Theisolh – an island-nation with well-kept dark secrets of the past, where monarchy is still at the heart of the political arena. The unsaid facts underlying the covert Royal family are well guarded by an organization called the Corteux, which is widely believed to be a mere myth. Everything seems peaceful until the capital city is suddenly engulfed in a series of murders of a number of musicians, which the Corteux must now solve.
There is only one common thread linking all the meticulously planned murders – the killer leaves behind a painting after each crime that signifies the true purpose of his acts. In Ildeth, the capital city of Theisolh, a young painter’s newly found acclaim soon leads him to be entangled in this series of killings. A pivotal question remains: can a seemingly ordinary painter decipher the astonishingly crafty assassin’s messages? And what can a powerless citizen do if uncovering the truth could reveal the darker side of the nation’s most powerful individuals and affect the lives of thousands, even millions?
At the same time, a much larger scheme is set into motion within the Black Fort, which houses King Pherid, the ruling monarch of Theisolh, who has refused to make a public appearance for the past four decades. The government is hell-bent on concealing a major breakthrough in neurology that holds the answers to some pivotal questions on the human mind, and fails to heed a substantial threat to the reclusive King’s rule by an all too familiar foe. Little do the authorities realize that their nemesis has always existed in their midst, concealed away behind an emotionless face that buried all of their angst in the anticipation of vengeance… that will arrive within the space of one fateful day.
The painter, who is the primary protagonist, has been codenamed “Vincent” by the officials of Theisolh, engages in mind games with the killer and he soon learns that none can be trusted. But as he immerses himself deeper in the music which holds all the answers, what he is not aware of is that the identity of the killer forms only the tip of an iceberg. Beneath this lies a horrific truth dating back decades, as well as some unsolved mysteries even up to a millennium old.
There are other major characters that shape the story, including Vincent’s lost love, the leading members of the Corteux who are all abnormally intelligent and have skeletons in their closet; and musicians who have had a varying yet equally agonizing tryst with their art. The most terrifying fact about the Corteux, though, is probably that it has always been loosely associated with one shadowy individual who is at the heart of all that is queer about the near mythical organization. Somewhat like the Corteux itself, this individual lingers dangerously close to the borders of fact and fiction, of intelligence and insanity, and… of life and death.
STRANDS OF GUILT is a completed novel of 97,000 words in 15 chapters that begins as a race against one who has vowed to rid the world of a number of renowned musicians. But a strong undertone of the plot is the fact that most of our understanding of people and situations is based on limited, superficial interactions – and this understanding can easily be drastically inaccurate. The answers all lie within the realms of the human brain – and it is deep within the human mind that Vincent must venture on this relentless journey.
As the full string of events brings the terrible reality more firmly into view, Vincent finds himself faced with the Herculean task of differentiating between extreme intelligence and pure insanity, and separating a logical approach from the righteous path. Ultimately, the only irrevocably clear road that appears ahead of Vincent requires him to do the unimaginable.