Sunday, March 22, 2009

Just Like Hell, (Thunderstorm Books), by Nate Southard

"Just Like Hell" is a hard jab to the gut. Writing with a visceral edge, Nate Southard explores disturbing territory with an unflinching gaze. Readers will feel Dillon’s bruises and cuts, slip in the blood, and then thank everything that’s holy their lives aren’t at the mercy of Southard’s narrative whims (For more on that, see additional post).

Dillon Campbell had everything: a stellar athletic future, waiting scholarships, friends and loyal teammates. He also had something else: a secret he dared share with no one, but which made him feel alive, complete, real – in a way his athletic accolades never had. He thought he’d guarded this secret well…but he was wrong.

Someone knows, and now someone wants him to pay.

Dillon wakes in the dark, bound and gagged. Fear clogs his throat, and he realizes at once: he’s been found out. He will pay a heavy price weighed by someone without mercy or sympathy; a mind unhinged by rage. Before the end, Dillon will bathe himself in blood, and what he does may not be good or noble… but it will be justice.

A work like this is destined to be a future collector’s item. Its truth is harsh but necessary: the world is a dark place, and people do terrible things. The action is intense and Southard’s narrative style is lean, without feeling sparse. From the beginning, he drops the reader into the midst of tumultuous plight and then barrels towards the end, with few breathers along the way. Seeing Southard accomplish so much in such sort space makes the wait for his first full-length novel an eager one.

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