cover image Curse the Names

Curse the Names

Robert Arellano. Akashic, $15.95 trade paper (188p) ISBN 978-1-61775-030-4

In this unsettling mix of noir and paranormal obsession from Edgar-finalist Arellano (Havana Lunar), James Oberhelm, who writes banal feel-good pieces for the official publication of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and whose 10-year marriage has long since slipped into autopilot, accepts the invitation of an attractive young tech at the local blood bank to party with her and her goth friends at a remote abandoned house in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The girls never show, but soon after Oberhelm visits the strange old adobe house, he begins to have nightmares of an impending radioactive disaster. Suddenly, the “sackcloth-and-ashes people,” the ascetic group of wandering burnouts who appear in Los Alamos around the anniversary of the atomic bomb detonation, don’t seem quite so insane. Oberhelm’s life quickly spins into a drug-fueled mess as he becomes consumed by his need to alert the world before it’s too late. Arellano displays a sly, Hitchcockian touch. (Jan.)