Brian Keene,
Kill Whitey
(Cemetery Dance, 2008)

There are no zombies or monstrous worms, which -- given my experiences to date with Brian Keene's work -- is a little surprising. In fact, the first several chapters in Kill Whitey could be the lead-in to any average thriller novel.

You've got Larry, a working Joe with a typical blue-collar job and an assortment of standard-issue friends. You've got Sondra, an exotic Russian stripper on the run. And you've got Whitey, a Russian mobster who's the big fish in the small pond that is York, Pa. Larry sees Sondra and falls in love. Sondra sees Larry and spies a means to escape her situation. And Whitey wants to kill them both, along with anyone who gets in his way.

But the problem for Larry is that Whitey seems impossible to kill. Mortal injuries don't phase him. He just keeps coming, and coming, and killing.

Keene turns the gore-and-death factor up to 11 for this one. The story is a fast read and, once it gets going, the blood-spurting, bone-crunching action is relentless. But there are weaknesses. The book takes too long to get up and moving. Larry is a little too smart, too resourceful. And, once Whitey starts taking damage, his one-man riot through the industrial outskirts of York grows a little repetitive. The ending, too, just sort of peters out over the course of several introspective pages of "and here's what happened next" musings.

A little more polish would have made this a much better novel. As it is, it's entertaining horror fiction that should keep readers stuck to the pages for a day or two of delicious mayhem.

[ visit the author's website ]

review by
Tom Knapp

3 May 2008

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