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Story Time Review by
Mike Oliveri
The Man with The Barb Wire Fists
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SHOULD YOU?
TIP JAR
THE MAN WITH THE BARBED WIRE FISTS - 2001
Norman Partridge
Night Shade Books
Fiction Collection: HC
$27.00

Cover Art by John Picacio

Going into World Horror Convention 2001 in Seattle, I'd heard of Norman Partridge but I'd never read anything of his. Then I spotted this gorgeous book on the Night Shade table, mostly due to its fantastic cover art by John Picacio (who will also be doing the cover for Tim Lebbon's next Night Shade release, FACE, due to ship in August).

For the rest of the weekend, I would periodically walk by the table just to eye its cover. I'm not normally one to buy a book just because of its cover, having been burned too many times doing so, but damn I wanted that book on the shelf. So I talked to a friend of mine, Brad Gullickson, who informed me "Partridge's work reads like Joe Lansdale's, only meaner."

Hell, how do you pass that up? So I roamed on back to the Night Shade table, and to my surprise Partridge himself was sitting there signing books. I visited with him briefly, then happily plunked down $27.00 for the trade hardcover edition and got it signed on the spot.

Man, I should have gone for the $55.00 limited edition. What an incredible fucking book. Of the twenty-four stories within, there was only one that I didn't bother to finish.

The subject matter of these stories include everything from crime to the supernatural to everything in between, and characters from bank robbers to werewolves to gunslingers. Some of the stories take place in the Old West, several occur between the fifties and today, and one more is set in a near future where the ozone layer has been burned away and the characters have stolen an ice cream truck to make their fortune in a heat-blasted America.

It's hard to say what I like best about the work in this book. Partridge definitely has a mean streak. His narrative bites like the snapping needle teeth of the live bats stitched into a gunslinger's magical boots in "The Bars on Satan's Jailhouse."

His characters are amazingly gritty and real, such as the bank robber couple in "Red Right Hand" that make Bonnie and Clyde look like a couple of shoplifting kids. And for great story telling, you hardly have to go further than "Bucket of Blood," told between flashback and flashes of the present with a great surprise at the end. Even the author's introduction, running just over twenty pages, makes for great reading as he tells us some great stories from his past and the reason he loves horror.

I feel silly raving like this, but the book is just that good. I give THE MAN WITH THE BARBED WIRE FISTS Five Bookwyrms.

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This review copyright 2001 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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MIKE OLIVERI

 

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