Harper Collins £9.99
Reviewed by Calum Macleod
|Joe Torn is Silent Joe kA "Acid Baby".
Horrifying disfigured by his father while just months old, he has
been groomed by his adoptive father Will as a bodyguard, spy and leg
man, the one man he can trust in the corrupt world of Californian
politics in which Will operates. But it is not enough to save Will's
life when father and son are ambushed in the act of recovering a
kidnapped child and Will gunned down. Naturally Joe wants to have
words with the man responsible, probably involving the twin .45s he
always wears, but he also comes to terms with his own past and the
secrets of his own identity. The plot is Chandler-complex, mixing
nasty billionaires, corrupt politicians and rival ethnic gangs in a
Southern California that is no more honest than in Marlowe's day.
But the standout attraction is the character of Joe himself. Closer
to Chandler's ideal of the modern knight than a thousand second-hand
imitators, Joe is quiet, chivalrous and overly polite, in
compensation for his disfigured face. True, there is an element of
wish fulfilment - Joe woos and beds a beautiful radio host in spite
of his half ruined face - but there is more depth to the character
than just a bland seeker of revenge. Joe has his own insecurities
and a blindness to Will's less scrupulous side that is nothing short
of hero worship. Highly recommended.