A debut novel, the first installment of a series, focuses on one man’s quest for retribution.
Los Angeles in 2002 is plagued by drug fiends. More than mere addicts, these thugs are a particularly vicious and pathetic group. Readers are told: “There’s nothing a fiend wouldn’t do for the next high.” While such a statement would seem to apply to substance abusers of many eras, these creatures terrorizing the city are more akin to zombies than Alcoholics Anonymous attendees. A case in point comes with the brutal murder of Diana Westcherry, daughter of a wealthy shipping magnate named Vlad. Shortly after she gives a fiend a brownie, she is bludgeoned to death for her kindness. If that were not enough, passing fiends further disgrace her body in ways that are better left unmentioned. What is one to do with such a tragic and disgusting situation? Once he gets wind of what has happened, Diana’s chauffer, a former Marine named Sayer, decides he will take matters into his own hands. He begins killing the fiends with gusto, taking care to carve Diana’s name into their cadavers so that she will be remembered. It would be a dangerous vocation under normal circumstances, but with Vlad’s blessing and financing, it becomes a profitable enterprise. So the stage is set for a story that turns even stranger and grislier as it progresses. Interspersed with grand statements (the idea that “fiends spread their belief in annihilation through their worship of chaos”), it is truly a dark tale from start to finish. Although long conversations can stymie some of the intensity (do not get Diana started on the concept of “self-soothing” or Vlad on the discipline required for love), the reader can never be quite sure what horrific scene lies just around the corner or what new character may surface next. Dresden’s late addition of an attractive, born-again schoolteacher named Amanda offers new opportunities in what would otherwise be a story of frenzied revenge. Of course, if what happened to Diana is any indication, the beautiful certainly fare the worst in a world populated with so many twisted individuals.
This thrilling book delivers a violent tale that is ultimately as surprising as it is gruesome.