Thursday, December 8, 2011

Book Review: High Midnight by Rob Mosca

"High Midnight" by Rob Mosca is about... well, I guess it's supposed to be about the sheriff luchadore, but I honestly thought that is was about the weird clown guy on the cover who is a serial killer that gets off on wearing "plaid bondage pants" while he blows people away.

Here's an excerpt from the "High Midnight" description from Amazon:
"Ghouls, cryptids, homicidal clowns, knife wielding chimps and the best damn phantom bordello north of the border... welcome to Unity, Texas! Sheriff Laredo Beaumont, former truck driver, hobo savant and ex-luchadore, along with his bonobo deputy Cicero are the sole law in Unity.... 

....Laredo has no idea that a gang of murderous clowns are closing in... each looking to settle a long forgotten score with the infamous 'Sheriff of Unity'. A gonzo pulp western for the 21st century, High Midnight is a timeless tale of blood and redemption set against a preternatural and pre-apocalyptic Texas."

According to it's about Sheriff Laredo Beaumont. Seriously?  He doesn't even make an appearance until page 23. The MAIN CHARACTER isn't mentioned once during the first 23 pages of the novel. Said 23 pages are filled with unnecessary scenes that quickly turn from back-story to front-story to back-story in a convoluted whirlwind of flashing back to the past and then hurling forward to the present day. It's enough to make me get motion sick and reach for the Dramamine.

"High Midnight" suffers from flagrant abuses of hideous and overdone purple prose, an inability to stay on track of a single plot-line and sporadic fits of shallow violence breaking out just for violence's sake and no other reason. And throughout all of this, even with the superfluous prose, nothing is truly expounded upon.

The main plot-line of the story doesn't even start until page 27. My suggestion to the editor is to cut the first 27 pages. They aren't necessary, and constantly go flipping from the present day to the past in an ungodly attempt to paint the scenarios that bring all the "bad-guy" characters together. Something that could've been artfully done in the exposition during that actual plot-line of the story.

I thought perhaps I could forgive the writing style, since the prologue had an interesting and unique take on a jackalope (it harpoons its prey with a vicious stinger tongue). But soon after, it's page after page of muddled writing such as this:

From page 11 (the following excerpts have not been altered in anyway from how it appears in the eBook)
The wrong end of a double-barreled shotgun peeks in over the
door and blasts Phil in the face. A hail of buckshot, bone and
brain showers over Jerry. He doesn’t scream. He doesn’t try to
run. He simply wipes the blood from his eyes and looks over at
the clown pointing the shotgun in his direction.

“Please. No—” His last thoughts are sprayed out the window
and into the night.

A shell casing hits the pavement and rattles between a pair of
crudely painted skull and crossbones, steel-toed combat boots.
The clown looks down at the shell and shudders as a fit of giggle
gurgling overcomes him. He twitches and his eyes roll to the back
of his head. A small stain seeps through the front of his loosely
fitting, plaid bondage pants and the giggling volcano erupts into
a fountain of raw laughter.

From Page 15
With a look that’s pure car crash mash-up between Vampire-
Harlequin and Fishnet-Kabuki, Kate exudes the quiet confidence
of royalty out slumming. She arches her back upwards, standing
on the tippy-toes of her thigh high Stomp Boots, then throws
herself forward into a cartwheel that ends with a ballerina’s pivot.
She turns around to Red, brushes aside the peroxide-blonde
bangs dangling over the red ovals painted across her eye sockets
and smiles, revealing two rows of teeth filed to resemble a
barracuda’s grin.

As you can plainly see in the provided excerpts, none of the "cleverly" thought up turns-of-phrases or metaphors make any sense, they're self contradictory and well, not very good.

But, the worst part about the story  is that there's no rhyme or reason for the violence the character's commit upon their fellow man. The murder scenes are trite, cliched and utterly unmoving; just like the rest of the novel.  In fact, the characters are so shallow, it's like reading a novelization of Rob Zombie's torture porn flick "The Devil's Rejects."

The Devils Rejects
She looks so confused. 

"High Midnight" is yet another example of a poorly written eBook that no one took the time to edit other than use the Spell Checker before declaring it a work of brilliance ready for the electronic presses. *Sigh*

Don't get me wrong, some very good writers have eBooks. But, this one is terrible. If I were you, I wouldn't touch the varmint with a 10-feet long pole.

However, burgeoning horror writers might want to read "High Midnight" to learn how not to write a novel, because this piece of work really refuses to follow any, and I mean any, of the rules that are used by great fiction writers. And that just breaks my heart, because I like the Western horror sub-genre.

Oh well, guess I'll just have to read "Dead Man's Hand" by Nancy A. Collins, again.

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