In this debut fantasy thriller, four distinct personalities converge to battle a man’s inner demon.
Nick Glaude, a software engineer, is visiting his hometown in Illinois. He wanders past an old schoolyard, reveling in memories, when he encounters a former classmate whom he calls Katherine. She agrees to dinner and then invites him to spend the night at her apartment. Inside, “the Beast that ruled me didn’t even give her time to make up a bed on the couch,” and Nick has sex with the drunk woman. During the night, he slips outside into an alley and acknowledges that he’s just an Ordinary Man. He soon realizes that he shares his body with three other minds from parallel worlds: the Gladiator, the Assassin, and the Pervert. Each of these men has led a life of transgression. They take turns sharing their pasts with Nick, including murder, brutality, and the seduction of teen girls. In the morning, he returns to Katherine’s apartment and finds her with George, her physically abusive ex-boyfriend. The Gladiator takes over Nick’s body, pummels George, and later turns himself over to the cops. At the police station, Nick meets someone whom the Pervert recognizes, Detective Eve Aidan. Is she the key to freeing Nick from the Beast’s influence? In this fractious thriller, Bobrov effectively conjures the viewpoints of Nick’s personalities, offering detailed vignettes with psychological insights. During one of the Assassin’s flashbacks, readers learn that before killing the chosen victim, “a special team followed the person for several weeks and determined the best method of removal.” Scenes centered on the Pervert, and even the opening starring the Ordinary Man, will likely make some readers uneasy (he saw a “huddle of naked and obedient girls ready to serve me and surrender themselves”). Other lines may stop audiences cold, as when the foursome argues mentally over “what was so bad about the Pervert? Who are we to judge Evil?” While valid questions of morality are addressed here, extensive fight scenes and a lingering focus on sexual sins make this a tough read.
This psychological tale offers uncomfortable episodes of violence and sexuality.