A multilayered tale of a writer who’s trying to make more than just a buck.
He’s a man of many faces: T.R.L. Pangstrom, author of the Whoremasters of Zorg sci-fi/porn series; J. Duke Johnson, creator of inner-city private eye Mordechai Jones; and Sibylline Lorindo-Gold, the force behind the Crimson vampire series, beloved of goth bloggers coast to coast. Back home in Queens, though, he’s just Harry Bloch, a hack writer who longs for some of the eminence his ex-girlfriend Jane’s new husband has achieved as editor of Brooklyn literary journal The Torn Plaid Coat. Just when it looks as if Harry’s career has skidded to the brink—he’s reduced to forging term papers for brilliant, bored 15-year-old preppie Claire Hall—he gets a letter from serial killer Darian Clay, who knows Harry as Tom (The Slut Whisperer) Stanks from Raunchy magazine. Clay wants someone to ghost his memoirs—a potential gold mine, Claire sagely points out, and his ticket to the world of nonserial literature. So Harry confers with Clay’s attorney, Carol Flosky, and next thing you know he’s on a train upstate to meet the death-row inmate. But working with mass murderers is never easy, and pretty soon Harry is in deeper peril than his half-vampire heroine Sasha finds in the castle of Count Aram.
Not the best-wrought mystery in the world, but a tour de force debut that provides too much fun for readers to carp.