by David Davila
Author Reputation Press

"Human flesh. Frank knew he could get meat at the supermarket, but they had become accustomed to the sweet pungent taste of man."

The deepest recesses of the human mind can yield the worst types of evil, especially when the perpetrator’s own experiences have been based on childhood trauma, giving rise to a mindset of survival at all costs. The normal paradigm is turned on its head in Davila’s work as Detective Pete Rodrequiz and his partner, Paul, are on a crash course with humanity’s monstrosities in their quest to nab a ruthless killer.

To describe the imagery in the author’s narrative as visceral would be putting it mildly. From sawing a man’s head right off his body to the funeral hearse that proceeds each kill, the plot is deeply rooted in the macabre. If Steinbeck’s Lenny and George somehow fused with Shelley’s Frankenstein and were then transported to the modern era, they would be the sibling duo of Frank and Gregory—the former a funeral director and the latter a monster of a man, a mentally challenged behemoth who kills for sport.

In pondering what could lead humans to wreak such devastation on others, the irony lies in Frank and Gregory’s genuine humanity and care for each other. From their childhood, they have banded together against the atrocities done to them by their own family. Mired in their trauma, they have inflicted hell on their community. As Pete picks up their scent and closes in, Frank and Gregory become increasingly inseparable. Not even a romantic love interest is enough to get between them. Overall, Davila’s text is jarring, filled with the harrowing details of systematic dehumanization via death. Yet this knack for detail within the darkness keeps the audience engaged throughout the novel.

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