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review 2018-12-04 20:08
Elaborateness: "Nightmare Town" by Dashiell Hammett
Nightmare Town - Dashiell Hammett


(Original Review, 1999-12-10)



When one wants to elect the best of Dashiell Hammet, one invariably chooses “The Maltese Falcon”, Classic that it is, but instead I would go for Dashiell Hammett’s short novel, “Nightmare Town” as one of my favourites. The set up is brilliant and the wider issues - American criminality, capitalism, the mirage of consumption - is all combined with some brilliant intrigue, weird characters, and clean hard boiled prose. Unlike the Sam Spade novels, though, “Nightmare Town” has kind of palpable energy and ambition that gives it greater flavor as well as substance.

 

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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review 2018-12-03 18:45
THE TRAVELING VAMPIRE SHOW by Richard Laymon
The Traveling Vampire Show - Richard Laymon

As I was listening to this, I came to realize that I've read it before. A few things, like the name Julian Striker and one of the character's sisters rang a bell with me. Other than that, because I have a mind like a steel sieve, the rest of the story seemed new, so I went with it. Now that's it over, I am glad that I read it while at the same time I wish I ditched it. As you can see, I'm torn.

 

What I liked: The beginning. The coming of age portion-kids walking around and learning about the town, popping into each of their houses...these things I enjoyed. Unfortunately, they were a very small portion of the book. I did enjoy the narrator, though the quality of the recording itself didn't seem as good as others I've listened to recently.

 

What I didn't like: The sexy-times coming of age portions. One or two would have been fine, but at times, it seemed like the majority of the book was talking about hard-ons and breasts. Especially breasts. Every single woman in this book had time dedicated to her breasts. I mean, I HAVE breasts. I LIKE them. But J.H.C.- enough already!

 

Ahem. Okay-what I didn't like (continued): This entire book took place in one day, which was fine. However, it seemed like out of 404 pages, 325 were taken up just getting TO THE SHOW. Lastly, once they got there the situation spiraled out of control and became completely unbelievable. There's just....no way. I understand I'm reading a book about vampires, but believe me when I say there are believable stories about them and this one isn't it. (Kelli Owen's TEETH perhaps, or Yvonne Navarro's AFTERAGE for example.) I can disregard the realism factor if the book is intriguing or interesting in other areas. This one is not.

 

I rated THE TRAVELING VAMPIRE SHOW 2.5 stars, because I do feel it is representative of horror being written at that time, (2000-2001), and in a way, it is often thought of as a classic of the horror genre. I wanted to rate it higher than that, but I'm sorry to say that this tale didn't earn it.

 

I can't say that I recommend this, but I AM glad that I finally read it, (or re-read it, as the case may be), because I would forever be wondering about it, if I hadn't.

 

Source: I bought this audiobook with my hard earned cash.

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review 2018-12-02 15:11
SCAPEGOAT by Adam Howe and James Newman
Scapegoat - Adam Howe,James R. Newman

 

 

Set to a rock n roll soundtrack in the 1980's, SCAPEGOAT should appeal to any fan of 80's horror, and 80's hair/metal bands. If these things are your bag, you should just buy  

this book now and get to reading!

 

 

Lonnie, the barely-dressed Cindy, Mike, and Pork Chop are on a road trip in Lonnie's R.V. heading to Wrestlemania 3. Since the guys were in a band,(Wrathbone), together they've drifted apart. Mike has a wife and child now and couldn't be happier. He's only on this trip for a brief vacation and to see some wrestling. Both Lonnie and the kilt-wearing Pork Chop seem to be the same people they were in high school and Mike realizes he doesn't have much in common with them anymore. Just as he's beginning to regret his decision to come with, something runs in front of their camper and gets hit. What was it? Will our group ever make it to Wrestlemania 3? You'll have to read this book to find out!

 

I've read the work of both of these authors before, so the quality and depth of this book did not surprise me. What did surprise me was the way this tale played out. Being a horror fan, I've read many, many books about cults, both fiction and non, because if Jim Jones isn't a real life horror story, I don't know what is. I've also read tales about dark religions and hillbillies, and very few of them had the courage to take the route that this story took. (One or two of the true stories did, to be honest, because real life is horrific, isn't it?)

 

The other thing about this book that makes it special is the characters. I developed true feelings for all of them, though my feelings often changed throughout. Thing is, I knew all these people at some point during high school. At first, Cindy reminded me a bit of myself. (But then that changed.) I loathed Lonnie for quite a while and I thought Pork Chop was the biggest loser ever, and then those feelings changed too. There are no flat characters here-they seemed real to me, they had depth and they were more complicated than I originally thought. I love when that happens!

 

The only issue I had was that the denouement went a little too quickly for me. I would have liked to have learned a bit more about the cult and the town in which it flourished. Perhaps that would have slowed the story down too much and that's why the authors wrapped it up the way they did? I'm not sure, but this was a damn good story either way.

 

Adam Howe and James Newman are both authors to watch. Anytime either of them puts out something new, it's automatically added to my "To Be Read" list. But this? A novel with both of them writing together? Just the thought of it put a smile on my face and the fact that the novel is actually fun, fast paced, intriguing, and creative? That's just the icing on the cake.

 

Highly recommended!

 

*I received an e-ARC of this book, in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

 

**During the month of December, 2018 both of these authors are joining in a group read at Horror Aficionados, a Goodreads group I help to moderate. They will be available to answer your questions and comments about SCAPEGOAT. Please come join us here: 

Horror Aficionados Group Read of SCAPEGOAT

 

We'd love to have you!**

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review 2018-11-27 02:00
A Creepy and Fast Adventure
Small Town Nightmare - Anna Willett

She wondered how much she should reveal. Her history was painful, and rehashing it for a stranger wouldn’t really help.

 

“It’s complicated, but I know he wouldn’t not show.”“Not unless something stopped him?” Damon asked, finishing her thought.

 

“Something or someone.” As she spoke, they rounded a bend and the road tapered downwards. In the distance she could see a cluster of buildings dotted with patches of open fields and circled by forests. Night Town. The sight of it sent a ripple of gooseflesh running up her arms.

 

“You think he’s down there somewhere?” Damon had turned in his seat and was studying her as if searching her reaction.

 

“It’s the last place he mentioned before disappearing.” She gripped the wheel tighter. “If he’s there, I intend to find him.”

 

When your younger brother, the one you spent a few years raising yourself after your parents' death, goes missing -- you throw caution to the wind to go find him. Especially if you're a gutsy crime reporter like Lucy. She heads of into a part of the country she's not familiar with, into a town she'd never heard of, to find out what happened to her brother in the week since she'd heard from him last. Along the way, she comes across a helpful stranger -- a drifter of sorts, like her brother -- who is willing to lend a hand to the search. Lucy doesn't care (much) why he's willing to help, she's just glad someone is taking her seriously.

 

When she gets to Night Town (such a friendly, welcoming name, isn't it?), she's met with general apathy toward her plight -- and maybe a trace of antagonism. It's tough to say why people are so resistant to helping her -- maybe because she's a stranger, maybe they don't like drifters, Lucy could come up with a dozen reasons, but that wouldn't change things. None of the local residents seem inclined to help. It's a good thing she's found Damon. One of the men at the local police station seems indifferent (at best) to her problem, but the Senior Sergeant is eager to take a report and do what he can to find her brother.

 

Now, as is the norm for small fictional towns that outsiders find trouble in, there's one family that owns about half the town, and employs the other half. Samuel Nightmesser is the only living representative of that family at the moment, so Lucy and Damon look into him (lacking any other ideas, hoping they'll come to them), while Senior Sergeant Day investigates in a more official capacity. We don't see much of the official investigation, but it's reassuring to know that not everyone in town is necessarily in Nightmesser's pocket.

 

It soon becomes evident that there's more afoot than a missing drifter, and that someone in town is prepared and willing to take steps to dissuade Lucy from turning over any more rocks to see what's underneath. The reader knows a bit more than Lucy, and learns pretty quickly that there's more to some of the people in her life than meets the eye. From there, it's just a matter of Lucy and her associates putting the pieces together, uncovering all that's afoot and trying to survive -- and maybe help her brother to survive, too.

 

It didn't take me long to write in my notes that "this is going to get creepy soon." It did. I also noted "this is going to have an ugly end." It did, and not necessarily in the way I expected. I also guessed right about a couple of identities. I think most readers will guess these things around the same point I did. Doing this doesn't make any of the reveals or the novel less effective. If anything, it helped build the tension, because you were waiting for particular shoes to fall. I should also add, that there were at least three reveals and twists that I didn't see coming, and one of them took me completely by surprise.

 

The morbid and creepifying elements of this book are really well done -- I'd have liked to seen a bit more of them, honestly (and I don't typically need a lot of that -- but it would've helped, I think). Willet has a gift for using that kind of thing to reveal character, not just to advance the plot. I should probably note there's at least one sentence toward the end of the novel that you should probably not be eating anything while you read. Just a friendly tip -- set aside your snacks during the last 20 percent of the book.

 

The action is fast, the book grabs your attention and keeps it throughout -- there's not a lull in the action and there's nothing dull within a mile of the text. It's a quick read (perhaps, too quick) and one that'll keep you entertained.

 

I want to stress that I enjoyed Small Town Nightmare, and my guess is that I'm not alone in this. However, it felt rushed. It felt undercooked. If things -- details, tension, mystery, relationships, etc. -- had been given a little more time to develop and grow; if threads hadn't been left dangling (or had been cut entirely); if motivations were clearer; I can easily see myself excited about recommending it. But, I can't do that -- I can recommend it, and I do think most of my readers will like it. I'm just not over the moon about it.

---
My thanks to damppebbles blog tours for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials they provided, which did not influence my opinion, merely gave me something upon which to opine.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2018/11/26/small-town-nightmare-by-anna-willett-a-creepy-and-fast-adventure
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review 2018-11-19 11:29
A Town Like Ours- Alexander Cade

 

Satire; this sketch on life is dripping with it. Factually, there are no unflawed, boringly normal, characters in the entire and wide cast of this book. Every one of them is easily mockable. The page to page writing is very good, the story so ridiculous though so human that you sort of know that all the elements are plausible and common, though rarely if ever so concentrated even in one small backwater on the road from and to only marginally less isolated nowhere.

The writing is well enough structured that the reading is effortless and entertaining. Description is crisp and focused. Characters are all individualistic enough to be remembered or, if we have been distracted, to be easily reminded of in one or two clear phrases. One comic pratfall flows effortlessly into the next, so that I could not help but find myself in the final chapters almost before I knew what a totally ridiculous ride Cade was taking me on. There we come to what is for me the only weakness in the book, the lack of climatic resolution, the looseness of the final knitting. Does that matter in such a book? Probably not. This isn’t a thriller that desperately needs conclusion, it is more of a wry look at the ridiculousness, the small mindedness, the gullible incompetence that we all occasionally suffer from, and most especially those arrogant individuals that think they never do.

AMAZON LINK

 

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