A popular priest lies dead of a heroin overdose in a Cleveland apartment, following an apparent tryst with a high-priced callgirl. Nick Stella knew the man, and he knows salable news when he finds it. But there is something waiting for the struggling freelance journalist on the dead cleric's e-mail that suggests this is not just another sordid case of fatal human frailty. A clue, a warning, a threat in the words of a great poet cries out that this was no accident. And it's beckoning Nick into the mind of a ...
A popular priest lies dead of a heroin overdose in a Cleveland apartment, following an apparent tryst with a high-priced callgirl. Nick Stella knew the man, and he knows salable news when he finds it. But there is something waiting for the struggling freelance journalist on the dead cleric's e-mail that suggests this is not just another sordid case of fatal human frailty. A clue, a warning, a threat in the words of a great poet cries out that this was no accident. And it's beckoning Nick into the mind of a psychopath, a twisted serial killer who is out for revenge. He's going to keep dispensing his own unique brand of poetic justice -- killing all who attended an elite Halloween party 20 years ago -- unless one of his targets can stop his reign of terror. In an affluent Ohio suburb a world away, Amelia Saintsbury's computer screen carries the same cryptic message. Someone is watching her.. .and waiting. A nightmare stands just outside her door, ready to devour everything and everyone she cares about - her life, her home, her wayward husband, her innocent little girl - uniting Amelia and an unorthodox city reporter in a desperate hunt for a killer.
A serial killer takes long-delayed revenge on the friends whom he blames for his girlfriend's heroin overdose in this consistently surprising if somewhat implausible novel of suspense. When Cleveland freelance reporter Nicky Stella hears from his cousin, Father Joseph LaCazio, of the messy heroin-related deaths of Father John Angelino and a young prostitute, Nicky smells a story that could get a loan shark off his back. Clued by brand marks on the drug wrapper, he calls in markers from black undercover narc Willie T. in order to get an interview with the dealer. Soon Nicky's legwork links more Cleveland murders to Fr. Angelino's, and a T.S. Eliot poem e-mailed to the priest's laptop provides a list of future victims. Nicky's underworld contacts lead him down a slime trail to the killer's lair, while the killer himself stalks the wife and daughter of his next intended victim. The likable, bumbling hero, the competent female characters and the distinct voices of a diverse, if cartoonish, cast distract from certain nagging questions about the premise. Why, for example, does the killer wait 20 years to take his revenge? Montanari Deviant Way keeps the reader deliciously off balance throughout, letting the novel accrue horrors and deft misdirections right until its gory end. June
Quite a 20th reunion for the Case Western Reserve class of 1978: An avenger with an addiction to T.S. Eliot is killing off the members of the self-anointed AdVerse Society. The opening scene is something of an entrance exam. If you can buy the premise that Cleveland's Father John Angelino, a.k.a. Johnny Angel, would fall victim to a lethal heroin overdose and the removal of his eyes courtesy of his inability to resist the tempting flesh of Kiki Holt, the prostitute who sets him up for a killer who calls himself Mac, then you're ready for the rest of Mac's murderous peregrinations. It's quite a tour: Mac likes to trap his victims in helpless positions one at a time, remind them that they're doing penance for what happened to Julia Raines back in college, and torment them with þ70s trappings—Rolling Stones recordings, videotaped episodes of The Love Boat, patchouli oil, lava lamps—before executing and mutilating them in ways nearly as ghoulish as getting them to sit through ABBA. Cheapjack journalist Nicholas Stella, a cousin of the priest who shared Johnny Angel's rectory, seems to be the only one to notice any common elements in the grisly chain that threatens not only such sleazeballs as epicene estate appraiser Geoffrey Coldicott and AdVerse faculty advisor Sebastian Keller, voyeuristic plastic surgeon Dr. Bennett Crane and hungry lesbian Jennifer Schumann, but also squeaky-clean Amelia Saintsbury, practically a single mother since her errant husband's confession of fumbling adultery. Wonder what order Mac will choose to pick off his victims, and whether he'll still be stoked on heroin, Eliot, and kinky sex when Montanari (Deviant Way, 1995) finally lets himget a crack at Amelia in this naughty, harmlessly thrilling Halloween for grownups? No reviewer could hope to outdo Nicky Stella's dazzling insight that "this wasn't an Andrew Vachss novel."