BOOK REVIEW: Kill Whitey by Brian Keene

A fast, fun, mean ride where crime/noir and slasher meet. Lots of messy charm!

KILL WHITEY by Brian Keene dropped the transmission into low gear and floored it from the very beginning. The whole time I was reading, I felt like my head was pinned to the headrest behind me and I couldn’t lean forward…and I never really wanted to. The ride was too exhilarating.

We have Larry, a blue-collar guy and regular Joe, who falls for a beautiful Russian stripper named Sondra. She works at a shady gentleman’s club and, after the first outing to this place with his pals from work, Larry finds himself drawn back time and time again to watch and lust after the beautiful woman. The place is owned by Whitey, a big Russian guy with white hair, and one of his friends claims he’s part of the Russian mob, though the other’s don’t believe him.

Only, they should have. After a night at the club where Sondra didn’t show and some strange activity is happening with the security folks of the joint, Larry and Darryl find Sondra hiding under Larry’s car outside and they help her get away. The Russians are really pissed off by this, and they’re coming, led by Whitey, whom they soon find is almost as indestructible as Jason Voorhees.

The fun never stops. At least if you find violent shootouts and fights to the death with severed limbs and blown apart organs fun. And I do. Fun AF. And KILL WHITEY delivers it in spades. It’s set up like a crime/noir, replete with the naive protagonist and sultry femme fatale and a bad guy who neither knows how to quit nor is capable of doing so. The story of precisely WHY Whitey and crew are after Sondra is never fully clarified. We get Sondra’s story and we get Whitey’s, but it’s never confirmed which (or if either) were being fully truthful. And this helps add to the conflict and suspense of the tale. The uncertainty in Larry’s mind plays out wonderfully confused and infuriated and conflicted.

Keene’s simple, straight-forward approach at prose is on display here, and as always, it just works. It reads easily and rings true. I especially appreciate his showing the cracks in Larry’s moral shell as the story goes forward and he’s worn down by panic and survival and doubt.

It’s fast. It’s fun. It’s mean. And it’s totally badass. If you like slashers and crime/noir, this is for you. It’s got it all, and it’s executed with lots of heart throughout. Once the action gets rolling, which is pretty early on, it never lets up. For me, THAT’S how you tell a story.

Another fine outing from Keene. Find it in print, digital, and audio here.

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