Friday, 7 July 2017

PAUL HEATLEY - FATBOY (2017)


Synopsis/blurb…..

After his girlfriend leaves and takes their young son with her, Joey Hidalgo is left alone in the trailer they formerly called home with nothing to do but get drunk and contemplate her reasons. Is he really as angry, as volatile, so close to constant violence, as she claims he is?
No, Joey thinks, of course not, the real problem is money--or lack thereof. Joey's a bartender, always struggling to make ends meet, unlike his most vile regular customer, the rich and racist fatboy. So Joey hatches a plan to get his family back by taking him for all he's worth.
But the fatboy isn't going to make it easy for them. Neither is Joey's temper. Things are going to get messy, and it's gonna be one hell of a long night.

My kind of book. Joey is our main character and a barman. I do like visiting bars in my reading, you get to meet plenty of interesting people, you get to eavesdrop on conversations and you see people make fools of themselves when the alcohol intake exceeds common sense. They are often places of tension and confrontation. As a barman, attentive and sober you can observe people when they are otherwise distracted.

Joey has a temper. His partner has left him and taken their son with her. Joey never was good enough for Billie’s family and the fact that she has run home to mummy and daddy rubs salt in the wound. Billie is refusing to let him see Charlie until she has sorted a place to live and Joey and the situation calms down. Billie has concerns over Joey’s temper and with good reason. A phone conversation doesn’t go his way and his phone gets hurled against the wall and smashed. Irrational behaviour and proof that the red mist descends way too often.

Communication between Joey and Billie is strained. She doesn’t always answer his calls and when they do arrange to meet, she sends her dad instead to explain the situation. They are having two different conversations. What Joey hears in his head is that the separation is temporary and that he can fix the situation with money. Money will solve all the problems in their relationship because the cause of the tension and the fights and the arguments comes from the pressures that a lack of it brings. You don’t feel that Billie feels the same way. Joey’s current problem is how to get some.

In his work, Joey is calm and rational and polite to customers. He respects the working girls that frequent the bar, picking up business when the shift workers pile in the bar at the end of the day mainly from Bell’s.

Adam Bell is the son of the boss and the fatboy and one of the bar’s best customers. Rude and racist and with a sense of entitlement that having money brings. Joey is an easy target for his prejudices.

Hey, spic, get me a drink. The racial epithet changed on an almost nightly basis.

Hey, beaner. Hey, wetback.

Joey sucks it all up, for a while at least. He has a plan. Working with Lynne, Fatboy’s favourite squeeze, he may get to teach Adam some manners and relieve the Bell family of some green and lo and behold every problem in his life is going to be fixed……… Yeah, right.

Great story, interesting characters. I quite liked Joey despite his faults and I was keen to see if he comes out ahead. There are some fantastic scenes and some enjoyable dialogue involving Joey and his nemesis Fatboy. With the plan in action the tension between the pair escalates.

114 pages long – a perfect length for this kind of tale. A tick in every box for - setting, story, pace, characters, confrontation, action and outcome. Plus there’s a sprinkling of black humour in the piece, especially in the verbal jousting between our two main combatants.     

5 from 5


Paul Heatley is the author of a fair few novellas. 
The two I have enjoyed so far are The Motel Whore and The Vampire – both very dark reads. 
Plenty more await me – An Eye For An Eye, The Pitbull, The Mess, Three and The Boy.

Paul has his website here. Catch him on Facebook here and Twitter - @PaulHeatley3

Read in July 2017
Published – 2017
Page count - 114
Source – review copy from publisher All Due Respect Books (cheers Mike)

Format - Kindle

14 comments:

  1. Col, I have been to bars (saloons) and met characters like Joey Hidalgo and Adam Bell mostly in westerns. There is a certain appeal to this kind of novels with their somewhat dysfunctional characters.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a reasonable analogy, Prashant. Dysfunctional characters have the most appeal reading-wise.

      Delete
  2. Top book! I reckon this one will be appearing in plenty of year-end lists.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sounds like a setup for a really solid noir story, Col. I'm with you about bars as solid settings in stories, too. They can be really effective for stirring up conflict, and for all sorts of character development.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Margot, the bar scenario works well in setting up this one. Events occur elsewhere of course but it's a crucial backdrop for our tale.

      Delete
  4. The other two you reviewed by him did not appeal, but this comes much closer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it has its lighter moments, so might be more appealing.

      Delete
    2. I'm with Tracy! she says exactly what I thought - the Motel Whore didn't attract me one little bit, but this one is a maybe...

      Delete
    3. I really liked it and it does have a lighter touch compared to the others I've tried.

      Delete
  5. Col – The bartender’s plan to take the “fatboy” intrigues me. I am going to pick up this one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Elgin, I think you might enjoy it more than THE MOTEL WHORE.

      Delete