Blood in the San Francisco Book Review

Amazon Star Rating: 5 out of 5
By Jack Remick
Camel Press, $17.95, 286 pages

This is a well-crafted, intense, and complex novel. The main character is disturbing and dangerous, yet intelligent, thoughtful and, in his own way, highly ethical. A seemingly unsympathetic psychopath on a voyage of self-discovery; he manages to touch upon the many vagaries of the human condition. A ruthless murderer who views himself as the angel of death, engaged in a touching and tender romance with his prison cellmate.

Hank Mitchell is a contract killer who has allowed himself to be imprisoned for stealing women’s underwear. “Mitch” views prison as a sanctuary from his former profession, and as penance for crimes far worse than the theft of panties. He is a man painfully aware of the darkness living inside of himself, his kin, and his fellow man. Hank tries to purge his demons by becoming a writer, giving a voice to the many he has killed. A word of caution: The storyline contains highly charged adult themes which will make some readers uncomfortable. The narrative includes graphic descriptions of rape, prison sex, and murder. But do not dismiss this as mere sensationalism. It is Hank Mitchell’s voice, and the novel would not be the same if these passages were deleted.

Be prepared for a wild ride as the author, Jack Remick, does not ease gently into the story. From the very first page, the reader is immediately swept up by the prose as if caught in a flash flood. Multilayered themes combine with Mitchell’s nightmarish delusions blurring into reality: corporate and individual corruption, biology versus destiny, environmental damage and human depravity, betrayal and deception. The narrative is rhythmic, almost hypnotic, with a cadence like a relentless drum beat or at times a turbulent raging river. All of this combines to result in one of the best books I’ve ever read.

April, 2011