PW 's deputy reviews editor, Jonathan Segura, delivers a distinctive first novel that one can only hope isn't too autobiographical.
Bernard Cockburn, a beat reporter in his early 30s for the Omaha Weekly News-Telegraph , pounds the fearsome streets of Omaha, Neb., in Segura's crisp, raunchily amusing debut. Cockburn (pronounced Co-burn, as he often has to explain) exudes enough jaded cynicism for a reporter twice his age, but he reacts like an irresponsible adolescent to the news that his live-in girlfriend, Allison, is pregnant. Despite the boozing and drugging, Cockburn's got a nose for a story and the one he's been researching about a bogus LLC group buying up dilapidated properties downtown takes a sinister turn after two of the group's principal members end up dead. The trail leads to neighborhood militants who have taken to exacting vigilante justice on Omaha's pushers, pimps and addicts. A dark truth in Cockburn's past that he'd prefer to keep secret complicates his investigation. With an emphasis on the protagonist's angst, Cockburn is the sort of dysfunctional dude—immature, posturing, hapless—that will keep readers intrigued and should appeal especially to fans of Chuck Palahniuk and Arthur Nersesian. (July)