Archive for shotgun

FATHER’S LITTLE HELPER By Ronald Kelly – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 3, 2010 by stanleyriiks

There are certain things about this book that I liked. But most of it is plain and simple and slightly stupid.

The book starts off with Richard McFarland finally having enough one Christmas morning in 1978, and, finding a shotgun, goes to a church near where his car has broken down and shoots half the parishioners.

Fourteen years later, Sonny Beechum’s fascination with true crime comes to a head when he realises he is the son of Richard McFarland and goes on a rampage, heading towards the small town of Cedar Bluff where he aims to finish his father’s work.

All well and good, we’re set up for a reverse revenge tragedy, an all-out action-fest with guns blazing. And to a certain extent that’s what we get. Sonny’s actions take him across country, killing whoever gets in his way, following the instructions of his dearly departed father, whether he appears is a ghost or a figment of Sonny’s fragmented reality.

The problem is that it’s all too easy. Sonny’s a teenager with a shotgun, and yet he’s outsmarting the idiotic police department, the FBI and all the other law enforcement officers. The FBI are unwilling to get more than a single agent involved for most of the book in case the town gets scared. When they do bring some more people in, one a highly trained former soldier, he gets killed almost instantly.

The fact is it’s too easy for Sonny to go around the country killing people indiscriminately. It’s not that easy, and this is where the book falls down. There’s barely any struggle, the teenager is running rings around the police. Our “hero” is meant to be the town Sheriff, but he’s as easily duped as all the rest, and you can’t help enjoying the idiots getting their just desserts. Sonny becomes the anti-hero and you don’t want him to caught until he’s finished with these muppets.

Also we have the problem of characters. There aren’t any worth caring about, which just makes you root for the murderer even more.

Apart from the complete lack of plausibility – throwing in the dad as adviser and Sonny’s true-crime obsession are just not enough to convince us he’s a criminal mastermind – this is a nice violent action novel. I’m not sure I’d go as far as saying it’s a thriller, but there’s enough here to keep you entertained if you can forgive it its problems.

Not bad, but certainly not good. If you find a copy it’s worth reading, but I wouldn’t for a second suggest seeking it out.

RED By Jack Ketchum – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 9, 2010 by stanleyriiks

Avery Ludlow is an old man fishing with his dog. When three teenagers try to rob him he offers them all the cash he has, barely twenty dollars. The teenagers aren’t happy and shoot Ludlow’s dog, blasting off its head with a shotgun and laughing as they make their escape.

So far, so Ketchum. I was expecting a huge and hideously violent revenge tale.

Erm, that’s not what happens. Instead, we get Ludlow trying to get justice, but by traditional, conventional methods; visiting the boys’ parents, going to the police, appearing on TV. But Ludlow’s efforts come to nothing and each time he tries something new, they retaliate against him, with bricks through his window, and burning down his store.

This isn’t really a violent book, it doesn’t make your squirm. It’s a quiet novel from Ketchum, who doesn’t deliver the nastiness he normally does. This is a nice book, more subtle than regular Ketchum readers are used to. It’s good, Ketchum still provides the goods, but not in the way you expect. It’s a nice horror novel, more like a Richard Laymon or Dean R. Koontz book. A horror novel that turns out right in the end, not the bloody massacre of Off Season.

Obviously the publishers have realised that what Ketchum readers want is blood, violence and nastiness, and so they’ve provided us with the novella “The Passenger” in this edition. Classic Ketchum. When her car breaks down late one night Janet is pleasantly surprised to be picked up by a former classmate. So she wasn’t exactly friends with Marion, but she doesn’t have too far to get home. Then they crash into a group of murderers and rapists after Marion refuses to let Janet leave the car, and things start to get really nasty.

When humans goes bad, it could be the tag line of most of Ketchum’s work, and “The Passenger” is no exception. Think of all of the evil possibilities and them throw in some more and then ramp it up a notch, and that’s what Ketchum delivers.

Red isn’t Ketchum at his best, but it’s still a good novel, and nice and short. But “The Passenger” is classic Ketchum, and classic Ketchum always delivers. It’s not like reading, it’s like experiencing pain and torture. Somehow, you don’t know how, you managed to survive and you know that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.