In a bleak, crime-ridden city, masked vigilantes prowl the streets, searching for the source of a corruption far darker and fouler than even the jaded citizens of Summerside can imagine.
When I picked up a review copy of JD Cowan’s Someone is Aiming for You [Amazon link], I was expecting the usual short story collection of thematically related bits. What I got instead was a fascinating bit of non-linear storytelling in a world where heroes with powers are just a fact of life. Not just a fact of life, but maybe even old hat.
Cowan’s world-building is mostly allusive, coming out of the side conversations characters have with one another, and leaves a great deal unsaid. We know that powers came into the world centuries ago, and ended the world as it existed. Now, however, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men have put the pieces back together again. If you build a bank, you build in a way to frustrate the powers of average criminals, and if all else fails, you just dial up the security company for a rent-a-hero to take care of your problem.
However, something new has come into this world. Dark rumors swirl through the underworld of rituals of blood and sacrifice. No one really knows what is happening, but everyone thinks something is up. Except for the Seeker, who knows exactly what he is looking for. And how to kill it.
The cover art of the Seeker reminds me of The Shadow, the pulp vigilante created by Street & Smith in the 1930s. Since I know that Cowan is a fan of the pulps, I doubt that is an accident. All of the interconnected short stories in this volume have that pulp flair: a dark setting of crime and violence, vigilante justice that has no use for the law, and an otherworldly menace that is counter-balanced by glimmers of hope and providence.
In Someone is Aiming for You, there are far worse fates than death. Which isn’t necessarily obvious to the people of Summerside, who assume that robbery and graft are still the prime movers of the city. It is probably easy to pretend, at least until they come to drain your blood, or worse, you find that you are on the blood detail when you thought you were just shaking people down for protection money.
For all the wickedness of Summerside, a major theme of this collection is the possibility of redemption. Most of the guys in a gang with an apocalyptic name like Sunset Red, looking forward to taking advantage of the chaos of the End Times, really aren’t nice guys. But, a few might be good, if given the right opportunity.
But not everyone chooses that opportunity, when it arrives, and so there is evil to be vanquished in Summerside. Conflict abounds, between powers and dark magic, between good and evil, between rivals just squabbling for turf. If you want to know what happens, you are just going to have to pick up this volume. I suspect you’ll have a hard time putting it down.
I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout.
Other works by JD Cowan
Gemini Man series