Schizophrenic kidnappers in animal costumes. Pompadour-wearing assassins. A hit man who used to be a pretty nice guy. A self-proclaimed ninja. Lots of guns. And a rocket launcher. And … well, you get the point.
Very Mercenary is an over-the-top, highly entertaining novel about the leader of a
subversive guerrilla artist group determined to reshape the world. The unlikely protagonist, Laser Mechanic, has created Strategic Art Defense, an underground movement whose stated goals are “art as communication/art as insurgency,” and “defeat of corporate rule.”
Seeing a prime opportunity to claim the media spotlight and propel his anti-capitalist agenda into every household in the nation, Laser sets off with his band of damaged followers to rescue kidnapped billionaire heiress Leigh Tiller, only to wind up crossing paths with a hit man. Said hit man was once a well-respected doctor, but after a horrific car accident that changed his brain chemistry, he’s just not the same person anymore. Nicknamed The Serologist, the hit man becomes hell-bent on exterminating Laser, whose quick wits and single-minded dedication to forwarding his cause carries him from place to place just before things explode in his face. Sometimes literally. At last, The Serologist has met his match in Laser Mechanic.
Laser and his friends soon have a price on their heads, and they’re fleeing across the country with Leigh Tiller from a long line of killers, as well as from the authorities, toward a reckoning with a variety of malcontents, leaving a body count behind them like a trail of breadcrumbs. Leigh soon begins to question her loyalty to the elitist system from which she came. It becomes increasingly hollow to her, until she eventually “denounces the tyranny of corporate America,” embracing the realization that “the debased breeding ground for poverty that is WalMart” and the “xenophobic morass of cable television” has America “in dire need of a reality injection.” Stockholm Syndrome, is she falling in love with Laser, or does she have an agenda of her own?
Meanwhile, Laser manages to execute his guerrilla art campaign through his underground network of Irregulars, people unsatisfied with capitalism and the status quo. Think of flash mobs on steroids and you might be close to imagining what Laser has in store for the unsuspecting public. In one scene, he and his Irregulars briefly recreate a small town center into one of the worst slums in the world in order to gain media exposure, and then slip away just before the police can pounce.
Part satire, part action romp, Very Mercenary is reminiscent of those B movies I used to love as a kid, but with much better writing. I can’t help but surmise that Quentin Tarantino must have had some sort of influence on this author, which isn’t a bad thing in my opinion. This book is violent and darkly funny, thought-provoking and absurd, and it is a hell of a lot of fun to read. The story is told in the present tense, which gives its meteoric pacing a feeling of immediacy which I really enjoyed, while the tightly-plotted tale moves seamlessly across the American landscape.
Lovers of fast-paced action/thrillers, this one is for you! The next time you need to turn on the testosterone pump, consider picking up this book. You’ll laugh, you’ll cringe, and you may even question your loyalty to the capitalist system, but you won’t be disappointed. Read Very Mercenary today!
Vlad V. is the author of The Button, Yorick, and Brachman’s Underworld. His novella “The Sleep Artist” was published in Insanity Tales, a collection of dark fiction, in October 2014 (Books & Boos Press). His most recent release is his novella “Float,” published in Insanity Tales II: The Sense of Fear in October 2015 (Books & Boos Press). His first kids’ book, The Moon is Dead!, was released in January 2015.
Vlad is also the founder and managing editor of The Storyside, a publishing collaborative dedicated to bringing the best in independent fiction to the market.
He is an editor, publishing consultant, freelance writer, and former newspaper correspondent for the Lowell Sun andFitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise. Learn more about Vlad at www.TheVlad.net.
His books are available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple and Smashwords.com, as well as most bookstores.