away. And just to add intrigue, Fraser C. Heston is the son of the late Charlton Heston. Hello, I've seen "The Ten Commandments." It's not everyday you can say Charlton Heston's son sent you a book.

The nice people at Agamemnon Films did just that. I read – no devoured it - within two days. A definitely page-turner, Desolation Sound is based on a true still-unsolved mystery: running shoes with feet still in them keep washing up on shore in the Gulf Islands of British Columbia. Retired detective Jack Harris happens to discover foot #13, bringing him into the somewhat political, sexist world of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Were the feet a result of tragic accidents or foul play? Do the Mounties always get their man?

Right from the start, I was hooked. In the second scene, Liz MacDonald, an up-and-coming star in the RMCP, is used for bait to catch an alleged rapist that attacks runners in one of the community's parks. She just happens to fit the profile. The scene plays out like one of my worst nightmares: you're out for your morning run when you notice someone behind you. A guy in a hoodie. He start to chase...but as much as you try, you can't get away. Eeeeeee. I would have liked to know more about what kind of shoes Liz was wearing and her pace, but that's just me being a runner nerd.

If that wasn't chilling enough, during a particularly gruesome scene, the novel narrates from the killer's point of view as he is about to dismember his latest victim:

"Runners have a special quality...they are fighters. They are half nuts. Who is their right mind ignores shin splints and their IT band to push through a seven-mile run? Runners. That's why he loves them so much."

It gets worse.

(but honestly, seven miles? I would kill for a seven miler these days.)

"He liked long-distance runners. Marathoners. Half-marathoners. Blond women who need that run to survive. To be able to blank whatever stresses they have running thought their pretty little heads. The type of girl for whom running is oxygen. Who gets antsy is she can't got for a run."

The whole time I was reading this, I kept thinking, "Why blond? Why can't you go for a brunette? A sprinter? A dude?? Ahhhhh!!!"

Yes, technically it's fiction, but this was hitting a little too close to home.

Ever so savvy, victims were found on Facebook when they'd disclose their running route. Chills went down my spine. Reading this (in horror) the night before a Saturday long run, I literally reached over and reset my alarm at that very moment. More sunlight, less darkness, and let's run a new route. Disclosing my new course only to Brian, he took my jitters in stride, promising to not tell a soul as well as alert the authorities the moment I went missing.

After the whole fence incident, I'm taking no chances.

I judge a book by its ability to make me feel. This one succeeded admirably. Taut, suspenseful, and with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing until the very end, Desolation Sound is a solid narrative with sound character development. It strikes just the right balance between action, horror and drama. Best of all, you don't have to be a "half-nuts" runner to enjoy it; if you like a well-crafted, creepy psychological thriller, this is the book for you. That is, unless you are a blond distance runner who spooks easily. Then, you may want to play it safe and find a running buddy - or save the book for daylight hours.


Big thanks to Shannon, Fraser and Heather for the advanced copy.

Review by Jennifer Zuna of Jenn’s Review Blog

August 9, 2015

A twisting and suspenseful story that gave me chills and kept me awake at night… If you are looking for a good story that will give you goose bumps this is for you!

I love to read a really good, scary whodunit where I am unable to guess at who the who is. This book met that criteria perfectly. This was a twisting and suspenseful story that gave me chills and kept me awake at night a few times. This book was difficult to put down as I just had to know what was happening next in the story. The descriptions of the settings are so vivid, you can clearly picture the Vancouver waterways where this tale takes place. The characters are so well developed that you, as the reader, feel like you know them intimately. What makes this book even more chilling is that it's loosely based on some real life events. If you are looking for a good story that will give you goose bumps this is for you!

Review by Robert A. Waters

August 13, 2015

Severed feet in running shoes keep washing up on Canadian shores, arousing the media and bringing online detectives out of the woodwork. Public opinion around Vancouver is that a serial killer is loose. Top brass from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, however, just want the problem to go away. They hold numerous press briefings, assuring everyone that the feet are natural occurrences, likely victims of accidents or maybe suicides.

Thus begins Desolation Sound, a new novel by Fraser C. Heston and Heather J. McAdams. From there the screws start turning. Each page ratchets up the suspense as three RCMP detectives and a disgraced former American cop attempt to determine the reason more than a dozen feet have swept up on lonely beaches in the area.

As the shoes and severed feet keep popping up, women keep disappearing. Twenty-two in all. Blond, beautiful joggers. Are they connected?

Little do the investigators know that the cold, fog-bound islands around Vancouver harbor dark secrets. While clues are difficult to come by, the gut instinct of the cops tells them a predator is on the loose. And DNA finally confirms it. But while searching for a random killer who leaves little evidence, the cops also have to fight their own worst fears. Could someone be stalking them?

The setting, dialog, and characterization are all just right. And the ending will satisfy even the most jaded reader of detective fiction.

This page-turner will grip you in its clutches and never let you go. Snatched from the pages of real-life drama, Desolation Sound is guaranteed to keep you awake at night.

Buy it, read it, and enjoy it.

Desolation Sound Reviewed By Sandy Graham of

July 6, 2015

Desolation Sound is a captivating whodunit where the “who” is not merely a murderer but apparently a psychopathic serial killer. More than captivating, it’s hard to put down once started. The seed for this fictional mystery lies in a weird actual occurrence. Since August, 2007, fifteen running shoes containing disarticulated human feet have washed up on Pacific Northwest beaches. Not crudely sawed off but rather separated by skillful surgery or the work of underwater scavengers over a lengthy period of time. Far too many for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police position of no foul play detected. Enter authors Heston and McAdams with a creative story of what might have happened. Coming on the heels of the pig farmer serial killings just east of Vancouver, their version seems far more plausible than the official RCMP position. In fact, the story is so engrossing one gets caught up in believing it to be the real explanation. If the actual mystery is ever solved, it will be interesting to see how close the authors came.

Characters are well-developed starting with the drummed out, renegade, alcoholic ex-policeman and beautiful young RCMP Corporal who fits the serial killer’s target model exactly. Both are easy to like and pull for as conflict engulfs them. All others are realistic too, some colorful, the rest doing their job. Desolation Sound is being developed into a movie by the authors and their use of the present point of view throughout the book seems to pave the way to a screenplay. Some might find this unusual for a mystery, however, it keeps the story moving at a great pace.

As a person born and raised in the Gulf Islands and familiar with the story locale and ways of its inhabitants, I expected to find numerous geographic and cultural faults There are none of any significance. The story is true to the region and its people. For someone who grew up with considerable respect for the RCMP, their derogatory treatment grates even if it is deserved. Skookum, the name of Jack’s sailboat, means “sturdy, strong” to most natives rather than a name for Sasquatch (though they would be skookum if they exist). But these are nits. Desolation Sound is a well-written, intriguing interpretation of what might have caused the missing feet and it will keep you turning pages to the surprising end.

Desolation Sound Reviewed by Miki Hope of

August 3, 2015

This novel certainly has a lot of twists and turns and just as you think you know who the serial killer is------oops I was wrong and it will shock you!! The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are known for "always getting their man" But are they even really looking for him. So many missing girls--22 of them blond, young and runners--Then there are the feet that keep being found in its shoe-no bodies-just the feet and shoe!

It takes the combined force of Jack Harris, an ex Seattle homicide detective and a young Canadian RCMP rookie, Liz McDonald to finally fit all of the pieces together without the help of her fellow officers.

It took me no time at all to read this book-thinking it was totally fictional then on the last page a note from the author-it seems that there is actually a severed feet mystery--although the story itself is fictional-the mystery has yet to be solved

Filmmakers Make a Great Novel - A Review By Mark McIntire of The Meddlesome Priest Blog

July 31, 2015

Duh! You’d think that someone, somewhere in the Canadian constabulary would investigate 15 detached human feet (in running shoes no less) washing up around Vancouver BC over the last 8 years. Well, you’d be wrong. Oh, the Mounties have admitted it could be a serial criminal, but they prefer the ‘forensic products of suicide’ theory. Right! Surely this comes as some consolation both to those whose feet have gone missing as well as to their family and friends. Well, that’s just not good enough for veteran filmmakers

Fraser C. Heston and Heather J. McAdams. Seeing the perfect predicate for a knurly, snarly, kinky who-dun-it, thriller they just released their novel DESOLATION SOUND in pre-order on Heston and McAdams run the boutique film studio, AGAMEMNON FILMS pumping out a number of successful independent films over the years mostly featuring Fraser’s iconic dad, Charlton Heston. Fraser, it will be recalled, directed the winsome Steven King thriller, NEEDFUL THINGS. So, the synergy between good filmmakers and good novelists should surprise no one, and no one will be disappointed by this outing from the Heston/McAdams team.

DESOLATION SOUND teases the imagination, shatters the illogical, and entertains with the plausible. You can visualize the film version as you turn the pages. Now that’s a great novel. Since there is no official police investigation and consequently no suspects let alone convictions how do Heston and McAdams craft a novel? Creatively of course! Characters in DESOLATION SOUND seem so probable you don’t think they are fictional. Obviously, exhaustive research of the facts by McAdams, intimate personal knowledge of all things Vancouver waterways by Heston explains the vividity and veracity of heroine Liz MacDonald, an RCMP corporal and ideal target for the foot-fetish killer. Our hero Jack Harris, rum-soaked, discredited former American police detective with just a few miles of gas left in his tank, sees the logic missed by younger minds. There’s even a comically suspect codger rustically named Knifeblade Bob. “I know who did it…Al Qaeda!” McAdams probably wrote that line as she’s a web savvy, well-appreciated comedienne around Hollywood these days.

What grabbed me about DESOLATION SOUND is the rich grainy, woodsy, nautical tone and texture of the crime scenes (yes…I’m convinced a crime(s) has been committed). Heston is a well-known outdoorsman with his passions for fishing, sailing, and diving. Name a boat from any culture or epoch and he can tell you all you need to know about its history and trim. Just screen his scripting and direction of TREASURE ISLAND (featuring a young Christian Bale BTW) if you have any doubts. Fraser gives meticulous attention to the smallest detail in his films. It pays off as a novelist. I’ve never been to the Vancouver border waterways between Canada and the U.S. DESOLATION SOUND put it on my bucket list. After all, as Jack Harris says, “2 feet is an anomaly. 3 to 4 feet is a statistically curious. 5 to 6 feet…you have to think ‘dirty’. But 13 feet? Seriously!”

Something’s afoot…literally.

A Review By Lorri Slawson of Hey Lorri Blog

August 10, 2015

My Thoughts

This is a short read, but has plenty going on. I couldn't put it down as soon as I read the first page. The characters are interesting as well as the story line, which is based upon an actual unsolved case. Set in Canada, Liz gets the help from a retired U.S. investigator, while her coworkers think she is crazy for listening to him. They think he is involved, but she believes him. A few twists and turns until the ending. I Rated This Book: 4/5 Stars ****