This collection of eight standalone short stories churns out a veritable mountain of corpses. In one story death comes from the swift blow of an axe, in another at the end of an excruciatingly lengthy torture, in a third from being burned alive, and in a fourth it is accompanied by cannibalism (yakuza dispose of their victims' bodies by feeding them to prisoners they keep like animals). Blood and excrement flow copiously as well, with nightmare-inducing descriptions filling every story; the genres range from horror to adventure to sci-fi, and the settings to wherever the author's imagination might roam. The title story stands out in particular for being narrated in the first person by a standard Universal Transverse Mercator projection urban road atlas, who speaks of serving as a taxi driver's trusty sidekick for many years. One night, when a young female passenger keeps changing her destination and then, after riding for quite some time, admits she has no money, the driver kills her, buries her, and marks the spot on the map with her blood. Soon he kills another female passenger, and then another, and as the marks in the atlas multiply, the narrator realizes what is going on; with an intelligence at least as sophisticated as a GPS navigation device, it begins trying to steer the driver away from further murders. The number of marks in the atlas has reached eight when the driver suffers a massive heart attack while on the road, and is found decapitated after crashing into a truck. Seeing the marks in his father's atlas and deducing their significance, the driver's son soon begins another round of serial murders . . . The sense of horror is heightened by the utterly placid tone of the narrative.
Contact Michael Staley (firstname.lastname@example.org) at The Staley Agency.