What Immortal Hand, by Johnny Worthen is a well-paced road mystery that steps up the weirdness gradually until it’s in full flow, and the end is only the beginning, for some.
Michael Oswald is a survivor. A washed up, almost ready to cash it all in, survivor. An disreputable insurance investigator, he finds himself on the trail of a missing HGV, its medical laser cargo, and its driver, simultaneously sliding down a slippery slope to face his own past and future. People keep happening to Michael, but he’s drawn to them too, and his realisation of who he is and why, grows in the prose of Johnny Worthen’s latest masterpiece.
Intricately worked, What Immortal Hand is a masterpiece in timing. Its gradual crescendo of a number of themes brings the story to a close that feels temporary. Worthen’s writing is as calm and economical as ever, and while he never stints on the description, his writing is a pleasure to read. Every sentence is worth a re-read.
Look for the spiritual
Johnny Worthen often references spirituality in his novels, but it isn’t what you might expect from someone who lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. There’s a darkness and a sense of struggle to the spirituality you find in these pages, not least the acknowledgement to the god herself. The murders hold a message–or maybe just the keys to the box that holds the message–and I won’t be the one to reveal it and spoil the intrigue. This may be a book you need to read a couple of times to make sure you catch all the early references, be warned!
Will you like it?
If you like things weird, and you’re looking for a book that’s deeper than your average ‘investigation’ novel, What Immortal Hand is worth a look. On the other hand, if you’re not looking for a dark spiritual journey in the middle of your perfectly respectable insurance investigation, you may wish to check out one of his other novels.