Two men—one aided by a supernatural demon—seek retribution for the death of a loved one in Irish’s fourth novel (The Golden Goose of Los Angeles Extended Edition, 2014).
This is a tale of two stories. The first part revolves around the failure of fathers. Jacob Calbraw, the wealthy son of billionaire Earl Calbraw, spends his life trying to destroy his father’s plans at every opportunity, for Jacob blames his father for the death of his mother when he was an infant. Meanwhile, another father named Kelvin fails to protect his allergic son from eating nuts at a sporting event; he plots murderous revenge on the wealthy who made him frantically rush about the stadium futilely seeking a lifesaving EpiPen. However, when Earl Calbraw is shot midway through the novel, the story shifts its primary focus to Jacob, who has been inhabited by an evil demon named Thretch that infuses him with extraordinary fighting abilities. Jacob cuts a bloody path of destruction in his quest to discover what became of his mother. There’s a lot to like in the novel’s first part. Irish is at his best portraying the inner feelings of Jacob, Kelvin, and Earl, particularly Earl’s contriteness over his past life as well as Kelvin’s chilling search for medical help for his dying boy and the indifference he meets. However, the story deals in clichés when Thretch becomes more of a main character and Irish strives mightily to turn the story into A Very Important Book. The demon is a bombastic bore, full of statements such as “I am thrust upon you like a queen among ants.” Readers have probably seen it before—demonic possession by an ancient evil—and the second half of the book turns into a stale series of fights between Jacob and Thretch and those in Jacob’s way. Irish has a tendency to say something first—“the enraged father’s mind is now exploding with unscrupulous thoughts”—then show it, in this case, the unscrupulous thoughts. Despite the flaws, there are flashes of excellence that help illustrate how a father doesn’t always know best.
A promising beginning devolves into a clichéd second half.