Friday, November 4, 2011

Review: "That Damned Coyote Hill," by Heath Lowrance

I was introduced to Heath Lowrance's work last spring, when I read his debut novel, THE BASTARD HAND, and was blown away. My full review of that book is here, if you'd like to check it out, but suffice it to say I discovered, in THE BASTARD HAND, an author who can mix it up with the best of them, creating fictional worlds where you're never quite able to get comfortable, where the good guys ain't necessarily all that great and the bad guys might not be exactly what you think they are, either.

In other words, I discovered a guy penning material more or less in anonymity that any big-time author could be proud of, if only he had the balls to write it.

That feeling was reinforced when I read Lowrance's short story collection, DIG TEN GRAVES. I meant to post a review here but never got around to doing so, being the lazy slackass I am. Let me just say this about DIG TEN GRAVES. If you don't get chills down your spine when you finish reading the first story, "It Will All Be Carried Away," you might as well drive to the funeral home and have them shoot you up with embalming fluid right now, because you're already dead.

The rest of the collection is just as good, and I spent a lot of time after I ifnished reading it trying to figure out why it held such a strong appeal for me. The answer? Heath Lowrance writes the kind of stories I try to write. He's like a good football running back, getting you to think he's going one way, and then he turns on a dime and goes in a totally different direction. I love that.

All of which brings me to the latest Heath Lowrance gem, a digital short released by Trestle Press titled, "That Damned Coyote Hill." It sounds like a western for good reason - it is.

Also, it isn't. I'm not a big fan of westerns - I got more than my fill watching Gunsmoke every week as a kid. It was one of my dad's favorite shows and we only had one TV. If you don't know, Gunsmoke was on TV forever and I'm pretty sure I saw every freaking episode. Twice.

So it took me a while to get around to reading "That Damned Coyote Hill." Well, let me tell you, I'm a damned fool. This quick-reading tale - somewhere in length between a short story and a novellette - grabs you from the very beginning and doesn't let go of your ass until the last word, when you put it down, shaken, trying to figure out what the hell just happened.

It's something out of Quentin Tarantino's worst acid-induced nightmares. It's something entirely different than what you expect. Believe it. Whatever you think you're getting into when you begin reading "That Damned Coyote Hill," I'm here to tell you you're wrong.

I've said it before and I'll say it here: Heath Lowrance is the writer I want to be when I grow up. Do yourself a favor and download "That Damned Coyote Hill" to your Kindle. It's only ninety-nine cents. You won't regret it. Unless you're just waiting for that last dose of embalming fluid.

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