God is a Bullet is a blast

godWhy is God is a Bullet set in 1995?  Historical fiction?  Perhaps author Boston Teran wanted to avoid the Internet or omnipresent cell phones.  I might not have noticed the year, but Teran makes a point of telling us the make, model, and year of various cars being driven by various characters, so either they were all driving really old cars, or the action takes place in the past.  But no.  After the utterly satisfying conclusion of God is a Bullet, I finally looked at the copyright date.  Dang it, 1999.  Now it all made sense.  Charming husband had passed the book on to me with a strong recommendation, and I had simply assumed it was a new release.

The good news:  The book is a thrill ride, the characters are iconic, and Boston Teran’s written several books since God is a Bullet.  Hooray!

Here’s the premise:  A 14-year-old girl is kidnapped and her mother and stepfather murdered by a hired killer who’s much more than a hit man, he’s a charismatic, sociopathic father figure to a cult of young people.  The girl’s father, Bob Hightower, is a cop.  He begins investigating, desperate to find her, when a young woman comes forward.  Fresh out of rehab, Case Hardin has recognized the m.o.  Cop and former junkie team up.

The road they take is twisty and full of danger.  Clean-cut Bob gets tattooed and goes undercover with Case, each step bringing them closer to the girl.  It’s harsh in its realism – the daughter has become an addict against her will and is being raped daily, other characters are tortured or killed – but not ugly.  Case is smart but not Lisbeth Salander-smart, and the two make mistakes.  One mistake Teran doesn’t make is to force an obligatory romance between Hightower and Case.  Close as they become, no sparks fly.

Especially rewarding:  Ultimately, it’s folks that Bob Hightower has known and trusted for many years that are to blame for his daughter’s plight.   You might say that people are complicated.  But as my Dad sometimes jokes, “People are no damn good.”   Luckily for Bob and his daughter, Case Hardin’s the exception that proves the rule.

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