Friday, December 14, 2007

Kill Clock by Allan Guthrie

I started my copy of Kill Clock the morning after I received it in the mail and read it from cover to cover in 45 minutes! This is one hot little Scotch bonnet of a novella: short, sharp, and shocking. (Though maybe not as shocking as that scene in Hard Man.)

All of author Allan Guthrie's great attributes are on full display here, with none of the drawbacks that made Hard Man a disappointment for me. (Yeah, Pearce is still pretty dumb sometimes, but he's smart in all the right ways.)

Gordon Pearce (from Hard Man and Two-Way Split) is back once again. Kill Clock takes place a few years after the events in Hard Man, with Pearce out for the evening with his three-legged dog, Hilda. It looks like another case of "teach a prick a lesson" and then head home, but his ex-girlfriend Julie shows up with her two kids and a sob story: she needs 20,000 by midnight or she's toast.

Kill Clock was written for "adult reluctant readers" (with a reading age of 8+) and the simplicity of the text is pure fire. At 150 pages of large text — with no complex conversations or descriptive digressions — keeping the story moving is the key here, and Guthrie follows through with a tight little tale that takes an old suspense plot and polishes it up bright and shiny. And yet there's room for Guthrie to insert little bits of insight on how some people change when you haven't seen them in a long time, and some people stay exactly the same. This extra spice wasn't necessary for Kill Clock to kick serious arse, but it boosts this little tale into a fine addition to any dark crime fan's library.

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