cover image Black Mad Wheel

Black Mad Wheel

Josh Malerman. Ecco, $26.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-225968-4

At the start of Malerman’s deeply weird second novel (after 2014’s Bird Box), Philip Tonka awakens from a six-month coma, with his memory in disarray, to the news that every single bone in his body has been broken. Flashback to a day in 1957, when Philip and his fellow WWII vet bandmates in the Darlings of Detroit (aka the Danes) are approached by Secretary Mull, a government man who has a job for them. Military radio operators have intercepted a sound that causes violent illness and that disables weapons from nuclear warheads to side arms. Mull hires the Danes to go to the Namib Desert to locate the sound’s source. The action alternates between Philip’s recovery at the secretive Macy Mercy Hospital outside Des Moines, Iowa, where mad Dr. Szands administers a strange drug that speeds his healing, and the Danes’ expedition to the Namib, where they discover bizarrely misshapen corpses. In the end, this creepy supernatural thriller delivers only a partial explanation for the odd phenomena. Some readers are apt to feel befuddled. [em]Agent: Kristin Nelson, Nelson Literary Agency. (May) [/em]