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.Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet by Adam Howe
Published by Comet Press on 2015-11-03
Genres: Bizarro, Creature Feature, Crime, Dark Fiction, Extreme Horror, Fiction, Hard-Boiled, Horror, Mystery & Detective, Noir, Suspense, Thrillers
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From Adam Howe, winner of Stephen King’s On Writing contest, come three original novellas of hardboiled crime, graphic horror and pitch-black gallows humor. DAMN DIRTY APES Washed-up prizefighter Reggie Levine is eking a living as a strip club bouncer when he’s offered an unlikely shot at redemption. The Bigelow Skunk Ape – a mythical creature said to haunt the local woods – has kidnapped the high school football mascot, Boogaloo Baboon. Now it’s up to Reggie to lead a misfit posse including a plucky stripper, the town drunk, and legend-in-his-own-mind skunk ape hunter Jameson T. Salisbury. Their mission: Slay the beast and rescue their friend. But not everything is as it seems, and as our heroes venture deeper into the heart of darkness, they will discover worse things waiting in the woods than just the Bigelow Skunk Ape. The story the Society for the Preservation of the North American Skunk Ape tried to ban; Damn Dirty Apes mixes Roadhouse with Jaws with Sons of Anarchy, to create a rollicking romp of 80s-style action/adventure, creature horror and pitch-black comedy. DIE DOG OR EAT THE HATCHET Escaped mental patient Terrence Hingle, the butcher of five sorority sisters at the Kappa Pi Massacre, kidnaps timid diner waitress Tilly Mulvehill and bolts for the border. Forcing his hostage to drive him out of town, it’s just a question of time before Tilly becomes the next victim in Hingle’s latest killing spree. But when they stop for gas at a rural filling station operated by deranged twin brothers, Dwayne and Dwight Ritter, the tables are turned on Hingle, and for Tilly the night becomes a hellish cat-and-mouse ordeal of terror and depravity. The meat in a maniac sandwich, Tilly is forced against her nature to make a stand and fight for survival. Because sometimes the only choice you have is to do or die…to Die Dog Or Eat The Hatchet. GATOR BAIT Prohibition-era 1930s… After an affair with the wrong man’s wife, seedy piano player Smitty Three Fingers flees the city and finds himself tinkling the ivories at a Louisiana honky-tonk owned by vicious bootlegger Horace Croker and his trophy wife, Grace. Folks come to The Grinnin’ Gator for the liquor and burlesque girls, but they keep coming back for Big George, the giant alligator Croker keeps in the pond out back. Croker is rumored to have fed ex-wives and enemies to his pet, so when Smitty and Grace embark on a torrid affair…what could possibly go wrong? Inspired by true events, Gator Bait mixes hardboiled crime (James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice) with creature horror (Tobe Hooper’s Eaten Alive) to create a riveting tale of suspense. _____ "It's an explicit, hard-hitting, twisted funhouse ride into pulpish horror wrapped loosely in a tattered skein of irreverent, jet black humor. In short, it's a freakin' blast." --Walt Hicks, author of Dirge of the Forgotten _____ "Every page ratchets up the tension another notch even as it descends deeper and deeper into terrible darkness. Out of all the books I've read for Ginger Nuts of Horror, this is definitely the most intense." -- David Dubrow, author of The Blessed Man and the Witch _____ “With Die Dog Or Eat the Hatchet, Adam Howe hasn’t written one of my favorite books of the year, he’s actually written three of my favorites. Stories that are tight, toned, and genre-confounding. Horror fans and crime fans are going to come to blows over who gets to claim Howe as one of their own, but they’re both going to be wrong because Howe’s his own thing.” – Adam Cesare, author of Tribesmen and Mercy House _____ “The recipe for Adam Howe’s DIE DOG OR EAT THE HATCHET is: Two parts Joe Lansdale, One part Justified, and a heavy dose of WTF. The result is a swampy cocktail darker than any backwoods hayride, stronger than the meanest Sasquatch, and crazier than anything you’ll find chicken-fried at your local state fair.”—Eryk Pruitt, author of Hashtag and Dirtbags
DIE DOG OR EAT THE HATCHET is the first I’ve read from author Adam Howe. This one is a collection of three novellas. Howe brought everything from captivating writing, well developed, fatally flawed characters, to interesting, twisted storylines.
The first story, DAMN DIRTY APES, had me hovering between a three and four star rating, simply because I knew where it was going from early on. However, the writing itself–along with the fact that Howe was able to carry the blending of off-color humor with fantastic characterization, won me over completely. On a mission to capture the legendary “Bigalow Skunk Ape”, former boxer, Reggie Levine, sets off reluctantly with a small group of comically oblivious people. In Reggie’s own mind, he acknowledges: “We were on a snipe hunt led by a certified lunatic.” A solid four stars from my perspective.
The second story in the collection was DIE DOG OR EAT THE HATCHET. While in this one, Howe managed to get in some colorful comic relief–“. . . was gifted with the ability to state the f@cking obvious.”–and yet pull off a more serious, torture-riddled story. “. . . the right hands, even the most innocent-looking tool could . . . make you sing.” When Terrence Hingle–infamous for slaying five sorority girls in a most grisly fashion–escapes confinement, he kidnaps waitress Tilly Mulvehill and forces her to assist with his getaway. Unfortunately, he never considered the odds of running into twin brothers even MORE mentally unhinged than himself. Tilly’s chances go from zero to negative digits quicker than it takes for her to lose consciousness. Still, the sporadic comic moments were enough to have me both laughing and squirming all at the same time. “. . . wasn’t the sharpest tool in the cellar torture chamber . . .”. A 4.5 star read for me.
The last novella in this grouping was the aptly titled GATOR BAIT–no interpretation necessary. Running from a “relationship gone bad”, Smitty (now with three remaining fingers on his left hand), finds himself playing piano for a moonshine dealer named Horace Croker, with a very large, very lethal, “pet” gator named Big George, and a trophy wife named Grace–whom Smitty couldn’t help but notice. While there were plenty of times where I thought I knew how this one would conclude, I was wrong at every turn. This story had it all, but the relentless suspense is what ultimately drove it to a full five star rating for me. “. . . where I was going there’d be plenty of everything. . . fire, teeth, and pain.”
A fantastic collection from a new-to-me author that I will be eagerly keeping an eye out for in the future.