Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Prey of the Scavenger

Lanaia Lee's novel Prey of the Scavenger is a good, old-fashioned creepy thriller set in New Orleans. It takes us inside two minds: a serial killer whose goal is to complete 17 grisly sacrifices, and the detective who's trying to catch this Scavenger while mourning the loss of his pregnant wife. Their story, told through journal entries, poetry and straight narration, is almost impossible to put down.

The Scavenger is no ordinary predator. He does his gruesome work in the name of his god, Mati. The Scavenger, whom we also know as Dillon, is a practitioner of a form of Voodoo. The Voodoo Dillon practices is only loosely related to the Haitian religion, and the only supernatural elements to this story are inside Dillon's own twisted mind. He does, however, leave a "Mojo bag" of roots and herbs at each crime scene, taunted a pair of detectives and an FBI profiler.

I was curious about Mati - is he really a god, or loa, of Voodoo? I searched some online encyclopedias, including the African portal of Encyclopedia Mythica, and I could find no references to Mati. The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets mentions a Mati-Syra-Zemlya, but she is a benevolent entity, a mother-goddess figure, who protects certain Slavic peoples against bad weather, malevolent spells and evil spirits. Mati-Syra-Zemlya is appeased with offerings of hemp oil and veneration of her image, not 17 human sacrifices. This is a note of curiosity on my part; that Lee seems to have invented the name from outside Voodoo tradition does not detract from the story.

You will enjoy Prey of the Scavenger if you like detective thrillers. It's a brisk, 77-page read that can be finished off in one sitting. Although there are no paranormal elements to this one, if you like Cheryl Pillsbury's vampire novels Nathan and Donavan, you'll like this one, too.

Disclosure: Although this is the reviewer's honest opinion, the reviewer works for AG Press with Ms. Lee and has been compensated for this review.

No comments: