Fags and Lager (retitled Booze and Burn) by Charlie Williams
"Royston Blake don't wipe arses for no fucker. I'm just being meta...you know, meta...I'm just saying like." BOOZE AND BURN has solidified the Mangel Series as some of my favorite books. I spent far too much time away after reading DEADFOLK (read my review here.) But I'm happy to say that BOOZE AND BURN held it's own and I'll be reading the next three books before the year is out. In BOOZE AND BURN, another outsider has arrived in the city of Mangel and kids are causing all kinds of disorderly mess. As Blake says so eloquently, "I'm Royston fucking Blake, and every cunt knows where I stands on outsiders. They don't scare us and I ain't fooled by their ways." The book takes place a couple of years after DEADFOLK, and Williams does a brilliant job making it stand on its own without dumping information about the events in DEADFOLK on the reader. Readers interested in a truly unique voice and a heavy dose of black humor should look no further.
Choke Hold by Christa Faust
The sequel to Faust's Money Shot, CHOKE HOLD catches up with Angel Dare after the previous book's events wrap up - or so you think. CHOKE HOLD succeeds because of its believable characters and story. This isn't just an episodic series where characters heal and get a fresh restart. There are real consequences for Angel's actions and it's been great to watch her grow (and survive) over two novels. Hoping for a third!
Junkie Love by Joe Clifford
JUNKIE LOVE is a compelling wild ride in which Clifford lays his soul bare and pulls no punches. I think another reviewer may have described it best as "making you feel like you're rubbernecking a multi-car accident on the highway." To me, it felt like watching a swimmer come up for a little less air each time before dunking their face back in to take another stroke. A fascinating story and one hell of a gutsy book.
A Wind of Knives by Ed Kurtz
Having enjoyed Kurtz's action-packed entry in the Sam Truman series, I was eager to pick up his latest novella. I'm a big fan of Westerns, though more through film and television than in print. I've read a lot of Western short stories but nothing novella/novel length. I went into A WIND OF KNIVES without reading the back cover blurb or any reviews, and I was pleasantly surprised with the direction Kurtz took with his tale of revenge. A WIND OF KNIVES is a story about love and revenge, but also about change. The novella takes place during the Civil War. A time of great upheaval when men were being conscripted into the Confederate Army and law enforcement spread thin between common crimes, deserters and the 'Indian threat.' It's during this time that the protagonist, Daniel Hays, finds his ranch hand (and lover) tortured and hanged by a gang of hateful men. What follows is a fast-paced tale full of memorable characters and events that will stand up well next to any Western piece of fiction.
Baby Juice by Brian Panowich
Being a fan of Zelmer Pulp, how could I not snap up a kindle single with a title like BABY JUICE? Panowich's sample of the upcoming Zelmer Pulp weird west collection introduces Harmon Brown, more beast than man and haunted by his past. BABY JUICE contains a lot of background on Brown that I hope Panowich delves into in future tales. BABY JUICE is an action-packed romp through 1880's Dodge City, teeming with weird western flair that made me wish I still had my old Deadlands books. Looking forward to more Weird Westerns.
Asylum - 13 Tales of Terror by Matt Drabble
I'm a sucker for asylum horror. From Dennis Lehane's Shutter Island to House on Haunted Hill (yes, I'll admit even the remake possessed a few parts I enjoyed). So Matt Drabble's ASYLUM - 13 TALES OF TERROR was right up my alley. The book follows Martin Parcell, former writer turned janitor at the Blackwater Heights hospital. I enjoyed the stories from Martin's perspective and learning about the patients and staff at the hospital, how they came to be there and why they remain. A few of the stories contained truly chilling moments and were just the right length to keep me coming back for more.