Monday, December 12, 2011

A Killer’s Essence by Dave Zeltserman

Stan Green is a New York City cop, a hard-boiled workaholic whose wife left him and took his two kids out of state, whose partner just got hit by a car, whose firefighter brother lost half of a lung and 2/3 of his squad during 9-11. In short, his life sucks, and working in homicide doesn’t exactly add rainbows, lollipops, and kittens. The newest case seems worse than usual—a vicious killing that reeks of savage joy, the work of a real psycho. Stan is determined to find the creep, knowing someone who likes killing that much will do it again, and again, but every lead hits a dead end.

When a security camera reveals that someone witnessed the murder, Stan tracks the witness down, only to find that this lead too is jinxed. Zachary Lynch has brain damage; to him, the population is salted with monsters. He can’t process human faces, but instead sees hallucinations that are often frightening and bizarre. However, the hallucinations are stable; each person appears the same each time he sees them. Stan must figure out how to use Zachary to find the killer before the body count goes up.

A Killer's Essence is a noir police procedural with just a touch of scifi/supernatural, and it works pretty well, aside from some choppy bits and an ongoing preoccupation the Yankees and the Red Sox. (Probably an added bonus if you’re a baseball fan.) It’s a quick, quirky, fresh read, noir yet with a hopeful ending, and to me, the best part is, this Zeltserman guy has 5 previous books in our library system. How great to discover an author that I had somehow overlooked, with a vein of books to mine!

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