Hell Chose Me

An­gel Luis Colón

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Diverse Voices / Fiction - HO LIN

Down & Out Books (FE­BRU­ARY) Soft­cover $15.95 (240pp), 978-1-948235-60-0, MYS­TERY

Bryan Walsh is a ma­rine corps de­serter, for­mer IRA bag­man, and all around hard case. Back state­side af­ter a stint in Ire­land, he’s cur­rently em­ployed by a lo­cal gang­ster and barely scrap­ing by, spend­ing his days rub­bing out low-lifes who cross his boss. But he’s also af­flicted by “ghosts”: vi­sions of those he’s killed, their fi­nal words in life nag­ging at him like the con­science he doesn’t have.

But as An­gel Luis Colón re­veals in Hell Chose Me, Bryan may have a con­science af­ter all—it just re­quires a life-threat­en­ing cri­sis to bring it out. When a hit goes awry, Bryan finds him­self on the run from his boss’s part­ners. To make mat­ters worse, his co­matose brother Neil—the clos­est thing he has to a moral com­pass—ends up in the mob’s crosshairs. The fall­out leads Bryan into a dark night of the soul, as well as to a pos­si­ble chance at sal­va­tion.

Like its pro­tag­o­nist, Hell Chose Me doesn’t hold back. Colón’s rat-tat-tat prose is re­lent­less. He springs back and forth in time, chron­i­cling Bryan’s trou­bled past and his fate­ful de­ci­sions. Al­though the story is se­ri­ous, it also in­cludes plenty of gal­lows hu­mor, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to Bryan’s en­coun­ters with his “ghosts.” Even­tu­ally Bryan teams up with Ayah, a cheeky as­sas­sin who’s into comic books, and who has stealth weaponry in place of her miss­ing left hand. Through­out the book, Bryan’s in­ner mono­logue—self-lac­er­at­ing, la­conic, un­sen­ti­men­tal—pro­vides kick.

As be­fit­ting a noir tale, Hell Chose Me has plenty of twists. Down the stretch, the plot be­comes con­vo­luted as Bryan must fig­ure out who has it in for him. Al­though the fi­nale makes sense the­mat­i­cally, it’s not quite a cathar­tic pay­off. Nev­er­the­less, those who love hard-boiled pulp will find much to en­joy in Hell Chose Me, which moves, and hits, as hard as a bul­let.

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