CUTTIN’ HEADS by D. A. Watson (Book Review)

“Aldo Evans is a desperate man. Fired from his job and deeply in debt, he struggles to balance a broken family life with his passion for music. Luce Figura is a troubled woman. A rhythmic perfectionist, she is haunted by childhood trauma and scorned by her religiously devout mother. Ross McArthur is a wiseass. Orphaned as an infant and raised by the state, his interests include game shows, home-grown weed, occasional violence and the bass guitar. They are Public Alibi. A rock n’ roll band going nowhere fast. When the sharp-suited, smooth talking producer Gappa Bale offers them a once in a lifetime chance to make their dreams come true, they are caught up in a maelstrom of fame, obsession, music and murder.

Soon, Aldo, Luce and Ross must ask themselves: is it really better to burn out than to fade away?”

“Now let’s kill that fucking band.”

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed D.A. Watson’s previous efforts, which dealt with different themes in similar tones, and CUTTIN’ HEADS is no different. A group of friends in a bloody dire situation that continues to get worse and worse.

Public Alibi are a struggling, no hope band when from nowhere, the chance of a lifetime drops into their laps. A record deal too good to be true, offered by the enigmatic Gappa Bale, an enigma of a man overlapped in mystery upon mystery. What should be the time of their life, soon unfolds into a paranoid tale of death, destruction and everything else good and great about Rock n’ Roll.

The banter and interaction between the band members feels real. This is an area in which Watson succeeds in with his Buddy Horror. The friendship is honest and good. You can feel actual threads of history between the characters, the shared hopes and dreams, the bad times passed, and the dynamic humour that bonds them. Watson makes us care, too much sometimes. He gives us a group, makes them intensely likable despite their flaws and foibles, and slowly dips them into the frying pan fire as things get progressively dire.

Although the reveal is kinda obvious, this is a fantastic tale that is told well, and needed to be told and works well in the modern setting. Watson nicely weaves the legend of The 27 Club along with Robert Johnson’s supposed dealings at a cross road to secure his future, though temporary success.

CUTTIN’ HEADS is a solid read, different from most slash and stalk or Spooky McGhostface horror, definitely a slow burn, with the occasional stab just to make sure that you’re paying attention. Watson has hit it out of the park again. I can’t wait to see what he takes on next, as each story I read of his, breathes new life into an old trope. (Nat Robinson) 5/5

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About jackbantry

Jack Bantry is the editor of Splatterpunk Zine. He works as a postman and resides in a small town at the edge of the North York Moors.
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