161 pages from Valancourt Press
Initially published in 1983, Slimer is the story of six drug smugglers stranded on an oil rig after their boat sinks. They find the platform deserted with only piles of clothes as evidence of the former inhabitants. Also, the rig isn’t decked out like an oil drilling equipment but scientific research equipment instead. Soon, the six drug smugglers find that they are not alone and are being hunted by something, not human. With no way to call for help or escape, they have to figure out what is hunting them and how to kill it.
I picked this one up because I read comparisons to John Carpenter’s The Thing, which is my absolute favorite film. And despite being published 36 years ago and reeking of 80’s sexism and misogyny, I had a lot of fun with this one. The characters are universally terrible people and not overly developed, but the focus of this one is on the action and the creature hunting them. The setting of the oil rig makes for some unusual scenarios that make this one different enough to feel still original. We also get several POV chapters from the creature’s perspective, which I much enjoyed. Slimer is the first book from Valancourt Press that I’ve read, and if this is the kind of book that they are resurrecting from the horror trash heap, then I’ll be throwing my money at them for a while to come. I recommend this one to anyone that’s looking for an old school well-written horror that values action over character development.
Published by Flame Tree Press
Chop Shop is the story of complex happenings centered on The Hawtorne Funeral Home near Minneapolis, Minnesota. The funeral home is run by a pair of friends Amber Hawtorne and Jolene Harris. Jolene works hard to keep their business afloat while Amber parties hard and smokes the drugs. As a result of Amber’s attitude and behavior, their business is struggling, and the repo men are circling. Their partnership and friendship are at a breaking point when Amber’s drug dealer tells her about a way to make a lot of extra cash. Sell the body parts of their dead clients before they’re embalmed and buried.
Meanwhile, Frank Goode, a disgraced former doctor turned felon, is running a back-alley surgery business out of his dining room. Fresh out of prison, Frank still follows his Hippocratic oath and helps any that darken his doorway, and he doesn’t ask any questions. When Frank ends up with a dead gangster in his house, he needs to find a way to get rid of the body, so the mob doesn’t kill him. Disposing of the body is how he meets Amber and Jolene.
I loved this story. Chop Shop is a dark crime novel that’s equal parts hilarious and horrifying. I put this book in the same arena as movies like Pulp Fiction and Fargo in that we have ordinary people with mostly good intentions get sucked into an underworld with which they are not capable of dealing. The characters are well done, and their relationships well established before everything goes to hell. The plotting of this Chop Shop is superb, and when all the separate plotlines collide, it makes for a train wreck from which you don’t want to look away. If you’re looking for a well-written dark crime story that’s full of gratuitous violence, interesting characters, and one hell of an ending, I recommend that you read Chop Shop.
Matt is a middle school math teacher. He's originally from Kentucky but currently lives in Arkansas with his beautiful wife and 2-year-old son. In addition to reading dark fiction, he also enjoys board games and Disney World.