Private detective Charlie Parker faces a pair of otherworldly foes in a crime novel packed with colorful characters.
In the Maine woods, rain exposes the body of a woman buried in a shallow grave. An autopsy reveals she had given birth a day or two before her death, but whether she was murdered or not is unclear. There is no sign of the child’s body, and a Star of David has been carved on a nearby tree. Meanwhile, 5-year-old Daniel Weaver lives with his mother, Holly—she is “blond,” he is “ebony.” She tells him a story of The Woman in the Woods, “spirited away by an ogre.” Daniel’s toy phone rings throughout the book, and he hears the voice of a strange woman. And in Cadillac, Indiana, an Englishman named Quayle inquires about a pregnant “mongrel [bitch]” named Karis Lamb who had passed through town. Quayle, who might be “the devil himself,” has one purpose on Earth: “to locate a single book, and enable it to do its work.” It’s the Fractured Atlas, which he expects will change the world, replacing the “Old God” with “Not-Gods.” Not knowing Karis’ fate, he tracks down and kills those protecting her because she may know the book’s whereabouts. His delightfully disgusting companion, Pallida Mors, has “the skin of a drowning victim, and the eyes of a doll.” Attorney Moxie Castin, who calls himself "Jewish-ish," hires private detective Parker to find Karis' child, "because I want to believe that child is alive." But Parker faces frightful foes. Every character is expertly drawn—Parker’s friends Louis and Angel are a pair of gay criminals, and Louis, who is black, blows up a Chevy truck that was flying Confederate flags. The owner, Billy Ocean, learned from his daddy not to use racial slurs, but he really hates “Negroes.” Quayle hates everybody, and his racism is just a part of his overall rottenness. There’s also a group of rich people called the Backers, who ages ago sold out to dark, arcane forces. Some of them think Parker is “partly divine” because he’s survived so many attacks.
A complicated plot, richly drawn characters, and a vein of horror will keep readers devouring the pages.