Simon & Schuster, 2015, New York, US.
From the #1, award-winning Flemish crime writer, an atmospheric, genre-busting crime novel about a cop who comes back from the dead to track down the same serial killer who shot him.
A serial killer is on the loose in Ostend, Belgium. Nicknamed The Stuffer, the mysterious killer fills his victims full of sand and poses them as public art installations—and the once idyllic beach town is in a panic. The fact that Rafael Styx is on the case is no comfort. The corrupt, middle-aged cop has a bum hip, a bad marriage, and ties to the Belgian underworld, but no leads. And if he wants to catch the killer before he’s replaced by the young, ambitious, and flamboyant new cop, Detective Delacroix, he’ll have to take matters into his own hands.
When a chance encounter puts him face to face with The Stuffer, Rafael’s life is cut short by a gun to the chest. But the afterlife has only just begun: Styx wakes up a zombie. Gradually he realizes his unique position. Not only is his body in decay, now that he exists between life and death, he can enter a “different” Ostend, of the Belle Époque in all its grandeur. There he meets the surrealist painter, Paul Delvaux, who gives Styx his first clue about the killer.
With a fresh lead and a fresh start, the dirty cop decides to change his ways, catch The Stuffer, and restore his honor. But as his new hunger for human flesh impedes his progress, he’ll need his old rival, Detective Delacroix to help him out. Only one thing is for sure, even death can’t stop Styx from catching his own murderer.
Complex and compelling, full of suspense, action, and black humor, Styx is an exciting thriller with an intriguing protagonist and evocative setting.
"Styx is a taut detective story with dash of Surrealism. Imagine Dashiell Hammett sending Sam Spade into a dark, off-kilter world of artists, zombies, and serial killers."—Richard Kadrey, Author of the Sandman Slim Series
“[A] taut, atmospheric, and suspenseful crime story. Readers can feel the fog settling in, as they learn about surrealist art, the history of Ostend, and Belgian imperialism as it pertains to race issues in the country today. These details are all seamlessly incorporated into the investigation…Thankfully, the door appears to be open for a sequel. Run, don’t walk, to give this book to fans of Jo Nesbø and Robert Galbraith. Dhooge has won multiple crime-writing awards; it’s time for American readers to see why for themselves."—Booklist (starred review)
"Through a balance of dark humor, noir style, and avoidance of over-the-top slapstick, Dhooge and Pachter make it all work. The most successful aspects of the novel are Styx’s realization of what he has lost and can never regain — the love of his wife and son — and his troubled relationship with Delacroix."—The Washington Independent Review of Books
“An atmospheric, noir-tinged tale about a stubborn cop who just won't quit, even if he is dead."—Kirkus
“Intriguing…the gritty, hard-boiled tone is spot-on…the powerful existential undertone and strange redemptive tale make this an entertaining and moving read."—Publishers Weekly
“Styx is a whodunnit about a serial killer with a strange sense of art. It's a mystery. It's a horror story. It's creepy, well written, VERY different, and hard to put down.”—Les Roberts, author of the Milan Jacovich mystery series
"This attractive fusion of genres by award-winning Belgian author Dhooge (Scam Alarm) tells a captivating tale with excellent pacing and tension. Styx’s rookie partner, Delacroix, is a sympathetic character with an absorbing backstory and unusual cultural perspective….Hand this one to lovers of detective fiction who aren’t afraid to mix it up with urban fantasy.."—Library Journal
“Zombie crime thriller” is such a perfect idea that one only marvels that one hasn’t struck it big yet... And Bavo Dhooge absolutely knows what he’s doing. He keeps things moving at a brisk pace, never letting Styx or us stop too long to think about what the hell is really happening to him.It’s honed to appeal mostly to fans of crime thrillers, but I think its zombie and time travel elements are a really interesting hook for any genre fans who want to take a walk on the dark side... It’s a fast read and one that has more than enough going on to keep the reader continually engaged."—SF Signal