March 3, 2014

The Atrocity of Hope: a review of Edward Lorn's "Hope for the Wicked"

Hope for the Wicked
by Edward Lorn
Red Adept Publishing (2013)
115 pages

Larry and Mo Laughlin are a husband and wife team of hired guns. And in case you're wondering, Curly is their St. Bernard.

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 road.

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.

1 comment:

  1. Hope for the Wicked was my first Edward Lorn book. I read it one night. Intense. I love that nothing is black or white with the main characters.