What terror lurks in the shadows of the Old Country? Well, there are the goblins, of course. Then there are the bloodthirsty cannibals from nearby Carpathia, secret societies plotting in whispers, and murder victims found drained of their blood, to name a few. That's to say nothing of the multitude of government ministries, any one of which might haul one off for "questioning" in the middle of the night. The Old Country is saturated with doom, and Sloot is scarcely able to keep from drowning in it. Each passing moment is certain to be his last, though never did fate seem so grim as the day he was asked to correct the worst report ever written. Will the events put in motion by this ghastly financial statement end in Sloot's grisly death? Almost definitely. Is that the worst thing that could happen? Almost definitely not.
Hooker (The Winter Riddle) demonstrates a delightfully firm grasp on absurdist fantasy in his second novel. Sloot Peril is an accountant with aspirations to mediocrity and not a whit of courage. His life in the totalitarian Salzstadt is equally divided among passing the time in his tiny apartment; joining rituals praising the Domnitor, Salzstadt's revered leader; and caring for the money of the wealthy. Against his will, he's drawn deep into a web of political intrigue and secret societies; even worse, his beloved mother is up to her ears in a scheme involving the Carpathians, Salzstadt's greatest enemies. What follows is a gleeful caper rife with literary influences from Victorian-era English novels to tales of Transylvania with a plethora of potshots taken at propaganda, the proletariat, and personal peccadilloes. Though the story is repetitive in places and unashamedly full of outlandish situations, Hooker nevertheless spins an amusing tale that will appeal to fans of bitter comedy.