This is the book I’ve been waiting for Brian Keene to write. I know that sounds a little condescending, but trust me, I don’t have visions of the guy wiping sweat from his brow and grinning in gratitude because he’s pleased me. The thing is, I enjoyed CASTAWAYS so much, I’d like to slap its author on the back, tell him “you really had me going this time, you bastard,” and then buy him a beer.

The novel’s setup is perfect: Would-be celebrities in quest of a million-dollar grand prize and the crew for a reality TV show called CASTAWAYS are on a small island in the bugfuck quadrant of an ocean somewhere. The program is a SURVIVOR clone. Contestants play a game that draws from them the worst elements of human nature: greed, duplicity, arrogance, insincerity and just plain ol’ screw-you meanness. Alliances form and everyone gears up for several weeks of backstabbing fun.

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Cold Blooded Chillers: Tales of Suburban Murder & Malice #3

COLD BLOODED CHILLERS: TALES OF SUBURBAN MURDER & MALICE #3 is the best issue of this indie horror comic thus far, primarily because all three stories carry art that’s up to snuff. Both issues before it have sported a story where the drawing didn’t match the level of the tale, so the calibration is appreciated.

“Shadow” is going to bother some readers, no doubt about it, because it deals with a boy whose mom’s boyfriend is selling him out to truckers for rest-stop quickies. Since CHILLERS is built upon twist endings, you can’t wait to see the sleazeball get what’s coming to him, but prepare to have your expectations shattered.

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SEARCH ME >> 1.09

A sampling of some of the bizarro search terms with (thankfully) low numbers that brought people to BOOKGASM over the last 30ish days:

• i love lucy fan fiction stephen hawking
• sex with a ninja
• baby ruth hawkman
• statute of limitations on dumping trash
• don’t make a black woman take off her earrings

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Savage Season / Mucho Mojo

Looking for some reassurence that 2009 might be a good year after all? Here you go: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard is reissuing the Hap and Leonard novels by Joe R. Lansdale — one of Texas’s gifts to the world of genre fiction — in attractive trade paperback editions, starting with the first two of the series: SAVAGE SEASON and MUCHO MOJO.
Why is that such good news? Well, for one thing, these novels have been sadly out-of-print and damned near-impossible to find for almost 20 years. More importantly, they are among the finest, most unique and dependably entertaining crime novels you’re likely to read.

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The Last Renegade

Mike Kearby’s new Western for young adults isn’t filled with the clichés that make the genre what it is. In THE LAST RENEGADE, you’ll find no cattle drives, land barons, rapacious railroads, gunfights on the street in front of the saloon, or dewy-eyed school marms in this one. There is an Indian, however — Young-Man-Who-Listens — and he’s the title character.

He’s shot and captured as an adolescent. and sold to a traveling tent show to be displayed as Chief Raging Buffalo, The Last Real Renegade Indian, a bloodthirsty savage with more scalps to his credit than Pawnee Bill has circus posters. The only education he receives in the ways of the white man is the brutal treatment he is accorded by his captors. He picks up the language to the extent he hears it regularly from the men who care for him. Or don’t care for him, as the case may be.

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PREVIEW >> Hater: Chapter 1

BOOKGASM will be previewing David Moody’s novel HATER with chapter excerpts every week, now through its Feb. 17 release date. Called a modern take on the classic “apocalyptic” novel, HATER tells the story of Danny McCoyne, an everyman forced to contend with a world gone mad, as for reasons unknown, vast numbers of the human population suddenly become irrationally violent, killing all who cross their path.


SIMMONS, REGIONAL MANAGER FOR a chain of main street discount stores, slipped his change into his pocket then neatly folded his newspaper in half and tucked it under his arm. He quickly glanced at his watch before leaving the shop and rejoining the faceless mass of shoppers and office workers crowding the city center sidewalks outside. He checked through his date book in his head as he walked. Weekly sales meeting at ten, business review with Jack Staynes at eleven, lunch with a supplier at one-thirty…

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Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein: Prodigal Son — Volume One

It comes with the job, but often I’m asked if I know when the third novel of the DEAN KOONTZ’S FRANKENSTEIN series will come out. After so many promised dates passing by, “never” seems to be the most correct answer. In the meantime, fans will just have to make do with DEAN KOONTZ’S FRANKENSTEIN: PRODIGAL SON — VOLUME ONE, a comics adaptation of the series’ first novel, which Koontz co-wrote with Kevin J. Anderson.

This five-issue collection follows that book’s plot to the proverbial T, hinging on the “what if?” concept that Victor Frankenstein never stopped making monsters. Today, having rendered himself immortal, he goes by the name of Victor Helios and continues perfecting his creations.

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The Garden of Evil

Italian detective Nic Costa returns in THE GARDEN OF EVIL, the sixth book of the series written by David Hewson. At the scene of a brutal murder, Costa stumbles upon the killer, who is wearing a mask. The man kidnaps Costa’s new wife, eventually killing her, injuring Costa, and escaping. Costa discovers the man’s identity: a rich aristocrat with many friends, practically untouchable. Now, the detective must not only slowly build his case, but rebuild his life as well.

Hewson’s luscious and rich style lends itself admirably to the main subplot of the book, which is an investigation of the famous painter Caravaggio and the streets of Rome in which he lived. The murder scene mentioned above has taken place in front of a lost — and quite disturbing — canvas of the master, and so Costa is forced to bring in an art expert to help on the case.

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bullets broads blackmail and bombsIt’s too damn cold here in Massachusetts, to where I just want to snuggle under a blankie and veg out with the TV on. So my reading has been suffering a bit. But to get back on the horse, here’s some simple, fun reading of authors we know and characters we love.

THE DESIRED by Carter Brown — Nothing says comfort more than the novels of Carter Brown. They are fun and breezy and can be devoured like a plate of just-baked cookies. This time out, it’s not the far-world-traveling set, but Brown’s straight-ahead detective, Al Wheeler, who literally crashes into his newest case — that of a runaway car with a barley dressed woman inside and a dead body in the trunk.

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He Is Legend: An Anthology Celebrating Richard Matheson

One can’t take issue with the title HE IS LEGEND: AN ANTHOLOGY CELEBRATING RICHARD MATHESON, because it’s true: Richard Matheson is a legend. It’s amazing the sheer amount of his fiction that exists in the public consciousness: tales of shrinking men and fetish dolls, haunted houses and post-apocalyptic vampires.

In this Gauntlet Press collection edited by Christopher Conlon, several noted horror authors show their appreciation by presenting all-new stories that serve as prequels or sequels to — or are simply inspired by — Matheson’s many influential works.

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