Callisto (4 stars)

TORSTEN KROL

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Callisto (Atlantic)

BLACK COMEDY

Authors don’t come more enigmatic than Torsten Krol. He lives in Queensland, Australia and Callisto is his second UK release. And that’s about all that’s known of him since he refuses to reveal his identity further, even to his publishers. Not that they likely care, so long as novels like this - a brilliantly succinct, dry and subtly hilarious comment on modern morality - keep coming.

Set in backwater Kansas, it charts the travails of loveably simple hick Odell Deefus. When his car breaks down on the way to enlist for the US Army, he’s taken in by a random local, triggering a bizarre series of events that sees him stumble helplessly from witless patriot to America’s most wanted man. Full of death, drugs, terrorism and corpse-hiding, it’s as black as night, but even as Deefus drifts right to the ugly core of contemporary America, Krol’s devilishly sharp pinpricks of humour always keep the tone sufficiently light. Whoever said you shouldn’t trust strangers?

(Malcolm Jack)

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