From Publishers Weekly
Wanton violence. Crushing drug addiction. Sexual abuse. It's the world according to Stahl, back with a third tale of whacked-out people in a whacked-out world (after Perv A Love Story and a memoir, Permanent Midnight). The story plays out around the search for a photograph of George W. Bush having kinky sex with the mayor of a small town outside Pittsburgh. The photo was once in the possession of Tony Zank, a local crackhead who is desperately trying to get it back. Along with his partner, a wanted shovel-murderer named McCardle, Zank leaves a path of freakish, carnal destruction, eventually attracting the attention of Manny Rubert, a police detective with a serious codeine addiction. Rubert has his own reason for wanting the photo. He's the mayor's ex-husband and is curious how and why she did for President Bush what she'd never do for him. Several other misfits including a comically inept police chief and an alluring young woman who once force-fed her husband Drano and crushed glass inhabit the outer edges of the careening, overdeveloped plot. Stahl's talent for supplying a cast of mean yet oddly moving characters is evident, as is his talent for creating tactile, unsettling images. Knife wounds open up "like a wet pair of lips." Bedridden yet still-amorous old ladies whip back the sheets, "revealing seven decades of thigh." It comes all at once the comedy, the tragedy and, always, the vulgarity. The challenge is keeping the object of the mayhem in focus. Stahl's formula can be brutally compelling, but he uses it here to less striking effect. Agent, Sterling Lord. (Nov. 6)Forecast: Stahl an actor as well as a writer has a devoted cult following, including a host of high-profile blurbers, from James Ellroy to Benicio del Toro to Anthony Bourdain. His latest should handily pull in the regulars.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Stahl, author of the critically acclaimed Permanent Midnight
(1995), uses his flair for dark comedy to create this hard-boiled crime caper. When Detective Manny Rubert comes into possession of a salacious photograph of George W. Bush, he has to both uncover its mysterious origin as well as fend off its former owners, a horrifyingly sadistic crackhead and his sidekick, an African American Dean Martin look-alike. As Rubert, a former heroin junkie who now pops codeine pills, untangles the mysteries surrounding the picture, he also becomes embroiled in a love affair with the person who gave it to him: a femme fatale nurse who just killed her husband by spiking his cereal with Drano. Stahl crams his novel with colorful characters, from the fatuous police chief whose only knowledge of law enforcement comes from the movies to the plastic surgeon who performs illegal sex-change operations. Readers who are steel-stomached enough to withstand the gruesome violence as well as Stahl's harrowing depiction of crack addiction will well enjoy this fast-paced comic thriller. Brendan DowlingCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved