A novel of crime, suspense and detection, focused on the actions of a mysterious fraternal organization that acts as if it’s above the law.
Mehn’s novel centers on a shadowy group of exceptionally well-educated men, beginning with an initiation scene that feels like an eerie Skull and Bones ritual. Despite the frat-boy visage, when one “pledge” expresses doubts about the group’s morality, he finds himself tried and convicted of murder. As the short chapters and punchy text fly by, readers are shown seemingly unrelated, graphic murders, while the pledges carefully and curiously remove hair samples and take complex latex imprints of cadavers. Initially, readers will be just as mystified as the police, who struggle to comprehend how fingerprints and DNA from recently deceased Texas criminals appear at crime scenes. The well-constructed plot unfolds only to mild satisfaction, though, since the cast of characters often feels like a group of poorly defined silhouettes. Each new character is usually introduced by both first and last name, often accompanied by near-precise records of height, weight, hair color, etc., which can make for tedious, clinical reading. Worse, though, is the stilted dialogue that feels uncomfortably free of natural-sounding colloquialisms and contractions. Readers may not be sucked into Mehn’s world of corruption and the pseudo-occult, but the intriguing plot and its engaging pace invite readers onward in the pursuit of understanding the shadowy organization’s puzzling intentions. It’s a satisfying story that would be even more compelling if the mystery were set in a more realized world.
A fast-paced, entertaining read that’s short on setting and character development.