Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Review: THE BASTARD HAND by Heath Lowrance

The Bastard HandTHE BASTARD HAND is a fine example of neo-noir; a bleak and dangerous tale wielding a paranormal or fantastical scythe splashing sticky blood red across the walls, ending lives and forging new ones. For Charlie Wesley, a grifter with no prospects, a former resident of a mental institution, and one-time cop killer – doing a good deed here and there should go rewarded. Unfortunately, the universe doesn’t look too kindly upon Charley and before long he’s bleeding out on a deserted back street watching a con-woman and her crew walk away with his cash and dignity.

Enter the preacher man. Seemingly through divine intervention, Charlie is saved, or rather, offered an ambiguous role alongside fellow grifter and man of God, Reverend Phineas Childe. On route to a small town in need of his services, Childe strikes up a half hearted friendship with Charlie – surely a con, either man’s motives are convoluted yet kept secure as they bend the township to their will. From women to coin, the Reverend’s vices are more mortal than the word he preaches – yet his unorthodox delivery is at once confronting and respected by the township. Once the spell is cast the real fun begins and THE BASTARD HAND takes on a whole new life.

About midway through THE BASTARD HAND I was comparing the delivery and small-town noir feel to another New Pulp Press title HELL ON CHURCH STREET by Jake Hinkson, the similarities were hard to ignore – while good in their own right I couldn’t shake the need to want more than a run of the mill noir with characters I’d read about before. Heath Lowrance answered the calling and turned the story on its head by evolving Charlie and Childe into something much more than man. With powers unparalleled, Charlie regenerates both his bodily harms and thought process and manages to take his future into his own hands – you could say, his own bastard hands.

Drug money, backstabbing, double-crosses, and ill fated love affairs become commonplace as Charlie addresses his new gift while exposing all that gave him hope in the first place. Temptations of the flesh and monetary security alike henceforth drive this revelation-led new world order. As the past catches up with him, Charlie’s new found survival skills kick into place producing an enthralling read leading to a bloody conclusion.

THE BASTARD HAND is a unique piece of writing by an author with a very bright future. All at once, catering to the traditionalist Thompson noir, urban-fantasy, new-noir, and hopeless romantic genres at once, the concept and plot will hook almost any reader. 4 stars.

3 comments:

  1. Josh, why the hell aren't you reviewing for one of the big zines? Or a magazine even?
    Anonymous-9

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment! I'd love to get involved with some of the more publicised and respected zines out there at some stage...

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  2. Thanks so much for the kinds review, Josh!

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