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  • Written by Eric Wilson
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  • Written by Eric Wilson
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On Sale: February 04, 2009
Pages: 352 | ISBN: 978-0-307-55039-2
Published by : WaterBrook Press Religion/Business/Forum
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In The Best of Evil, Aramis Black uncovered family secrets and historical conspiracies, hoping that his own dark past had come to certain resolution. But now, in the dark of night, he finds his brother unconscious and tied to a statue in Nashville’s Music Row …with the initials AX carved into his back.

A shadow from his former life has reappeared, casting threats of violence and retribution. And soon the attacker is swinging his blade of self-righteous judgment directly at Aramis, calling upon him to “face his sins.” Can Aramis finally break free from the guilt of his old ways… or will he succumb to the vengeance of an arrogant sociopath?


Chapter 1

Put to the test, Johnny Ray Black failed and got cut–a literal, skin-splitting ordeal at the hands of a killer. One minute he was mingling with producers and industry insiders, drinking Jack Daniel’s, and giving an acoustic performance of his first Top Ten single, “Tryin’ to Do Things Right.” The next he was bound to a statue and bleeding.

Still alive though. Thank God.

It was supposed to be a celebration. A party for the rising star. In a park at the north end of Nashville’s Music Row, I jostled elbows with his fans while bursting with pride. After years of honing his skills and playing small shows, my older brother had beaten the odds by signing with an independent label and charting a hit single.

He’d made a mistake, however, by admitting his weakness for redheads in an Entertainment Weekly interview.

She came to him that Friday evening in Owen Bradley Park. A test in red.

Beneath a moon turned soft and buttery by Middle Tennessee’s humidity, propped on high heels, she nudged between caterers in ruffled white shirts and bypassed the open bar. I’m told she wore a shimmering dress. She managed to evade my attention–a minor miracle, but recent experiences have made me wary of the opposite sex–and brushed up to Johnny as he finished his acoustic set.

Coy smiles. A whisper. Johnny finished another shot of Jack, then stumbled off with her beneath tree branches strung with party lights, toward the darkness of the nearby ASCAP Building.

I didn’t realize he was missing till a half hour later. Considering it was his own party, his disappearance was a bad publicity move. Where was his manager anyway? I’d seen Samantha Rosewood hurry away minutes earlier with a cell phone pressed to her ear, eyebrows knitted in worry.

My gut clenched. What kind of trouble had my brother gotten into this time? I searched the crowd, then stopped near the publicity tent and tried to recall when I’d last spotted him.

“Mr. Aramis Black.” A stubby man appeared in front of me. “You look lost.”

“I’m fine.”

“Bet it’s hard on you.”

“What?” My gaze zeroed in on this slick-haired booking agent, with his goatee and ostrich boots. Every year Music City draws thousands of country music wannabes, easy prey for men such as this. Who’d invited him anyway?

“All the attention your brother’s getting. Must make you jealous.”

“Not at all. He’s worked hard for it.”

“That he has.”

“You know where he is by any chance?”

The agent chuckled. “In the stratosphere, that’s where. And still rising.”

I gave a weak smile, scanned the cluster of partygoers at his back.

“You ever think of sharing the spotlight, maybe singing as a duet?”


He tapped my chest. “You’ve got the look, my friend. Maybe we should

“Not gonna happen. Johnny’s the one with the voice and the guitar.”

“What about some harmonies? Think Montgomery Gentry or Brooks and Dunn. Those boys won’t be around forever, and we’re always looking for–”

“I’m not the type.” With a tug on my shirt sleeves, I revealed twin tattoos of banners wrapped around double-edged swords. Live by the Sword on one forearm, Die by the Sword on the other.

“Come on now.” The dude winked–actually, full-on winked at me. “These days, country fans aren’t afraid of a little ink. Why live in your brother’s shadow?”

“Go away. Please.”

“Just think of–”

“Before I hurt you.”

“Oh. I… Okay.” He swung round and bellied his way back into the crowd.

A voice from my right: “Aramis, you got a minute?”

“What now?” I turned to find myself face to face with Chigger. The man’s mouth is curled into a perpetual sneer, and we eyed each other like wary boxers. He wore a ball cap, faded jeans over thick legs, and a Lynyrd Skynyrd hoodie. With his good ol’ boy quality and electrifying stage presence, he’s been a mainstay in the country scene for the past couple of years. Come Monday morning, he’d be joining my brother as lead guitarist for the first leg of a national tour.

“Got somethin’ to show ya.”

“Show me then.”

“This your brother’s?” Chigger lifted a black Stetson into view.

“Could be.”

“Found it lyin’ out in plain sight near a bench. Not like Johnny Ray to leave his hat behind, so I figured you might wanna hold on to it till he gets back.”

“From where?”

Chigger shrugged. “Ain’t seen the man since he got up and sang.”

“Me neither.” I took the hat, noted the initials JRB inside. “Appreciate it.”

Chigger nodded and moved on without another word. I wandered toward the sidewalk that edged the park, my fingers rubbing the Stetson’s brim. Jagged flaps in the material signaled to me that something was wrong. On a roundabout across the street, spotlights pointed up at a forty-foot statue, and I examined the hat against their glow.

Five slices in the brim, two letters: Through the narrow slits, my brother’s form came into sudden focus. He was tied to the statue, chin down, golden brown hair glued by sweat to his neck.


Dread tightened its grip around my stomach.
Eric Wilson

About Eric Wilson

Eric Wilson - A Shred of Truth
Eric Wilson is the author of Dark to Mortal Eyes, Expiration Date, and the first book in the Aramis Black series, The Best of Evil. He lives with his wife, Carolyn Rose, and their two daughters in Nashville, Tennessee.


Praise for A Shred of Truth

“Mesmerizing! In A Shred of Truth, Eric Wilson delivers a twisting tale of suspense, sorrow, and repentance that will grab you from the start and keep your mind occupied well past the turning of the last page. Aramis Black never looked so good. Warning: Reading this book may be hazardous to your sleep cycle!”
–Sharon Carter Rogers, critically-acclaimed author of Sinner and Two Graces

“Eric Wilson can flat-out write!”
–Creston Mapes, author of Nobody

A Shred of Truth serves up another cup of addictive suspense from author Eric Wilson.  The adventures of Aramis Black read like successive shots of adrenaline, offering readers fresh takes in Christian suspense.”
–Sibella Giorello, author of The Stones Cry Out

“Eric Wilson possesses a profound power of prose and dialogue that kept me riveted to the last, remarkable page. A great work from one of our most extraordinary writers of suspense.”
–James Byron Huggins, author of A Wolf Story, The Reckoning, and Leviathan

“Wilson has done it again! A Shred of Truth is a highly textured, superbly crafted story that will resonate with readers long after the last page has been turned.”
–Brandt Dodson, author of Original Sin, Seventy Times Seven and The Root of All Evil

“Eric Wilson continues to amaze me with every novel. A Shred of Truth grabs you at the first page and never lets go. From a hero who is flawed yet admirable to the demented evil out to destroy him, Wilson has given us his best work yet.”
–Brian Reaves, author of Stolen Lives

“Now that I’ve had my second cup of coffee with my favorite bad-boy turned java-shop host, I’m hooked on Aramis Black. A Shred of Truth gives us a heaping spoonful of terrific writing, a double-dollop of historical intrigue, and a custom blend of danger, mystery, and family drama. Is there any question that Eric Wilson is one of the best suspense writers around? Not by me–I’m ordering another cup!”
–Kathryn Mackel, author of Vanished
Discussion Questions

Discussion Guides

1. Aramis discovers his wounded brother and wonders if it is "retribution of some sort, my sins coming back to haunt my family." Do you think he's right? In what ways have past mistakes "haunted" your own life?

2. Detective Meade tells Aramis that "a price must be paid for wrongs committed." Do you believe this is true in the judicial system? In the emotional sense? In a spiritual dimension?

3. In the first part of the book, did you begin to suspect what AX might stand for? How did your suspicions change as the story moved along?

4. Aramis has some conflicted emotions in his reunion with an old girlfriend. Have you ever had such conflicts? Did you agree or disagree with his responses in the museum? At the hotel?

5. In Newmann's classroom, he challenges students to see through cultural lies and deceptions. Describe a time you fell for an urban legend or rumor?

6. At one point, Aramis tells his readers: "I, too, knew the sting of father's blow and his glare of his disdain. Violence wasn't something I'd learned from TV or the Xbox." What do you think about this statement, in regards to ugly incidents we see on the news?

7. Throughout the book, Aramis shows a rough side still needed to be polished. Yet we also see a soft side. What particular scenes helped you see this aspect of his personality?

8. Sammie Rosewood is a financial partner with Aramis. In what ways did you see their relationship change through the course of the book?

9. Aramis doesn't care much for his brother's guitar player. When he meets Trish, he discovers things about Chigger he didn't know. Did these discoveries give you more empathy for Chigger?

10. Mr. Hillcrest expresses a religious piety that is laced with anger. In what ways have you seen that same self-righteousness exhibited? Have you ever thought similar things toward others?

11. In one dream, Aramis imagines he's a Knight Templar. What symbolism did you see in this scene, relating to his own life or to the unveiling of the story's mystery?

12. Aramis is told by his attacker that we must all "die to the old self." This is a concept taken from the Bible. In what ways is it twisted by that attacker's misconceptions about God and forgiveness? In what ways does it apply to Aramis? Does it have any application in your own life?

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