I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.by David Owain Hughes
Published by Createspace on April 8, 2015
Genres: Crime/Serial Killer, Dark Fiction, Extreme Horror, Fiction, Horror
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Meet Crystal and Harry – lovers who work in the entertainment business: after murdering three critics for poor reviews, they decide to skip town and head for the coastline. Once there, they know things will be fine – it’ll be a chance to start fresh. A new beginning. But, before they head to the seaside, Crystal must first visit her sister at a mental hospital – after all, it’s Crystal’s fault her sibling is there… As they start their journey, Harry discovers a book in the van’s glove compartment – White Walls & Straitjackets. The author in unknown, but whoever he is, he seems to know a lot about the deadly duo and other nutjobs who inhabit the Rhondda Valleys, south Wales. As lives and stories collide, Crystal and Harry soon discover escaping the Valleys won’t be as easy as they think. Especially with another serial killer hot on their heels…
I went into White Walls and Straightjackets expecting the standard novel format, and instead found myself reading a much more “unique” approach. We start out with our main characters, Crystal and Harry, leaving the scene of their most recent murder. Getting into a van, Harry suggests going to the town of Porthcawl to get away for a while. When searching the glove compartment for a map, he finds a mysterious book of stories, complete with illustrations. There is no author listed, and neither Harry nor Crystal have any idea where the book came from.
This is where things start to get interesting! Harry reads aloud the stories in the book, that are artfully woven into our overall tale. These added stories are a brilliant touch, spicing up Crystal and Harry’s own reign of terror with those of the equally twisted individuals in the book. In between each “story”, the action involving our main characters continues on its own journey.
Warning–this book is not for those who are bothered by gruesome scenes, sexual comments/situations, and rough language. However, for those looking for something different, this may be the book for you. An example of one of my favorite parts comes from Crystal when she was fueled by jealousy:
“”You want something stiff in your mouth, suck on this!” Crystal yelled, ramming the nozzle down the girl’s open mouth until it wouldn’t go any further. Spew burst out at the side of the pump and trickled down her mouth and chin….”
The stories continue to get even creepier, and a name or location occasionally rings a bell for our main characters, who remain as mysterious to us as some of the villains in the “stories”. Crystal comments after one particularly nasty tale when they are casually discussing various ways to murder:
“”Yes, and an inventive kill.”
“True, Harry agreed. “A petrol pump down the throat ain’t bad, either!””
This is the way these two interact with each other throughout the entire novel–a series of dark humor (that had me laughing aloud at times), and condescending comments that somehow manage to convey their commitment to each other.
When events finally start fitting together in this puzzle of a novel–you’ll be left looking back at the series of situations in awe of David Hughes. All of the pieces incorporated here take on a sinister new meaning, one so artful drawn that it was difficult to pinpoint just when things started to blend into the current reality.
This was a graphic, gory, and yes, a fun book to read. If you’re looking for something with a unique approach, this may be the book for you.