Review: ‘Little White Lies’ by Ace Atkins

LittleWhiteLiesLittle White Lies by Ace Atkins
G.P. Putnam’s Sons (May 2, 2017)

Back in 2014, Ace Atkins co-authored an article with Michael Fechter for Outside magazine about a man named Jamie Smith. According to the article, Smith built a mini-empire based in large part on his wildly colorful background as an ex-CIA agent, Harvard graduate, and expert on weaponry and wartime tactics. Smith appeared on major news networks to talk about couterterrorism, and he ran a school for weekend warriors out in Mississippi. He convinced a Pennsylvania couple to hand him over $12 million dollars he promised to invest for them. He signed a book deal with William Morrow.

Then, as suspicions that his highly-touted background was nothing more than a carefully constructed house of cards began to bear fruit, Jamie Smith disappeared. Continue reading

Review: ‘Hap and Leonard: Blood and Lemonade’ by Joe R. Lansdale

BloodAndLemonadeHap and Leonard: Blood and Lemonade by Joe R. Lansdale
Tachyon Publications (March 2017)

Hap and Leonard: Blood and Lemonade is equal parts short story collection and novel; or, as author Joe Lansdale terms it in his Afterword, a “mosaic novel.” The stories are a mix of previously published material and a couple of new stories, all of them set in the early days of the duo’s friendship. The wrap-around segments take place in the present day, and mostly consist of the two guys riding around and reminiscing, a conceit that works as well as it does because of the long (ten novels’ worth) history between the two, not to mention Lansdale’s considerable storytelling skill. Continue reading

Review: ‘The Weight of this World’ by David Joy

WeightThe Weight of this World by David Joy
G.P. Putnam’s Sons (March 2017)

In his astounding sophomore novel, The Weight of This World, David Joy once again explores the rough reality of life in the North Carolina mountains. Rather than center blame for his characters’ hardships on the usual suspects—environment, isolation, lack of opportunity—he focuses squarely on their own weaknesses; in particular, their inability to make good decisions. Continue reading

Review: ‘Coco Butternut’ by Joe R. Lansdale

coco_butternut_by_joe_r_lansdaleCoco Butternut by Joe R. Lansdale
Subterranean Press (January 2017)

Coco Butternut is a show dog—a dachshund, to be exact. Also, she’s dead. And missing.

If you’ve read any of Joe R. Lansdale’s “Hap and Leonard” books, you’re reading that first paragraph and thinking, “Yeah, that sounds about right.” If you’re unfamiliar with the series, this novella from Subterranean Press will serve as a nice introduction, showcasing the many facets Lansdale works into each entry: the dark, often laugh-out-loud humor; the unflinching examination of the evil that humanity is capable of; and, at the core of it all, the brotherly bond shared by the two lead characters. Continue reading

Review: ‘Zombie Gold’ by John L. Lansdale

jack6.000x9.000.inddZombie Gold by John L. Lansdale
SST Publications (August 2016)

Working as a hand on his guardians’ ranch is an okay job as far as Chris Bain is concerned, but what he really wants to do is ride in the rodeo. Will Littlefield, part of a group of college kids hired on as extra help, has some experience doing just that. The two immediately bond over their passion for riding giant, powerful animals that don’t want to be ridden, sparking a friendship that’s soon to be strengthened through some very unusual circumstances. Continue reading

Review: ‘Last Fair Deal Gone Down’ by Ace Atkins and Marco Finnegan

LastFairDealGoneDownLast Fair Deal Gone Down by Ace Atkins and Marco Finnegan
12-Gauge Comics (May 2016)

Nick Travers’ musician friend Fats is dead, and his saxophone—a vintage 1940s beauty—is missing. Determined to honor the memory of his late friend the only way he knows how, Travers sets out through the rain-soaked streets of New Orleans to recover the sax.

The plot of Last Fair Deal Gone Down, adapted from the short story of the same name by Ace Atkins, doesn’t get much more complicated than that, leaving Atkins and artist Marco Finnegan plenty of room to revel in the seedy Crescent City atmosphere.  Continue reading

Review: ‘Slow Burn’ by Ace Atkins

SlowBurnCoverSlow Burn by Ace Atkins
G. P. Putnam’s Sons (May 3, 2016)

Boston is burning, one abandoned building at a time.

It is a year after the fire that consumed the empty shell that was once the Holy Innocents church – a fire that resulted in the deaths of three Boston firefighters. Those deaths still haunt Jack McGee, a fellow firefighter who has grown increasingly frustrated with his own department’s investigation into the incident. So frustrated, in fact, that he does the near-unthinkable and reaches outside the firefighter family for help. The man he calls on is a P.I. named Spenser. Continue reading