My apologies to Estevan Vega. He was eighteen years old when he sent me a copy of his second (second!) novel, The Sacred Sin, but I took so long to review it that I’m fairly certain he has to be at least forty-seven by now. The novel opens with its protagonist, Los Angeles detective Jude Foster, lying on the therapy couch and resisting every effort his state-appointed counselor makes at guiding him through the therapeutic process. Foster, after all, is a complex, brooding anti-hero who looks (or so we’re told) like Hugh Jackman, so no amount of talking through his problems is going to help him deal with his demons. Instead, he needs action, and when a spate of mysterious murders lead him to a face-to-face showdown with the devil himself (or, more accurately, Azrael, the angel of death), Foster learns just how far his spirit needs to sink before he can begin the long, hard work of crawling back to life. Though the prose relies somewhat heavily on adverbs to convey emotional impact, the story itself is taught and fairly complex, and I can easily see this book being made into a Hollywood film along the lines of the 1999 supernatural thriller The Ninth Gate. Vega has a natural talent for creating believable characters and imaginative situations, and I look forward to seeing more from him in the future.
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