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Review by
David Niall Wilson
By Dan Thomas
Demonic Clown Books
ISBN: 0974768030
Format: Trade paperback/104 pp.

DARK HIGHWAY is a visceral romp through depravity. If Quentin Tarantino had never made a movie, he might have written something like DARK HIGHWAY in a drug-induced stupor. There are some distinctly "Pulp Fiction" touches to the narrative, but this is much further over the edge than Tarantino would wander.

In fact, were it not for Thomas' tongue-in-cheek style, much of DARK HIGHWAY would be too far over the edge to entertain. As it is, it will take a fairly strong stomach and dark sense of humor for readers to embrace this odyssey of depraved cannibalism and motivational salesmanship.

Tom has a problem. His job sucks, his boss sucks, and the only companion he has on a cross-country sales trip that could cost him his job if he blows it is "Skip Forney," a motivational speaker whose tapes Tom's boss Mr. Paladino has loaned, along with a portable Sears tape deck, to help sort out Tom's attitude and life.

What starts out as a fairly normal story about a young man with a bad life degenerates quickly into the surreal as he is buffeted from one bad situation to the next, each progressively worse, until torn, battered, sexually abused and humiliated, he is carted into the desert and dropped into a half-open grave to rot. Then the fun begins.

Aliens abduct him. Bugs consume parts of him. Alien - stuff - has invaded him, and he finds himself up and moving again, horny as hell, and pissed off. Tom is a man with a plan. He will remake himself. He will rebuild his life. Oddly, the aliens have gifted him with the ability to do just that - re-make himself by consuming the flesh of others. If he eats your hand, his hand is healed. The possibilities are nearly endless, and Tom capitalizes on them with aplomb.

Every hero has his nemesis, and Tom Turley is no exception. Deputy Vaughn Horsley is out to put an end to the string of brutal, disgusting killings, despite his trailer-park mentality and an almost painful lack of detecting ability. Seduced by the daughter of one of Tom's victims using Crème de Menthe and some very acrobatic oral excercises, Horsley loses his job in his search, but gets the girl - never ceasing his tracking of her parent's brutal murderer. Vaughn, of course, would have been better off if he never caught up.

What follows is Tom Turley's war against bad businessmen, answering machines, massage attendants and Microsoft, with a load of murder, mayhem, and cannibalism along the way.

Dan Thomas has written a funny, gritty, and scandalously disgusting tale of debauchery, comeuppance, and revenge that will appeal to fans of "hard core" horror in the same way Rex Milller's "Slob" novels, or Ed Lee's darker works have done. Not for everyone, but entertaining and well written.

3 Book Wyrms.


This review copyright 2004 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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