The Devil's Alphabet
Ballantine, Nov 24 2009, $15.00
Teenager Paxton Martin fled Switchcreek, Tennessee to avoid the impact of a deadly retrovirus that either killed people or changed them into grotesque creatures and to never see his father again. The disease never went beyond the small town, but Pax vowed to never return to “Pandemonium”.
However, thirteen years after he left, he learns of the suicide death of his friend Jo Lynn so he comes home for her funeral. She had been changed by the virus into a seal skin baldie beta as opposed to becoming a towering argo or an obese Charlie like others became. His plan includes avoiding his dad, but he alters his scheme when he learns that Jo Lynn may not have hung herself and that a small town in Ecuador has suffered the same fate. He begins the investigation even as his brain tells him leave immediately.
This is a terrific evolutionary science fiction small town horror thriller that as its underlying basis asks the audience to define human. The story line is fast-paced throughout as Paxton returns home to a town that has evolved into four distinct races in a survival of the fittest scenario. The key, which makes The Devil’s Alphabet enthralling is each of the key characters representing the four primes seem genuine, which makes their race appear realistic. Although the father-son relationship seems to ramble, fans will enjoy Daryl Gregory’s strong tale.