A second helping of a trilogy cooks up countless horrors and paranormal events.
Faggioli’s (One in a Million, 2016) latest novel offers out-of-this-world encounters as well as earthly chills. New players, several who are in danger and one who’s a monster, join the series’ original characters. The scary newbie is Troy “the Bread Man” Forester, a psychopathic torturer and serial killer in the tradition of Hannibal Lecter. But unlike Hannibal, who worked solo, Troy, a deliveryman for Lolo’s Breads, takes commands from a demon known as The Other. The Other orders parricide Troy to kidnap with extreme, sinister intent two young women, flirty virgin Ashley Barton and tough, tatted Jasmine White. Sheriff Floyd Conch learns that accused killer Kyle Fasano had been in the area when Ashley vanished, so Kyle becomes a suspect in the girl’s disappearance. Readers of the series’ first volume, however, know that Kyle is innocent and that he and policeman Napoleon Villa left Earth in cataclysmic fashion. Kyle, a rare “chosen one” with the ability to save millions from damnation, now is caught in a Purgatory-like realm known as the Lake of Loneliness. His guide is a creature who’s suspended between worlds; this “Middler” is a friend of the angel known as the Gray Man. The Gray Man himself guides Napoleon on a tour of hell, complete with eye-pecking crows, before launching him into a beautiful journey through the stars. Faggioli nicely moves the action between Earth and radiant, terrifying worlds beyond, and he interconnects characters involved in current crimes with those on the mend from past wrongdoings. Female characters are intriguing, but the really good parts go to guys, including those wearing dresses. Cross-dressing Matt Barnes, a friend of Ashley’s whom Conch interviews, sports a floral frock but no heels: “A dress without heels? It didn’t work,” ruminates the sheriff. Peppered with humor and drenched in horror, the book offers superb descriptions of police work and induces genuine sadness, as when Ashley’s mother is overcome by the news of her daughter’s kidnapping. The prologue seems confusing and unnecessary, but once the chapters get rolling, there is no stopping the suspense and the action, although brutal scenes can be extreme.
A fast-paced sequel involving angelic and demonic machinations that’s not for the faint of heart or stomach.