Hard Light

The fact that Elizabeth Hand's Cass Neary series (Generation Loss, Available Dark) has garnered many favorable comparisons to Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy is understandable to a degree. Cass is also an antisocial, somewhat surprising force for truth. But, unlike Lisbeth Salander, Cass is approaching 60, a Luddite who's obsessed with drugs, alcohol and black-and-white photography.

Cass plans to meet her erstwhile lover, Quinn, in London, but Quinn never shows up. Nervous because she's traveling on a false passport and because Quinn is wanted by both Interpol and the Russian mob, Cass ends up making friends with a strung-out singer in order to find a place to crash. Unfortunately for Cass, she gets drawn into a world full of drugs, cinematography and smuggled antiquities. Desperate to save her own skin, Cass makes a deal with the devil that she may come to regret.

Hard Light is a shocking and fast-paced novel. Cass hurtles from one disaster to the next, fueled by booze and amphetamines. Cass herself is an antihero, and her erudite musings on the history of film, photography and the punk scenes of her past contrast sharply with her dangerously addictive behaviors. The perilous weather and apocalyptic scenes that Cass encounters from London to the Land's End Peninsula are sure to keep readers on their toes. Hard Light's outrageous secrets aren't for the faint of heart, but the enthralling backstory of prehistoric art and ancient thaumatropes is sure to fascinate. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm

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