Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet – Adam Howe (Comet Press)
As the winner of Stephen King’s On Writing contest, Adam Howe has returned to once again showcase his talent in his novella collection, Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet, a thrill ride that winds its way through pulpy southern noir to brutal splatterpunk fun. Collecting three novellas by Howe, Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet includes the works, “Damn Dirty Apes,” “Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet,” and “Gator Bait.” Each of these novellas is an enthralling read from start to finish, brimming with strong characters, crazy plots, and too much fun to put down.
Opening with “Damn Dirty Apes,” Howe tells the insane story of a disgraced ex-boxer turned bouncer pulled into the hunt for a North American Skunk Ape. Filled with biker gangs, ape snuff films, a deranged hunter, and a boxing match bigger than Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, Howe brilliantly ties action to comedy in explosive fashion. He chases “Damn Dirty Apes,” with a title taken from the work of James Lee Burke, “Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet.” Overflowing with enough blood to satisfy any splatterpunk fan, the titular novella is the tale of a serial killer having escaped from an asylum and on the way to another killing spree, he finds himself in the web of two murderous hillbillies. “Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet,” is gripping, bloody extreme horror in the vein of Jack Ketchum, that’s layered third person narrative takes the reader in and out of the minds of multiple psychopaths. Ending just as strong as each of the previous works, Howe closes out the collection with “Gator Bait,” a prohibition-era pulp tale of a wounded piano player on the run from the law who may have just run into something far worse in the form of a fifteen-foot gator and maniacal bar owner.
Adam Howe’s “Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet,” is equal parts terror and fun, his dark comedic voice dances through each of the works in this collection to create engaging stories filled with bars, dames, rabid dogs, and an ape with one hell of a right hook. (Nathan Crazybear)