Kyle Nevin has just finished eight years in federal prison for bank robbery, and he knows that his one-time mentor, Red Mahoney, the South Boston crime boss, betrayed him to the feds. Kyle goes back to Southie, hell-bent on finding the fugitive Mahoney and killing him very slowly. But Southie has changed; his former criminal associates, even his little brother, Danny, have gone straight. Everyone is still terrified of Kyle, but few now see him as a hero or a local celebrity. Undeterred, Kyle drags his brother into his quest for revenge, and the body count quickly rises. As in Small Crimes (2008), Zeltserman’s fine debut, his protagonist is psychopathic, and obsession, hubris, and rage are the things that animate him. The often violent story is told quite matter-of-factly, and that serves to harden the edge of this dark novel. Zeltserman also patterns Mahoney on real-life Boston crime czar Whitey Bulger, who remains number 2 on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list, right behind Osama Bin Laden. For readers looking for edgy crime fiction, Pariah fills the bill.
— Thomas Gaughan