I was lucky enough to end 2011 with two great reads, and to start 2012 with a couple more, equally good.
Just a couple days before the New Year, I got SOUTHERN GODS, by John Hornor Jacobs, in the mail. Dug right into it, as it was one I’d been looking forward to for a while. It did not disappoint. An inspired cross-pollinization of hard-boiled detective with creepy Lovecraftian horror, SOUTHERN GODS is pacey, structured beautifully, and just barrels along like mad toward a genuinely scary climax. There were several scenes in this book that actually creeped me right the hell out, which is a rare occurrence.
On the last day of the year, I dug into Andrew Bergin’s TOBACCO-STAINED MOUNTAIN GOAT, which was probably the oddest book I read all year. I had a few books in front of it on the TBR cue, but a terrific cover and an intriguing first page caused this one to jump the cue and become the last book of the year for me. Again, there’s some remarkable genre cross-over going on here, a sort of noir-ish flair rubbing up against a dystopian, Philip K. Dick bleakness. I was worried that Bergen, as a writer entirely new to me, wouldn’t be able to sustain the charm and solid writing in TSMG’s earliest pages, but I needn’t have worried. The man’s imagination is vivid and consistent, and his love of old films (woven so nicely throughout the story) will appeal to anyone who grew up watching Bogart flicks.
Went with a known quantity as my first book of ’12. Victor Gischler has never let me down, so I pulled up THE DEPUTY to ring in the new year. Gotta tell you, I think this is my favorite Gischler so far. The novel takes place over the course of one long, blood-soaked night as our young hero—a part-time deputy sheriff with no experience and no skills to speak of—must stay one step ahead of a wily group of professional killers. There’s lots of balls-out action in this one, great characters, and dead-on pacing.
Finally, last night, Tom Piccirilli’s FUCKIN’ LIE DOWN ALREADY has got to win some sort of award for Most Grueling Novella ever. Mortally wounded, and with his dead wife and son in tow, Clay sets out on a road trip to Hell, bent on revenge. His life seeping away with every second, he keeps holding on, holding on, until his bloody job is done. This is a gruesome, violent ride, horrific and heartfelt.
And that’ll do it this time.
By the way, this will probably be my new approach to talking about books here at Psycho-Noir. Just a round-up, sort of, every Thursday or Friday, of all the noteworthy things I’ve read over the week. Hope that works for all of you.