Over the years, Hand has written contemporary stories, often gloriously and believably, about such unlikely things as the goddess Diana ("Waking the Moon") and Dionysian ritual ("Black Light"). Of late, she's moved into the crime novel territory witha wonderful hero: washed-up punk photographer Cass Neary - whose CBGB-era book, "Dead Girls," once resonated hugely in the art world. Now, though, perpetually hungover and barely solvent, Cass heads to Scandinavia on a gig to authenticate underground art images of murder scenes ascribed to a brilliant photographer notorious in Norway's black metal music scene. When the artist and his assistant are murdered, and Cass falls under suspicion, she hunts down Iceland's surviving black metal musicians and discovers a fervant and violent allegiance to pre-Christian religions of antiquity.
- RICK KOSTER