Act of Love by Joe R. Lansdale

By Joe R. Lansdale

Telling the tautly plotted tale of a contemporary Jack the Ripper's spree in Houston, Lansdale creates a strong mixture of crime, police paintings, and social commentary--all with an eye fixed for image element. Act of affection, his first novel, is a collector's merchandise for Lansdale's outdated enthusiasts and crucial analyzing for his new ones.

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He put the fork in the glass and put the milk and bread away. Wished too late that he had put a slice of cheese on his sandwich. He turned off the kitchen light, went into the livingroom and flipped on the light. The room was paneled in red mahogony—what room there was to see. Most of the walls were hidden by rows of bookshelves. He may have grown up poor, he may have lived in the ghetto, but his grand- daddy had taught him to read and to love books. As a child he had owned one prize possession: A library card.

That was supposed to symbolize something. The turning of confusion into order. The rebirth of the Phoenix. Fat chance. Not in Houston, Texas. There would never be a new dawn for that world of concrete, steel, pollution and crowded human flesh. Each day was another wallow in the slush. More death and destruction, and one more job for one more cop. Day one every morning. Day one forever. It was like being a janitor. You could come in on schedule, sweep and mop, wax and throw out the garbage. But next day it was right back again, sometimes worse than the day before.

Poor Bella. A street whore swept out with the rest of the slush. * The house was dark. Upstairs Rachel would be sleeping, soft- brown and snug in the blankets. In less than a half-hour she would be up and at it. Dragging JoAnna out of bed and getting her off to school and herself off to work. Next year JoAnna had college. What a nag. Money, money, money. More money than a cop with a mortgage and too many bills could afford. But he'd manage somehow. He and Rachel always did. " He unlocked the door and slipped inside, went to the kitchen, turned on the light and went to the refrigerator.

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