cover image Available Dark

Available Dark

Elizabeth Hand. Minotaur, $23.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-312-58594-5

Hand has described Cass Neary, the protagonist of 2007’s Generation Loss, as “your prototypical amoral speedfreak crankhead kleptomaniac murderous rage-filled alcoholic bisexual heavily tattooed American female photographer.” It’s to the author’s credit that Neary, who almost makes Lisbeth Salander seem like a model of mental stability, engages rather than repels in this stunning sequel. Neary, whose crowning professional achievement is a book of photos aptly entitled Dead Girls, is still suffering from the events depicted in Generation Loss that made her a suspect in a Maine homicide. Norwegian collector Anton Bredahl, an admirer of Dead Girls, offers Neary a tidy sum to fly to Helsinki to give her opinion on some photos he’s thinking of purchasing. She finds herself blown away by the photographer’s technique, notwithstanding the grim subject matter—corpses. The bloody aftermath of the assignment places Neary in grave danger as she confronts a significant figure from her past. The scenes of violence advance the plot while helping the reader to understand Hand’s uncompromisingly compromised main character. Agent: Martha Millard. (Feb.)