He could have been the next Einstein. He could have won a Nobel prize. His teenage son stood a great chance of becoming president someday. Only if things had turned out differently for Matthew Brand. If the cops hadn’t gunned down his son in a case of mistaken identity; he had been a black kid at the wrong place at the wrong time. But the juries acquitted the officers involved, and while they walked away scot-free, Matthew would never see his beloved son again. And the world would keep on turning. If not for Matthew and his dream. His dream of getting back all that he lost. A dream his mind knows he can turn into science. The only thing he needs are the bodies of those who took away his boy.
When they finally caught the man, the government devised “The Wall”, a high-tech facility meant to keep unique criminals in stasis – neither living nor dead – to hack away at Brand’s mind indefinitely. Until one day, the nation’s boogey man vanishes into thin air. For FBI-agent Allison Moore the chase is on to apprehend Brand before he can exact his insane vengeance. Meanwhile, the killer’s only unlikely admirer has to make a moral decision; to witness the completion of one great man’s labour of love, or to be a Judas to a dark saviour. Matthew Brand was always destined for greatness. Now, he will show the world how great he really is. And absolutely nothing will stand in his way.
A bloodcurdling mix of Silence of the Lambs and The Cell, author David Beers is merciless in his execution of this crime-fuelled horror story, creating haunting images of murderous insanity that left me quite shaken throughout. Written from a killer’s obsessed perspective, Beers succeeds in creating a frightening villain for which we are compelled to feel sympathy. The Devil’s Dream is a triumph of characterization in action.
Still, this book isn’t without its flaws. There are a few loose ends that could have been tied-up in various interesting ways. While “The Wall” is an interesting device, I would have liked to have learned more about it. How did they design it? l honestly thought that at one point we would discover that Brand himself had a hand in creating his own Sci-Fi purgatory. Instead, we are served a chapter where I felt its literary potential was diminished by feeding the data it had gathered into a clichéd hacker’s virtual simulation of the inside of Brand’s head.
But the biggest leap I had to take as a reader involves a general problem concerning fictional geniuses: a protagonist’s brilliance is never greater than the writer’s vision. And while David Beers has committed a convincingly dangerous character to paper, when it comes to Brand’s larger-than-life intellect, we never really get to learn what makes his mind tick. Described as calculating to the point of clairvoyance, he seems to be too distracted by his obsession to focus on the big picture – too often escaping the FBI through sheer luck instead of brainpower. We’re rarely taken through the process of how he is able to run circles around the entire US police force; he just does. Similarly, we never get an inside glance at how his murderous resurrection chamber works; it just does. In the end, I would have liked for the novel to have taken more time and space to develop.
Ultimately, The Devil’s Dream is a solid piece of fiction by a promising author. It’s suspenseful plot and thought-provoking characterizations are more than enough to keep turning pages until the bitter, jaw-dropping end. If anything, The Devil’s Dream has one clear message: Look out, world! David Beers is on his way.