The way I came about reading and reviewing Adam Howe’s DIE DOG OR EAT THE HATCHET was strangely serendipitous. I had seen a post on Facebook in which horror author Adam Cesare was raving about Howe and his forthcoming collection of novellas. I’ve read a few books in the past that were highly regarded by Cesare and his judgement has been rock solid every time, so I immediately emailed Howe’s publisher and requested a review copy. At the same time I was composing said email, I received a message on Goodreads from Adam Howe himself. He had seen some of my reviews on Goodreads and wondered if I would like a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
DIE DOG OR EAT THE HATCHET, published by Comet Press, is a collection of three dark and dirty novellas that are virtually impossible to classify using any currently existing genre definition. While falling under the broader umbrella of neo-noir, it’s a splatterpunk, creature horror, redneck noir mashup unlike anything I’ve read before. Think Tobe Hooper on LSD with a liquored up Lansdale in the driver’s seat and you’ll begin to vaguely understand what I mean.
Howe is one of those rare authors whose work is so freaky good, he’s difficult to write about. Hard to imagine what I could say that would really do him justice. DIE DOG OR EAT THE HATCHET is genre(?) fiction bordering on perfection, permeated with gallows humor, brutal–often disturbing–violence, and a triple helping of giddy horror. His characters are wonderfully flawed individuals who don’t always beat the odds, and his villains are some of the most terrifying I’ve seen in a long time. The stories are at times hilarious, often horrific, and always good fun that, like a wild roller coaster ride, ends too soon. Howe is a master storyteller with a natural, engaging voice and a vivid, unique imagination that is rivaled by few.
Adam Cesare said DIE DOG OR EAT THE HATCHET is one of the best books of the year. I emphatically agree. I loved this book and I suspect I will read it again soon. Adam Howe is a new name on my favorite author list and he’s pretty damn high up on it. If you haven’t read his work yet, you should fix that ASAP.
DIE DOG OR EAT THE HATCHET Story Synopses
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.
Published by: Comet Press
About Adam Howe: Adam Howe is a British writer of fiction and screenplays. Writing as Garrett Addams, his story Jumper was chosen by Stephen King as the winner of his On Writing contest, and published in the paperback/Kindle editions of King’s book. His fiction has appeared in places like Nightmare Magazine, Thuglit, Horror Library 5 and One Buck Horror. His first book, Black Cat Mojo (pub. Comet Press) is available now. Follow him at Goodreads and Tweet him @Adam_G_Howe.