A homicide detective tries to stop an ex-FBI agent's murderous rampageThough they posture themselves as revolutionary, the jammers are harmless. Radio nerds who gather each night at a nightclub called Wireless, they get their kicks by jamming commercial radio signals, hijacking their frequencies to broadcast anarchist messages to the ordinary citizens of Quinsigamond. But even though they do no harm, their hobby has attracted murderous attention.Speer's killing spree starts with a priest. The one-time seminary student and ex-FBI agent has tired of seeing the city's cathedral denigrated by immigrants, addicts, and gang members, and he blames Father Todorov for catering to the undesirables. He corners the priest in the confessional and takes out his rage with a Bowie knife. Now he wants the blood of the fiery young anarchists who hijack his radio dial each evening. Homicide detective Hannah Shaw must infiltrate this strange subculture before it is dismantled by Speer's blade.
As in his masterful and hallucinatory debut, Box Nine , O'Connell again conjures up the decaying postindustrial New England city of Quinsigamond, peopling its neon-spattered darkness with the weirdest collection of dysfunctional oddballs this side of TV's Twin Peaks. Police Detective Hannah Shaw must infiltrate the world of illegal radio ``jammers'' to find a killer whose first victim was a liberal parish priest with a popular radio show. The perp is a deranged former FBI agent waging war on ``anarchist scumbags,'' targeting in particular the jammers, who gather in a club named Wireless. Notable among these is G. T. Flynn, a silver-tongued life insurance salesman; Wallace Browning, a dwarf accountant/dancer and his wife Olga; Hazel, a punkette who sells herself to an Asian ganglord; and Ronnie, a female deejay whose late night show, Libido Liveline , runs on a station whose transmission is often disrupted. Operating offstage are the O'Zebedee brothers, whose outlaw broadcasts take up purloined airtime, and Det. Shaw's missing mentor, speed freak/cop Lenore Thomas. O'Connell creates a wildly colored narrative collage without losing grip of his story line in which factionalized jammers are seen as a kind of conflict-ridden family. His prose, without surface flash or affectation, showcases his characters, giving them an unexpected warmth and credibility, and lending their quirky insubstantial radio world a kind of meta-reality. Author tour. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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November 08, 2011
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