A twisted and sinister crime story with characters and a world you'll be clawing for more of from the author of DIRTBAGS. The repercussions are felt across the American South when a pizza joint in sleepy Lake Castor, Virginia is robbed and the manager, Odie Shanks, is kidnapped. The kidnapping is the talk of the town, but it's what people don't know that threatens to rip asunder societal norms. Odie chases dreams of Hollywood stardom and an explosive social media presence while his partner in crime, Jake Armstrong, pursues his own vengeful agenda. In the meantime, corrupt and lazy Deputy Roy Rains has a hard-luck time of covering up the crime in order to preserve his way of life. And college student Melinda Kendall has hit the highway in a stolen ride with nothing but a .22 and limited options, on the run from her drug dealer boyfriend, the Mississippi State Police and the media, trying to escape some bad choices by making even more bad choices. All three are on a collision course from hell in this crime story that reads like a blood-spattered road map of the American South.
Reviews – how much do you leave in, how much do you leave out…. possible spoilers below.
So a one line summary – fast, funny, frantic and furious! Flippin’ fantastic.
4.5 from 5
We have an interesting tale told in three halves… ha ha.
Odie Shanks pizza restaurant employee gets kidnapped; whilst his employer gets locked up in the freezer. Stockholm syndrome and soon Odie starts to take to a life of crime, harbouring dreams of not just fortune but fame into the bargain. His erstwhile mentor – Jake Armstrong has a few scores to settle having been released from clink after the best part of 20 years inside. Master and pupil enjoy a few escapades and capers – Odie with his plastic toy shop gun - before a botched stick-up leads to a brutal, bloody climax does for one of them.
Lazy cop, Roy Rains is tasked with solving the pizza-gate crime or the local sheriff’s gonna retire his corpulent arse. Can Roy put a lifetime of coffee drinking and donut eating to one side to save his career and maybe, just maybe embark on a bit of mid-to-late life romance with his best friend’s sister, someone he should have pursued thirty years ago?
Roy despite his faults does his best and I was kind of hoping for a positive outcome for him. Grave robbing and a fit-up on our local Native American outcast Indian still had me wishing him well. I could almost the hearing wedding bells, as his frustrated beau threw down on him with a shotgun.
Lastly, we meet Melinda. She’s hacked off with her boyfriend - fellow student and small-time drug dealer. He’s an angry jealous man, so in a fit of pique and somewhat the worse for drink, Melinda gets down and dirty with a pick-up. You do the time, so might as well do the crime. The next day brings a hangover with a twist. Her horizontal dancing partner has stolen the boyfriend’s stash and Melinda’s suddenly sober. Knocking her boyfriend out is one way to buy some time and fleeing may not be the way to go. But it is what it is.
Melinda’s on the run and takes to a life on the lam like a duck to water. The storm she cooks up on Twitter, as her criminal exploits start trending turn Odie green with envy. There’s an inevitability about the two of them crossing paths and hooking up.
Smart twist at the end, as one of Odie’s repressed ambitions finally comes true.
Great fun, black humour, liberal doses of death and gun play. There’s something appealing about our three protagonists, all of them turning to criminality more by accident than any grand design.
Pruitt hits the bulls-eye with this offering.
Hashtag was accessed courtesy of the publisher 280 Steps and the early review site they offer some of their output on – Edelweiss.
280 Steps are re-publishing some vintage titles as well as bringing some contemporary gems into the spotlight.
You can check them out here.
In the southern town of Lake Castor, the old mill closed, and jobs vanished. But Calvin Cantrell doesn’t care for those jobs anyway. Instead, he dreams of becoming a famous serial killer. When sleazy restauranteur Tom London hires Calvin to kill his ex-wife, Calvin’s dreams begin.
And so do Lake Castor’s nightmares.
And so do Lake Castor’s nightmares.