Publisher: Comet Press
Publication Date: 3rd Nov 2015
A copy of Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author Adam Howe in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is published by Comet Press.
So this fella Adam Howe, contacts me to ask if I would review his novella Gaitor Bait. After seeing another friend of mine had read it and loved it I gladly agreed. A little while later Adam contacted me again to let me know Gaitor Bait was now part of a collection of three novellas known as Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet and would I like it instead. Call me greedy or clever but three is always better than one to me. Right?
This is what I thought.
DAMN DIRTY APES
Reggie is a bouncer at The Henhouse. When one of the “girls”, Eliza and her fella Lester barge into the club one day claiming to have been attacked by a Skunk Ape, The Henhouse’s owner, Walt, sends Reggie out to the woods to see what he can find.
Along with Salisbury, a self-proclaimed Skunk Ape hunter, and also Lester and Eliza, Reggie goes on the hunt for the monster that has dragged their friend Ned off into the woods.
This is fantastic. What a way to open a collection. This is totally not what I was expecting and to be honest I’m very glad it wasn’t.
What we have here is a story with an old plot. A mysterious monster that no one is sure even exists. A drunk, a stripper, a bouncer and a man who seems to be completely off his tree, go looking for the monster. Chaos ensues.
The difference with this one is that as well as the, at times, horror element to the story, it is filled with a dark humour that will have you laughing out loud as well as in your head. A lot.
The characters are as described above. They are all very likable in their own way. Eliza especially. She is a stripper with a mind of her own. It’s not a very smart mind but hers none the less. She has high ambitions although they wouldn’t be classed as high to many. You see this story through the eyes of Reggie. He is a disgruntled ex-prize fighter that maybe expected more from his life but has to live with his lot.
I have to say again; this is a fantastic novella. It is full of tension but tension that is very tongue in cheek. I can imagine this one being presented as a B movie if it were on screen but I could see it becoming a cult film.
Adam Howe’s writing is superb in this. You do get the fear element and you definitely get the horror side of things. There are a couple of scenes when the group get out into the woods where the tension is palpable and very real but the humour side of things is never far away. This story is hilarious.
I love this style of writing and Adam Howe is very very good at it. Can’t wait to read the next one!
★★★★★ for general.
★★★★★ for horror / laughs.
DIE DOG OR EAT THE HATCHET
Terrence Hingle has escaped from a mental institution. He has been locked up because he is a murderer. A mass murderer.
While on the run he stumbles across a diner and kidnaps one of its employees, Tilly, and forces her to drive him as far away as she can, as quickly as she can.
When they stop for gas, they meet Dwayne and Dwight. Also mentally unstable, Dwayne and Dwight change Terrence’s plans very quickly and he soon becomes the victim, while Tilly has to fight everyone to survive.
This is like Deliverance on speed! Brutal, bloody, gory and sickening.
Terrence Hingle is as unhinged as they come. When you get introduced to Dwayne and Dwight, you realise Terrence is a pussycat. Tilly is just a normal run of the mill girl, trying to make ends meet until she ends up in the nightmare to end all nightmares. She just wants to survive, but from the very outset, you don’t see this happening.
This is a fast paced slasher like all of those old horrors you used to watch in the 80’s. It’s perfect. It has chases. It has blood and guts. It has many scenes where you will hold your breath and try your hardest to keep your dinner down where it belongs. It’s edge of your seat stuff where all you want is for Tilly to get home safe and sound and the bad guys to die a horrible death. In putting Terrence up against Dwayne and Dwight, Adam Howe gives us an epic battle just like Godzilla verses King Kong.
Totally different than the first story, this proves Mr Howe has a versatility to write a horror story with the mythical monsters and the human monsters. Two different styles but equally as scary and enthralling as each other. His words just flow across the pages, totally ensnaring you from the very beginning and refusing to let you go until it’s all over. But only when he wants it to be all over.
Super super stuff!
★★★★★ for general.
★★★★★ for horror.
1930’s piano player Smitty “three fingers” is on the run after being caught with the wrong man’s wife.
He stumbles across The Grinnin’ Gaitor and is taken in by the owner, Croker, and his gorgeous wife, Grace.
After starting a torrid affair with Grace, Smitty must come up with a plan to get away from Croker before he finds out and introduces him to “Big George”, the gaitor that lives in the pond out back.
Noir, bootlegger crime / horror set in the 30’s. This is absolutely perfect. Nothing else to say really.
Again, Adam Howe has written something completely different to the other stories in this book. The versatility of this man’s writing knows no bounds. This story is written in just the most perfectly atmospheric way imaginable. The characters are superb. You know straight away what role they are supposed to play in the story. You feel like you have known them all your life. You feel like they are real.
It’s an old plot that to be honest is synonymous with a lot of old black and white films you may have watched years ago with Bogart and suchlike. It sets the scene just right. It’s smoky. It’s black and white. It’s here’s looking at you kid. It’s wonderful.
I have nothing more to say.
★★★★★ for general.
★★★★★ for horror.
So that is my take on die Dog or Eat the Hatchet. It took me a while to get to this one because of other commitments. I saw what other people were saying about it and was tempted to bump it up the list but it just wasn’t possible.
Am I ever sorry I didn’t! This has missed out on my books of the year for 2015. It would have been right up there with the very best. On the other hand, because the lists where complete, this qualifies for next year’s lists. Even this early, it is going to take a bloody good book to beat this one for next year’s title. When I picked up the next book in my list after this one, I had to set it down for a couple of days because I could not get this one out of my head.
That, ladies and gentlemen, says it all.
Another thing I have just discovered is that Mr Howe is a Londoner. Reading this book, where it is set, the language used and the atmosphere he produces in his writing, you will be convinced he is pure 100% born and bred redneck! That is actually a compliment by the way. Not many people living outside of an area can write stuff like this that completely immerses you in the atmosphere of the locations.
Adam Howe proves with the three stories in this book that he can basically write anything. And write it very well indeed. You have monsters of the mythical kind and monsters of the human kind. You have a sadistic trait in a lot of characters that he writes extremely well. I wouldn’t read this book around meal times if I was you. I would, however put it straight to the top of your list if you have it. If you don’t have it, you know what you need to do!
To summarise: A three novella collection that you absolutely must have in your collection. I give this one the highest possible recommendation that I can.
★★★★★ highest possible recommendation!
★★★★★ clean pants required!
If you would like to help support Confessions of a Reviewer, then please consider using the links below to buy Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet or any other books from Adam. This not only supports me and the author, but also lets me know how many people actually like to buy books after reading my reviews.
From Adam Howe, winner of Stephen King’s On Writing contest, come three original novellas of hardboiled crime, graphic horror and pitch-black gallows humor.
DAMN DIRTY APES
Washed-up prizefighter Reggie Levine is eking a living as a strip club bouncer when he’s offered an unlikely shot at redemption. The Bigelow Skunk Ape – a mythical creature said to haunt the local woods – has kidnapped the high school football mascot, Boogaloo Baboon. Now it’s up to Reggie to lead a misfit posse including a plucky stripper, the town drunk, and legend-in-his-own-mind skunk ape hunter Jameson T. Salisbury. Their mission: Slay the beast and rescue their friend. But not everything is as it seems, and as our heroes venture deeper into the heart of darkness, they will discover worse things waiting in the woods than just the Bigelow Skunk Ape. The story the Society for the Preservation of the North American Skunk Ape tried to ban; Damn Dirty Apes mixes Roadhouse with Jaws with Sons of Anarchy, to create a rollicking romp of 80s-style action/adventure, creature horror and pitch-black comedy.
DIE DOG OR EAT THE HATCHET
Escaped mental patient Terrence Hingle, the butcher of five sorority sisters at the Kappa Pi Massacre, kidnaps timid diner waitress Tilly Mulvehill and bolts for the border. Forcing his hostage to drive him out of town, it’s just a question of time before Tilly becomes the next victim in Hingle’s latest killing spree. But when they stop for gas at a rural filling station operated by deranged twin brothers, Dwayne and Dwight Ritter, the tables are turned on Hingle, and for Tilly the night becomes a hellish cat-and-mouse ordeal of terror and depravity. The meat in a maniac sandwich, Tilly is forced against her nature to make a stand and fight for survival. Because sometimes the only choice you have is to do or die…to Die Dog Or Eat The Hatchet. Reading like a retro slasher flick, this pulpy Southern Gothic kidnap-thriller takes no prisoners as it roars towards a shattering conclusion.
Prohibition-era 1930s… After an affair with the wrong man’s wife, seedy piano player Smitty Three Fingers flees the city and finds himself tinkling the ivories at a Louisiana honky-tonk owned by vicious bootlegger Horace Croker and his trophy wife, Grace. Folks come to The Grinnin’ Gator for the liquor and burlesque girls, but they keep coming back for Big George, the giant alligator Croker keeps in the pond out back. Croker is rumored to have fed ex-wives and enemies to his pet, so when Smitty and Grace embark on a torrid affair…what could possibly go wrong? Inspired by true events, Gator Bait mixes hardboiled crime (James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice) with creature horror (Tobe Hooper’s Eaten Alive) to create a riveting tale of suspense.
Adam Howe writes the twisted fiction your mother warned you about. A British writer of fiction and screenplays, he lives in Greater London with his partner and their hellhound, Gino. Writing as Garrett Addams, his short story Jumper was chosen by Stephen King as the winner of the On Writing contest; the prize was publication in the paperback and eBook editions of King's book, and an audience with The King, where they mostly discussed slow vs. fast zombies. His short fiction has appeared in numerous publications. His first book, Black Cat Mojo, is published by Comet Press. His second, Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet, is due for publication in October '15. He is currently working on a new novella, Damn Dirty Apes, and his first novel, One Tough Bastard.
And for more about Adam, visit his site or find him on social media: