A disturbing fictional trip to the dark underside of Los Angeles life.
When Los Angeles County Fire paramedic Colt Lewis’ ambulance pulls up at the scene of a single-vehicle accident at the outset of Kamm’s (Hazardous Material, 2013, .etc) latest novel, he’s shocked to find a local policeman haplessly trying to help a semiconscious young woman whose leg has been badly mangled—and whose right foot is missing. Even after Lewis and his partner stabilize and load the young woman in their van, the foot—presumably severed at the scene—is nowhere to be found. The combination of that strange fact and the girl’s vulnerability triggers Lewis’ heroic impulses and sets into motion the bizarre quest at the heart of this leanly and effectively told noir novel about the dark byways of LA. “Don’t get emotionally involved with your patients,” Lewis is told. “If you start asking ‘what if’ it never stops.” But Lewis can’t help himself. He obsesses about the injured young woman, daydreaming about what her life was like before the accident. Soon he begins using his days off to investigate the missing foot, and this leads him into worlds of illegal medical labs, black-market bazaars of body parts and an entire crime ring that operates in the shadows. Kamm fills these worlds with a big cast of sharply drawn, odd characters, some merely eccentric but many others evil and predatory (Kamm skillfully dramatizes the day-to-day life of LA paramedics; there’s an excellent police procedural running alongside the more exotic plotlines here). Lewis’ expanding search forces him to examine his own motives, and Kamm expertly ratchets up the narrative tension, peeling back multiple layers of twisted mysteries. A tense, atmospheric climax in the tunnels under a sprawling university will keep readers turning pages right to the very satisfying conclusion.
An assured, very memorable LA thriller, with an appealing hero readers will want to meet again.