Genre - Dark Crime/Neo-Noir/Horror
Year Published - 2015 [*Nov. 3rd]
Length - 240 (digital) pages
Written by Adam Howe
Rating: 5+ Skulls
Three original novellas of hard-bolied crime, graphic horror, and pitch-black gallows humor.
[The beauty of reading this book, digitally, is that I did not have a back-of-the-book/book-flap summary to tell me what each of the stories are about, which makes it more interesting!
So, the above is the only description that you will get from me.] ;-)
I am still having trouble narrowing Howe down as to exactly what type of genre writer he is... Splatterpulp maybe?
Well, whatever specific genre he is pigeonholed under, he is the King of it!
In fact, I would say it is fair that whatever genre Howe decides to dabble in that he will dominate it!
(To steal a phrase from Randy Chandler - another Comet Press author that I will be looking into - who happened to write the intro to this book; Howe is a "wizard with words"!)
One of the novellas in this book is 'Gator Bait' which I read (and reviewed) as a stand-alone story, back in August, so no need to re-cap that one, other to say that it is a great read, and fits perfectly into this collection!
As for the other two novellas in this book:
I had every intention of saying that 'Damn Dirty Apes' was going to be my favorite of Howe's stories, thus far, however the rawness of the title story 'Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet' takes the cake (we'll get to that).
You may recall, from a prior post of mine, that there was some controversy over 'Damn Dirty Apes' involving S.P.N.A.S.A. (the Society for the Preservation of the North American Skunk Ape).
After having now read the story, I do not see what all the fuss was about. (this controversy is recollected at the end of this book in Howe's "Story Notes")
For the record, I found the skunk ape hunter, Jameson T. Salisbury, to be more of a Captain Ahab type character (even moreso than Howe's professed Quint from Jaws) as opposed to the slanderous perception of the General Secretary of S.P.N.A.S.A., but enough of that...
As great as 'Damn Dirty Apes' is, one of my favorite parts about it is the fact that it directly ties in to another of Howe's stories from 'Black Cat Mojo'. I don't know that this story would have happened, the way that it did, without that video camera!
Now, for the title story:
In my last Howe review [Black Cat Mojo] in the comment section, Howe responded, and I asked him about a future novel...
Well, after having now read 'Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet' not having a full-length novel may not be such a bad thing after all. I am not sure how much more I could have handled of this story!
Seriously though, the majority of Howe's tales have laugh-out-loud funny moments spattered throughout them. Not so with 'Die Dog...'
You can tell, right away, from the epigraphs that Howe chose for this one (quotes from Ted Bundy and Texas Chainsaw Massacre) that this one is going to be a very dark, horrific ride.
But what a thrill ride it is!
For me, every story that I have read of Howe's plays like a movie in my head, but none so much as this one.
Be forewarned though - this one is straight-up horror - if you are at all familiar with Richard Laymon, Jack Ketchum, Ray Garton, Edward Lee, or Bryan Smith, their stories seem tame compared to this one!
In Howe's own words (from his "Story Notes")
"Every so often, I’ll write something so disturbing it gives me pause."
If that doesn't give you a heads up, I don't know what will.
So, don't say I didn't warn you.
Don't miss out on this book - mark your calendars now for November 3rd!