Conway’s debut novel is a fictionalized account of the disturbed man responsible for the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas.
On October 1, 2017, Stephen Paddock fired upon Las Vegas citizens. In this book’s fictionalized version of the real-world tragedy, the events leading up to it started over a century earlier. Paddock’s (fictional) great grandfather, William, savagely murdered his own wife in Scotland. Though another couple subsequently adopted William’s infant son, Mason, it seems that evil passed down the bloodline. Mason’s son, Benjamin “Benny” Paddock, not only had the mark of Cain (a “cloud shaped mole”), but also, at a young age, heard the persuasive voice of Dark Angel Thaddus. Benny went on to become a thuggish con man, bank robber, and murderer with a family and longtime mistress. His eldest son, Stephen, likewise had the mark of Cain, as well as angry and sometime murderous impulses. Neither Stephen’s success in real estate in Texas nor his frequent gambling managed to subdue his building rage. Sadly, he yielded to the voice, which convinced him to use his guns to commit mass murder. The story simultaneously follows Theresa, born to Mark and Marie Connor in Cleveland in 1986. Theresa, along with her friend and brother, buy tickets to the 2017 Vegas concert and blood bath. Conway aptly blends real-life elements with fictional characters and situations. William, for example, is an infamous historical figure from the late 19th century. Thaddus’ subplot, which further entails glimpses of the afterlife, is a surprisingly engaging examination of evil, which isn’t necessarily predetermined here; there’s room for free will. In contrast, the late introduction of wholesome Theresa disappointingly hurries her story, with mere highlights of her life until the fateful shooting. The author’s simple prose serves the narrative well, adequately portraying Stephen’s (and Benny’s) transgressions without resorting to excessively violent scenes.
An engrossing, dramatized consideration of a real-life tragedy.