An ancient ring summons a winged demon that leaves mummified remains of U.S. cabinet members in its wake.
FBI agent Robert Cole’s latest case involves the murder of Treasury Secretary Benjamin Cheney, whose body seems to have withered instantly. At the same time, Cheney’s ring, which purportedly belonged to King Solomon, has been stolen. Some believe that the ring has the power to control demons, but Cole and CIA agent Amir Bloomberg are not sure if a vicious creature is killing at someone’s directive or if it’s serving its own purpose. Hamilton’s supernatural thriller (Identity Assumption, 2009) is an assortment of plotlines which he, for the most part, deftly keeps in check. Other storylines involve Julian, a young man who dreams of a tsunami before it happens; terrorists who are holding Julian and Cole’s daughter, Carla, hostage; and subplots that enrich the characters, like Cheney’s illicit behavior and his wife’s understandably negative reaction. Some narrative threads, such as Julian’s father’s connection to a related murder that occurred 20 years earlier, are left undone, but that doesn’t diminish the main story. Agent Cole recounts his experiences via a first-person perspective, while all other characters’ stories are told in third person. The structure occasionally disorients and reads like two discrete novels, but perhaps more significantly, the fed’s insight means little since readers generally know more than he does. The author refines his novel with sharply worded descriptions (emergency lights have “bathed everything in flashes of red, blue, and yellow”); stark and stunning imagery, like body parts falling past a window; and even dashes of humor—Cole’s response to a black-hole theory, which causes others to fear the end of days, is not to worry; instead, he gets “fabulously drunk.”
Readers will be drawn in by the book’s hideous, soul-snatching demon, but the true-to-life characters are the strongest selling point.