GR Cleanup Project continues . . .
This is a collection of tough guy horror featuring fellas who play hard, drink hard and usually make their living in nefarious and various shady ways.
Pool Sharks by Gerard Brennan in a nutshell is about a vacationing guy who stumbles into a bar infested with a crew of pool sharks who prey on unsuspecting decent folks. Things turn bloody pretty quickly but in all honesty this storyline just wasn’t my thing. 3 ½ stars
Now The Stray by Garry Kilworth was my kind of thing and was my favorite of the collection. It’s about a cat house, the type filled with call girls, who take in a stray named Tom. Tom is an innocent, rather simple sort of guy, whom the girls feel safe spilling their dark secrets to. His presence gives them comfort and in exchange they allow him to stick around and feed him. One night Tom overhears a confession made by a john and things take a dark turn. This author writes some well painted pictures of innocence and kindness found within the walls where acts of debauchery took place nightly. 4 ½ stars
Hard Boiled Stiff by Michael Hemmingson is about a man who awakens buried alive in a shallow grave with no memory of why he’s missing part of his head and has a hunger for fresh brains. This was a fun zombie tale with a wry sense of humor. It’s nasty and gross even darkly romantic in a very disturbed kind of way. Turns out he was a gumshoe type and his secretary has been hiding a secret that may freak a few readers out. I thought it was the perfect touch to this offbeat zombie tale. 4 stars
All The Pretty Girls by Ronald Damien Malfi is a story about a guy who starts the tale lamenting about his inability to fix his old car. He’s digging a hole and about to bury something. The author holds back exactly what he is doing and why but soon it all comes clear. This one was morbid and disturbing. 3 ½ stars
Moving Pictures by Gord Rollo follows a thug named Ronnie as he beats down upstanding small business owners for a share of their profits. When a new tattoo parlor opens on “his” block, he does best intimidation routine on the ancient Asian artist but the man has no cash and instead offers to a free tattoo in exchange for “protection”. This is a classic revenge tale written in the same gritty style to match the tone of the rest of the stories here. 3 ½ stars
The Essences by Davin Ireland was too predictable for me to recommend. It starts out all mysterious-like but I could see where things were heading as soon as the names of the “essences” were revealed. A big bloody mess ensues and I felt as if I had been bludgeoned with a political “all men are evil” message. Something about it just rubbed me raw. 2 1/2 stars
Bloodbath At Landsdale Towers again beats me over the head with the anti-politics/big corporation BAD message. I get it, truly I do, and I may even agree with it but that doesn’t mean I want to read about it in my escapist fiction. Perhaps if these two stories had been spaced further apart these messages wouldn’t have been so painfully obvious but it is what it is. And I was bugged. Set in 2010 (and written in 2006) the setting is this: “raging unemployment, abetted by four successive Bush administrations, had forged a Darwinian nightmare for the residents of the Landsdale Towers Residental Estates. Drug dealers, crack whores and child molesters make the area a living hell for decent folks. The entire story takes place inside a dingy room where a drug pusher and his cronies are doing very bad things to two “upper-middle class” young adult sibling junkies. Someone knocks on the door and they find a very nasty surprising awaiting them. 3 stars