Monday, May 2, 2011

A Special Guest Reviewer

I'm thrilled to have a special guest reviewer here today: author Anthony Neil Smith. Smith is the author of Yellow Medicine, Hogdoggin', The Drummer, Choke on Your Lies, and Psychosomatic. Fans of hard-boiled and noir should run and buy his books.

Smith doesn't do many book reviews, so I'm especially honored that he offered his support to help keep the reviews coming while I play catch-up. Here's Smith's two-for-one special, his reviews of two of Danny Hogan's books:

I don't usually do reviews, but I like what the Hound is doing over here, and when he said he wasn't able to fill up the space on this here blog for whatever reasons, I chimed in with some support.

So, Danny Hogan. I'm reading his stuff on Kindle, but as I do, I keep wishing I could line them up as cheap paperbacks alongside my Hamiltons, Prathers, and Hallidays. They feel like they belong on that shelf. And I'm thrilled to see that. One of the best things about the new Kindle publishing explosion is that I'm finding a lot of work by people who, like me, I think, would've been great back in the 50s and 60s cranking out potboilers and exploitation pulps. Danny Hogan is definitely one of those great new finds.

The Windowlicker Maker and Jailbait Justice are tasty pieces of meat and a lot of fun. That's exactly what you want out of pulp. Neither of these are perfect, sure. There are some formatting mistakes and comma errors that, were I his editor, would make me slap the back of his head. But so what? The one word that came to mind while I was reading was “propulsive.” The damned things move.

Windowlicker is really a long short story, and it's in the voice of an old tough guy who had settled down, only to have his life disrupted in a miserable way. So then it becomes a story of revenge. That's one sweet genre, revenge. You know punishment will be doled out, but you don't know how much, how bad, and if the hero will get out alive. But the one surprising thing here was how touching it was. It seemed as if our wronged man might not have the balls to carry through. He's a bit scared, which sold me on the whole thing. Then there's the final straw. You'll have to read it yourself for that one. And to find out what a “Windowlicker Maker” is.

At the end of WM is a short story featuring Jezebel Misery St. Etienne, protagonist of Jailbait Justice, and I've got to say that Hogan packs a wild-assed story into a small package. Jezebel is a small package, too—short, but with a big chest, a crazy three-way mohawk, and a .44 nearly as big as she is. The Austin of Jezebel is postapocalyptic, which means Texas has reverted to what it knows best—wild west lawlessness. Jezebel's got a mouth on her, and it gets her into trouble. It's almost as if she goes looking for it. Lord, does she ever find it. The short story is a bloody, operatic blood sport.

So what can he accomplish in a longer story? A fucking massacre of good taste, that's what.

I don't want to spoil the fun of Jailbait Justice, because it's just packed with insanity. The “Apocalypse as Old West” trope is a fun one, and Hogan's Jezebel is a welcome warrior on the scene. Get it, alright? Just get both of these and be glad we've got Danny Hogan out there making sure the genres—all of them—don't get too respectable.

Links to the books:

The Windowlicker Maker
Jailbait Justice

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