Author: Greg Barth
Publisher: All Due Respect
Release Date: September 2016
Following the violent conclusion of Suicide Lounge, Road Carnage (the fourth book in the Selena series) opens with the lead character lying low, licking her wounds, and piecing her ragged life back together – while the glare of the national media spotlight burns brightly. When the freedom she has fought tooth-and-nail to secure is threatened, Selena is forced to take on a new enemy – an enigmatic young man with a history of violence and a family tree that is all-the-way rotten. In a desperate attempt to protect herself – and those people that she has grown to love – Selena blazes a booze-soaked, blood-stained trail across the south-eastern US, wreaking havoc and making new enemies as she goes.
A queasy, lurid blend of dirty sex and unrelenting violence, Road Carnage picks up where Suicide Lounge left off, and gives fans more of the good stuff that they craved at the end of the initial three-book run. In many ways, Road Carnage is the most streamlined Selena book yet. While previous books offered multiple viewpoints and frequently lingered in the minds of Selena’s antagonists, this fourth outing is comparatively stripped- back, and the villainous Klan-affiliated Blake family are only ever viewed from Selena’s perspective. Her scorched earth approach won’t surprise fans of the series, but the sheer bloody mindedness she brings to the table is as entertaining as ever. Further, the road trip aspect of the new book gives the story a propulsive charge, and the pace never slackens – despite the brutality that Selena endures.
Now that Greg Barth has blazed through the trilogy-shaped road-block that stood in his way, it will be interesting to see what he has planned for the character. Selena is such a compelling anti-hero, there is arguably scope to drop her into all manner of dangerously twisted situations, and I really hope that the scheduled fifth book Everglade isn’t the last we see of the character.
The original Selena book was one of the finest crime novels of 2015, and its similarly enjoyable sequels kept up the pace admirably. Suffice to say, if you are a fan of independent crime fiction, and haven’t yet immersed yourself in Selena’s sordid world, that is something that needs to be rectified with immediate effect.
Reviewed by Tom Leins