By: Albert Jaskula
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: December 11, 2023
Review Date: December 7, 2023
In The Fall, Ariel Fall is a disgruntled private investigator and a lover of whiskey, cigarettes, guns, and lust. He solves crimes in his own, unique way and by his own rules. Throughout the novel, we see Ariel as he navigates several investigations.
In the first investigation, Ariel is hired to find Hailey Brown, a fourteen-year-old girl who went missing from a nightclub. Ariel begins his search by threatening to kill Hailey’s best friends if they don’t tell him what they know. With some answers from them, he goes to his friend and chief of the London police department, Victor, who tells Ariel about Dirty Joe. This serial kidnapper poisons women with Amazonian frog venom, rapes them, peels them, and ejaculates under their skin. These disturbing graphics illustrate some of this book’s gory dimensions. But those are the clues that Ariel needs to solve the crime. The darker qualities of human behavior play center stage in this novel, which is structured like a series of stories; each investigation involves different clients and different mysteries that fuel Ariel’s thirst for revenge.
Ariel Fall becomes famous for solving the Dirty Joe case, and is soon on to his next investigation. He is approached by Bridget Lee, a leader in the film industry who was working with Amanda Wong, a director who was killed, along with other cast and crew members, while filming a documentary. Although it might get him killed, Ariel must find Amanda Wong’s laptop that contains sensitive information. The closer Ariel gets to the source, the more risk there is for the private investigator. It’s a mystery why and how Ariel survives his dangerous pursuits, and it’s even more shocking to observe how he makes jokes amidst bleeding profusely while sustaining gunshot injuries.
When medics arrive to attend to Ariel’s wounds, Ariel refuses to go to the hospital but cooly insists the medic take the bullet out and sew him up. The medic warns there will be a scar. “Not as bad as the one on my soul” is Ariel’s reply. The sleuthing often involves Ariel sniffing trails for clues: “If they’re shooting at me, I know I’m going in the right direction.” Ariel’s dark sense of humor helps readers perceive his situation with a bit more levity. One wonders why the people who adore him refer to Ariel as an angel. He sees himself as fallen, and uses tongue-in-cheek humor to cope. When he is not being shot at, he does show his vulnerable side with his lovers, especially Marie-Ann.
While his relationship with Marie-Ann develops, the criminals Ariel pursues go from bad to worse - the Lavendar Killer, then the League of the Dammed, serial murderers, arms dealers, and human smugglers. While he visits locations that span from London pubs to fancy hotels with views of London, we meet characters from the artistic underground to political moles, spies, and assassins. Meanwhile, the loves, losses, and tragedies that Ariel endured in his own past creep into his mind to give him fuel to solve each case. Or, should he quit it all to focus on Marie-Ann? Despite life’s repeated beatings, Ariel chases the truth with bloodthirst and intolerance for fools. And if hard-core, loveless sex and murderous rage lead to that truth, all the better.
Jaskula writes vividly about sex as well as violence, but he can also delve into emotional realms. When Ariel buys flowers for his beloved Marie-Ann, they are her favorite: tulips. And much of the time Ariel spends protecting Marie-Ann and Victor from the criminals who want to hurt them to get to him. The novel contains investigations that involve connections to the Russian, Chinese, and Italian mobs with elaborate secret operations that incriminate leaders and tycoons. The revelations and resolutions always draw blood. This is an action-packed collection of stories full of sex and violence.
Quill says: If a reader likes action and suspense, mixed with ironic, dark humor, The Fall by Albert Jaskula is sure to entertain.
For more information on The Fall, please visit the author's website at: https://albertjaskula.wpenginepowered.com/