Lamberson, whose 2008 novel Johnny Gruesome was an out-and-out horror story, here blends the horror and mystery genres in a very evocative way. Jake Helman is a New York City homicide cop. While investigating the last murder committed by the enigmatic serial killer known as the Cipher, Jake quits the force (well, he doesn’t really have a choice) and signs on as the security director of Tower International, a genetic-engineering company that controversially dabbles in cutting-edge research. Soon Jake discovers, in a particularly gruesome fashion (naturally), that the Cipher and Tower International are somehow mixed up together, and that the company’s cutting-edge research involves some very frightening, even supernatural, elements. This is a highly imaginative novel, loaded with atmosphere and in-your-face imagery. Jake is a solid lead, an ex-cop dealing with demons both psychological and existential, and he undergoes a journey here that is terrifying, emotionally traumatic, and oddly uplifting. Very nicely done.
This review originally appeared in Booklist, September 2009.