Squid Pulp Blues by Jordan Krall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Squid Pulp Blues is a collection of three Bizarro crime novellas all taking place in Thompson, New Jersey, a mollusk-obsessed working class town populated by dwarf hookers and the deformed war veterans called Longheads.
The Haberdasher: Fresh out of the joint, Red Henry Hooper meets up with a couple other lowlifes at a seedy motel to plan a job. Only there's a woman with no feet in the next room and The Haberdasher is on his way...
There's a lot of odd things in the first novella in this collection: a drug called Squid, a gangster with a shoe fetish, a filthy woman that stole another woman's feet, and possibly crabs disguised as people.
Even with the weirdness, The Haberdasher is a good crime tale and a great way to start the collection.
The Longheads: Tommy Pingpong and his partner Jake are looking to buy some guns for a heist, all the while evade their former partner, a diaper wearing bastard named Peachy Keen. But why are the Longheads buying up all the guns?
The Longheads, which made a cameo in the story, go on a homicidal rampage in this story but it's mostly in the background. The main part of the story is the pursuit of Tommy and Jake by Peachy. Throw in an image of Barbara Stanswick in the sky and a serial killer that draws comic strips on the backs of his victims and you have quite a tasty morsel of bizarro noir on your hands.
On a side note, I noticed Karate Kid references in the first two stories: John Kreese and Dan Laruso.
The Apocalypse Donkey: Comic artist Simon Palmer is in the wrong place at the wrong time and has a mysterious black envelope dropped in his lap...
The Apocalypse Donkey is by far the strangest story in the collection. From the weird sex acts at the carnival to the dwarf hooker finally seeing some action and the title donkey, The Apocalyse Donkey is something to behold. Isn't there a detective Harry Bosch in some other books? The Karate Kid reference in this story was Terry Silver and now that I've read about Jordan Krall's interest in Karate Kid III in his author bio in the back, it makes sense.
Squid Pulp Blues is fun mix of noir, squids, dwarf prostitues, and foot fetishes. My only complaint would be that the Cthuloid detective on the cover never makes an appearance.
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