After Russian mobsters sever his fingers and slash his face, Matthias Callaghan is rushed to a clinic in Switzerland, where doctors equip him with prosthetic hands and a face transplant. He then uses the anonymity of his new face to exact revenge on all involved, losing his humanity in the process.
In this first volume of the Callaghan tetralogy, Ekemar (Destiny Comes With Strings Attached, 2008, etc.) presents a fresh, intriguing tale. Through an intricate weaving of character, circumstance, mistaken identity and coincidence, he constructs an engaging, original storyline. Rather than a potion, it is his new persona that changes Callaghan—a face transplanted from the corpse of a man out of his wife’s past. The author deftly uses Callaghan’s dry, emotionless voice to characterize the evolution of his personality: “The planning for revenge was strangely satisfying, as was the detachment from my friends and former life.” From the beginning, Callaghan is methodical; he even says so numerous times. Also, his participation in a credit card scam early in his career suggests an ember of criminality. Nevertheless, his disciplined, systematic approach allows him to track down all the players involved in his abduction and to construct elaborate cons in order to execute retribution. “My motivation was absolute,” he says. “I wanted to see those who had destroyed my life suffer like I had.” But payback doesn’t end there. He is compelled to bring down peripheral actors such as his former partner in crime Allan, and his ne’er-do-well father, also named Matthias. Even his wife, Julia—evidently a victim of circumstance—must pay. Ekemar plays the plot beautifully, contrasting past and present chapters in well-thought-out juxtaposition. A few symbolic ideas—such as a genetic mutation placing Callaghan’s heart on the right side—spice things up as well. Good thing the next installment is already out there.
A unique, multilayered tale with some fresh twists.