THE VIOLET HOUR by Richard Montanari


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Quite a 20th reunion for the Case Western Reserve class of 1978: An avenger with an addiction to T.S. Eliot is killing off the members of the self-anointed AdVerse Society. The opening scene is something of an entrance exam. If you can buy the premise that Cleveland’s Father John Angelino, a.k.a. Johnny Angel, would fall victim to a lethal heroin overdose and the removal of his eyes courtesy of his inability to resist the tempting flesh of Kiki Holt, the prostitute who sets him up for a killer who calls himself Mac, then you’re ready for the rest of Mac’s murderous peregrinations. It’s quite a tour: Mac likes to trap his victims in helpless positions one at a time, remind them that they’re doing penance for what happened to Julia Raines back in college, and torment them with —70s trappings--Rolling Stones recordings, videotaped episodes of The Love Boat, patchouli oil, lava lamps--before executing and mutilating them in ways nearly as ghoulish as getting them to sit through ABBA. Cheapjack journalist Nicholas Stella, a cousin of the priest who shared Johnny Angel’s rectory, seems to be the only one to notice any common elements in the grisly chain that threatens not only such sleazeballs as epicene estate appraiser Geoffrey Coldicott and AdVerse faculty advisor Sebastian Keller, voyeuristic plastic surgeon Dr. Bennett Crane and hungry lesbian Jennifer Schumann, but also squeaky-clean Amelia Saintsbury, practically a single mother since her errant husband’s confession of fumbling adultery. Wonder what order Mac will choose to pick off his victims, and whether he’ll still be stoked on heroin, Eliot, and kinky sex when Montanari (Deviant Way, 1995) finally lets him get a crack at Amelia in this naughty, harmlessly thrilling Halloween for grownups? No reviewer could hope to outdo Nicky Stella’s dazzling insight that “this wasn’t an Andrew Vachss novel.”

Pub Date: June 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-380-97592-0
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1998


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