DESERT NIGHTS by Courtney Stackhouse


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Set in the American Southwest, Stackhouse’snovel follows a recovering addict escaping the grasp of her vicious ex-lover, but once she begins settling into a new, comfortable life, she discovers her ugly past has been on her tail since the moment she left.

Tiny, now an aging desert punker nearing her 30s, went in and out of broken homes and foster care as a child, making her vulnerable with a tough-as-nails exterior—a recipe, in this case, for drawing in the wrong kind of people. She spends years going on tour as a drummer in the band Nowhoresville and, after a show, meets Kyle, a good-looking hospital attendant capable of turning her on in ways she could never imagine. Kyle and Tiny begin an odd, secluded relationship, moving in together, taking drugs, roping a handful of naïve and horny men into twisted threesomes, and generally living a pitiful, gluttonous lifestyle. Shaded by the walls of their apartment, their perverse life together doesn’t exist on the outside. There comes a point, though, when Tiny can’t bear it any longer; she slips through Kyle’s manipulative clutches and runs—fast. In her absence, Kyle is consumed with his desire for revenge, and he gets creative in his madness and sadism, plucking away, seemingly at random, at anyone who has entered or exited Tiny’s life as a means to get to her and make her pay. Some of his most favored captives are the bandmates of Second Gunner,who are held for the entirety of his tumultuous rampage. They fight tooth-and-nail during their imprisonment, buying some time for the final showdown between Kyle and his beloved. The interwoven storylines skip around, reveal and omit in a skillfully crafted narrative that builds on its suspense. Rough and crude to varying degrees, the characters are mostly from the underbelly of the modern Southwest, and Stackhouse marvelously sets up their interactions, giving a taste of the redneck, hard-rock lifestyle. Tiny’s character, in particular, is notably complex and unknowingly manipulative in her passivity. Throughout the novel, her drug-addled memory loss syncs with the bizarre way her story unfolds as if in a clouded dream.

Part character study, part drug-induced nightmare—take a hit.

Pub Date: June 28th, 2014
Page count: 300pp
Publisher: Courtney Stackhouse
Program: Kirkus Indie
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