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May 22, 2009 Edition
Since the Fifties, a plague of demons has infested this alternate Earth, temporarily taking over humans to use for their own mostly inscrutable ends before abandoning their hosts, hours or days later, sometimes even longer, as in Del Pierce’s case. As a five-year old, he was infected by one of the many named demons, the Hellion, and spent weeks sedated in the hospital and months strapped into his bed at home when not carefully supervised. One day, the Hellion releases its grip and Del is back to being a kid again. Now an adult, Del is discovering that the Hellion may never really have left… Rich language and solid characters make this inventive novel a compelling and exciting read.
By his own admission, Charlie Howard is a poor decision-maker. For a bestselling writer, which he is, that’s not necessarily bad, but for a professional thief, which he also is, it can be the kiss of death. While trying to unstick a plot point, he’s hired to break into an apartment by the owner so Bruno can see how it’s done. Bad decision… The very next day, Charlie is hired by another man to break into the same apartment to steal a painting - but the painting isn’t there to be stolen. When Charlie returns from the aborted job, he finds the apartment owner’s body (and it isn’t Bruno) in his apartment. He knows he’s never been in bigger trouble. To top things off, his agent, Victoria, has arrived to meet with him face to face, and what upsets her isn’t that Charlie is hiding out in a hotel while he tracks down a murderer (or at least keeps from being fingered), or that he’s getting nowhere with his latest novel, but that he looks nothing at all like his author photo. Fans of Lawrence Block and Janet Evanovich are likely to be sucked right into Charlie’s world.
Though unassuming in its premise, this story of the few hours before two dart players meet for the title of Dart League King turns into an often-dark meditation on small-town life. Russell Harmon is defending his title against former professional dart player-turned-gas-station-owner Brice Habersham, but his distractions at the game include his hair-triggered drug dealer (who may be ready to force Russ to pay up on his debt) and his former girlfriend (who arrives on the arm of Russ’s teammate Tristan). Brice has his own problems, beginning with the fact that he’s not really a gas station owner at all, but an undercover DEA agent. Tristan’s mind is still consumed with a years-old drowning, and Kelly is yearning for someone to rescue her from Garnet Lake’s small town claustrophobia, and by the end of the evening, lives have changed.
Readers who thought Gaiman and Pratchett’s “Good Omens” showcased Pratchett’s humor at the expense of Gaiman’s disturbing darkness ought to give this a try. Written as an autobiography, this raucous and irreverent spoof is not for the faint of heart or stomach. Death, the child of an incestuous relationship between Satan and Sin, goes about his duties releasing the souls of deceased deer, radishes, and humans off into the eternal darkness. He tells all, revealing the names of the Four Horsemen’s horses, confessing his unhealthy addiction to Life (especially the Life embodied in one suicidal Sumerian woman), and outlining his time in rehab. Droll drawings sprinkled throughout are captioned amusingly: for instance, “Druids: loved to barbecue”; and “dachshunds, the reason there are no fairies in the world”. This is a laugh-out-loud addition to the realm of humorous fantasy.