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"The Target Audience" / Cherie Priest

thNoctemAeternus.jpgfrom Noctem Aeternus Magazine/ January 2008
Reviewed by: Vince A. Liaguno

Seattle detective and Idaho transplant Leatus Balter is called in to investigate the bizarre electrocution death of an elderly woman. While attempting to notify next of kin, he discovers an odd DVD in the woman’s purse and finds a disturbing commercial steeped in religious rhetoric and malevolent imagery. With the help of his partner Gary, Leatus soon learns that the victim’s son has had an uncanny run of bad luck – mixed with good fortune in the form of insurance payouts – when his brother, estranged wife, and mother all meet their untimely ends within months of one another.

Enter Tara Henkle, an insurance adjuster from the insurance company that’s paying out big bucks to the dead octogenarian’s son, now MIA. In true damsel in distress fashion, Henkle leads Leatus to believe that there some connection between the series of deaths and the odd commercial found in the dead woman’s purse. Worse, she fears she is next.

The commercials end up being state-of-the-art prayers, the high-tech versions of lighting votive candles. Priest takes shot at the idea that money can buy everything – including God’s attention. The slicker the Super Bowl commercial, the more Doritos Frito Lays sells, right? It’s an interesting premise that Priest wisely veils in some vague religious mysticism, secret Vatican papers, and academic research that reduces divine petitioning to a numbers game. It’s enough to make the story’s protagonist doubt the whole purpose of maintaining law and order when God’s intervention simply goes to the highest, slickest bidder.

Taken from the inaugural issue of the promising Noctem Aeternus Magazine, the new free PDF brainchild of editor Michael Knost, “The Target Audience” offers up a satisfying slice of religion-meets-consumerism that’s part police procedural, part conspiracy theory, and all dark genre enjoyment.

Read Cherie Priest’s “The Target Audience” in Noctem Aeternus.

Posted on Sunday, January 27, 2008 at 08:25AM by Registered CommenterDark Scribe Magazine in | Comments Off

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