Generally speaking, thrillers are the kind of books where action sequences are followed by sections with a slower tempo that offer the reader a respite from the heart-pounding action. In the case of "Devil's Hand" - local author Matt Patterson's first novel - the pace is kept at a frantic speed throughout the whole story and the action sequences just add a touch of fear, adrenaline, darkness and violence that make the story as entertaining as any thriller out there.
"Devil's Hand" tells the story of Trent Hawkins, a man whose supernatural luck put him on the wrong side of the table with the casinos and their owners in Las Vegas. After a few years away, Hawkins finds himself going back to the city with his wife Susan and, as presaged by a flat tire during a hailstorm that ends with fish falling from the sky and splattering blood all over, things immediately start going wrong.
For starters, something very bad is boiling right beneath the city's surface and a serial kidnapper is terrifying residents. When Hawkins visits an old friend to inquire about a job, some shady characters are questioning a friendly acquaintance. Later Hawkins receives a piece of advice: get out of the city. A few pages later Hawkins is bringing Susan her purse at work when the novel kicks into high gear and the fun starts.
The first explosion ends with Hawkins and his wife rescuing a strange, thirteen year-old girl who's allergic to water and running out into the worst blizzard in Las Vegas' history. From then on, the fate of the city, their lives and the balance of the eternal war between good and evil will hang in the balance and Hawkins will have to learn that his luck is something that runs way deeper than he could have ever imagined.
In an interview with the Post, Patterson said his book brings together some of the best elements from a variety of genres. While the book is called a dark supernatural thriller, there are some very nice horror elements to it that make it a must read. The guilt, love, pain and suffering seemed to be pulled out of a romance novel, the tension and pacing comes from a good thriller and the author balances it out with plenty of action, violence and even a bit of gore (one particular instance involving the use of a garbage disposal unit is worth the price of the book).
While some readers might be turned off by the underlying good-versus-evil story, be assured that the novel is not preachy or even religiously inclined: the angels and demons in "Devil's Hand" are all unique and break all the conventionalisms you would expect in this kind of story. Also, Patterson managed to make a hefty novel, which weighs in at 315 pages, a read that goes by incredibly fast, never lets your attention drift and packs two books worth of action.
"Devil's Hand" is intriguing, moving, fast and very entertaining. Trent Hawkins is a flawed, likeable character and Celia, the girl Hawkins rescues at the beginning of the novel, goes through a fascinating change that is both brutal and enjoyable. The angel mythology in the book is never boring and it's kept to a minimum so that it never becomes hard to keep track of the characters and their agendas. Last but not least, the parts of the story that take place in the tunnels beneath Las Vegas are unlike anything else in the vast chunk of literature dealing with the city.
With over 1,000 books sold in its first three months, "Devil's Hand" packs the kind of storytelling that makes a statement: Matt Patterson is here to stay.