cover image Pariah


Dave Zeltserman, . . Serpent's Tail, $14.95 (280pp) ISBN 978-1-84668-643-6

The second in what Zeltserman calls his “bad-ass out of prison” trilogy, though less compelling than its predecessor, Small Crimes , is superior to his by-the-numbers Bill Shannon series (Bad Thoughts , etc.). In the nicely gritty opening section, South Boston thug Kyle Nevin, just out of prison after an eight-year stretch, has a long list of scores to settle, headed by his old boss, Red Mahoney, who he believes betrayed him. Nevin wastes little time before busting heads and jumping into the sack with a saleswoman with an appetite for bad boys. Hoping to solve his money problems with a kidnapping, Nevin persuades his brother to join him on condition that the victim not be harmed. Things head south rapidly after the child turns out to be a hemophiliac and dies after a tooth is extracted to be sent to the parents, and a treacherous middleman snatches the $2 million ransom. A slide into broad parody at the end doesn't do the forceful beginning justice. (Oct.)