cover image City of Brick and Shadow

City of Brick and Shadow

Tim Wirkus. Tyrus (F + W Media, dist.), $24.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4405-8276-9

Unanswered questions hang wickedly in the air of Wirkus’s first novel. Elder Toronto and Elder Schwartz, two Mormon missionaries, roam the streets of Vila Barbosa, a Portuguese-speaking slum somewhere in what must be Brazil, in search of Marco Aurélio, a recent convert of theirs who has disappeared. Meanwhile, a powerful man referred to as the Argentine wields an omniscient, violent, yet strangely undefined grip over Vila Barbosa’s inhabitants. Aurélio’s fascinating backstory propels the plot just as its momentum begins to wilt. The banter between the two young Mormons serves to lighten the mood, as do descriptions of the tropical locale. A dangerous game of some kind seems to be in the works, though figuring out what that game is may leave some readers scratching their heads with the not unwelcome sense that they, too, have been played. Agent: Yishai Seidman, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency. (Dec.)