cover image The Second Shooter

The Second Shooter

Nick Mamatas. Solaris, $14.99 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-1-78108-926-2

When this witty, energetic, and unabashedly odd thriller from Mamatas (Sabbath) begins, hack writer Mike Karras believes that he’s doing research for his crackpot publisher exploring a persistent delusion among witnesses to multiple different mass shootings: that the killer wasn’t the only one firing during the massacre, though no trace of a lurking accomplice—or mastermind—is ever found. The people Karras interviews, however, are absolutely convinced that another person was there behind the scenes, a human shape blurred like “heat shimmer.” Rahel Alazar, survivor of a mass shooting in an Ethiopian church in Berkeley, Calif., insists that God will protect truth tellers, but Karras isn’t reassured: the more he learns, the less he trusts the “truth,” as his computer is tampered with, his cell phone is compromised, and drones surveil his actions. Chris Bennett, host of a gonzo radio program that urges listeners to distrust every bit of news as a false flag, is the most obvious plotter to interfere with Karras’s quest; the novel’s final revelation, though, is much more disturbing. However readers feel about that conclusion, it’s a smart, scary, mind-boggling ride to get there. Agent: Michael Curry, Donald Maass Literary. (Nov.)