Book Review: "Deviant Behavior" by Mike Sager

"Deviant Behavior" by Mike Sager is a jumbled combination of drugs, crime, history, metaphysics and archaeology. It’s set in both the seedy underbelly and the upscale areas of Washington, D.C., among other real and possibly imagined settings. It is a conglomerate of stories, all centered, firstly, on “the strip” (a morally degenerate area, rampant with prostitutes, pimps and johns). Further into the novel, the reader is introduced to a crystal skull, which is the real center of the novel and the tie that binds all of the story’s characters together.

"Deviant Behavior" gets off to a run of the mill start. The reader is first introduced to some middle-class, middle-aged and discontented men. These men are on a mission to get the prostitutes, pimps and johns off of “the strip.” The story then takes a few seemingly random and sometimes frustrating jumps. These jumps may occasionally make the reader want to skip ahead because they appear pointless and are sometimes, well . . . boring. However, Mike Sager does a good enough job writing "Deviant Behavior" that the reader just may plug on for fear of missing some of the good stuff, which crops up often enough.

Mike Sager incorporates many strange individuals into "Deviant Behavior," perhaps too many. He develops some very interesting and/or colorful characters. However, he could have given a little more background for some or done away with the background of a few. Regardless, characters like Jonathan Seede, a Washington Herald reporter who is also researching a book on drug culture while cultivating a crack habit to get his child-obsessed wife to pay attention to him, a drug dealer who goes by the name “Pope of Pot” and speaks like a crazed, hippy/druggy/religious leader, do lend a humorous and surprisingly insightful element to the novel.

If the reader can be patient with the mildly annoying jumps in the story line, "Deviant Behavior" actually pans out to be a good novel. Mike Sager takes the reader briefly into a world of mystery, spirituality and history. He also takes the reader into the lives of a hooker, a dealer, a pimp, a user, a very rich man, a good cop, a gay man and more. Not many more slightly cliché, yet exciting characters, places and objects could fit into this novel. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing will depend on the reader.

Shelly Barclay 

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