Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Review: MY PET SERIAL KILLER by Michael J. Seidlinger

Publisher Fangoria
Length 464 pages
Format paperback
Published 2018
Series standalone
My Copy I bought it 


My Review

"She winks at him. There's a killer on every corner, even if they don't know inside if they have what it takes. She'll show them how."

My Pet Serial Killer is unlike any novel I've read before. Flipping the script on the traditional method of storytelling, the book really throws the reader in at the deep end. Concentrate or capitulate. 

Alternating between sequences of pure violence, pick-up schemes, study, and filmography, My Pet Serial Killer maintains a consistent rapid fire pace in which the reader never quite knows what to expect next.   

The interesting plot device invokes reader participation as a voyeur to the characters violence. This method makes for a unique perspective as we follow Claire, a professional chameleon, as she sates her bloodlust vicariously through serial killers under her control. 

Claire doesn't have relationships. She has pets - and we're not talking fluffy cats and timid dogs, we're talking dangerous humans who revel in the demise of others in the most macabre manner they can fashion. As the story progress it becomes apparent Claire isn't as put together as she makes out... 

There's an unreliable narrator theme which poses a constant question about the stability of Claire and the gruesome events which take place in her apartment, at night clubs, on the side of highways, and in prison. The omnipresent instability heightens the reader experience as you never know what level of debauchery (true or imagined) lays in wait on the next pages. 

I thoroughly enjoyed My Pet Serial Killer, in part because of the unique storytelling but more-so due to the complexities of Claire and the horrors she so willingly brought to life.

My rating: 5/5 stars.  

You may also like:

Our Lady of the Inferno by Preston Fassel (also published by Fangoria)

Monday, June 3, 2019

Pick Up A Pulp [50]: THE NAKED LIGHT by James Moffatt

When I picked up The Naked Light at a secondhand bookstore, I thought I was getting another title from Grady Hendrix's Paperbacks from Hellthe synopsis leads the reader down a path of horror involving satanic ritual, human sacrifice, and seedy starlets in a perverse Hollywood drug scene.    

A horror novel this is not. 

The Naked Light is pure pulp circa 1970's complete with wanton women, chauvinistic men, and a plot with murder and sex at its core. What's missing is the stereotypical lone wolf private eye who drinks too much and beds too few (for his liking), instead, we're treated to an overtly sexual and highly intellectual Hollywood film studio publicist in Lucy Christian who has taken it upon herself to kinda find out who killed who. 

Which brings me to the killing bit. 

The book opens with a satanic ritual of sorts but it's really an excuse for a bunch of Hollywood stars to dabble in debauchery by virtue of a mass orgy. If anything, the cult angle is tokenistic at best; the means to an end in a half hearted effort to make the reader think there's some otherworldly sinister shenanigans at play. Its here, among the river of bodily fluids and naked mounds that a mass murder takes place.

With Mermaid Pictures loosing some of its most billable stars, Lucy is sent to semi-investigate the deaths of behalf of the studio, but moreso, to spin a cover-up which will posthumously turn one of said seedy starlets into a martyr. Why? So the studio can release pre recorded films starring the dead actors without any major fan backlash due to their questionable hobbies of the flesh. 

Think of every kind of pulp character stalwart and you'll find it here (excluding the private eye). It's as if author James Moffatt swallowed a bunch of sleaze pulps and vomited out a single story which attempted to contain every single element without really mastering any given one. 

Now I know, this review paints the book in a bad light, and, truth be told, I rate it a solid 2.5/5 stars but it's actually not that bad. I like pulps and didn't mind this one. Lucy is a great character and by far the highlight of the book. Had the author focused more on condensing the threads, this could've been much better. 

Other pulps with similar themes include:

Pick Up A Pulp [18]: The Passionate Pagan by Carter Brown 


Pick Up A Pulp [48]: Devil, Devil by Michael Avallone

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Pick of the Month [May 2019]

My May reading stack

I read 16 books in May and am right on target to reach my Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge of 150 books. I will make it clear though; I much prefer quality over quantity, the fact that I'm able to consume so many books in any given month is a bonus :-) 

Once again my selection of books catered to my eclectic tastes, ranging from supernatural/horror by Chuck Wendig in Vultures, to Australian outback crime in Boxed by Richard Anderson


I rated 7 books 5 stars; a pretty a decent strike rate if you ask me but there can only be one pick of the month! (well sometimes I pick two) and this month its the forthcoming horror/sci-fi/noir from Apex Book Company Coil by Ren Warom. What I can say? This book blew me away with its vivid imagery, complex characters, and storytelling depth - it's a book which caters to a wide audience with a slant towards those readers who like their fiction with a double shot of darkness. Brilliant. 


Other highlights include the compulsively crazy, This Body's Not Big Enough for Both of Us by Edgar Cantero which features a private eye unlike any other. An incredibly clever and well written book, I strongly recommend for fans of books like Secret Dead Men by Duane Swierczynski (a personal fav of mine, and a book I actually reread in May), Cold Moon Over Bablon by Michael McDowell - a moody and evocative murder mystery with some serious horror overtones, and the slasher Endless Night by horror stalwart Richard Laymon

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Review: COIL by Ren Warom

Publisher Apex Book Company
Length 330 pages
Format ebook
Published 2019
Series standalone
My Copy provided by the publisher


My Review

Line your stomach before delving into the depths of this book; its vivid imagery and gore-infused sequences of delicious madness are not for the squeamish. 

Coil's plot is wound tight by a dangerously deranged and morally deprived killer lucking deep in the bowels of a densely populated futuristic post apocalyptic cityscape, plucking victims and pulling stings of gang leaders and peace keepers alike. 

It's an imagined future most ferocious where body modification, transmutation, and a mashing of the ideals behind inanimate object and living organisms rein supreme.

Add in some poetic prose and deftly crafted depictions of inner city slum life and this makes for a great read. 

The combination of noir, horror, and sci-fi broaden Coil's appeal but it's the protagonist and antagonist which make this something special; two sides of the same grime and blood crusted coin. Key characters in Stark, Burneo, Nia, and co. all add a little something to the Bone/Rope equation which contributes to the meaty feel of the book. 

My rating: 5/5 stars. 

Side note - check out that 80's retro horror cover art! I reckon I'll go buy the physical book too. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Review: THIS BODY'S NOT BIG ENOUGH FOR BOTH OF US by Edgar Cantero

Publisher Titan
Length 304 pages
Format paperback
Published 2019
Series standalone
My Copy provided by the publisher


My Review

Inventive and interesting, the creation that is the collective character known as A.Z. Kimrean; twins who share the same body but look and function (at least on the outside) as one person, is clever, witty, and adds a little dynamite to what is a devilish noir. 

A stock standard private eye novel, this is not. It's like the combined creative efforts behind Micky Spillane's Hammer books, Duane Swierczynski's Secret Dead Men, and Marc Lecard's Vinnie's Head met up in a bar, got drunk and decided to turn noir naughty and nice and all things sour and spice...um, yeah, you could say this book leaves a lasting impression... 

I love when books grab you by the proverbial from the get-go and that's exactly how This Body's Not Big Enough for Both of Us opens up - with a perfectly executed, slightly disorienting roller-coaster of manic storytelling that left me light headed but craving more like a crack addict. 

Sure, the broader PI plot formula is a tried and tested one but it succeeds in its simplicity, allowing for the characteristics and complexities of A.Z. Kimrean to shine. 

My rating; 5/5 stars. This was my first introduction to author Edgar Cantero, now to check out Meddling Kids

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Pick Up A Pulp [49]: Two for One Gil Brewer novels

Publisher Stark House
Length 286 pages
Format paperback
Published 2008
Series standalone
My Copy I bought it


My Review
A DEVIL FOR O'SHAUGNESSY

An okay pulp which lacks any real punch to the plot. 

The reader is dropped knee deep in a con, with Tolbert O'Shaugnessy lured into a desperate game of deception by the lovely Miriam who has murder and money on her mind. With her elderly Grandmother still going strong and steady, the chances of inheriting a cool quarter of a mill any time soon are slim, that is, if Miriam is willing to wait and let nature take its course - which she isn't. Enter Tolbert and a scheme which tests his conviction for the con. 

This was just okay. There are some nice characters and minor complementary story-lines which were fun but overall, the plot was dull and failed to deliver much by way of mystery or entertainment. 

In a desperate pitch to change things up, author Gil Brewer added a dose of the supernatural which, if anything, contributed to the books downfall in my opinion. 

My rating: 2.5/5 stars. 

THE THREE WAY SPLIT

Buried treasure done the pulp way. 

The Three Way Split was a treasure trove of fun, containing a small cast which made a big impact. 

Jack Holland lives on the sea, his work sustains his oceanic lifestyle and his beautiful girlfriend warms his bed at night. He's carved a niche existence which, minor cash flow problems aside, generally keeps him content. However, a visit from his estranged father soon sees Jack wading through deeper waters than he'd imagined, ones where blood mixes with salt water, and dangerous currents threaten to pull him under for a long slept among the fishes. 

The linear plot is breezy and free flowing while the pacing reflects situation; manic. This is a great example of a pitch perfect pulp in holiday mode. 

My rating: 4.5/5 stars. Definitely the better of the two novels in the collection. 

DIG THAT CRAZY CORPSE

Hard boiled PI story complete with all the genre staples. Nothing especially memorable about it but the narrative did have a nice clear flow and the linear plot made for easy reading. I wouldn’t mind reading more of this PI who hints at the unconventional bordering on atypical. 


3/5 stars.

LOVE... AND LUCK


Short sexy noir about a (presumably) promiscuous married woman and her former flame who’s in town to wreck her marriage and boy does he! 


4/5 stars

INDISCRETION 


A sexy housewife who loves to cheat on her husband with strange men. Abused and misused she craves more, her husband unsuspecting all the whole. Erotic noir. 


5/5 stars

Overall this is a solid collection which fans of Gil Brewer and pulp in general will not want to miss. I'd give this collection 4/5 stars. 

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Review: BOXED by Richard Anderson

Publisher Scribe
Length 275 pages
Format paperback
Published 2019
Series standalone
My Copy provided by the publisher


My Review
Richard Anderson is fast becoming one of the best crime fiction writers to take on the Aussie Outback and conquer it with cleverly crafted tales about hard working average Joe's (or Dave's, as is the case here) who find themselves involved in situations they've only seen on the television during prime time viewing; murder, mayhem, mobsters, and... accidental heroes. 

Dave Martin is a farmer struggling to overcome the breakdown of his marriage following the untimely and accidental death of his teenage son. The farm is on the steady decline and his drink is on the steep incline, the only thing he has to look forward to is the mail delivery. However, it's this one highlight in his week that introduces him to lowlifes and dangers not typically seen outside the big city.

Boxed is a lot of fun; the characters are great and distinctly Australian, while the place-setting envelopes the reader in a unique rural Australian farming community, complete with cattle, dust, utes, and local firemen. I loved the unassuming hero angle and found myself eagerly turning the pages hoping for light at the end of the darkness for Dave. 

My rating: 4/5 stars. 

You can read my thoughts on Richard Anderson's other novel I reviewed last year, Retribution by clicking on the link below: