From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The last place Manny Rupert wants to go is prison. But when the opportunity arises to investigate an inmate's claim to be Nazi war criminal Dr. Josef Mengele, it's too much for the ex-cop-turned-PI—last seen in 2002's Plainclothes Dead
—to pass up. Masquerading as a drug counselor—despite his own addictions—Manny meets the nonagenarian who calls himself Mengele and hears firsthand of the torturous experiments the Angel of Death conducted at Auschwitz. Add to the mix the reappearance of Manny's ex-wife, Tina, whom he sees cavorting in the conjugal trailer with the prison's resident Jewish skinhead. It turns out that Tina not only works for an Internet Christian escort service secretly run by one of the prisoners but is also in league with the same man who hired Manny to spy on Mengele. Lines soon blur between justified revenge and outright cruelty, and it's up to Manny to keep everything straight or die trying. Stahl is no stranger to smashing social taboos, and his trademark blend of ballsy, blacker-than-black humor and wry social commentary lets him find humor in the Third Reich. (Mar.)
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When last seen, Jewish ex-cop, former addict, and three-time-liver-transplant-recipient Manny Rubert was married to Tina, who had dispatched her former husband by adding ground glass and Drano to his breakfast cereal (Plainclothes Naked, 2001). Now they’re divorced, and Manny, missing her desperately, is hired to go to San Quentin to determine whether a 97-year-old inmate is Josef Mengele. What follows is a truly black and bizarre mix of the horrific and the hilarious: Mengele really is Mengele, and he spends his time experimenting on inmates for Big Pharma. He is also a still-dangerous, preening egomaniac who believes his “research” should be celebrated by a jaded, corrupt America. And only jaded Manny and Tina (yes, she is back) are there to mete out justice. Along the way, Stahl takes intriguing and often funny shots at prison chic, reality TV, various aspects of prison life, Nazi “science,” and Christian porn Web sites. And, as the title suggests, Manny enjoys a staggering array of dangerous drugs and toxic substances. Pain Killers isn’t for the squeamish, but readers who like shock and laughs with their crime are likely to love it. --Thomas Gaughan