It was with some trepidation that I read The Book With No Name, stating as it does on the inside cover “Dear Reader, Only the pure of heart may look upon the pages of this book” and concluding the paragraph with “And those who have read the book may never see the light again.” Blimey. This could be the riskiest read I’ve ever committed to and I thought that that was Fifty Shades of Grey ( of which I have actually only read two, maybe three paragraphs but understand that it is risqué).
But in the interests of providing a review of every book I read, even on pain of death, I am nothing if not dedicated and so, here it is.
Apparently, this book was an internet sensation which did so well that it was given the chance to be published in hard copy which is quite a feat in this day and age for an independent writer. I mean, I think that it is relatively easy to self-publish as there are lots of platforms for that sort of thing now but to have a publisher commit your words to paper and agree to distribute it to actual shelves as opposed to those that are virtual is quite the accomplishment.
I had never heard of it but don’t let that put you off – ebooks have been a relatively new thing for me and I am a Luddite, only changing my phone last year from a brick to something of which my youngest son is envious so, I am no authority.
What attracted to me to this book was the cover which has the look of an old leather bound manuscript with a ram’s head bookmark covered in runic symbols, giving it a mystique that I was immediately drawn to. And so, it came home with me, waiting patiently for me to get to it.
And I have to say that it is quite a good book. The blurb on the back describes it as being “Tarantino meets The Da Vinci Code‘ and in a lot of ways it is an apt description. It has the violence and gratuitous swearing that Tarantino favours and the many characters of one of his films and there is a similarity in the way that the plot reveals itself, I suppose, with all these many characters intersecting. It didn’t grip me like The Da Vinci Code though as I was able to leave it whereas with Dan Brown’s thriller, I remember having to stay with it keenly, to the very end.
The Book With No Name is set in a place called Santa Mondega, an American city which seems to be off most people’s radars and this is no bad thing as it is a terrible place, dark, violent and with an air of the supernatural. It is also the place where the Bourbon Kid committed the most heinous massacre in the Tapioca bar, this bloodbath happening five years ago at the time of the last lunar eclipse. Another lunar eclipse is looming and there are fears that the Bourbon Kid will return, especially when, just before the eclipse is due to take place, the Eye of the Moon stone is stolen from Hubal monks in the Pacific. This is troubling as it is a stone of great power and if it finds its way into the hands of someone in Santa Mondega, it could be that the world will be plunged into perpetual darkness.
There are lots of people trying to get hold of the stone: Kyle and Peto are two rather naïve Hubal monks who are sent by Father Taos to recover the stone after a mass killing of their monk brothers at their sheltered island monastery; El Santino is a powerful criminal presence in Santa Mondega, who nobody should mess with and he is keen to have it; the Bourbon Kid’s return must be linked to the stone in some way too; a bounty hunter called Jefe who has been hired by El Santino is also on the hunt.
Along with the quest to find the stone and the race against the clock to keep it out of the clutches of someone with evil intent, which in Santa Mondega, seems to be just about everyone, the novel has this sort of detective investigation vibe going on too with the arrival of Miles Jenson.
Jenson is a supernatural detective brought in to investigate murders that have been happening which have a ritualistic bent and have been linked to the Bourbon Kid. When Jenson is partnered with Somers, a veteran detective brought back from retirement as he is an authority on the Bourbon Kid and also, because the mayor said so, it feels like there might be a chance of catching the Kid and preventing mass murder. Somers is the least respected policeman because of his obsession although Jenson’s interactions with him show Somers to be a competent and thorough detective.
And finally, in addition to the detective story and the search for the stone, there is a mysterious woman called Jessica who wakes from a five year coma, her imminent death having been avoided by the nurturing of Sanchez, the owner of the Tapioca. Jessica was a victim of the Bourbon Kid’s first killing spree and even though she had been shot hundreds of times, she survived through some small miracle. Sanchez’s brother and wife have been her carers for those five years and Sanchez has been harbouring an affection for her for the time of her recuperation, hoping that she will wake up, remember him rescuing her and exchange her gratitude for affection. Unfortunately, Jessica can remember nothing.
Add to this a hired killer who dresses like Elvis and is indeed called Elvis and an opportunistic young man called Dante and his girlfriend, Kacy and the scene is set for a rather intense book which is part quest, part detective, part thriller, part mystery, part horror, part fantasy, part black comedy – you get the picture. It is not one thing; it is a mosaic of many genres, a strange hybrid which works quite well considering its Frankenstein’s monster literary make-up.
It all leads to a conclusion which answers many of the mysteries that have been proposed in the book whilst also leaving it open for the return of the Bourbon Kid and indeed, according to Amazon, there are have been two more subsequent books published featuring the Bourbon Kid.
So, if you like your fiction quirky, violent and a little unorthodox, then this should suit. Not my normal fodder but then I do have rather eclectic taste. Although I have no taste at all for bourbon. For me, bourbon is a name associated with a rather nice chocolate biscuit (cookie) with a chocolate cream centre, found in a Family Circle biscuit tin and would never harm you although it may clog your teeth a little afterwards. Great for dunking and a far cry from the mysterious presence that is the Bourbon Kid.