Genre Genre Genre

Sleepless in Los Angeles

A new epidemic from Charles Huston.

Book Cover Despite his early books’ preoccupation with vampiric themes (which seem to be all the rage), if you haven’t heard of or read Charlie Huston (The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death), its probably because he hasn’t had a movie made from one of his books.

Huston, who is an exponentially more original writer than the bestselling genre writers who blurb his books, belongs with his very talented crime-story brethren Michael Connelly and George Pelecanos—which is to say that his genre-busting work is good and potent writing illuminating nifty and engaging stories.

His new tome Sleepless (Ballantine) is a dystopian nightmare set in July 2010 with at least 33 million (and growing) people infected with FFI (Fatal Familial Insomnia), which, as the name suggests, is death-inducing sleeplessness.

Philosophy Ph.D. Parker Hass has joined the LAPD on his moral imperative to make the world a better place, even as it disintegrates into chaos. He is assigned to be an undercover vice cop charged with tracking down and choking off the illicit trade in DR33M3R, also known as Dreamer, the only drug that provides relief (though death is not forestalled). And in his pursuit Park himself becomes the prey of an aging mercenary.

Meet that killer, as he is sitting in a L.A. traffic jam listening to Gonoud’s opera Faust in his air-conditioned Cadillac:
I was at peace with the world when the shockingly sinewy vegan in the Merecedes 300 plastered with biodiesel stickers got out of her car and started rapping on my window, screaming at me that I was “killing the planet and the children.” I almost didn’t roll down that window and point at her face the Beretta Tomcat I’d pulled from my ankle holster…

“You are going to die in front of dozens of witnesses, and none of them will do a thing to help you or avenge you. Because they know exactly what you know: The world is ending. The difference being they have surrendered and are willing to watch it pass away as long as they can do it in relative comfort. You, on the other hand, are squandering what few resources of personal will and energy you have left by trying to stop the avalanche. Give up. Things are as bad as you fear they are. People are self-serving as you fear they are. The Universe does not care. And neither do you. Not really. Go find a warm body you can huddle against for animal comfort. Get in your car and don’t look at me again. I’m getting bored of talking now. Go away before I get bored of not pulling the trigger and not watching your brains fountain out the top of your head”
And, yes, the story gets better (and better).
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