Ex-p.i., ex-con Joe Kurtz (Hard Freeze, 2002, etc.) is on the dodge from gunslingers galore bent on rendering him just plain ex.
A Neanderthal he rubbed the wrong way in Attica? A soldier out of the Gonzaga mob? A freelance hit man hired by the Ferraras? The lethal sociopath known as the Artful Dodger? You need a scorecard to keep the players straight, and right at the start one of them comes perilously close to taking Joe out with a .22 slug. If not for a fortuitous ricochet—well, as the ER doc says, “We would be extracting it from your brain as we speak—probably during an autopsy.” Okay, so the woods are full of potential Kurtz-killers, that’s nothing new in Joe’s unsettling world. But when his concussed head clears, he recalls that he didn’t venture into that garage alone. At his side was a parole officer. Is it possible that a disenchanted client went gunning for her and hit Joe the innocent bystander instead? It’s a thoroughly confusing situation, he thinks, and so do the cops, who don’t know the half of it, since, unlike Joe, they haven’t yet caught up to this perplexing wrinkle: Someone’s been quietly offing Buffalo’s busiest drug dealers—24 of them and counting.
No one changes lanes from SF to horror to crime fiction more dextrously than the prolific, protean Simmons, who however, whenever, seldom provides less than a page-turner.