DOWN IN THE DEVIL HOLE
Author: David Jaggers
Publisher: Near To The Knuckle
Release Date: December 2015
Down In The Devil Hole by David Jaggers comprises a series of interlinked short stories set in Bronson, Kentucky, a small town populated with addicts, psychopaths and degenerates. The book unfolds against the backdrop of a terrifying storm, which rips through the town – generating an entirely different type of carnage – and the weather acts as a neat framing device for the volatile stories themselves.
David Jaggers is arguably one of the most consistently inventive short story writers currently plying his trade on the online crime zines, and this debut collection sees him plunge headlong into the rural noir sub-genre. The bulk of the stories may involve horribly damaged people destroying the lives of those around them, but they read like grimly absorbing character studies, which succeed in poking around inside the blistered psyches of their protagonists. The devil, as they say, is in the details, and Jaggers brings a lot of great material to the table.
Two of the book’s longer stories, ‘Full Henry’ and ‘Peckerwood’, were the stand-outs for me, but this is a great body of work, which often recalls Jim Thompson’s visceral approach to characterisation. Dripping with Kentucky-fried menace, Down In The Devil Hole is a well-thought-out collection that should see Jaggers take another step up the crime fiction ladder.
Reviewed by Tom Leins