Review

Body Scissors

by Michael Simon



In 2004 Michael Simon immediately caught the attention of fans of
noir fiction with DIRTY SALLY, his dark, gritty debut novel. Set in
Austin, Texas in 1988, it introduced Homicide Detective Dan Reles,
the only Yankee or Jew on the force, a complex and brooding man
trying to stay upright in a crooked world. In BODY SCISSORS, Simon
continues to build on the topics and themes introduced in DIRTY
SALLY while further developing Reles's life and personality, using
the dirty underside of Austin as an angry backdrop.

BODY SCISSORS is set in 1991 at the beginning of the Persian Gulf
War. Reles is living with Rachel Velez, the widow of Joey Velez,
his best friend and homicide partner. The opening passages, wherein
Reles and Rachel seem constantly on the verge of connection,
foreshadow the events of the book on a number of levels. Reles is
assigned to assist in the investigation of an apparent
assassination attempt on Virginia Key, an activist community
leader. The attempt on Key's life is a failure but results in the
death of her daughter while leaving her son in a coma.

From the moment of her introduction Key is an enigma who captures
the attention --- and appreciation --- of Detective James Torbett.
While Torbett struggles with his attraction to Key, Reles attempts
to unravel the surprising connection between the attack upon Key
and the seedy Austin drug scene. Key's personal and professional
past have the potential to explode at any moment, but she is not
the only one with a past; everyone, including Reles and Rachel, has
secrets. As Reles's investigation uncovers a surprising revelation
about Joey's past, Reles and Rachel join Key in becoming the
targets of a powerful madman who seeks to enact a penultimate
revenge upon each and every one of them.

Reles's Austin is not the Chamber of Commerce dream that hosts an
annual music festival and free weekly events in front of city hall,
and in general is a cultural and financial boomtown. Rather, it is
a city cast in shadow, where actions at the highest and lowest
levels are carried out in a furtive manner with dangerous ends,
where one who expects betrayal, pain and death is never
disappointed.

BODY SCISSORS is a story populated by evil characters on both sides
of the law, in which the sins of the past fulfill their promise of
dire consequences in the present. And Michael Simon? He writes like
an angel sitting in a blackened room full of spiders. Highly
recommended.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 7, 2011

Body Scissors
by Michael Simon

  • Publication Date: August 29, 2006
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics)
  • ISBN-10: 0143038052
  • ISBN-13: 9780143038054