DEAD HEAT WITH THE REAPER
Author: William E. Wallace
Publisher: All Due Respect
Release Date: July 2015
Violent. Melancholic. Booze-soaked… The novellas that make up Dead Heat With The Reaper – Legacy and The Creep – are two sides of the same coin, one of which happens to be horribly disfigured.
In Legacy, retired steel mill worker Frank Trask is a terminally ill tough guy living on borrowed time. Keen to put his $400,000 life’s savings to good use – and go out swinging – Frank devises a brutally efficient plan to kill two birds with one stone – as long as he lives long enough to pull it off. In the second novella, The Creep, Sergeant Alan Baldocchi survived the IED in Afghanistan that killed his platoon, but the bomb left him so scarred that his ravaged visage now scares women and children. Back home, Baldocchi meets Susan, a nurse who takes a liking to him. Unfortunately, the shabby apartment they both live in is swarming with young criminals – and Marcel, the leader of the gang, has dark plans in mind for the unlikely pair.
I first encountered William E. Wallace’s fiction early last year, with his terrific flash fiction piece ‘Bird Hunter’ (published by Shotgun Honey), and this book is an appropriately unforgiving companion piece to that story. He has an effortless hardboiled style, and a coolly detached way of writing violent scenes that never feels gratuitous – in spite of the carnage that is unfolding. Further, Wallace – a former investigative journalist – does a great job of imbuing his narratives with a healthy amount of well-observed background information, which adds plenty of meat to the bones of what are, ultimately, pretty straightforward stories. If you enjoy blue-collar, heart-on-sleeve tales of retribution, Dead Heat With The Reaper is a killer one-two punch combo – go check it out.
Reviewed by Tom Leins