HELL'S HALF ACRE

Will Christopher Baer, Author . MacAdam/Cage $15 (385p) ISBN 978-1-931561-82-2

In Baer's third brutal, impressionistic thriller, junkie ex-cop Phineas Poe is back and reunited with Jude, his freelance assassin lover (they met cute when she stole his kidney in Kiss Me, Judas ). Phineas has been searching for Jude for five years, ever since she left him after being tortured and brutally raped by three men. Now he catches up with her in San Francisco, just as she's catching up with the creeps who attacked her. Gruesome revenge is had, but the man behind the rapists, wealthy and charismatic psychopath John Ransom Miller ("a homicidal Zen Buddhist with a degree in criminal law"), persuades them to join forces with him instead of wiping him out. The project he has in mind is a sophisticated snuff film, in which the identity of the victim will be a surprise until the end. Phineas suspects that it will be him, but it might also be Miller's actress girlfriend Molly, Jude or even Miller himself. The movie is shot over the course of a prolonged, nightmarish house party, with Molly, Phineas and Jude doing Miller's bidding much longer than seems plausible. A kidnapping and several twists keep the story moving along, but the muddled, garish plot isn't the point. It's Baer's smooth noirish styling and Phineas's voice—likable against all odds—that will keep readers hooked. Agent, Dan Mandel at SJGA. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 09/27/2004
Release date: 09/01/2004
Paperback - 330 pages - 978-1-59692-223-5
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