cover image Against Nature

Against Nature

Casey Barrett. Kensington, $26 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4967-0971-4

Barrett’s over-the-top sequel to 2017’s Under Water finds Duck Darley, a former competitive swimmer turned off-the-books PI, ostensibly employed as a tutor and swim instructor to the eight-year-old son of the wealthy divorcee with whom he lives in her Manhattan apartment. He gets a call from his one-time business partner, former professional dominatrix Cass Kimball, seeking his help with the death of her lover, journalist Victor Wingate, who was writing about the Olympic doping scandals of the former East Germany. Cass is sure that Victor’s fall from the top of a waterfall near her house in the Catskills was no accident. This news sends Darley into a spiral of drinking, self-destructive behavior, and self-loathing, all of which is more than a little overdone. As Darley gets to the heart of the story Victor was pursuing, he must face various intimidating and cartoonish villains en route to the shocking climax. Scenes of peculiar sex and violence obscure a whodunit that would have been more effective with a lighter touch. Agent: Alec Shane, Writers House. (Aug.)