Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Review: The Marchioly Project by P.A. Piatt

In this supernatural thriller by P.A. Piatt, Alexandru Statornik is a criminal defense attorney who has recently been brought into "The Marchioly Project," a century-old murder case that he is tasked with investigating. The thing is, the U.S. government is still holding the prisoner - a powerful vampire named Cezar Vena. The government has a problem: they may not have exactly afforded Vena all his civil rights in his capture and detention, and they are concerned he might actually win an appeal.

Alex is tasked with poking holes in the case against Vena, so that the prosecution is prepared for anything that Vena's attorneys might throw at them. As he digs further, he uncovers a nationwide cabal of vampires preying on sex workers, the homeless, and anyone on the margins of society. At each step towards learning more about the vampires’ atrocities, he also learns how to fight them. By the end of the book, Alexandru becomes a veritable vampire hunter ready to match the most dangerous creatures of the night.

This novel is very fast paced. In his investigation, Alex races across the country facing threat after threat with little time to catch a breath. It is also full of gore – there are no sparkling romantic vampires in this story, and no one is safe. My main criticism is that so many characters are murdered in this story that at some point it becomes difficult to get attached to any of them, but that only reflects the main character’s own experience. Even then, Piatt manages to break through Alex’s (and the reader’s) calloused heart towards the end of the novel.

Being the constitutional law nerd that I am, I absolutely loved this premise. I would have enjoyed a little more courtroom drama, but that is not this book. Make no mistake, Alex is not merely a paper pusher: he is there to hunt and kill vampires anywhere and everywhere he finds them.

If you like extremely fast paced thrillers and can stomach a lot of violence, blood, and gore, this novel is for you.

The Marchioly Project by [P.A. Piatt]

Monday, May 4, 2020

Review: Black Hat Blues by Gene Kendall

Black Hat Blues by Gene Kendall is a darkly humorous tale about an aging comic book artist whose supervillain creation comes knocking at his back door. The villain and creator come into direct conflict with the current cultural moment, and kidnapping, murder, and other hijinks ensue. Being a comic book supervillain, Mr. Scratch’s inner (and outer) monologue is appropriately over the top in contrast to his peace-loving hippie creator Mark.

Black Hat Blues lands Mr. Scratch directly in the current cultural moment, grappling with such issues as the contradictions of the modern social justice movement, the distortions of online culture and fandom, and the realities of police militarization, all with commentary by a megalomaniacal psychopath. Not only that, but along with the dark humor there are genuine moments of real human connection that will tug at the heart strings, and the bittersweet ending does not tie every thread into a neat bow – in fact, spending time dwelling characters’ choices leaves some disturbing questions left unanswered.

I highly recommend Black Hat Blues for anyone who ever wondered what it would be like if Lex Luthor or the Riddler stepped out of the pages of the bronze age comics and into the real world. I only wish there were a graphic novel version to accompany it.