THE CHILDREN by Charles Robertson is exactly the kind of novel I'd like to option and turn into a movie, if I had the money and the connections to do so. It begins as a horrific mystery, brings in a pair of attractive, bright heroes to handle the suspense and romance, and wraps up with a delightfully demented science fiction denouement and action-packed fireworks set in an exotic locale. The cover of the 1982 Bantam paperback makes THE CHILDREN look something like VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED, but it really isn't.
A low-rent private detective is pushed into the path of an oncoming subway train. A celebrity news anchorman and his one-night stand are shot to death in his luxury apartment. Both times, as the audience knows, but not the characters in the story, the killers are little boys, approximately ten years of age.
Separately, hangdog newspaper man Mark Chandler (Matthew McConaughey, maybe) and glamorous anchorwoman Shelley James (definitely Naomi Watts) suspect there's more the killings than meets the eye. Their respective investigations both lead to the murder of the detective's teenage girlfriend, a junkie and part-time whore with no connection to the wealthy anchorman. Yet clues indicate that there must be one.
Robertson, a Scotsman who taught high school English in Connecticut for ten years, became a novelist with 1980's THE ELIJAH CONSPIRACY and added THE CHILDREN three years later. It runs nearly 400 pages, but moves very quickly, taking its appealing, attractive journalist heroes across the globe to stop a devilish conspiracy that the world would probably never believe, even if they can manage to nail it down. Robertson sets up the climax in a mysterious prologue sure to have you scratching your head as the main story begins. By the time you've reached the final chapter, all the pieces have fallen into shape as a pulpy delight.
I wish I could say more about THE CHILDREN's central mystery, but, ah, that would be telling. I found the paperback for one dollar in a used book store, and I highly recommend you mystery or horror fans find a copy.