Sunday, 30 September 2012

The Bastard Hand by Heath Lowrance

What can I say about this novel? If it had been written by Stephen King it would be probably already be lauded as a classic and he’d be sitting on a fat cheque for the film rights. As it is I bought it for free and frankly that’s criminal. Heath Lowrance has accomplished so much with this novel that it’s difficult to know where to start.

Charlie Wesley is an escapee from a mental institution and he’s drifting across the States with little goal or purpose. When he gets mugged it’s the start of a chain of events. The following day he meets the charismatic Reverend Phineas Childe. The two become friends and Charlie travels with the preacher to the town of Cuba Landing.

Lowrance tells the tale from Charlie’s perspective. We soon discover that all is not well in the rotten town of Cuba Landing. The observations Lowrance makes are often witty but it is clear that this is going to be a tale darkness and corruption. There are so many plot elements cunningly woven into this novel that sometimes you skip past them and then BAM you’re hit in the face by a revelation.  There are twists and turns but you NEVER lose track of what is going on. Here lies Lowrance’s skill. He weaves such a complex tale but it’s so easy to follow.

The characters are vividly drawn in three dimensions. Charlie as the hero of the novel is amoral and at times downright nasty. The Reverend is charismatic and you can’t help but like the old rogue even though his heart is as black as a politician’s heart. There’s also a dose of small town politics and it’s obvious the Mayor has secrets of his. Add in a supernatural element into the mix and you have a masterpiece of a novel that will appeal to broad range of readers. This novel is the literary equivalent of a perfectly written and melancholy Nick Cave or Leonard Cohen track. Flawless and brilliant.

Genre: Crime/Supernatural
Publisher:  New Pulp Press
Format:  E-Book & Paperback
Rating: 5/5

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