Onyx reviews: Death's
Door by Michael Slade
Is Vancouver author Michael Slade noticing the sands of time trickling past?
His new psychothriller, Death's Door, explores mankind's ongoing efforts
to decelerate the aging process, borrowing inspiration from The Picture of
Dorian Gray, in which Dorian offers his soul to an Egyptian god in exchange for
remaining young forever.
Slade's Special X division of the RCMP investigates two seemingly unrelated
crimes. Ten people died during the daring theft of an Egyptian mummy that has
completely intact flesh. The secret of its preservation would be worth billions
to the pharmaceutical industry.
Concurrently, a serial killer is scattering the remains of his victims on
coastal B.C. islands, bodies mutilated to parody breast augmentation,
liposuction and other surgical procedures. The locations seem staged, possibly
to foil geographic profiling. Is there a link to another serial killer operating
in L.A., the Mecca of cosmetic surgery?
Officer Nick Craven and his former lover, Coroner Gillian MacBeth, who have
both benefited from the skills of a plastic surgeon, assist the investigation.
Dr. David Denning restored Craven's hand and ear—lost in the Mephisto case—and rejuvenated MacBeth, who has targeted Chief Superintendent Robert DeClerq in
her sexual sights.
Pornographer Wolfe Capp, specializing in custom female-in-jeopardy and snuff
films, lurks in the shadows. His associates and clients include an ugly plastic
surgeon, a former embalmer, and the mysterious Director, while another
mysterious figure manipulates allies and adversaries alike behind the scenes.
Death's Door is filled with Slade's hallmark research: expositions about
psychosexual disorders, Egyptology, martial arts, genetics, premature aging
disease and gerontophobia. His forte, though, is accurately depicting
state-of-the-art investigative techniques. A lawyer specializing in the insanity
defense, Jay Clarke - the writing component of 'Slade'—consults with
real-life RCMP officers, fictionalizing two of them as characters in recent
books. Still, Slade's Mounties don't always get their man—master criminals
sometimes get repeat performances.
This is Clarke's second collaboration with his daughter Rebecca. His recent
books are more tightly focused, his villains less Gothic (though no less
demented) than in earlier novels. The unflinching violence and nervous tension
surrounding the fate of his series protagonists drives this fast-paced amalgam
of horror and mystery to its climax.
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