Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Rockabilly Hell by William W. Johnstone

Rockabilly Hell
by William W. Johnstone
1995 Zebra Books

Retired cop Cole Younger joins up with journalist Katti to investigate a series of haunted roadhouses that materialize off the freeways of Arkansas.  The clubs were host to the scum of the Earth for decades, and they now house their damned souls and are linked to the disappearance of hundreds over the years.

Add to that a material conspiracy - former club-goers turned pillars of society led by multi-millionaire Victoria Staples discovered they could lure their enemies to the haunted spots and the ghosts would kill them and dispose of the bodies, forming the basis of a criminal empire.

Said pillars hope to stop Cole and Katti's investigation, while the two join forces with private detectives, FBI agents, and a cussy priest.  Ghosts, in the form of sparkly dots, murder witnesses before they can talk.  Cole figures since ghosts are just made of electricity, he can kill them with a stun gun.  The stun gun zaps parts off the ghost until they comically run around and turn into rotting corpses.

Cole decides that ghosts are not allowed to kill anyone, despite them doing so throughout the novel.  Since the ghosts aren't killing people, they must be just distracting the victims until Victoria's gang can kill them in child snuff porn.  That's just deductive reasoning, but to prove it they order a copy of every snuff film and watch them for clues.

For a while, Johnstone doesn't want to do a ghost story anymore, so we have the FBI halfheartedly investigating Victoria's child snuff angle, which is detailed in some of the nastiest child sex scenes Johnstone has written to date, just to get in the sodomy quotient.  Out of sheer coincidence, two rapists dump two dead teenage girls on Victoria's property for a subplot that goes nowhere.

The investigation, such as it is, grinds to a halt, and the plot founders.  Time to bring in the true villains - the press!  They hear about the haunted roadhouse and hold a barbeque on the side of the road.  Cole and Katti team up with some trusted Republican reporters, presumably because Democrats don't believe in ghosts.

I was expecting the haunted roadhouse (you know, the one the book was supposed to be about) to make a big reappearance and be relevant again for the conclusion.  It doesn't.  What does happen is that it rains urine and hails poop over the reporters.

Meanwhile, back in town, folks are acting funny.  People are less friendly, etc.  We get a condensed version of the Devil books, with all the townspeople who aren't the right kind of Christian raping and slaughtering each other.

Five percent of the book left, just enough time to introduce a contagious zombie plague.  The FBI arrest everyone in the child snuff ring who wasn't killed by zombies, the end.

Far and away the most unfocused of the Johnstone horrors.  It was good to see him try a new premise, but it was clear he had no idea where to go with it.  Of course there's a sequel.

Available in Kindle from Amazon.

Click here to read a sample.

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