Rabid Child by Pete Risley – Review

Basement crazies of internetland: the Nerd is happy as a pig in shit to announce the arrival of a fresh, incredibly fucked up new voice in psycho noir.  From New Pulp Press, the guys behind the similarly deranged The Disassembled Man by Nate Flexer, comes Rabid Child, the debut novel of Pete Risley.  And believe the Nerd, dear reader, when I say that this shit is for the basement crazies – this shit will test the stomachs and psyches of even the most jaded noir junkies.

Desmond Cray is a homeless peeping tom and child molester, a solitary and near-feral degenerate who lives only for the next (and most-likely-illegal) orgasm.  While jacking it to a mannequin in a storefront window in the wee hours, he is discovered by his old foster mother Mrs. Honnecker, the woman whose home he ran from to the streets nearly a decade ago when he was barely a teenager.  The clearly demented Mrs. Honnecker brings him back to her humble abode, a place that is now such a shithole he soon reasons he was better off in the streets.  Amidst the filth and moldy food scraps live Mrs. Honnecker, her crippled religious fanatic tenant Mr. Wince, her beautiful sexpot daughter Tracy, and possibly the remains of Mr. Honnecker in Mrs. Honnecker’s awful-smelling locked bedroom.  Desmond’s lust for Tracy is the only thing keeping him in this madhouse, but such a decision may prove fatal for the whole sorry lot of them.

Risley refreshingly never shies away from the sordid details of his main character and the grisly world he inhabits.  Desmond is the definition of an outsider, and only such a wounded, despicable man like himself could even remotely call a place like the Honnecker house home.  But despite Risley’s frankness about Desmond’s more reprehensible personal demons, through what we learn of his backstory and his tortured inner life you can’t help but grow to – if not exactly love him – at least identify with him.  Often it just comes down to that Desmond is the only character who really has no illusions about who and what he is, while everyone else around him is as crazy as a sack of in-bred cats thrown in the river.

It’s a tall order for most readers to ride shotgun with a pervert, but come on, you loved Lolita and Michael Jackson, right (it’s been a year, folks, we can be honest about him at last)?  And besides, in addition to being insanely harrowing, this book is often fucking hilarious in the darkest ways imaginable.  Desmond’s pursuits and cravings bring him into some nut-bustingly sticky (I had to) situations that will leave you both shocked and laughing your ass off.  Risley may be interested in testing your mettle, but he’s first and foremost one hell of an entertaining storyteller.

So if you have the sack for this shit, go and get yourself some toot-fucking-sweet.  Rabid Child is the type of book that could only find a home at a place like New Pulp Press, where “broad appeal” seems to be the least of their concerns.  You’ll be shaken and you’ll be sickened, but if aggressively transgressive is your speed, your sick fucking soul will be disturbingly, undeniably glad.

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Nerd of Noir

I love crime/noir fiction, comics and movies. I think my opinions are web-worthy. Then again, what asshole doesn't think that their opinions deserve a blog?

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4 comments

  1. Excellent super-sick fun. I was impressed by it’s sophisticated humor couched in a semi-serious display of underbelly wretchedness.

  2. I’ve been hoping that you’d notice me, Nerd of Noir. Thanks very much for doing so! – Pete

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