Sunday, January 28, 2018

Thoughts on Pin by Andrew Neiderman

Book three of 2018 is Pin by Andrew Neiderman. Here are my thoughts:

This was my first Andrew Neiderman read. I had heard a lot about this book, always with some half-joking comment about incestuous themes, which, quite honestly, was off-putting.Though the cover is eye-catching, this book has sat on my shelf solely because of the whole incest thing. I just didn't wasn't to read something like that. Once I realized how deeply I was judging the book without even giving it a chance, I decided to dig in. I'm glad I did.

In a nutshell, Pin is about a brother and sister who were raised in a unique environment where their mother was a crazed clean freak and their father a emotionless family physician who they referred to as The Doctor rather than Dad. The Doctor had a life-sized figure that displayed the human anatomy very similar to the clear pages you would find in an old encyclopedia under the human anatomy section, muscles, veins, tendons and all. The kids became obsessed with this figure and name him Pin. For Leon, the obsession never ended, even after both of their parents died in a car wreck, however when his sister Ursula begins to grow up and becomes interested in a young man, Leon becomes jealous and filters his own frustrations through Pin, an inanimate thing he has quite fully convinced himself is a living, breathing human being. A human he talks to. A human who talks back.

Pretty big nutshell there. I never was good at one sentence pitches.

So, I loved the book. I read it rather quickly, engrossed with this bizarre tale and not once put off by the incestuous stuff people seem to immediately associate with the story (believe me, it sounds far worse than it is). The relationship between Leon and Ursula is unusual and creepy, however the first act of the story convincingly develops this unhealthy relationship in a way that gives the reader a sense of sympathy, though that wanes as our Narrator, Leon, becomes more and more unreasonable and crazed. He and his sister went through a lot with The Doctor, things no children should ever have to face. They were raised like little experiments for their sick father, which ends up disturbing them quite severely, making it difficult for them to function in the real world.

This was an unusual story. Kind of a slow burn, I suppose. In many ways I could see what was happening and how things would transpire. I think that certain themes have probably been ripped off and used in horror films. I didn't see the ending coming, though I feel like I should have. Really, I was so engrossed in the story that I wasn't looking to figure out what was going to happen. The epilogue, however, should have been . . . Hold on a minute. I'm going to go check something. Never mind. I was about to write about dropping the epilogue, but as I was typing I suddenly understood it. I'd forgotten how Leon names Pin early on in the story, and that tidbit has everything to do with those final three pages.

In closing, I loved the book. I'm going to read more Andrew Neiderman, sooner than later (I still have no interest in V. C. Andrews). Up next will be either Pete Khale's Specimen, Robert Bloch's American Gothic, or Paperbacks From Hell (I'm reading all three at the moment). See you then!

If Pin sounds good, buy it HERE.

If you liked Pin, consider Brothers in Blood, my own bizarre tale of homicidal twin brothers.

"Like Texas Chainsaw Massacre with twins!" - Jack Bantry, author of The Lucky Ones Died First

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Thoughts on Gone South

My second read of 2017 was Gone South by Robert McCammon. Initial thought on finishing it . . . I loved it! I've read a few of his books and this was the best by far. Better than . . . wait for it . . . Boy's Life. Yep, I said it. I actually didn't even finish Boy's Life. I had consumed far too many southern coming of age stories at the time (Fear by Ronald Kelly, Midnight Rain by James Newman, etc.), so I was admittedly burnt out on that trope. I'll finish Boy's Life one day, but for now Gone South takes the cake.

Every character was complex and interesting from our Vietnam vet protagonist who finds himself on hard times and makes a life changing mistake that throws him into a downward spiral of twists and turns through the American South, to the bounty hunters who crisscross the same path looking for him. I mean, you got one guy who is a consummate professional and part time gambler who has an arm and partial face of a twin brother connected to his chest. Team him up with a greenhorn Elvis impersonator who goes by the name of Pelvis, and you have a misfit duo that can't help but get in each other's way. Both of these characters are revealed through the story and far more complex than your run of the mill antagonists. You get to liking Pelvis and even the professional bounty hunter, especially when they make it to a podunk bayou town that runs by its own set of laws, which is to say no law at all.

I'm not going to get into all of the characters, but they were well fleshed out and could have climbed out of the pages. Their motivations were justified by their varied pasts and the actions that set the whole shebang in motion. Every action has a reaction, that's for sure. As crazy as some of this book gets, it's plausible. Not once did I lose my suspension of disbelief.

Gone South is character driven fiction at its very best. This isn't horror, this is a southern fried crime thriller. The cherry on top is a fulfilling ending that brings the plot to completion with a bit of a twist that had me thinking about fate long after I was finished with the book.

Highly recommended especially if you like the twisty, turny plotting of Laymon and the oddball charm of Lansdale's Hap and Leonard books. I know my thoughts don;t get too deep, but I'm hoping that these posts will act as a sort of exercise in the way I consume and analyze fiction. Up next are my thoughts on Andrew Neiderman's Pin. See you soon!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Thoughts on A Choir of Ill Children

I am going to attempt to post some thoughts on every book I read this year. In addition, I am attempting to read one book per week. I'm a terribly slow reader, so this will be difficult. Audio books are our friends. This is the first book, and though it may seem I am behind, I have finished a second book and am halfway through books four and five. Right on track. These posts will be my thoughts, not reviews. I did reviews for SplatterpunkZine for a while and found that I'm not reviewer material. But I would like to share my thoughts, so here they are.

A Choir of Ill Children by Tom Piccirilli

I've read, or attempted to read, several Piccirilli novels. The Night Class was fantastic. I couldn't get into Dark Father. Hexes was a mess. A Choir of Ill Children, however . . . I'm not sure what to think. I liked it, but I didn't love it. Present tense always throws me, but I can get over that. The author did a great job with it, actually. The setting is just straight out weird, with all kinds of oddball characters that kept me thinking "what the fuck?!" Why did these people do what they did? What kind of weirdo town is this?

Honestly, I'm not even sure what the story was about. It was interesting enough to read through without trouble, but it was like some mirror world to this one where everyone has pretty much gone insane. Maybe magic had something to do with it. Maybe I'm just dense. I dunno. The book kind of felt like a sequel that would have been easier to digest having read this first one.

Over all, it was a worthy read, expertly written, funny at times, and constantly going down bizarre, unexpected paths. I have a feeling that a second read would clear things up for me, but I rarely read books twice.

Remember, I'm not a great reviewer. These are just my thoughts. Since I tend to read older books I figure YOU have probably already read this one, so getting a detailed review isn't necessary. Next up is Gone South by Robert R. McCammon. See you soon!