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.SCAPEGOAT by Adam Howe, James Newman
Published by Honey Badger Press on October 5, 2018
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From Adam Howe, writer of Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet, and the winner of Stephen King's On Writing contest... and James Newman, acclaimed author of Odd Man Out and Animosity.
March 29, 1987... For metalheads Mike Rawson, Lonnie Deveroux, and Pork Chop, an RV road trip to Wrestlemania III becomes a one-way ticket to hell. While delivering an illegal shipment of counterfeit wrestling merchandise, an ill-fated shortcut through the Kentucky backwoods leads them to a teenaged girl carved head to toe in arcane symbols. Soon our unlikely heroes are being hunted through the boonies by a cult of religious crazies who make the Westboro Baptists look like choirboys… a cult that will stop at nothing to get the girl back and complete a ritual that has held an ancient evil at bay for centuries… Until now.
Praise for Scapegoat:
"As if Joe Lansdale wrote, and John Carpenter directed, the Jonestown massacre... This is Howe and Newman's Kool-Aid and you'll want to drink it to the very last drop." Eryk Pruitt, What We Reckon
"A delightful backwoods detour through the three Rs of Southern-friend horror: Rednecks, revenge, and Wrestlemania! One of 2018's most entertaining reads. This is one goat you'll definitely want to get!" Michael Patrick Hicks, Mass Hysteria
SCAPEGOAT is a genre-blending novel co-written by authors Adam howe and James Newman. I went into this one blindly–not even reading the synopsis–and my first reaction when I reached the end of it was an astonished, “Wow!” This novel was simply a non-stop action fest; including laugh out loud comedy, a reunion of unlikely characters, religious zealots, emotions, torture, gore, and things that defy ANY attempt at classification.
“. . . There was no reasoning with stupid . . . “
Mike Rawson, a married man with a young child, agrees to go on a “road-trip” with two of his old bandmates, Lonnie Deveroux, and ‘Pork Chop’, to a Wrestlemania event. From the very start–when Lonnie comes to pick him cup in the RV–Mike begins to question the wisdom of his choice.
“. . . In case the engine wasn’t loud enough–and it was loud enough to wake . . . Mrs. Peterson, and she’d died six months ago . . . “
From that moment forward, things go comically, any way except smoothly. Even listening to their old recordings failed to bring on a pleasant sense of nostalgia.
“. . . he remembered: Nope, that’s just how badly we played . . . “
This story was one that I never wanted to put down. The comedy mixed in with non-stop action, and blended with horrific elements was a combination that held me captive to their every word, movement, and situation. Additionally, I felt the environment–no matter what the scene–was painted so well that it felt as if I were watching everything happen before me. The characters, road, woods . . . everything encountered on the journey took on a realistic feel, despite the lighter, more comedic moments. A movie in book form, sums this one up pretty well.
“. . . he’d seen enough horror movies to know that nothing good ever came from a shortcut through the woods . . . “
There is a deeper meaning lying just beneath the surface action and dialog, that was brilliantly paced, as well. Comments and clues along the way don’t slap you in the face with it; rather, they subtly stick in your brain, accumulating until the end when your mind takes notice of everything as a whole.
“. . . doing ‘the right thing’ took on a whole new meaning when it was a matter of life or death . . . “
Overall, I absolutely enjoyed every minute of this book. (If that makes me warped by some people’s standards, so be it). There was never a dull moment. Periods of comedic banter and bloody action scenes were interspersed with some realistic, somber moments from these well defined characters. I found myself liking all of them–even the most “unlikeable”–to some extent by the end of the novel. I attribute that to the way the authors portrayed them–unflinchingly “human”, with flaws that anyone could have.
“. . . Worst road trip ever . . . “
I’m hoping to see these two authors team up again in the future, as their individual styles meshed so well together.