Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Troubles and Tribulations


Reporter Susan Randall is going through the worst time of her life, as is LA. It begins with a typical ride-along with a local patrol car, usually a serene, boring assignment; and it is, until she gets shot. It gets worse: a serial killer is having a fun time in Los Angles, slicing through the homeless population. Each victim is mutilated in a less-than-typical fashion: their hands are sliced in such a way that they riffle like a deck of cards when touched. Susan wants the case, and gets it and everything that comes with it.

“Everything” includes not only the killer sending her e-mails, but a man named Raymond Weil, who keeps showing up: first at the crime scenes, then at the funerals of the victims. Despite his claims of demonic involvement in the murders, Raymond knows more than the police do about the serial killer and makes for a great lead for the story. 

That is, until Susan suspects he knows too much.

As the search for the killer proceeds, Susan becomes intrigued by Weil’s life and his continued persistence in relating the demonic to a serial killer. Before too long, she discovers an unnerving secret that causes her to suspect Raymond shouldn’t know some of the things he knows, especially as the City of Angels slowly becomes more like a city of Hell.

Joseph Michael Straczynski is the creator of the television series Babylon 5, wrote over one hundred episodes of miscellaneous TV programs, ran Amazing Spider-Man and Thor for several years, and will soon take over writing for Superman and Wonder Woman comicbooks. Straczynski’s style is often marked by creative wit and a keen observation of society at large. Tribulations is no exception. Throughout the novel, he uses his years of experience in Los Angeles with his graceful wit and driving narrative that forces the reader to push on. Despite his claims of atheism, one would hardly suspect it with his knowledge of past demonic incidents—both in theological and pure historical terms.

There is one mistake you should not make before you continue reading: that this is a spiritual novel. Whether you are Freud, the next generation, an atheist theology major, or a Catholic priest, you can enjoy this book. One might say Straczynski is part Walker Percy and part Jeffery Deaver: humorous, thrilling, and just dark enough to make you look in the closet, just to be safe. Straczynski uses his considerable talents to merge psychology, sociology, and theology into a story that unites profiles of serial killers, the sociology of a riot, and a profile of evil.
Truly something for everyone.

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