Tuesday, March 8, 2016
GET READY FOR A RIDE ON THE WILD SIDE!
Have I got a humdinger of a book to recommend to you!
Review—Anthony Neil Smith’s HOLY DEATH
Gotta front this with a bit of a disclaimer. Anthony Neil “Doc” Smith is a good, good friend as evidenced by the dedication of this book… to moi! This is without a doubt one of the biggest and most cherished honors I’ve ever received as a writer. Neil is one of my biggest heroes and in my opinion, one of the best writers churning out stuff today. All that said, all I can say is this book is one helluva wild ride.
Most of us writers take from our own lives to furnish the populations of our books. Billy Lafitte in HOLY DEATH is one of the best examples of such. Neil Smith suffered a major heart attack and nearly died before he recovered to write this book and then he did what any writer worth his salt almost always does—turned a truly horrifying and dark personal experience into the gold of literature. It’s what we do, and Neil does it perhaps better than anyone I know. Billy Lafitte is the baddest ass of all time, just as Neil Smith is one of the baddest ass writers I know. There are great characters in thrillers and noir, and while I greatly enjoy following the exploits of a guy like Jack Reacher, I frickin’ LOVE following the adventures of Billy. That’s because the situations he gets himself into more closely resemble the places and are peopled more by the people I know and have interacted with. In other words, Billy is a totally real guy. Just badder than most real guys. He doesn’t posture, he doesn’t come up with tricky karate moves, he doesn’t leap from tall building to tall building; he just kicks major ass while in the middle of an ongoing major heart attack. He’s like a fricking cockroach—you can’t kill the guy. He reminds me so much of guys I used to run with and who I was in the joint with. Just no quit in ‘em. It’s the nature of us hillbillies—they just don’t quit when they’re in a fight.
I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. There’s not a single page that you’re not racing to read to get to the next. It gets dark quickly, and then darker, and then even darker, and just when you think it couldn’t get an iota bleaker… the lights all go out and that’s when the real blackness kicks in. I’ll use this novel to show my students how to create tension.
And, how to write real-life sex scenes. Like everything else in this novel the sex itself is down and dirty and the way it goes down in the mean streets. Nothing like it that I know of in most of the books I read. I’m pretty sure Georgette Heyer didn’t have folks like this between her covers. Love is in here as well—love of the sort that real people experience. The love of a man for a woman who will grant her the grace of death out of that love.
Not to give away spoilers, but my biggest fear was that Billy was going to end up dead. That he doesn’t and that there’s yet another novel coming with him is the best news of all.
Neil was at his absolute lowest point when we talked and he tells me I convinced him to keep going with this series. I’m so damned glad he did. This is a masterpiece. Get it and read it—I guarantee you I wouldn’t steer you wrong on this.
Then, when you finish this one, you’ll find yourself back at the bookstore or on Amazon, about to buy all of the Billy Lafitte novels. I’ll lay odds on that.