THE SERPENT CLUB by Tom Coffey

THE SERPENT CLUB

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A first novel about a burned-out Los Angeles reporter’s edgy obsession with rough sex, depraved teenagers, and a murdered 13-year-old girl, from a New York Times sports editor. Ted Lowe, a jaded veteran of the police beat, can’t forget the fragile, battered corpse he and the police find, especially when it seems superrich high-tech mogul Jeremiah Devlin and his lethally good-looking teenage son, Brad, have something to do with Megan Wright’s death. Lowe’s editor compels him to write a series of luridly sensational articles about the death, while L. A. is haunted by a series of rapes and robberies by a gang of masked youths who bludgeon their victims with baseball bats. The newspaper is cutting budgets and staff; a strong story might protect Lowe’s job. He ends his long-standing relationship with Norreen and moves in with Rebecca, an idealistic intern who admires him and enjoys his tastes for rough sex. Meanwhile, Devlin is too rich and powerful to be indicted—he’s bought both the district attorney and his challenger, members of the LAPD, the best criminal lawyer in the state, even the newspaper’s publisher, at a time when Lowe has run out of leads. Lowe breaks into Megan’s house, where he’s kidnaped by the teenage hoodlums lying in wait for him. Their leader, Brad Devlin, takes Lowe on a rampage that results in the rape, torture, and beating of an innocent Asian woman and her daughter. Instead of going to the police, though, Lowe, fearing he’s compromised, follows his obsession, even when he’s laid off. Once Norreen becomes a target of Brad’s fury, Lowe takes the law into his own hands, though the outcome of this unbelievable exercise in in-your-face depravity is thankfully downbeat. Tersely detailed violence, a made-for-Hollywood car chase, courtroom histrionics, and villains too bad to be true: the nastiest L.A. noir since Robert Campbell’s La-La Land series.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-671-02827-8
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Pocket
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1999




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