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A new thriller hits the bookshelves

By James Argendeli
CNN Headline News

Michael Slade's "Bed of Nails"

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(CNN) -- It's time to round up the usual, or should I say, the unusual suspects. Author Michael Slade is back and this is going to be one heck of a ride. The writer's name alone brings up images of a weary, "seen-it-all detective who lets his fists do the talking for him." It's a funky picture but not entirely correct.

This Michael Slade writes novels about Mounties. Mounties? Get all those pictures of Dudley-Do-Right out of your head. Slade's novels are definitely not for the faint of heart.

In his latest novel, "Bed of Nails," we have a thriller that electroshocks the reader into turning the pages long into the night. This is the 10th novel to feature the investigations of the Special X unit of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Fear not -- Slade gives enough background information so new readers will not be confused.

"Bed of Nails" is about an incarcerated serial murderer who believes he is Jack the Ripper. You read that right -- not the reincarnated Ripper or a copycat Ripper but the actual Jack the Ripper. (Remember, Jack was never caught.)

This Ripper is serving a life sentence in a Canadian mental institution when he develops a plan to get even with Zinc Chandler, the inspector who got him checked into the institution several years earlier.

The Ripper has fans on the outside and as the story opens, one of them, it seems, may be a copycat killer who murders his victims in a rather elaborate manner. Could he be a student of "The Ripper"?

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When another murder happens outside of Ted Bundy's old house in Seattle (yes, the Ted Bundy executed in Florida for multiple murders), Chandler is off to the rainy city for more investigations. This leads Chandler to drop by the annual World Horror Convention that is taking place in Seattle, a world of Goths, ghouls, artists and combative ex-lawyers turned horror writers. Little does Chandler know that he's a pawn in a horrifying game of revenge.

"Bed of Nails" is a get-under-your-skin thriller with machine-gun dialogue and enough impressive real-world research (check out the sources at the book's end) to make the reader thankful for the Mounties north of the border.

Now, for a final twist: There is no Michael Slade. Slade is a pen name used by Vancouver-based lawyer Jay Clarke, who has written all 10 novels with a series of collaborators. The last three Slade novels were co-written with his daughter, Rebecca Clarke.

"Bed of Nails" has been published in hardback by Penguin Canada. A paperback edition by Onyx Books will be out in November for the U.S. market.

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