Pray for Rain is Book Four in the Fatale series by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. And the noir-Lovecraftian story continues in unexpected ways. First, we find out what’s going on with Nicolas. And then, we get the story of Jo and a grunge band in Seattle in the 1990s. But of course, there are other characters in play: A strange man named Wulf is seeking her out, and Bishop, the cult leader, is still tracing her scent.
When we last saw Nicolas Lash, he was in jail for the suspected murder of a woman with whom he had a one-night stand. He was on her trail because after sleeping with him, she ran off with his godfather’s manuscript of an unpublished first novel. He is now an innocent main imprisoned and confused about his inability to find this document. However, while he is in jail, the inmate librarian hands him a novel by Dominic Raines, his godfather: It turns out the missing manuscript somehow made it to a small publisher while he was out searching for it and has since become a bestseller. In other words, he has wasted his time and lost his freedom looking for a book that he could have purchased at a local bookstore.
At the beginning of Pray for Rain, in the Prologue, Nicolas has been in jail for a year, obsessing over the novel, reading and re-reading it because, apparently, it was published with alterations of a mysterious kind. He is taken to court to meet with his lawyer, and all seems to be going in a steady downward direction in his meeting when things go from bad to worse: A man with long hair barges in, kills the lawyer, and forces Nicolas on the run — he now has two murders hanging over his head, and he didn’t commit either one. He doesn’t know who this man is and neither do we.
Then we are taken back to 1995 to meet Lance. He’s a former grunge rock star turned bank robber when he meets Josephine while he’s on the run from the police. Pray for Rain really takes off from this point, this initial meeting in Seattle. Lance is making his getaway, and Jo, naked and covered in blood, comes stumbling out into the road. Lance picks her up and takes her home to where he lives with the rest of the band. The story then splits in two: First, we find out the reason Jo was covered in blood when she met Lance. One of those reasons is hot on her trail. Secondly, we find out Jo’s impact on the band Amsterdam, whose songwriter just can’t seem to get down to writing songs again after their big hit and tour, and the only way they can even make a video now is by using the money Lance steals from a bank.
So, we get the continuing story of Nicolas, the story of a dangerous man hunting down Josephine, and the tale of a rock band claustrophobically trapped together in a Mansion with Jo and one young woman. Brubaker builds up the suspense in each one of these sections of Pray for Rain and manages to write another five-star addition to the Fatale series. This volume can be topped only by yet another volume of Fatale, and if you’ve made it this far, you will want to pick up Book Five, in which most of our questions will be answered.