I've just finished reading Shaun's dark, serial-killer novel, The Kult (Leucrota Press, California, 2009), and as endings go they don't come more action packed than this.
The story is about a police officer, Prosper Snow, who is put in charge of the investigation into the horrific murders stage managed by The Oracle, a psycopath who delights in making his victims suffer long and hard before they die, then lays out their bodies in macabre artistic displays, which he photographs. The only evidence the police have that any murders have taken place are these photographs, and the fact his victims have disappeared.
Enter The Kult, founded by a group of schoolboys years ago to protect themselves against bullies. If one of them was victimised, all of them would gang together to dish out on the spot retribution to the perpetrator. Back then, Prosper Snow was an overweight victim of schoolboy bullying - till The Kult put an end to it.
Now, married with a child, and a successful career in the police, he has all but forgotten about The Kult - till one of its members calls them together once more for help. Jerel's wife has been raped and savagely beaten by a gangster employed by a local notorious loan shark. Jerel wants revenge for what happened. He wants the rapist killed. In what looks at first like a clever twist, it's decided to make it look as if the man is yet another victim of The Oracle. Except, afterwards, The Oracle murders one of The Kult - and it soon becomes clear he intends to take his own revenge against them for masquerading as him.
Things quickly escalate, and Prosper's life becomes a complex nightmare of deceit and violence. All the things he has held dear are torn away from him, and the investigating officer becomes a criminal himself.
Shaun's writing is always terse and to the point, and his characters spring to life, making you feel involved with them. As for the acts of violence - there is an understated graphic quality to the descriptions of them that adds to the dark terror of the story. It is not always an easy read (some of the violence is pretty extreme), but I found the storytelling pulled me along towards a climax that contained a good number of twists in it.
I would add that this is the first book by Leucrota Press I have read and I'm impressed by the quality of the book itself. It's so good, in fact, the book still looks unread!
The Kult is now being filmed in the States.
And I'm looking forward to starting on Shaun's next book, Deadfall.
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