In small-town Oregon, tenacious journalist confronts white supremacy, zealous cult in exhilarating new thriller


LOS ANGELES – The mysteries that lie within a rural Oregon town are bubbling to the surface — right on time for reporter Caitlin Bergman. In “Sins of the Mother,” (Sept. 8, 2020, Crooked Lane), the story of lauded thriller author August Norman’s headstrong heroine continues, leading both her and readers to a radical cult that has town members agitated and close to their boiling point.

Caitlin doesn’t talk about her mother; in fact, she’s been telling everyone that she’s dead. So when the law enforcement head of Coos County contacts Caitlin to identify her mother’s remains, the journalist heads north to gather details of her estranged mother’s life. Caught between the feuding of the white supremicist Larsens and Daughters of God cult members — and with the identity of her real father hanging just out of her grasp — Caitlin must unravel the town’s secrets before the fiery prophesied end of days arrives.

Will Caitlin find the answers she’s looking for? First, she’ll need to make it out of Oregon alive.

With charismatic villains and complex relationships in tow, Norman’s latest addition to Caitlin’s story is a vibrant and exhilirating ride into the heart of crime fiction. In addition to boasting a compelling female protagonist and intense page-turning drama, the author has crafted a thrilling mystery that will have readers on the edge of their seats — until the very end.

“Smart, scrappy, and not afraid to punch you in the gut — just like its fierce heroine.” — Rick Treon

Early praise for “Sins of the Mother”

“Do not miss August Norman’s latest thrilling mystery, Sins of the Mother. With kinesthetic language and plot-winding twists, gifted writer Norman strikes the perfect balance between snark and serious, which kept me glued in place and gobbling pages. Bravo on an excellent story – can’t wait to see what is in store next from this true wizard of prose!”
— Maureen Connolly, author of “Lovely Little Things”

“Caitlin Bergman, a feisty and earthy female protagonist, launches headlong into another ripping adventure. But it’s more than that. Caitlin must also suffer for the crimes of her mother and somehow forgive her. The answers lie in the religious cult that sucked in her mother and all her secrets. This is a terrific sequel that I highly recommend.”
— Carl Vonderau, author of “Murderabilia,”
winner of Left Coast Crime 2020 Best Debut Mystery

“ ‘Sins of the Mother’ is smart, scrappy, and not afraid to punch you in the gut — just like its fierce heroine. August Norman provides an action-packed, emotional thrill ride that’ll leave you breathlessly waiting for the next Caitlin Bergman novel.”
— Rick Treon, award-winning author of “Let the Guilty Pay”

“In ‘Sins of the Mother,’ August Norman has not only crafted an exceptionally likeable protagonist in journalist Caitlin Bergman, whose toughness, charm and sense of humor win you over from the start, but has created an entire cast of magnetic characters. Even the villains have unlimited charisma. Unraveling the mysteries of a cult in the backwoods of Oregon, and in the process hunting for the truth of Caitlin’s parentage, is as heart warming as it is devastating, and as suspenseful as it is thrilling.”
— David Albertyn, author of “Undercard”

“Caitlin Bergman is one of the most intriguing and richly imagined heroines in thriller fiction. August Norman builds on his debut novel triumph with ‘Sins of the Mother,’ as Caitlin uncovers decades-old secrets in an Oregon logging town and the cult that haunts it. Loaded with twists and emotional punches, Norman’s vibrant and gripping story will make readers eager for more.”
— Glen Erik Hamilton, Anthony Award-winning author of “Past Crimes”

“Sins of the Mother: A Caitlin Bergman Novel”
August Norman | Sept. 8, 2020 | Crooked Lane
Crime Thriller | Ebook | 9781643854366 | $12.99

About the Author

Originally from central Indiana, thriller and mystery author August Norman has called Los Angeles home for two decades, writing for and/or appearing in movies, television, stage productions, web series, and even, commercial advertising. A lover and champion of crime fiction, Norman is an active member of the Mystery Writers of America, the International Thriller Writers, the Sisters in Crime (National and LA), and regularly attends the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference. In addition, August is a founding member and regular performer with LA’s longest running improv comedy show, “Opening Night: The Improvised Musical!” For more information, visit

In an interview, August Norman can discuss:

  • His background in screenwriting and how he utilizes it in his novels
  • The research and creativity behind crafting a cult from scratch
  • The book’s themes on parenting and how, as a new parent, he examined and differentiates between what’s considered good vs. bad parenting — and all the gray areas in between
  • The book’s setting and how it lent itself to the cult themes and plot
  • As a male author, creating a series with a strong female protagonist and the importance of honoring the portrayals of the opposite sex
  • Exploring cognitive dissonance and how conspiracy theorists, cults, climate change deniers are still prevalent throughout society
  • The concepts of hive mind and groupthink and how individuals use those to confirm or deny beliefs — despite evidence of fact

An interview with AUGUST NORMAN

1. This is the second novel that follows heroine Caitlin Bergman. How soon into crafting the first book did you know her story would continue?

Even before Caitlin made her debut in “Come and Get Me,” I’d worked the character into a screenplay and another novel. As an investigative journalist, Caitlin gets to explore the issues I care about, whether that’s battling white supremacists, breaking up a cult, or dating in her 40s. The journalists I know work hard in dangerous places to bring the world basic facts, often for little pay and less respect. Like them, Caitlin is obsessed with getting the true story behind the legends, even at the expense of her own safety.

2. What are some of the challenges you faced with writing the second book in a series? Were there things that came easier throughout the process?

One wonderful challenge I faced writing “Sins of the Mother” was honoring the expectations of the first book’s readers. With a debut, you get to say, “Here are my characters; this is what they do.” While plotting the second installment, readers from my publishing team to Goodreads followers wanted to know who would come back, how Caitlin would grow, and what horrible junk food she’d eat this time. I made sure to honor that relationship with the reader while taking Caitlin in a new direction.

3. Most of the book is set in Oregon. What drew you to choosing the setting in the Pacific Northwest?

To tell this story, I needed somewhere in America that you could hide a cult within miles of the broader society. I also wanted a setting where the locals feared the end of their traditions because of a liberal shift in ideals, and would be willing to fight to ensure their ways of life. Oregon’s lush forests, rocky coasts, inland plains, tribal lands, federal preserve, and wild-country-feel all bash heads daily with the new Bohemia tech sector billionaire playgrounds of Portland, Silicon Valley, and Seattle. Caitlin is searching for her past in a state that’s dealing with its own growing pains. In “Sins of the Mother,” the area’s small government “Don’t Tread On Me” mentality allows white supremacists to flourish in the same proximity as a reclusive cult. It’s only a matter of time before the two fight for their ideals, no matter the cost.

4. You recently became a father, and the book definitely focuses on parental themes. Was that coincidental? And are there things you learned about parenthood from writing a book centering so much on that theme?

In the lead-up to my entrance into parentage, I did a lot of soul-searching on what I believe makes a good parent and what constitutes family. Whether related by blood, chosen through adoption, or selected from a pool of friends, I think the closest families are born through love and sacrifice, rather than biology. As unnatural as it may seem, sometimes the best thing a parent can do is realize they don’t have the skills to guide their children through life and leave them with someone more qualified. Having never met her birth mother, raised by a single adoptive father, and now childless in her early forties, Caitlin explores her own family’s tree, ultimately seeing another side of her perceived abandonment and the sacrifices and openness needed to truly love.

5. You have a background in screenwriting. How has that experience helped you with writing novels? Or has it made things more difficult?

Coming up through screenwriting, I hope I can claim a few skills that help me as a novelist. I gravitate toward short, cinematic scenes in my chapters, understanding that readers fill in much of the setting with their own shorthand. I also try to create characters that actors from well-known stars to five-lines-and-under would line up to audition for. Who wouldn’t want to play an aging cult leader, past his prime and looking for a way out? A devout, female lawyer that represents a cult in greater society but becomes her true self in the privacy of their woodland compound? A violent white supremacist hell-bent on saving his daughter from those people? Finally, many authors come to their work with a my-way-or-the-highway sensibility that can leave them stuck when their publishers ask for edits or complete page one rewrites of art that took them years to complete. Screenwriters, subject to deadlines and notes from all levels, have to be able to move fast and adapt, while keeping their original concepts intact. So far, these skills have all helped bring Caitlin Bergman to the page.