cover image Malignant


Michaelbrent Collings. Written Insomnia, $18.99 (292p) ASIN B09K262GJR

With this bloody revenge tale, Collings (The Colony) conjures no shortage of haunting, violent images. The Memorial Day holiday finds only a handful of people at Reina High School, where the über-rich send their delinquent offspring: Principal Gersham, Coach Fertetti, and a few other staff members oversee detention for reprobate Daxton Leigh, son of the Senate majority leader, and his band of unruly classmates, the Misfits. Then the school is infiltrated by black-suited mercenaries led by the mysterious figures known as Teacher and The Lady, who take everyone hostage. Arriving on the scene, Det. Rick Montano learns how meticulously the attack was planned, down to the poisoned guards. Teacher threatens to execute students until Montano can ferret out what the hostage-takers really want, leading Montano’s frantic team to discover a covered-up rape and even more shocking activities from school personnel. Collings skillfully manipulates language to prolong the suspense and terror, evoking the dread of brutality and torture, and drawing readers into his study of privilege and desperation. The gruesome violence won’t be for everyone, but readers who enjoy probing into depraved tendencies will appreciate this psychological slasher. (Self-published)