With a new Cass Neary novel out, I realized that I put book three off for so long. That was a mistake.
I’ve never enjoyed a misanthropic character more and I think in large part that’s because Elizabeth Hand is such a fantastic writer. She doesn’t make Neary more than it is, she’s an anti-hero plain and simple. But she knows how to write a hell of an atmospheric tale, with touches and nods to photography and the punk scene. I know little about either but the way she uses inside baseball details on both really enhances the story and makes Neary feel like a fully realized person.
I didn’t like book two as much as book one, though I liked both. This one is closer to book one. It follows a similar structure and while that might bother some folks due to repetition, it works here. Cass and her band of misfit characters make for a compelling mystery, where drug-induced existential dread follows on every page. At times, they read like a hardboiled tale, other times it’s like a horror novel. But Elizabeth Hand is able to pull beauty out of the horror. There are some scenes that she describes in a way that stimulates the imagination of the reader.
The conclusion was somewhat predictable, though I was genuinely surprised at who the killer was. Some of the motives didn’t make complete sense to me but I’m willing to live with that. This is another great addition in a great series.