Published by Harper Collins on March 3rd 2009
Genres: Fiction, General, Suspense, Thrillers
From the acclaimed and controversial author of Permanent Midnight comes one of the most vividly subversive, savagely funny, and explosive novels yet unleashed in our tender century. Pain Killers is a violent and mind-wrenching masterpiece in the gonzo noir style that has earned Jerry Stahl his legion of avid fans. Down-and-out ex-cop and not-quite-reformed addict Manny Rupert accepts a job going undercover to find out if an old man locked up in a California prison is who he claims to be: the despicable—and allegedly dead—Josef Mengele, aka the Angel of Death. What if, instead of drowning thirty years ago, the sadistic legend whose Auschwitz crimes still horrify faked his own death and is now locked up in San Quentin, ranting and bitter about being denied the adulation he craves for his contribution to keeping the Master Race pure—if no longer masterful? After accidentally reuniting with ex-wife and love of his life, Tina, at San Quentin—they first met at the crime scene where Tina murdered her first husband with Drano-laced Lucky Charms—Manny spends a bad night imbibing boxed wine and questionable World War One morphine, hunched over a trove of photos showing live genital dissections that plant him in the middle of a conspiracy involving genocide, drugs, eugenics, human experiments, and America's secret history of collusion with German believers in Nordic superiority. Manny's quest sends him careening from one extreme of apocalypse-adjacent reality to the other: from SS-inked Jewish shotcallers to meth-crazed virgin hookers, from Mexican gangbangers to Big Pharma–financed prison research to an animal shelter that gasses more than stray dogs and cats . . . Pain Killers captures one man's struggle against a perverse and demented scheme of global proportions, in a literary tour de force as outrageous, compelling, and dangerous as history itself. Not for the faint of heart, the novel hurtles readers into a disturbing, original, and alarmingly real world filled with some of the kinkiest sex, most horrific violence, and screaming wit ever found on the page—proving yet again that Stahl is, as The New Yorker described him,
Let me begin by saying this is a weird book. I generally enjoy wired book because books are supposed to take you into an alternate reality right?
This book however makes Kafka look tame by comparison. The premise is that A man in hired to go undercover to see if a prison guard is really a Nazi Camp guard in hiding. It delves into the world of drug addicts and prostitution and other underbelly activities. It takes twist and turns that no reader could have anticipated. It has dark undertones throughout the book. It also has a good psychological bent as it explores the dark side of human nature. It was entertaining to be able to see that whole spectrum without actually being in any harm. He also injects humor into his subject so you don’t feel as if he is dragging you down. Some books after you have read them leave you feeling more depressed than you were before reading them. Not so with Pain Killers.
When I arrived at the end of the book I was like what?! huh? That is a good thing in my opinion. Not many books have that ability. A book that takes you on a ride has accomplished its purpose.