Tuesday, February 10, 2004

RED RAIN by Michael Crow

Half-Vietnamese, half-black, all cranked up -- Baltimore cop Luther Ewing is a guy who enjoys existing in the underbelly of society. He breathes in corruption and feeds off of violence and mayhem. He likes the wet work. He craves it like a shark needs the sea. For Luther, the troubled waters that most of us will do anything to avoid, have become the source of his being. He drinks greedily from the killing tide and swims freely within the dark waters. And he grows stronger while submerged there. But does he become less human the longer he swims? Luther is a Gulf War vet. He also utilized his killing trade as a mercenary in Bosnia, which is where he met the Russian merc Vassily. Now Luther's old friend is in Baltimore stirring up trouble with the Russian mob. Bosnia was one thing, but Baltimore is Luther's turf. Guess Luther and Vassily are just going to have to start a war. Pray they don't take the whole city down with 'em.

Red Rain is a punch to the face. It makes Mickey Spillane and James Ellroy subtle as haiku. Its feverish prose, vivid characters, over-the-top action sequences that border on the side of parody but always manage to stay engaging, and expertly measured hallucinatory pulp sensation, easily make the novel a tight read. Red Rain, and its sequel The Bite, are written under the pseudonym Michael Crow. The only thing known about the real author's identity is that he is a "prizewinning, critically acclaimed literary novelist whose works have been translated and published in nine languages." A reporter from the Baltimore City Paper believes that it's William Vollman. Mr. Crow has neither confirmed nor denied the accusation. I'll get to The Bite soon and give you the lowdown. Bottoms up!

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