Jeff Jackson’s newest novel paints a local music scene that is dark and turbulent, mired in uncertainty, fear, and dread. The anxious small-town musicians, aspiring managers, obsessive collectors, and ravenous fans in Destroy All Monsters, which FSG Originals published last month, aren’t grappling with shuttering clubs or scene infighting or cops cracking down on DIY venues, like so many of their real-world counterparts.

Instead, someone—or someones—is gunning down musicians mid-set for reasons unknown. Soon, musicians around the country are coping with these tragedies, which begin in the fictional town of Arcadia but spread copycat-style across America.

In an era when mass shootings have become a sad national norm, Destroy All Monsters is as urgent and visceral a story as readers might find, as it grapples with the shockwaves sent through a community and the anxieties that fester in the wake of such tragedies. And while Jackson, a fiction writer and playwright based in Charlotte, conceptualized the story long before the tragedy at France’s Bataclan, life’s imitation of art and vice versa is frighteningly present throughout the book.

Jackson’s debut small-press novel, the stunning Mira Corpora, garnered accolades from The Los Angeles Times and Don DeLillo. It’s a surreal tale full of colonies of outcast children, magical mixtapes, teenage oracles, and haunted amusement parks. While Destroy All Monsters is decidedly less fantastical, it still challenges literary norms, eschewing quotation marks in dialogue and conceptualizing the entire story as if it were a rock record.

Like an album, Destroy All Monsters has two sides, leaving the reader to choose which to read first. Side A, subtitled “My Dark Ages,” follows Xenie, a disillusioned yet talented singer, and the stubborn guitarist Florian as they wander through a music scene and town in tatters, grappling with the murder of Shaun, the former’s boyfriend and latter’s ex-bandmate and best friend.

Side B, “Kill City,” takes a macro view of the national epidemic of musicians being murdered while performing. Xenie, Shaun, and Florian become part of the story’s fabric rather than the story itself, reminding us that these tragedies are so much more than information scrolling across a chyron on a nightly television news program.

Destroy All Monsters often reads like a document in the vein of Jon Fine’s Your Band Sucks or Legs McNeil’s Please Kill Me.

Music is the book’s beating heart. Whereas DeLillo’s Great Jones Street was a musing on celebrity dressed up as rock tome, and Jessica Hagedorn’s The Gangster of Love is as much about family and cultural adaptation as it is about punk rock, the core ethos of Destroy All Monsters is the relationship between the obsessives and the music, at a time when music is becoming ever more disposable, ever less valuable.

One part modern noir, one part angsty post-teen rock novel, one part allegory about the cast-off nature of music in the age of streaming, the propulsive and uber-stylized Destroy All Monsters deeply probes the question of music’s place in an ever-faster world, and what it might take, as Xenie argues in Side A, for it to begin to matter again.