Although the basic premise may seem familiar ("Caveman's Valentine," Rosemary Aubert's Ellis Portal series, "Gun, with Occasional Music," "The Zero," and even "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time"), Nathan Larson puts his own definite spin on it. Take a character with a psychological difficulty, in this case obsessive-compulsive disorder, place him in a time after another, but more disastrous, 9/11 in New York City, give him a memory shot full of holes, and make him a vet, probably physically and psychologically manipulated, not by the enemy but by the U.S. military. Bingo! You have "The Dewey Decimal System."
Of course, Dewey Decimal is not his real name. He doesn't or won't remember what his real name is. He talks sporadically of events in his lifetime, or they could be episodes implanted in his brain. He lives in the devastated New York Public Library and is working, compulsively, to organize the books. He is currently still on the 000s. But that's his passion. His livelihood is as muscle for a corrupt New York City D.A., in whatever form that occupation still exists.
There are still police and FBI agents, but they are warped shadows of what used to be. In this post-apocalyptic New York, decimated by both the bombs of 2/14 and a subsequent super-flu, the rules of play are written behind the scenes and under the table. Gangsters of every stripe, especially of Eastern European and Russian origin, run the game. It's hard to know where everyone's loyalties lie. And that is Dewey Decimal's world.
Nathan Larson's book is a rocket ride through this world. His hero is charming but ruthless, quirky with his own moral code. Dead bodies virtually fling themselves all over the pages of the book, mounting in increasing numbers as the book reaches its denouement. (Does Larson have Quentin Tarantino on his speed dial?)
Bring on the Purell (™). I'm ready for the next installment.