Pepper (we only ever know him as Pepper) gets into a fight with three police officers who admit him to Hyde Park mental hospital in Queens, New York because a trip to the precinct would involve too much paperwork. Pepper isn’t crazy. He’s just unlucky, and he gets less lucky as things go. The Devil in Silver while billed as a Horror/Thriller – and yes it is terrifying - is at its heart a book about how bad luck has a way of following those on the bottom rungs of society. Hyde Park mental patients are stuck within an institution that doesn’t just allow bad luck but helps to create it. This isn’t conspiracy, however. Conspiracy implies someone is in control. Pepper suffers not because someone has stolen his freedom. He suffers because something has, something that has no control over itself and is too large and ambiguous a thing to fall under the control of others. Victor Lavalle’s book is not exactly genre fiction – it takes on too big an idea, investigates it with too much nuance – but it moves as fast, very fast, and is as engrossing as you’d expect from a book with The Devil in it.
Feb 2, 2013