Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The Kill Riff, by David J. Schow

(pb; 1988)

From the back cover:

"Lucas Ellington's daughter is dead, trampled by an out-of-control mob at a rock concert turned riot. There was no trial, but Lucas has identified the murderers -- the band, Whip Hand.

"Two of Gabriel Stannard's old bandmates are dead. Whip Hand's former lead singer knows who killed them. Stannard will not be a passive target..."


Adrenalated, excellent novel, this. The familiar storyline gets a boost from Schow's metal-edgy well-paced writing, characters who ring veracious (that's saying a lot, considering how crazy-violent a few of the characters are), explosive twists, and the underlying message regarding societal and media responsibilities -- a given, considering that this is set in the late-Eighties milieu. (Do yourself a favor, and read Schow's one-paragraph Foreward: it's a smart hoot.)

This is not a tale for the faint-of-heart. The violence and several of the characters are over-the-top and vivid (particularly: Lucas Ellington, the grief-enraged Vietnam-vet father; Gabriel Stannard, the macho rocker who opts to face Ellington, on his terms, not Ellington's; Cannibal Rex [aka, Martin Killough Beecher, Stannard's younger, ferocious, Kerry King-like guitarist]).

The milder, more "normal" characters, who provide balance to this crazed tale, are interesting, too: there's Sertha Valich, Stannard's ex-model live-in lover; Sara, Lucas's doctor, who just might be in love with Lucas; Horus, Stannard's Zen-infused, death-ready bodyguard (he reminded me of Common's character, Sir Ivy, from the movie Smokin' Aces); Cass, an ex-boyfriend-battered young woman who takes shelter with Lucas in his mountain cabin; and Burt Kroeger, Lucas's level-headed friend and PR business partner (who's also a war vet).

Exciting horror/action novel, worth owning -- especially recommended for book worm metalheads.

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