Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Incurables by Jon Bassoff

The IncurablesThe Incurables by Jon Bassoff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

'It’s a mean old world, isn’t it?'

Beginning in 1953 The Incurables by Jon Bassoff is a character driven tale with its heart set in madness and its thoughts desperate for tranquillity amidst the Incurables of society.

Thirty-two hundred lives he’d saved, give or take, and he wasn’t done yet. The famous Dr. Walter Freeman, the pioneer of the transorbital lobotomy but when his time is deemed over, there's no going back so he kidnaps his latest patient and it’s time for pastures new.

'Without hesitation, he grasped the ice pick and jammed the point into the tear duct. He then gripped the hammer and struck the ice pick, once, twice, causing an audible crack. Back and forth, back and forth he cut. Then, with a twisting movement, he withdrew the ice pick, all the while pressing his gnarled fingers on Edgar’s eyelids, preventing hemorrhaging.'

And that is a transorbital lobotomy, Woah WTF, this apparently, effectively treats patients with a history of anxiety, depression, insomnia and bouts of homicidal mania. Dr Freeman and Edgar find themselves on the carnival circuit wanting only to help those in need. And with a sign.

'The Amazing Dr. Freeman and his Transorbital Lobotomy. Ending Mental Anguish Today.'

Durango Stanton, sixteen year old Messiah, is also on the carnival circuit with his father, usually found sat cross-legged on a homemade throne, wearing a crown of thorns while dear old Dad preaches all the truths the sinners don't want to hear. And then there's Scent, a young woman who sells her body to survive, her Mother has loads of money hidden away, waiting for her lover to return, forcing them to live in poverty. So we have one crazy Father, one crazy Mother and as if sent from heaven, the good doctor.

“It’s the town. Out here in the middle of nowhere with all them ghosts whispering from beneath the bloody dirt. A town full of incurables, a town full of sinners, a town run by the devil. And wherever the devil is, God is sure to follow.”

The Incurables sees Jon Bassoff back to his best following a slight stutter with Factory Town, Scent was easily my favourite character, seemingly a fragile young thing with a dark side desperate for reparation but will she get what's due? In a place where insanity blossoms amongst the hopeless and faith doesn't mean a thing, only death.

I received The Incurables from Darkfuse & Netgalley in exchange for an honest review and that’s what you’ve got.

Also posted at http://paulnelson.booklikes.com/post/...

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A Stranger's Grave by Craig Saunders

A Stranger's GraveA Stranger's Grave by Craig Saunders
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've said before that Craig Saunders writing style fits succinctly with my inner core and A Strangers Grave is definitely one of my favourites.

Elton Burlock is out of prison after a long 26 year stretch for murder, longer than it should have been but that's something at the heart of his story, along with the reason he went to jail. You would think a murderer an evil man but Elton is far from that, he's an old man now just surviving.

The only job Elton can get is the keeper of an old graveyard in a small Norfolk market town, the first headstones were laid in 1756 but something much older came in 2007. A trio of angels carved in basalt and polished to a black sheen, the evil those angels bought was older than anything.

And when the first murder occurs, who is the obvious suspect?

'But he screamed, then, because as he came she came, the old one, and she drove splinters into his spine and tore out handfuls of his lungs until he could scream no more, snapped his neck, broke his skull, tore into his brain, her worm-ridden tongue licking and licking and eating his eyeballs from behind.'

So there's death in the graveyard, the odd ghost with evil intent, still-born children buried in a strangers grave, a grave that can never be too deep and some laughs around two fat coppers.

'They both set to running as fast as two fat coppers can in a dark cemetery if they don't want a broken neck or a coronary, because of intuition, but also because both policeman knew that whatever happened next, neither one wanted to get to the screamer alone.'

From reading Craig Saunders work you can tell he doesn't waste much time on masses of research, the writing flows effortlessly from darkness to humour in the blink of an eye and I've got visions of him chuckling away in his legendary shed, maybe it's got a little bar and pool table for relaxing. But at the end of the day I really enjoyed A Strangers Grave, the protagonist carries enough baggage to make for an arresting character coupled with a disturbingly creepy setting and a quite wicked story. Craig Saunders does it again.

Also posted at http://paulnelson.booklikes.com/post/...

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King of the Bastards

King of The BastardsKing of The Bastards by Brian Keene
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With Albion in chaos, Rogan and his nephew wash up on a foreign shore. The primitive tribesman of the foreign land are being terrorized by a shaman with an alien god on his side. Can Rogan set things right and find his way back to his former kingdom?

I've made it no secret that I'm not fond of the typical Tolkien via Dungeons and Dragons style of fantasy that dominates the genre these days. When I want fantasy, I'm more into the Leiber/Howard/Moorcock style. Thankfully, King of the Bastards is just such a novel.

Rogan is an aging barbarian, like Conan if he survived to be sixty. Rogan reminds me not only of the lgendary Cimmerian but also Karl Edward Wagner's Kane and David Gemmell's Druss the Legend. In short, he's the baddest mother on the planet and not ready to go to the grave just yet.

King of Bastards is an homage to the glory days of pulp fantasy. If you're squeamish about violence and rampant sexism, this isn't the book for you. Rogan is randy for being a senior citizen and doesn't mind talking about it. He also isn't shy about dealing out violence and gore.

The plot isn't very complex but Keene and Shrewsbury get a lot of mileage of out it. It's a fun pulpy romp full of violence, gore, and funny one-liners. Rogan and his nephew encounter one breasted Amazons, natives, ape-men, giant snakes, zombies, and all sorts of other things. References are made to Keene's Labyrinth mythos and the Thirteen, and there was a Dark Tower reference as well.

Much like the fantasy of yesteryear, King of the Bastards was action packed and short enough not to overstay its welcome. If you yearn for the fantasy of yore, King of Bastards is what you're looking for. Four out of five stars.

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