cover image Lethal Injection

Lethal Injection

Jim Nisbet. Black Lizard Books, $15.95 (153pp) ISBN 978-0-88739-081-4

From a publisher whose books ""are dedicated to the roman noir,'' this roman is about as noir as you can get. The first quarter of the tale takes place in a Texas prison, focusing on a grimly detailed execution by lethal injection. Royce, the alcoholic doctor who administers Bobby Mencken's last ``high,'' is convinced that the convicted killer was innocent, and after a fight with his neurotic wife that signals the end of his marriage, Royce takes off for Dallas to search for the real killer. He finds Colleen Valdez, Bobby's ex-lover, and Fast Eddie, Bobby's best friend (and probably ex-lover also), in a slum flat on Dallas's south side. Very quickly Royce joins the two junkies in an odd triangle of booze, drugs and sex. A burglary goes wrong as Eddie kills an old woman and vanishes. Royce and Colleen spend days back in the flat, mainly high on Royce's medicinal morphine. Eddie rejoins them, and the ending, a murderous double revenge, leaves two dead and the third immobilized by drugs. Despite some occasional sharp humor, the total effect of Nisbet's second novel (after The Damned Don't Die) is relentlessly bleak. Not for the squeamish. (December 20)