Review: Kill Me Quick

Paul D. Brazill
Number 13 Press

We’re all lying in the gutter, but some of us are staring at the spaces between the stars…

Seatown may not have a lot going for it – apart from the Roy Orbison lookalikes and Super Seventies Special every Thursday night, of course – but it is at least the place Mark Hammonds calls home. And after a decade away, it’s the place he returns to when he has nowhere else to go.

From dead bikers to dodgy drug deals, from one downbeat bar to the next, from strippers to gangsters and back again: the luckless former musician bounces from one misdeed to the next along with a litany of old acquaintances, almost as though he never left. And if only he can shake off everybody who wants to kill, maim or otherwise hurt him, maybe he could even think about staying.

After all, there’s no place like home, eh?

I got a pre-release ARC of this book, but that doesn’t affect my review because you already know that I’m a sucker for Brazill’s stories and their perfect mix of mordant humour and crazy crime shenanigans. I’m glad to see a return to Seatown, one of my favourite locations. The seedy seaside town has seen better days, but things keep hopping for the wild whirl of criminals, lowlifes, lawless looters and even musicians there.

This novella is a crazy crime jukebox that takes in everything from crooners to croakers without missing a beat. The soundtrack of  Seatown touches on its once great era then follows as it slips down to the end of its rope, lurching last drunken dance at your cousin’s wedding.

Bass player Mark Hammonds starts off in a bad place — thugs crushing his playing hand — then things get much worse as the story belts along. They also get more crazy. Pubs, clubs, hotels and caravans: around every corner lurk more problems for the luckless bassist. Like a lot of Brazill’s down-on-their-luck characters, you find yourself rooting for him despite his self-destructive plunges into disaster, but you’re not too sure he can survive.

Get it. If you have anything like a sense of humour and a heart as black as the inside of a body bag, you’ll love it. Besides, best corpse disposal trick ever (pity it’s only once a year).

Some bon mots:

‘It was glittery enough to host a glam rock revival and the loud ’80s pop they played was so cheesy you could use it to top a pizza.’

‘A red-faced man in a shiny supermarket suit shuffled beside him, nodding like one of those toy dogs everyone’s dad used to have in the back of their cars in the ’70s.’

‘Specks of dust floated in the shard of sunlight that sliced through the broken slat and spotlit a pool of blood at Mark Hammonds’ feet.’

‘There was a flash of lightning, a crack of thunder, and a storm gouged the sky open, battering them with rain.’

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