12 Gauge: Songs from a Street Sweeper is my first time reading anything by Dustin LaValley, Containing a triplet of hard-hitting novellas, 12 Gauge was a blisteringly quick read that on the whole hit the spot, it offered more than enough for me to know I’ll absolutely be reading more of Dustin’s work in the future.
The first tale, Spinner, set on the Adirondack Mountains, pits a psychotic escaped convict and his equally deranged girlfriend against someone who is so disturbing I was turning the pages with nervous caution every time he featured. Spinner is extreme, I really would approach with caution if you are of a sensitive disposition. Spinner touches on some taboo subjects and doesn’t hold back.
Spinner made me feel uneasy, in fact I felt somewhat grubby reading it. Yet it was probably my favourite story in 12 Gauge. I really enjoyed how the characters were drawn and it takes a certain skill to write such abominable behaviour and not have the reader bail.
The second novella, H/armed reminded me of the recently dropped SyFy TV show ‘Blood Drive’ to a certain extent. Characters are introduced at length, for them to battle to the death in a supermarket. A battle of the classes and the sexes. It was the overly descriptive nature of this story that didn’t click with me. The premise was great but fell short for me as it felt like a series of lists glued together with moments of violence. Don’t get me wrong, it was well written but the story didn’t flow like the other two stories in the collection.
This leads me onto the final novella in 12 Gauge, Deceived. Another tale where bad people clash with equally bad people, in a home invasion tale with a wicked twist, Brutal, blood soaked and an absolute joy. You could smell the fear and taste the blood as Deceived hurtled towards its explosive climax.
I’m delighted to have discovered Dustin LaValley. I’d love him to build on this crime/thriller/horror mashup as 12 Gauge proves he could have this genre in the palm of his hand.
12 Gauge: Songs from a Street Sweeper is three novellas that will equally thrill, shock and disgust you. All the characters are incredibly well drawn and believable, which makes some of their actions even more disturbing. 12 Gauge will sit as comfortably on a horror lovers book shelf as a thriller/crime readers. Thoroughly recommended.
Star Rating (out of 5): 4****
(12 Gauge) Songs from A Street Sweeper includes three white-knuckled novellas.
A prison escapee leads law enforcement on a chase through the Adirondack Mountains, where they encounter a reclusive elderly man with a dark secret.
An ultra-violent satirical commentary on societal norms, cliques, and obedience.
A criminal pair invade the home of the wrong man on the wrong day.