Sunday, May 15, 2016

Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet - by Adam Howe - Three wickedly entertaining novellas

5 of 5 Stars     Review copy

I really get a kick out of being blown away when I read an author for the first time. Adam Howe does exactly that with this collection of three novellas featuring a Arkansas Bigfoot known locally as a Skunk Ape, a dog-eat-dog serial killer, and a hungry man-eating gator.

In the intro to this killer collection, Randy Chandler calls Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet "A diabolical brew of humor and horror." It certainly is that and so much more.

Damn Dirty Apes - Reggie Levine is the bouncer at The Henhouse, a titty tonk, on the outskirts of town. When members of a motorcycle club know as The Dirty Apes shows up, trouble follows. But these apes aren't the main focus of the story, nor is the Boogaloo Baboon, the real star is the Skunk Ape. What is a Skunk Ape? "A shaggy-furred beast with devil-red eyes standing tall enough to block out the sun, he could crush a man in his fist like Popeye opening a can of spinach."

This story is so much fun. Well-crafted and more so for the Skunk Ape porn it features. More than once, I found myself laughing out loud. The kind of stuff I find impossible to down. There are a lot of great bits in this story. Not many you can quote in a review on Amazon, but look for the line that mentions Ric Flair. You can thank me later.

I though the final reveal was brilliant. Overall, it felt a bit like the Clint Eastwood movie Every Which Way But Loose...on crack.

Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet - There is gore galore in this novella, but every bit of it was there for a reason, and it all worked for me. Stuff like, "garroted the last of the girls with her roommate's intestines." The descriptions are visceral. "watched as the vermin scuttled back from the bedroom, fur slick with blood, carrying away pieces of momma—a finger here, an ear there—like she was takeout food."

Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet was much darker than the first story. Both entirely enjoyable, but for decidedly different reasons. Where Damn Dirty Apes was a bit of a hoot, the second has a much more serious tone and successfully builds the tension with each turn of the page.

Despite the horror and the gore, the author also exhibits a keen eye for description. "The filling station was a decrepit wooden shack that looked about a termite or two away from collapsing into kindling on the side of the road." I loved that line. Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet is a triumph of visceral literature. A new genre all its own.

Gator Bait - How's this for an opening line? "I fled the city: Two fingers short and sworn off dames for life." Damn near perfect.

Here's another story that takes place out in the willywags. Adam has used that term in a couple of his stories and it's a word I want to use more often. Gator Bait is loaded with twist and turns, crosses and double-crosses. A great way to end the collection.

Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet is some of the most entertaining reading I've done this year. I can promise I'll be looking for more from Adam Howe.

Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet is available in paperback and e-book formats from Comet Press.

Adam Howe is a British writer of fiction and screenplays. He lives in Greater London with his partner and their hellhound, Gino. Writing as Garrett Adams. his short story Jumper was chosen by Stephen King as the winner of his On Writing contest, and was published in the paperback and e-book versions of King's book. Adam's first book, Black Cat Mojo, is available from Comet Press. He is currently working on his first novel One Tough Bastard.

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