KEYPORT CTHULU by Armand Rosamilia (with Chuck Buda and Katelynn Rosamilia)
Armand Rosamilia is a busy man. In addition to running his podcast empire, and helming his own show, he writes books. Nightmare filled tomes of slippery gods and shambling beasties. KEYPORT CTHULU was my first experience with reading his work in addition to his work, he includes tales written by Chuck Buda and one co-written with his daughter, Katelynn.
I’m not entirely sure of the history of this book. I think these stories were all published independently and then compiled here in one volume. The tales have a serial quality that allows them to stand alone (although a bit cliff-hangery as a whole story). The tale involves the fishing town of Keyport, New Jersey. It swirls about a family that has lived there for a long, long time and how the roots of the family tree run very deep and long. It slithers and flits at the old gods that slumber beneath the bay and seem to be on the verge of awakening. Of the fishy folks who dwell in the shadows of the old town and don’t really like outsiders. A family held hostage by their bloodline and an impending dark event that will change everything for eternity.
KEYPORT CTHULHU is a wonderful amalgamation of modern prose set in Lovecraftian lore, the story structure and style is a nicely paced current feeling prose that delivers unspeakable horrors that we’ve enjoyed reading about for a long time. The story co-written with his daughter, Katelynn Rosamilia, CTHULHUNICORN is a lovely and cute addition to the madness between the covers. (John Boden)
STRANDED by Bracken MacLeod (Tor Books)
Wow, what can I say about Bracken MacLeod? He’s a writer rapidly rising to the top of the game. With his debut MOUNTAIN HOME Bracken established himself within the genre, now with STRANDED he has crested the peak. STRANDED is an accomplished novel about a crew of Maritimers delivering cargo to an offshore rig in the Arctic. Bracken sets the scene and things take a turn for the worse when they pass through a wicked storm, leaving the ship lost in a bank of fog, with all instruments and communication unresponsive. STRANDED has a sinister feel, not just the situation the crew of the Arctic Promise find themselves in, but also the animosity aimed at the main character, Noah Cabot, by certain members of the crew. As you read the book you quickly start asking yourself questions. What has caused the electrical failures on the ship, what was causing the mysterious illness and, as the crew realise the ship was stuck in the ice, how would they deal with the situation? You sense that things could get a bit crazy. Even if they someone managed to get free from the ice would Cabot escape the deadly intentions of his crew mates? And then there’s that strange shape stuck in the ice! STRANDED is a beautiful novel, exceptionally written. The future is bright for Bracken MacLeod. Buy his books and follow his journey. You won’t be disappointed. (Jack Bantry)
BAD LUCK CITY by Matt Phillips (Near to the Knuckle)
Sim Palmer is the son of a deceased small time criminal who works as a journalist for the local Vegas bi-weekly newspaper. Life is slow. He’s an insomniac, single and lives in a shitty apartment, then, one day, a mysterious man named Mathis turns up in a bar and buys Sim a drink. Mathis has a proposition: find a missing girl and get a story to get back in the big time. Surely Sim can’t resist. Of course he can’t! BAD LUCK CITY is the story in a man down on his luck, propelled into the story of a lifetime, but things aren’t what they seem. Who is Mathis and why does he want Sim to find the missing girl? From the author of the excellent THREE KINDS OF FOOL, BAD LUCK CITY is true noir grit that you won’t be able to put down. Matt Phillips is a rising star in the gritty world of crime fiction. I love this kind of stuff and I want more! (Jack Bantry)
THE FURY OF BLACKY JAGUAR by Angel Luis Colon (Shotgun Honey)
THE FURY OF BLACKY JAGUAR is a short novella about a badass crazy criminal who, while on the run, has his pride and joy, a ’59 Plymouth Fury, stolen by some local NY hoodlums. If you steal from Blacky Jaguar he will fuck you up! And that’s just what happens as Blacky leaves a trail of broken bodies from Staten Island to the South Bronx. Blacky is a cliche pint-swilling Irishman, (ex-IRA and all round nutcase!), who doesn’t shy from a scrap. Things take a turn for the worse when Blacky gets knocked unconscious and kidnapped by the local crime lord who has “Polly”, the Plymouth Fury. On the trail of Blacky is his old flame, Chen, who just happens to be FBI. THE FURY OF BLACKY JAGUAR is hardboiled violence mix with black humour. There’s bullets, fist fights and a bit of love. It’s an addictive read that I flicked through in no time. Hats off to Angel Luis Colon, great stuff. (Jack Bantry).
IMPERIAL VALLEY by Johnny Shaw (Thomas & Mercer)
Third instalment in the excellent Jimmy Veeder Fiasco series. I’m not going to go into the history of the series. If you haven’t read anything by Johnny Shaw start with DOVE SEASON and go from there. Seriously, Johnny Shaw is awesome and you won’t be disappointed.
Jimmy and his trusted sidekick Bobby Maves, along with their better halves go over the border into Mexico in search of Jimmy’s “adopted” son’s grandfather, who lives in a remote village. It’s sure to be another fiasco, or a Mavescapade as Bobby like to call them, and they’re in Mexico so you know you’re gonna be in for a shitshow. Jimmy and the gang soon find themselves being shot at and chased through the Mexican wilderness by a drugs cartel. And that’s just for starters!
Johnny Shaw’s writing is just so addictive to read and I just couldn’t put the book down. The humorous banter between the two main characters and their partners, plus the fucked up situations they keep finding themselves in. And the locations. I love the locations. The dodgy Mexican border, the bars they drink in (no hipsters in sight) and the Mexican food. Do yourself a favour, go and buy some Johnny Shaw. (Jack Bantry)
DETRITUS IN LOVE by Mercedes M Yardley & John Boden (Omnium Gatherum)
Detritus or Det to his friends, is an odd child. His best friend is a ghost, killed after a fancy dress party where he went as a Nazi officer. His girlfriend is also dead, but doesn’t know it, and his mother and her lowlife boyfriend are meth-heads. Like I said, life was odd for Det and it was going to get even weirder!
Mercedes Yardley and John Boden have put together a compelling novelette about a young man who can see dead people. Okay, you’re already thinking of THE SIXTH SENSE or ODD THOMAS, but DETRITUS IN LOVE is an original take on the supernatural phenomenon, about a child who has no other friends except for the dead boy and girl. He has no one else, even his mother doesn’t want him. Getting pregnant ruined her life and she longs for Det to be replaced by his unborn twin, an entity known as “The Opposite”.
DETRITUS IN LOVE is wonderfully written. The prose will suck you in. Mercedes and John bring Det’s sad existence to life, but he manages to find love and friendship in the most unlikely of places. It’s only a short book but you will soon feel for the character. It’s dark, but delightful! (Jack Bantry)
FLANAGAN by James H. Longmore (Sinister Grin Press)
Chris and Helen are a young–though not as young as they try to behave–married couple. Being teachers, they are ecstatic that spring break is upon them and they have plans for a great and relaxing vacation filled with all of their favorite activities. They’ve been married for a decade and hope to reconnect with one another, if you catch my drift.
They stop off in the small town of Flanagan on their way to their destination. They visit a local flea market and get a first hand sampling of the quaint and bizarre denizens of Flanagan. A stop at the local convenience store ups the ante on the scary redneck meter. Then they hit the hotel, which is kind of gross and cheap but it’ll work. The owner/clerk is a greasy redneck in a death metal t-shirt. After ignoring the myriad of warning signs things spiral into a whirlpool of violence and sex. What starts as a rednecks-gone-wild-on-the -city-folk’s story steamrolling into a twisted and not-quite-what-you think tale that leaves you feeling unsettled and gross.
I’ll be honest, I’m not much for the extreme horror these days. I mean, I’m not a prude and not easily offended but I tend to prefer quieter things, weirder things. That said, I enjoyed this one, mainly for the thick veins of dark humor that marble it. The violence is there and usually used a catalyst for the pitch black relationship satire at work. James H. Longmore is a solid writer and if very dark and brutal comedic horror is your thing, then this is for you. If you are weak of heart and easily embarrassed, then stay far away. Aw hell, read it anyway. (John Boden)