By Catherine Wagley
By Catherine Wagley
By Wendy Gilmartin
By Jennifer Swann
By Claire de Dobay Rifelj
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Catherine Wagley
By Zachary Pincus-Roth
NOWHERE-LAND: A STEPHAN RASZER INVESTIGATION | By A. W. HILL | Counterpoint | 469 pages | $25
Excerpt from Nowhere-Land:
In all likelihood, Katy Endicottwas as dead as Johnny Horn. He knew the odds and had seen the forgone conclusion etched on Detective Aquino’s face. No ransom note, no cat-and-mouse with the press or the cops, no grainy videotape of the victim pleading for her life. And if she were dead, pursuing her ghost would still be costly. There would be more victims — there always were — and always the chance that one of them would be him. And for what purpose? The girl’s father was gone, and Raszer’s prospective employers did not inspire a great deal of passion for the quest.
And so he had to ask himself again: What is it I’m after? Why should I cross that bridge? By any standard, it was an ugly case, maybe the ugliest he’d taken since the turn of the millennium. Given the shakiness of his psyche, did he really need this?
The answer, which came with his last drag on the cigarette, was as prefigured as the fractal pattern of the opposing shoreline, and, like most everything about Raszer, it came in shadow and light.
As a dog senses the presence of bad spirits, Raszer sensed that behind events like Katy Endicott’s abduction, behind inexplicable acts of malice great and small, there was often to be found evidence of grander malfeasance. Highway detours, erected in the dead of night by an adversary wilier than the Coyote. The odds against the innocent and guileless in this world weren’t a matter of “natural selection”— they’d been set by a power whose abiding interest lay in seeing that the game was fixed.
In its service, this power enlisted sociopaths, tyrants, and all those with great amounts to lose if the fix were off. Raszer knew this power couldn’t be vanquished; it was part and parcel of the world. But he hoped that by learning its name, he might obtain some leverage over it. The trouble was, the name kept changing. No sooner had he held it on his tongue than it was lost to him, forgotten like a dream that dissipates upon waking.
This was the genius of all conspiracies and cabals: The links they forged through a transient common purpose dissolved as soon as the fatal blow was struck. You could try to pin it on the Bilderbergs or the Trilaterals, you could aim from right or left, but the true Puppet Masters were beyond ideology and evasive as eels. And yet — Raszer was convinced — some resonance of their original sin must remain, some trace of the secret name whispered when their knives were first raised. Where there was design, there had to be evidence of its craft. Common felony left evidence that police agencies were quite good at following. But crimes of soul theft and subversion were of a different order, and that, Raszer knew, was why Silas Endicott had sought him out.
An errant ray of western light struck an outcropping on the mountainside east of the trestle, illuminating the possibility that just once, as payment for the services he rendered, he would find himself in another country, one where there was no market in souls, where poets stood taller than plunderers, and young girls were left in peace to blossom like orchids.
In that alterworld would be his house, his daughter, the women and men he loved. It would not look much different, and humans would still be far from gods. But the fix would be off, and there would be no profit in dominion. He crushed out the cigarette, got back into the Avanti, and turned the wheels toward the East Fork Bridge.
Further reading from the Weekly Literary Supplement:
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