The Secret History of Las Vegas: A Novel
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A gritty, riveting, and wholly original murder mystery from PEN/Hemingway Award-winning author and 2015 Edgar Awards winner Chris Abani
Before he can retire, Las Vegas detective Salazar is determined to solve a recent spate of murders. When he encounters a pair of conjoined twins with a container of blood near their car, he’s sure he has apprehended the killers, and enlists the help of Dr. Sunil Singh, a South African transplant who specializes in the study of psychopaths. As Sunil tries to crack the twins, the implications of his research grow darker. Haunted by his betrayal of loved ones back home during apartheid, he seeks solace in the love of Asia, a prostitute with hopes of escaping that life. But Sunil’s own troubled past is fast on his heels in the form of a would-be assassin.
Suspenseful through the last page, The Secret History of Las Vegas is Chris Abani’s most accomplished work to date, with his trademark visionary prose and a striking compassion for the inner lives of outsiders.
possible? Everyone knew what had happened there. The bars on the windows, bloodstains on the guardhouse, faded but still visible. All of it still there and these people bought it to grow food on? Brought children to live there? He saw them, a couple of slight girls, blond and sprightly, swimming in that river that had held so many rotting bodies. It was unnatural, and perhaps that was worse even than what had really gone on there. Farther back from the edges of the farm, up in the hills, a
was practiced in. How else could people live the way they did in South Africa when they were surrounded by the chaotic set designs of the townships and shanty towns that circled the hearts of cities like Johannesburg. He was reminded for a moment of Eugene and his love for Dante and the circles of hell. He hated to admit it, but Eugene had been right in his choice of Inferno, except their interpretations differed. Where Eugene saw only the internal battle of the privileged soul, Sunil saw the
entire architecture and structures of racism and apartheid: three concentric circles of life and economics. Color-coded circles for easy understanding, whites at the heart, coloreds at the next remove, and finally, the blacks at the outermost circle; the closest to hell—the strange inverse sense of apartheid. All the banks, businesses, and shops of any merit were at the heart of the circle. At one remove, the colored towns, a perfect ring of defense around the white heart. The coloreds were not
ethically challenged researcher, or worse, an administrator. Sunil wasn’t skilled in the delicacy of finding the right language for obscuring the intersection of death and scientific distance, and he had a grudging respect for those who were. At least it was nearly five, and while the institute didn’t run regular hours, it was still close to the end of the day. He sighed and rubbed his eyes, staring at the results of the tests graphing neatly across the squared paper in blue, green, and red
serious accusation, Sunil, Brewster said. And yet you’re not denying it. You’re right. I have been running live tests again. Your research is taking too long, particularly the control dose. The military contract that funds you moved the timetable up and I knew that I couldn’t depend on you to do the tests. You aren’t the risk taker I had hoped for. You are far too deliberate, even for a scientist. Are you responsible for the dead homeless men? No, Sunil, Brewster said, smiling. It’s your