Even hell has crime. And somebody has to go through…well, you know…to bring criminals to justice.
Keeping up with changing times, hell is no longer a smoldering, glowing array of cauldrons, ovens and other barbecue pits that smell like brimstone. Think, instead, of the worst city you’ve visited in your life and imagine it being even ickier; where nothing smells or tastes good, public transportation is literally the pits, and there are pesky little demons waiting at every dimly illuminated corner to snap at you and bite your skin. This being hell, there is also a bureaucracy with rules. And when the rules are violated by theft and even murder, hell has at its disposal condemned little people such as Thomas Fool, one of the nether region’s “Information Men” assigned to look into egregious brutalities that not even hell’s masters (wherever they are) will tolerate. And when bodies of young people start turning up in such horrifically deformed shapes that their very souls are sucked clean, Fool is compelled both from within and without this underworld to investigate this bewildering serial murder case—which may auger yet another transfiguration of this Very Bad Place. With wit, ingenuity and prodigious timing, first-time British novelist Unsworth imagines an unsettling afterlife that at times feels uncomfortably close to some of the more unbearable regions of our waking dreams. The whodunit aspects of this novel may, in the end, be less interesting than the phantasmagorical details surrounding it. But that’s far less a complaint than a compliment of the author’s visionary gifts.
A grand, nightmarish page-turner that will have you riveted no matter how much you’d prefer to look away.