The Hang Fire Books Blog

The rantings of a bookdealer in Brooklyn, New York.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Quick Reviews: Money Shot - Heart-Shaped Box - Rocky Point Park

I haven't had much down time to blog lately--and in fact I can barely reach my computer due to the large number of book-buying calls I've made this week. Lots of interesting stuff coming in, some of which you can see in my new arrivals section with more coming soon.

Anyway, I've recently read a few things that I think people should check out.

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

When I read the synopsis for this first novel--aging heavy metal icon and collector of macabre items (macabrabilia?) buys a haunted suit in an internet auction--I expected a quirky and slightly black-comedic story (and maybe that's what the protagonist thought when he purchased his suit) but Heart-Shaped Box turns evil fast. I don't want to give much away, because the suspense depends on a series of revelations, but the suit's former owner--a gaunt Johnny Cash-lookalike with scribbles for eyes--was a formidable fucker even when alive and he crossed over with the express intent of dragging our hero down to hell with him.

The appearance of the ghost was definitely influenced by the Tall Man from the Phantasm films. He has the same surreal/absurd edge and the same refusal to fade into the shadows when company comes. I also noticed a hint of Matheson's The Legend of Hell House too with the ghost a deliberate pioneer and exploiter of the ethereal realm. He lurked around my apartment for several nights after finishing the book, let me tell you.

The tension lets up a bit once Judas hits the road with his 20-something goth girlfriend to try and shake the ghost but the book plays fair and pays-off big.

Money Shot by Christa Faust

I knew I had to read this Hard Case Crime release as soon as I saw the Trompe L'oiel stripper cover (by Glen Orbik) and heard it featured a porn-star detective. Thankfully the book more than lives up to the packaging and the author uses the porn setting in smart and playful ways to comment on the generally phallocentric genre tropes.

The protagonist, Angel Dare, is simultaneously femme fatal and gumshoe. She's tough and merciless in the Mike Hammer vein (though her handle is actually less pornie than Hammer's). The sex / death link is played on (though funnily enough the intrigue of the story provides far fewer opportunities for sex than Angel's normal life). And since porn and organized crime have always gone hand in hand the novel moves into noir territory neatly and swiftly. And who could be more world weary and hard-boiled than a porn-star after all?

Check out Faust's website too. It's pulp-eriffic.

Tales of Rocky Point Park by Jason Mayoh

Horror comic and work of urban archaeology on a defunct Rhode Island amusement park that was the source of many pleasant memories and bizarre tales. The author/artist is involved with the production of a documentary on Rocky Point and this comic uses attendee accounts and ephemera to record the myths the have sprung up around the park's House of Horrors.

I've never been to Rocky Point Park but this comic definitely evokes memories I have of the former "Storytown" in Lake George which is now the Six Flags owned industrial "Fun" park "Great Escape" (with the Storytown attractions rotting where they stand). My memories would be safer if they had just bull-dozed the place.

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