HOWARD & DEBBIE by Max  Mobley

HOWARD & DEBBIE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A psychopathic woman victimizes a softhearted, lonely man in music journalist Mobley’s (Rush FAQ, 2014) first novel.

At the end of the 20th century, a “sickly thin” shipping clerk in his 30s named Howard Feck just recently lost his virginity. The coupling ended miserably, but it ignited flames of fantasy and desire within him that lead him to visit dial-up internet-dating chat rooms. Mobley soon demonstrates a distinct and remarkable knack for suspense as Howard romances and becomes infatuated with a woman who goes by the name “Lil_Debbie.” At the mercy of his impatient, impulsive desires, Howard decides to take a 13-hour drive to surprise Debbie in person in her bucolic hometown of Wilburn. He meets an overweight woman in an internet cafe who tells him that she’s Debbie’s “roommate”; it’s actually Debbie, but he falls for her ruse, as she’s been sending him fake photos of herself all along. She turns out to be a very dangerous person to know. Howard follows her back to her remote farmhouse, where her fierce anger bubbles to the surface—and soon he’s cowering in fear for his life. Overall, this is an intensive character study and an engaging drama. Mobley cleverly delivers pieces of Debbie’s backstory in between scenes of the initial abduction. She’s revealed to be a broken woman who was sexually abused as a child; her simmering rage and resentment manifests itself in a serial-killer persona. The author then shows how Howard’s kindness softens Debbie’s heart enough to replace her murderous impulses with confessional ones, and how a kinky and odd relationship blossoms between them—before it descends into murky madness. In the end, this imaginative work of fiction offers all the serpentine plot twists that thrill-seeking horror fans crave.

A briskly paced, character-driven tale of deceit and betrayal.

Pub Date: Feb. 12th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-947856-83-7
Page count: 312pp
Publisher: Rare Bird Books
Program: Kirkus Indie
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