I'm one of the judges for the Shamus Awards this year and one of the submissions is Big Machine by Victor LaValle. The book seems to be an attempt to reinvent genre and pull it across the line into the land of serious literature. The novel's narrator Ricky is a janitor, an ex-junkie and a cult survivor. He’s also one of seven African Americans summoned to Vermont by a mysterious figure called the Dean. He sends Ricky after a deserter from the Dean’s team who has organized an army of homeless suicide bombers to attack the Bay Area.
This dark novel deals with race, faith and religion in a whole new way, and explores LaValle’s thesis that “Doubt is the big machine . . . [that] grinds up the delusions of men and women." I haven’t decided yet if it’s a Shamus contender, but I can say that Big Machine is a great read. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/07/AR2...