In this second novel from medical resident Bazell, former hit man Dr. Pietro Brnwa (Beat the Reaper, 2009) is lured into the woods to get the skinny on the cryptid haunting a Minnesota lake.
Bazell's latest takes his hero into seriously unexpected territory. Pietro is still hiding out from his Mafia overlords as “Dr. Lionel Azimuth,” a physician on an exploitative cruise line. It’s not a great gig for a killer with a terminal fear of the water. Neither is the grass greener, as a reclusive billionaire hires Pietro to escort paleontologist Violet Hurst on a million-dollar safari in Minnesota. Their job is to rendezvous with local guide Reggie Trager, who promises his exclusive clientele access to the White Lake Monster, a critter coveted by cryptozoologists (think Nessie, this one dubbed “Aquabigfoot” by Violet). Naturally, chaos ensues. There’s the furtive county coroner who insists past victims were involved in “boating accidents.” Others include a maternal meth dealer, a pair of ambitious Chinese brothers and a pop star who wants to defend the Monster’s “animal rights.” The book is composed in Bazell’s propulsive, profanity-laden style, peppering startling violence with detailed footnotes that cover subjects like tooth reinsertions and human cryogenics. There's also an elevator speech as to why Brnwa is still in so much trouble. Things take a bit of a weird turn when that Sarah Palin shows up as the government’s appointed referee for this evolutionary misadventure. Bazell is not unkind to the former Alaska Governor—she’s more loud window dressing than anything else. The book may throw off fans of the author's debut, but props to Bazell for not cranking out an idle retread of Beat the Reaper.
A funny, unexpected journey for our hero that sets up the next installment with finesse.