Since a mysterious childhood illness, Harry Wilkes has experienced horrific visions. Gruesome scenes emerge to replay themselves before his eyes. Triggered by simple sounds, these visions occur anywhere a tragic event has happened. Now in college, Harry feels haunted and turns to alcohol to dull his visionary senses. One night, he sees a fellow drunk easily best three muggers. In this man, Harry finds not only a friend that will help him kick the booze, but also a sensei who will teach him to master his unusual gift. Soon Harry’s childhood crush, Kayla, comes and asks for help solving her father’s murder. Unsure of how it will affect him, Harry finds the strength to confront the dark secrets of the past, only to unveil the horrors of the present.
This is a vintage Lansdale tale that is told at a blistering pace with a blunt style. His characters are immediately real and human, full of piss & vinegar and most important of all they are flawed. Sometimes deeply, sometimes permanently but always real. Their flaws give them their third dimension.
One of the underlying themes of the book is the relationships between parents and their children. How the acts, both big and small, of parents, specifically fathers, affect the children, even past death. Some fathers cast shadows that sons can’t move out from under, some fathers can be such a positive force that their sons can’t easily move past their death and other fathers daughters love them despite their flaws and only want the best for them. For good or ill fathers are an important force in a childs life and this book subtly makes this point again and again. In fact of three principle young characters the one who finds a father figure to act as a guide for him fares the best in his life
But don’t let all of this mushy talk about flaws, underlying themes and fathers and their children fool you, this is still a Lansdale book. The characters in their actions and language are as brutal as always and in your face. Bad things happen here and no one is purely good. After years of searching for it a modicum of happiness can be had for some, but not easily and not without a price.