The Atrocity of Hope: a review of Edward Lorn's "Hope for the Wicked"
for the Wicked
Edward Lorn Red
Adept Publishing (2013) 115
Larry and Mo Laughlin are a husband and
wife team of hired guns. And in case you're wondering, Curly is their
Despite getting out of the assassination
business and into the private eye game, they still have that old
itch--especially Maureen--and when their handler, Tommy, sets them up
with a new job that combines the two professions, how can they
refuse? The teenage daughter of a rich power couple has been abducted
in Mexico and held for ransom. Larry and Mo will have to go down
there under the guise of paying the ransom and saving the girl, but
ultimately they are being paid to gun down the men responsible.
In some ways, the story feels overly
familiar, at least if you've read more than a few stories about
killers ... well, killing. But Lorn throws in a wheelbarrow full of
quirks and twists that really make Hope for the Wicked stand
out as one of the more memorable--and disturbing--thrillers I've read
in a while.
There's this strange interplay between
Larry and Mo, as it feels their marriage is strained since going
straight, and the prospect of doing one last hit that could set them
up financially against their languishing P.I. firm practically has Mo
salivating to pull the trigger, while Larry sees a dark road ahead
for them by falling back on their old ways. There are points where
it's hard to decide if I should be rooting for these two or cringing
at what could be a nuclear-caliber meltdown while they're on the
As for the villains they're after, they
kind of exist on the periphery for much of the story, as this is
really about Larry and his wife (told through his POV), with the
skeletons in their closet coming to bear. Oh, the villains show up,
and one insanely horrific scene in this novella put them over the top
as some of the sickest sonsofbitches in the genre. If I'm to knock
this book, it would simply to be to say that the scene is so stark
and visceral in tone, it kind of threw me right out of the story for
a bit. Not so much a speed bump, but more of a 747 crash landing on
the highway. It's hard to miss.
Anyway, that bit aside, I thought Edward
Lorn did a helluva job with this one, managing to make me care about
a couple of assassins, hoping they'd make it out of Mexico alive.
Sympathizing with the sadistic? That's an accomplishment right there.