Caspar Vega must be an interesting character. His books are a bizarre mixture of fantasy/horror and crime drama. Many of his characters are not the kind of people you’d want to live next door to or even meet. They range from anti-social to sociopath to worse. And his books are never linear. They track back and forth in time and place and skip from voice to voice in unexpected directions.
I’ve read and reviewed two other books by Caspar Vega, “The Pink Beetle” and the “The Eclectic Prince.” And after each one I confirm both to myself and to my readers that Mr. Vega’s stories are way outside my wheelhouse. Not that I only read or enjoy light-hearted fare. I enjoy horror and even crime drama. But there is something nihilistic about the atmosphere in these stories that is off-putting for me. I must be getting old.
But here I am again. I decided to try out Southern Dust. The premise of the story is that in the near future the Democrats assassinate a Republican president and install one of their own through chicanery. In response, a revolt in Alabama breaks the state away from the Union. And in short order a good number of other states also declare their independence. This story follows the fates of three individuals that collide in this strange new world.
Along with the other suppositions of this world are super soldiers, vampires and black magic. But the mainstay of the story are the characters. And they live up to the type that I remember from Mr. Vega’s earlier books. Even the good guys are very troubled individuals. The criminals on the other hand can be at least somewhat sympathetic but brutality is their stock in trade. Murder for hire, framing up ex-girlfriends and bounty hunting all occur but brain-washed undead is probably the weirdest plot device you run into. And even when one of the characters tries to do a good deed it boomerangs back on him in the classic no good deed goes unpunished catergory.
I’ll finish my review of this book much as I’ve done with its predecessors, with a mixed message. This is an interesting book. But it’s not for everyone. It’s for those who like gritty crime dramas with a staccato, post-modern, minimalist writing style. Your call.