The Dewey Decimal System by Nathan Larson | Book review
Shudder to Think’s guitarist finds a second career.
A military vet wakes up every morning from the same dream: An unseen man (maybe him?) aims a gun at his sleeping family, and the gun’s report wakes him up.
At first, the dream appears to be the result of post-traumatic stress disorder, one of the many ways his brain misfires after his time “in a landscape without features, save for the funnels of sand the wind might kick up.” But very little is as it seems with the ex-soldier, the job he now barely holds down, the world whose shadows he inhabits, and this punch-drunk, highly addictive debut novel.
The vet goes by the name Dewey Decimal System. Sometime in the near future, he lives in a New York City almost completely abandoned after three financial collapses and terrorist attacks have chased off 90 percent of the population. He holes up in a public library branch, organizing the books to a system in his head, and works as hired muscle for a corrupt district attorney, who has christened him Dewey. The DA gives Dewey the assignment of “silencing” Yakiv Shapsko, a Ukrainian who owns a large construction firm and who has ties to the mob. But thanks in part to Shapsko’s preparedness and Dewey’s hiccuping brain, things quickly go awry.
Larson relies a little heavily on a few gimmicks—an oversaturated noir style, the constant references to Purell, complete with the floating tm. The former guitarist for Shudder to Think should have more confidence in his chops: In Dewey he’s created the perfect protagonist for a story that flies by, strafing contemporary culture as it goes. It’s whip smart and bonkers, and Dewey is both vulnerable and dangerous. This is supposed to be the first book in a series, and we’re looking forward to seeing where it goes.