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The Long Last Call / John Skipp

thLongLastCall.jpgLeisure / August 2007
Reviewed by: Jeff Burk

Famous for coining the term "Splatterpunk" and editing several entries in the Book of the Dead anthology series, John Skipp has laid low on the literary front in recent years while pursuing a career in the film industry. Fortunately for his readers, he has returned to penning horror tales, and Leisure has wisely released his short novel The Long Last Call in paperback along with a bonus novella, "Conscience."

Both stories explore the classic battle between good and evil, a staple theme in horror fiction. While the concept may not be new, the execution of the theme in both stories here is excellent. Skipp’s use of foreshadowing is dead-on, with hints of where each story is headed dropped intermittently amongst non-stop action. Fans who enjoy their morality plays wrapped up in the context of a slasher film will be gripped by this exciting read - guaranteed.

The Long Last Call (originally published in 2006 by Cemetery Dance) tells the story of the employees and patrons of a strip club in the middle of nowhere. One night just before closing, a stranger shows up and offers everyone in the club obscene amounts of money if they will stay for a private party.

While the novel plays with a fascinating premise and moves along briskly, it ultimately fails to make due on its lofty promises of terror. As soon as the private party starts, the story instantly degrades into bloody violence, virtually ignoring all the possibilities for psychological terror. If there were any group of characters ripe for mental torment, it would be those hanging around a strip club at last call.

In the bonus novella, "Conscience", a hit man assigned to kill an ex-lover meets his conscience - literally. Though shorter, this piece is the standout work here. Playing once again with the good versus evil theme, Skipp explores this idea on dual levels – on a personal level through the eyes of the protagonist and on a broader cosmic level. Various characters on the periphery mention some kind of monumental new age event happening (perhaps the return of Quetzalcoatl?). This provides some explanation for the book's events and, more importantly, adds depth to the narrative while widening the scope for the story’s strange happenings.

Featuring an introduction by Brian Keene, Leisure's edition of The Long Last Call marks John Skipp's long-awaited return to the mass-market. Both stories are well-written and exciting tales of horror that will serve as a perfect introduction to anyone unfamiliar with Skipp's work and a great addition to the bookshelves of avowed fans.

Purchase John Skipp's The Long Last Call

Posted on Sunday, October 7, 2007 at 07:41AM by Registered CommenterDark Scribe Magazine | Comments Off

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