2017 & 2018 International
Book Award Winner
Gold Medal

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“From debut author Clerge comes a novel about one man’s quest to survive prison and find answers within himself. The prison fear is vivid, the odds insurmountable and the conclusion anyone’s guess, though it certainly won’t come easily. An arresting prison tale about penance.”
―Kirkus Reviews

"The characters have real depth―something I am big on―and the drama on the pages made me feel as though I was right there watching it. The book is fast paced and, in my opinion, downright amazing."        
―Bobbie Grob, Readers' Favorite

"This character orientated drama benefits from a fully fleshed out protagonist, gritty writing, and psychological insight into a realistic psyche. The obvious sequel has a high bar to surpass…….. When the Serpent Bites is a fantastic read for legal buffs, crime lovers, and readers who love a great story." 
 ―John Murray, Pacific book review

"Nesly Clerge spins a convoluted web of human dynamics and sinister situations in his debut novel.  Clerge’s careful attention to character development and the cast’s interactions with Starks is a main ingredient that keeps his story flowing. Clerge’s cliffhanging chapters continually tickle the curiosity of thriller aficionados to keep turning pages to see what the final outcome will be.  Clerge also maintains plot fluidity by alternating character scenes, backstories, and a plethora of twisted and suspenseful events." 
 ―San Francisco Book Review

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About the book

Frederick Starks has it all—a gorgeous wife who was his high school sweetheart, three beautiful children, a mansion and cars others envy, millions in the bank, respected in his community, admired by his employees, loved and respected by loyal friends. He revels in the hard-earned power and control he’s acquired. As the saying goes, “All that glitters is not gold,” which Starks discovers when gut-wrenching betrayal by his wife sends him over the edge and into a maximum security prison. There, Starks is a new “fish,” stripped of nearly everything he’s always relied on. In that place, where inmates and guards have their own rules and codes of conduct, Starks is forced to face the darker side of life, and his own darker side, especially when the betrayals, both inside and outside the prison, don’t stop. He must choose which path to follow when the line between right and wrong becomes blurred: one that leads to getting out of the physical and emotional hellhole he finds himself in or one that keeps him alive.

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