A policeman and a young girl drive across the Mojave Desert toward a deathly quiet valley where the girl's mother waits. In a wealthy Los Angeles enclave, another man waits for news of the policeman's death. Cop John Victor Sully is in the wrong place at the wrong time, ready to convict the right man of the right crime--and that, for crooked developer Burgess Ridden and his heroin-addict girlfriend Dee Storey, will never do. Burgess may not have the guts or the smarts to save himself from impending disaster, but Dee will do anything, including making her 13-year-old daughter, Shay, an accessory to murder: "Like face cards their images resemble, flat and stoic on that black gaming table of a windshield. Two queens, baby. One there, and one on the come. If she lives long enough."
But the best-laid plans are those that go hideously awry. Sully survives that night in the desert, clawing up through the dirt of a shallow grave, only to become "a boundary walker trapped inside the self of past." His reputation ruined by a clever frame-up, he will spend the next 10 years in self-imposed exile until a journalist named Landshark brings him back to L.A. to clear his name. His return touches off a deadly "blood waltz across reality" in which lives count for nothing and survival is everything--and in which his only ally is the young woman who led him to his death a decade earlier.
Boston Teran stunned critics with his debut novel, God Is a Bullet. Most raved about its explosive prose and in-your-face action, though a few felt that the author's style was a bit too much of a good thing. Teran is admittedly a writer for whom excess is glorious and for whom language is a wondrous, near-tangible commodity. His second novel, however, reveals a definite maturation: if God Is a Bullet reveled perhaps a bit too much in its own linguistic conceit, Never Count Out the Dead never allows the brilliance of its language to cast all else into shadow. Taut rather than bloated, the novel is as edgy as a hollow-eyed junkie and as extravagant as a drift of desert orchids. Teran retakes the stage with the assurance of an elegantly seasoned performer.--Kelly Flynn
From Publishers Weekly
Award-winning crime novelist Teran jars the soul with this chaotic, murderous tale set in a sunbaked, nightmarish Los Angeles County. Dee Storey is a 28-year-old speed addict who will do anything to get more drugs from dating slimy Beverly Hills rich boy Burgess Ridden to carrying out a contract killing. Using her 13-year-old daughter, Shay, as bait, Dee shoots Sheriff John Victor Sully in the Mojave National Preserve, dumping him in a shallow grave. His bullet-ridden body buys the silence of coke dealer Charlie Foreman, the man who knows all the secrets behind two major school construction projects run by Ridden's father. It will be nearly 11 years before Shay, Dee, Charlie, Burgess and a comical cross-section of Southern California scumbags learn an important lesson--never count out the dead. Miraculously surviving only to be slammed with trumped-up drug charges, Sully flees to El Paso, utterly lost and broken. Enter agoraphobic William Worth, owner of the Garden of Allah hotel and a biting L.A. columnist who writes under the byline "Landshark." Smelling something foul, Landshark urges Sully to come back to Los Angeles to haul Ridden and the crew to justice. Once in the city, Sully unknowingly becomes sexually involved with the now 23-year-old streetwise vixen, Shay Storey, ordered again by her mother to execute him. Fate has other plans, however, and a showdown is set in San Frasquito Canyon. Teran's razor-sharp tale is tinged with pseudoreligious sentiment as the author unravels an expansive and layered network of crimes committed by desperate people attempting to shed their own skin and the silent "dead" who long for resurrection. (May)Forecast: Teran's first novel, God Is a Bullet, was nominated for an Edgar. This, his second, cements his status as a pulp virtuoso with a gothic sensibility. Unless fans get the word out, though, the book may fall through the cracks, since it isn't backed by any kind of marketing effort and will likely glean few reviews as a genre title.
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