For someone who’d just assume never interact with anyone again except his wife and young son if he didn’t have to, former gang enforcer Everett is actually quite adept at reading and manipulating people.
Of course, back in the day a lot of his manipulation was of the hands-on variety, and he was damn effective. Legendarily effective, actually, in large part because of his connection with the storm giants, the name Everett associates with a deep, dark place within himself he’s capable of tapping into.
But those days are behind him. At least he thought they were. Living a peaceful if not exactly relaxed – he finds it difficult to ever truly let his guard down, even years out of the game – existence in upstate California, Everett’s past comes calling in the guise of The Widow.
The last time Everett saw The Widow was at his dentist’s office, where she worked as Doctor Dauffenbach’s assistant and receptionist, in addition to being his wife. Everett didn’t exactly understand it at the time, but there was definitely something…off about old Doctor Dauffenbach. Something a bit sadistic.
Turns out Doctor Dauffenbach had an impressive résumé to back up his penchant for causing pain; he was formerly a Nazi who worked at one of the death camps. When he escaped at the end of the war, one step ahead of the war crimes tribunals, Dauffenbach was able to smuggle a significant amount of ill-gotten Nazi gold into the U.S. with him when he ran. The Mossad, however, never sleeps, and when they finally caught up with Dauffenbach he killed himself rather than face extradition and trial. Now, it seems the remainder of Dauffenbach’s gold has been stolen, and The Widow wants Everett to get it back for her – and kill the person who took it.
If he doesn’t, not only does The Widow make it clear Everett’s wife and son will never be safe, she’s also managed to put together quite the little “care package” for the authorities, one which would put Everett on their radar for dozens of his past crimes. In order to preserve the life he’s carved out for himself and his family, Everett now has to do something he vowed he’d never do again…release the storm giants.
The Storm Giants is another hurricane of a novel from Pearce Hansen (Stagger Bay, Street Raised), an author whose been there, done that background lends an aura of authenticity to his writing that one simply can’t fake. Though Everett’s been on the straight and narrow for several years at the time we meet him, he still can’t shake the fact he was street raised, something Hansen brings to life through a wonderful mixture of Everett’s words and actions—or in some instances, inaction. The lingo Hansen peppers throughout Everett’s vocabulary, indeed, throughout all of Hansen’s writing, is not quite like anything else I’ve ever read, and it gives the story a unique rhythm over which the events play out.
And unlike the world-weary Markus from Hansen’s Stagger Bay who feels the weigh of all his past misdeeds, Everett is operating at a serious level of disconnect. From the earliest age, Everett was witness and subjected to events no child should ever have to experience. He made it through by learning how to tamp down and control his emotions, especially the ability to feel pain, physically or emotionally. It’s a past that sets the stage for Hansen to incorporate a low-key exploration of the nature vs nurture argument in examining why Everett turned out the way he did and, even more significantly for Everett’s future, the question of whether a person is truly capable of change at a fundamental level.
Add to that a charismatic cult leader, a loose cannon (and unwanted) sidekick, a former associate he’s no longer sure he can trust, and the stuck in the late 70s third generation pot growing brothers of his wife and, well, Everett’s hands are more than full. Luckily, the storm giants have his back…whether he likes it or not.
The Storm Giants is available at Amazon.