by John Farris
One Fast & Furrious, Howling Ghouled Werewolf Sky-fi Thriller
A Keeper In Krime AND Time
The Keeper of the Pit
It boney figures that the man who wrote this fast and furrious novel about werewolves being a world-wide scourge in, slay, the 2020’s, would be a Horror Writers of America, ahem, Master. Man’s been aROWLnd furever, since waybackwhen when he began his Harrison High series and the world of cinema had a thing fur juvenile delinquents on the loose, witch unleashed lotsa high drool hood flicks that reely bobby suck. All these years of fears later, and he’s still writing stuff fur making people start shaking like Nervous Grisly.
Farris has written abat everyTHING from horror like THE FURRY, I mean THE FURY, to kidnap capers like The Captors, where things get really nasty and knotty in a hurry. And tie knot? Farris wrote psicko thrillers back when even Hannibal Lecter hadn’t had any Sharp Practice. Man even wrote and directed a drive-in crassick of the slash fur ca$h 70’s, DEAR DEAD DELILAH, witch had so many skulls coming loose and flying it shoulda starred Agnes GORE-head, if ya axe me! And what better guy than Farris to take such a fiendish plot and hatchet?
As fitting a werewolfenly wordsmith, of late Farris screams to have enjoyed a bite of a resurgence. The fine thriller folks at Hard Case Crime have re-re-, sorry, leashed his Baby Moll, as first published as a paperback original under Farris’ pen name, Steve Brackeen, available wherever sexiful Robert McGuiness covers are on the, yum, racks. Matter of fact, Farris dedicates High Bloods to Brackeen as the guy who got him through college. Hey, it’s never too matriculate when it comes to giving fangs…
High Bloods' dedication also gives fangs to another master of paperback original "Good Old Stuff," Harry Whittington. People my ripe mold age may reekmember Mr. Whittington's THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E outing, book #2 in the series, The Doomsday Affair. Fur, I SAID persons even older may have at the time shaken their heads and wondered howl he coulda sunk Solo.
Not bonely that, but certain otherold time good old stuffers get their names tossed into the monster mash mix, like writer Wade Miller, or Shell Scott, hero of dozens of private eye thrillers from the redoubtable Richard S. Prather, whose The Peddler has reekscently been rereleased by Hard Case Crime, is as lean and mean a drug crime book for, sorry, FUR its slime time as any. Haunt just the McGinnis long legged lass of a cover heroin(e) makes Peddler worth the shot. Besides, at HCC’s prices ya won’t be taking a Lenny Bruce-in’.
Farris was likewise there in the horror mini-boom between the filmed versions of Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist. Scare hack-actually was that, you axe? Why, fright on PITure tube t.v.s across the land witch were showing important unusual product that usually got fine ratings, like Matheson’s NIGHT STALKER and NIGHT STRANGLER small screen screamers, and the beast ghouls on. Then there was 71’s WHEN MICHAEL CALLS, a t.v. movie based on Farris’ 67 novel. Okay, maybe it wasn’t scumpletely horror, but the hook to this Michael Douglas and Elizabeth Ashley thriller certainly was: what if that voice over the wire from a kidnapped child haunt just real, what if the Poe kid is already dead? Haunt gonna reekveal whether he is or he h’aint, or if the outcome satisfied everyone watching or just made folks wanna hang the Bell up. Witchever, lotsa people terror tuned in and found the pic a hole rot of phone.
Let’s knotty furget, either, the sweet modern MASTERS OF HORROR t.v. adaptation of Farris’ “I Scream. You Scream. We All Scream For Ice Cream.” …one watching of witch could change furever what happens when you next hear the tot-enticing tinkle of an ice cream truck, and what direction from howl on you may be coneheaded. And Tor Books has tons of Farris currently out there, proving you don’t have tomb write just werewolf tails to get in prints. Heck, if a Ruff, I mean, enough of you sky-fi werewolf fans out there Hugo fur this book, Farris could just win himself a Lycan trophy!
AlsoHIGHs-ly reekcommended by this terror-bull typist is the rescent Farris horror novel You Don't Scare Me, witch works up scares worthy of various Southern goth-eccch novelists such as Michael McDowell w/ or w/out Tabitha King, or Robert R. AND Robert McCammon enjoying a gone south Boy's Life, or the mighty Joe Hill with his Heart-Shaped Box. I’d mention an old bud of MINE who sez Joe Hill didn’t wanna use his pop’s last name for serious writing because then ev’ryone woulda thought he was just Joe King, but spooking of Southern writers this paragraph’s getting so long it smells like someone faulked near here.
And now, the scare bones of High Bloods' plot, befur my fingers go mastiff.
As said, it’s the 2020’s on an alternate Earth rather like Laurell K. Hamilton’s in her Anita Blake series. Bonely Hamilton’s is, gore or fetch, our time gone a little sideways and awry, a Ruff so that virtually all kinds of supernatural types Kongmingle with her world’s reality: vamps, werewolves, you name ‘em, Anita will lay ‘em dead tomb rites. Or, in moist cases, lay ‘em out IN bed too tight. Witches not to say over in Farris’ world here, I mean hair, yer scumpletely safe from having yer jeans clawed arf…
Near the end of their WW2, a “previous little-known, nearly inaccessible region of the Kalimantan” let loose one wild germ that followed service persons home, unfurry friend and foe a-Lycan. 80 years on the werewolves slay smell, I said may as well outnumber us one to canine.
All these years of furry fears later man and man-wolf co-exist uneasily, and no one can bet who’ll win the world in the end, with this each and every full moon meaning a yet another new war to wag, and scare in lies the tail.
High Blood is narrated by a Lycan Control agent Rawson, whose page one, paragraph one staking out of a Santa Monica of a future nightclub called DeSade’s gets things turning fast and furry-ous, it being populated “by the usual debris, human or otherwise.” Fright away Farris has ya by the torn-out throat, and we’re arf and running like Raymond Chandler’s writing THE BIG SHEP.
Hmm, having said that, per laps we should all start hunting fur similar stories by Daschund Hammett. Although things might get a bite X-rated if he has his agent of WEIR werewolf hunter hero Spayed. Not that that’s any hexcuse to not bone up on Dasch’s BIG RED HARVEST, rend/gore THE GREAT DANE CURSE.
Howl, I mean, now you gotta remember, there’s still humans left of, gore her pets, HIGH blood in the 2020’s, and plenty of Lycans who ghoul all wild and wooly that special tomb of month. Meaning, I suppose, if yer crazy aRuff you might try to KEEP one of them as a pet. Butcher better have yerself one helluva Long Chaney…
Now lemme hexplain, the casual reader may have a tough time getting used to all the High Bloods' futurese-style jargon. There’s “bloodleggers,” who deal in tainted blood fur better or curse. There’s ILC, that Rawson works fur. There’s Silvertips, bullets used fur taking out werewolves and reekducing them to hi-ho slivers. “Hairing-up” is going werewolf in a real furry hurry, and changing back to human form is called, what else, “skinnydipping,” witch I think when I was a Keeper kid woulda been called “getting derm fur yer form.”
Fur-knot to worry, though, all these hairy matters are hexplained in a handy-dandy back’a the book glossary, so don’t let the slang ghoulin’clang scare ya arf. There, CLOCKWORK ORANGE ya glad I weremen-shunned it?
Furst chapter, Rawson investigates DeSade’s and winds up following the soon to be love of his life, a gal dressed like Peter Pan named Beatrice. Breasts, I SAID rest of the book Rawson’s gotta take on bad guys galore tryin’ to have her dead and J. M. Barried.
Now don’t think fur a second ya got DeSade’s all figured out. Fur instance, folks there can be found dressed in the latest rage style, Kansas farm boy and gal. Had me worried fur a minute, tomb: thought we were headed fur “Not So Little Howls on the Prairie.”
No worry there, howlever. Turns out my Pennsylvania country ruts went way wide on that one, by a, like the awful old joke says, swingin’ Amish. And no, I haunt gonna bring up what PA. gals do to their men on nights. At lust without taking a long Scrantonic.
To give ya an idea of Farris’ furrious pacing, by the end of chapter one we have one rip-snorter of an end to a werewolf hair-up gone really bad grues, hair witch:
“Something huge and smelling like a sack of shit came down feetfirst next to Artie. And with one bite through neckbones and muscle Artie’s head wasn’t on his shoulders anymore: it was bouncing like a football 20 feet away…while the air around his still-standing body turned red from arterial spray.”
Eeek-yowl, I mean, HOWL! Farris just one of many such paragraphs goes, that’s the slay to have yer werewolf novel rip and tear and PANT the walls red.
Pus, there’s tons of Rawson wise-guy p.i. style cracks, like, after hanging up on a guy who wheezes from being overweight who needs even furrther dispatchment: “I ended the call, reached behind me and pulled my reliable old short-barrel Remington 12-guage from its cradle. Six rounds, one already chambered. Guaranteed weight loss for a fat gut; the pounds just melt away.” Curse, if yer cagey and aROWLnd a werewolf, never use the word “pound.” Unless, that is, you’re physikilly sic.
Rex, I mean, heck, even if yer luping fur, I SAID looking for p.i. pissed-off-ness without the horror trimmings but all suspenseful in a hitch cocky way, we got a high-tension stand-off on a crowded moving vehicle, whereon a little girl notices something wrong ticking place and yells “Mama, this man has a bomb in his hat.”
There follows a simple paragraph, one word bonely. “Screams.” Followed by a one sentence paragraph, witch ghouls: “And some damn fool hit the emergency stop button.” Whoa! Anyone who can read that terror tribute tomb a master of a paragraph and doesn’t go “Octobrrr!” has tastes in horror quite “Game”y!
Befur this Keeper in Krime Kolumn has to be put to Big Red bed and Bradburied, making fur the second “buried” joke this reekview, hence making me a possible Kongtender fur bescumming the furrst person to bite it due to a bad case of werewolf’s whine flu: allow me to say that you’d have a hard time finding a more killer of a horror slash sky-fi slash thriller, all fleshed out and flat out furrious and ready to schock and growl. Why, jest nowl from an up in Horror Movie Hair Suity Heaven a guy named Oliver scented the Temple of Schlock his tribute to Farris and High Bloods, sez the book is one hot Reed. (And I, fur one, can’t wait fur Farris to get the Rex’ed one in a series all Hammered snout!)