WHAT THE HELL DID I JUST READ

A frenetic, welcome return to Dave and John’s grotesque but funny grindhouse nightmare.

Dave, John, and Amy are back to kick supernatural ass and chew bubble gum. And they’re all out of bubble gum.

Wong (Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits, 2015, etc.)—in reality, Cracked.com executive editor Jason Pargin—burst onto the horror-comedy scene with his phantasmagorical novel John Dies at the End (2009) and has been steadily ratcheting up the madness ever since. You really can’t say he didn’t warn you when his new book’s first words are: “You want to hear a story? Well, buckle the fuck up.” Here Wong revisits his weird Midwestern town (name undisclosed) that’s much like the splatterpunk cousin of Welcome to Night Vale (2015). What starts as a kidnapping case—a little girl is taken by a paranormal entity calling itself “Nymph”—quickly spins out of control to include biker gangs, a secretive government agency, implanted memories, a flying bat creature, and a boss-level leviathan affectionately known as “Millibutt.” “Let me give you a tip: if you’re ever the victim of a terrible crime—like, say, your kid goes missing—and you see the cops consulting with a couple of white trash–looking dipshits in their late twenties, it’s time to worry,” Dave warns us. As crazy as things get, the book remains grounded via an apocalyptic rain storm (giving Nymph a nice Blade Runner–inspired monologue), Dave’s stubborn reluctance to treat his depression, Amy’s sensible charm, and John’s ineffable, if meth-fueled, confidence. But before you think this is evolving into a domestic drama, bear in mind that it also features a porn star made of shape-shifting bug monsters, a DIY gun that shoots hellfire-laced dildos, and a T-shirt cannon packed with the Shroud of Turin. There’s even the return of old favorites like Dr. Albert Marconi and the psychedelic drug Soy Sauce. Oh, and John dies. Again.

A frenetic, welcome return to Dave and John’s grotesque but funny grindhouse nightmare.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-04020-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Awards & Accolades

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015


  • New York Times Bestseller

PRETTY GIRLS

Slaughter (Cop Town, 2014, etc.) is so uncompromising in following her blood trails to the darkest places imaginable that...

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015


  • New York Times Bestseller

Twenty-four years after a traumatic disappearance tore a Georgia family apart, Slaughter’s scorching stand-alone picks them up and shreds them all over again.

The Carrolls have never been the same since 19-year-old Julia vanished. After years of fruitlessly pestering the police, her veterinarian father, Sam, killed himself; her librarian mother, Helen, still keeps the girl's bedroom untouched, just in case. Julia’s sisters have been equally scarred. Lydia Delgado has sold herself for drugs countless times, though she’s been clean for years now; Claire Scott has just been paroled after knee-capping her tennis partner for a thoughtless remark. The evening that Claire’s ankle bracelet comes off, her architect husband, Paul, is callously murdered before her eyes and, without a moment's letup, she stumbles on a mountainous cache of snuff porn. Paul’s business partner, Adam Quinn, demands information from Claire and threatens her with dire consequences if she doesn’t deliver. The Dunwoody police prove as ineffectual as ever. FBI agent Fred Nolan is more suavely menacing than helpful. So Lydia and Claire, who’ve grown so far apart that they’re virtual strangers, are unwillingly thrown back on each other for help. Once she’s plunged you into this maelstrom, Slaughter shreds your own nerves along with those of the sisters, not simply by a parade of gruesome revelations—though she supplies them in abundance—but by peeling back layer after layer from beloved family members Claire and Lydia thought they knew. The results are harrowing.

Slaughter (Cop Town, 2014, etc.) is so uncompromising in following her blood trails to the darkest places imaginable that she makes most of her high-wire competition look pallid, formulaic, or just plain fake.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-242905-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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