John Rodgers is an ex-gangbanger from North Philly in New York City for a Social Worker Job Fair. After a tough day there he heads to a local bar, where he meets Ariel, a beautiful red-head that seems far out of his league. Instead the two hit it off so well that they go back to her hotel for a one-night-stand. Unfortunately they are interrupted by a squad of men with assault rifles seemingly bent on killing Ariel. She pulls a glock out of her purse and a running gunfight ensues, and ends with Ariel shot in the shoulder and several times in the legs. She refuses to go to a hospital so John takes her to his old friends a former doctor turned Junkie, who tells John that Ariel is ...something else. Her body is criss-crossed with scars, some new and some faded almost to invisibility. She also has a few baby teeth in her mouth, although she seems to be in her late twenties.
So far we are about ten percent of the way into The Furies and we haven't yet got a chance to grab our breath. Author Mark Alpert must enjoy this, because he keeps the pace up for the rest of the way, and Ariel's story as it unwinds is stranger than strange, but I am not going to reveal it here, because so much of the fun in this book is seeing that way that Mr. Alpert manages to keep unspooling surprise after surprise without slowing down the action for a moment. He also pushes the envelope of belief about as far as it will go, revealing that Ariel is part of a conspiracy that has existed for thousands of years and is basically responsible for many of the advancements that have raised mankind from hunter-gatherers to its current advanced state. The bad news is that the conspirators have split into two groups, and things have escalated into open warfare, which explains the attack on Ariel that kicks off the book. With so much action, ,and this book has tons of it, which Mr. Alpert manages to keep from going too far over the top, and so much plot there isn't too much room for deep characters, and that's okay.
We like John and Ariel, they are decent people, and we come to care for them, and it's enough. The language is solid and transparent, and while Mr. Alpert isn't going to make your jaw drop with purple prose he doesn’t have too. Too often people underestimate a writer who doesn’t feel like he has to draw attention to himself but simply gets the job done. I always feel like saying, if you think it's so easy, let's see you do it.
Now when Ariel gets to where she going there is a bit too much exposition, and so many twist and turns unravel in the last fifth of the book that it feels a bit rushed and compressed, but these are small complaints. For most of this book I felt like I was flying down the biggest hill on a rollercoaster, and if that isn't enough to ask for, then I don't know what is.