Monday, December 31, 2012

Review of Dig Two Graves by Eric Beetner (Snubnose Press, 2011)

Having learnt his ways via a prison term, Val is a planner.  Now when he robs banks he doesn’t even draw a gun.  So when he’s arrested he knows that he’s been sold out by Ernesto, his partner in more ways than one.  Managing to escape the clutches of the cops rather than obeying his head’s desire to skip town, Val follows his heart’s need for revenge and roams the city seeking to teach his partner a deadly lesson.  The cops, however, are not the only ones trying to catch Val dead or alive.  His nemesis, Francis Santangelo, a mid-rank mobster, has placed a bounty on his head.  Frank has not counted though on the willpower and resourcefulness of a lover spurned and, as the night unfolds, Val leaves a bloody trail in his wake.

Dig Two Graves is a dark, action-packed tale of revenge thickly laced with gallows humour that rattles along a quick clip.  As a novella, it’s a short, quick read, yet there’s a lot packed into the story as it twists and turns to its bloody conclusion.  The premise has a great hook - a hardened, slightly homophobic criminal has unwittingly fallen for his former cellmate, now criminal partner, who has sold him out.  He keeps telling himself it was just sex, but his heart is telling him otherwise.  Given the betrayal, he’s not simply seeking retribution but the revenge of a lover scorned.  And his need to carefully plan has been cast aside in favour of reacting instinctively.  The characterisation and plotting is spot on and Beetner writes in tight prose with an engaging voice that is all show and no tell.  The story could have easily been spun out into a full novel, as with similar types of tales such as The Ice Harvest by Scott Phillips or Small Crimes by Dave Zeltserman, but nevertheless works very well as novella.  Overall, a humorous, gritty slice of noir. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You have remind me I have to read Small Crimes by Dave Zeltserman, Rob. Thanks.