“Laws of Annihilation” by Eriq La Salle
Poisoned Pen Press
One thing or another.
You have to choose, you cannot have both. This one or that one, that or the other, think about it and then pick a side. Or maybe you don’t even have to think about it. Maybe, as in the new novel “Laws of Annihilation” by Eriq La Salle, the decision was made decades ago.
Agent Janet Maclin was n0t entirely unprepared for the news but still, it’s tough to learn that you have incurable cancer and that death is near. The diagnosis explained her constant pain and the ravaging of her entire body on a daily basis but it did not explain how she was going to break the news to her two partners in the department.
Detective Phee Freeman and Detective Quincy Cavanaugh were not just partners, but friends — maybe the only friends Maclin had anymore — and she was reluctant to share her news. She was not going to survive this, so why would it matter? They were busy enough on a huge case; there was no need to add anything else.
A young Black man had been caught spray-painting hate symbols on a Jewish synagogue and the mob that witnessed his deed chased the young man to his death. Did this lead to the bloody, gruesome murders of Jewish rabbis who had called for peace in the community? Were those deaths connected to the disappearance of a man named Spider, who was heavily involved in an Islamic group in Harlem and who was the young man’s uncle? And where was Ezra Pearl, an influential man in the Jewish community who had been filmed leading the chase that caused the young man’s death?
The mayor of New York was calling for calm but with both sides demanding revenge, two people missing, and a killer (or two) on the loose, Maclin knew that calm wouldn’t be that easy. Neither would solving what was a growing list of violent crimes.
As New York City seethed, she hoped she’d live long enough to see this end.
Crack open “Laws of Annihilation” and you might think you’d stepped onto a random sidewalk in a major city somewhere in America. The events in the book are entirely plausible, given current events in the world today and last summer’s heatwave. You can almost feel the tension. You can almost smell it.
That realism sharpens the vicious gruesomeness of the murders that pepper this story, as does the authenticism in the details pertaining to religions. The latter is subtle, as author Eriq La Salle leads readers to understand without detracting from the story itself.
And that story…? Well, let’s just say that if you plan on sharing this book, you might want to get someone their own copy. Yours will be ripped from ferocious, eager page-turning…
It may go without saying that this thriller contains violence, profanity, and a relatively quick, relatively chaste bedroom scene, but a warning bears repeating. Still, if you love a good thriller with a decent cliffhanger, “Laws of Annihilation” is one thing you should read.