cover image Worse Angels

Worse Angels

Laird Barron. Putnam, $27 (336p) ISBN 978-0-593-08499-1

In Barron’s disappointing third Isaiah Coleridge novel (after 2019’s Black Mountain), Badja Adeyemi, “a right bastard of an ex-NYPD cop,” hires PI Coleridge, a former mob strong-arm man, to look into the case of his nephew, Sean Pruitt, who died at the construction site of a supercollider in upstate New York four years earlier. The official inquiry pointed to suicide, but certain details don’t fit, and Adeyemi wants “a bad news sonofabitch with a gun” to find some answers. When Coleridge travels to the site and starts asking questions, things quickly become strange. Locals are reluctant to talk about Pruitt’s death or the mysterious activities that take place at the project at night. The investigation soon involves mysticism, hypnotic suggestion, fringe science, human sacrifice, and the Mares of Thrace, a violent pagan cult presided over by a prominent businessman. Unfortunately, these undeveloped plot elements tend to distract from the central mystery rather than advance it. The resolution comes almost as an afterthought. Barron fans will hope for a return to form next time. Agent: Janet Reid, Janet Reid Literary. (May)