EIGHT CYLINDERS by Jason Parent.
Crystal Lake Publishing. ebook. £8.99.
Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins.
Seb McCalister is up against Ling – gang leader and drug lord. This is a Vegas diamond deal gone wrong. Gunfire. Seb, armed hilariously with Ling’s magic 8 ball eye, plucked from the gangster himself, and luckily with a gun and his car too, will escape with his life intact. The same cannot be said for his partner, Carlo.
Seb awakens, bandaged, in the aftermath of the shoot-out, and he is not at home. He’s in the desert. A coyote and a stranger named Earl is the closest to a doctor he is likely to get in this place. But where is this place? How did he end up here? And more importantly, how can he get out? Could that magic 8 ball eye be more than it appears?
Eight Cylinders is a novella that felt to this reader like two different stories combined. It begins with a diamond-related shoot-out with a very noir feel, reminiscent of 1950s film but cleverly combined with more modern touches and a level of dark humour that all work together to draw the reader in spectacularly. The rest of the book leaves behind that noir influence to move firmly into horror/Cthulhu/must-escape-the-creepy-village territory that didn’t carry the same appeal.
Parent serves up a tale that is short, punchy and clever to the end, but the unanswered and unseen elements of Seb’s plight are just too unanswered and too unseen. If more page time had been dedicated to making the threats more visible, they would perhaps have felt more tangible, and the reader would have felt more connected and more invested with the characters. Then again, those who love muscle cars, weapons, giant, tentacle-wielding monsters and don’t mind being left with a host of questions will enjoy the brisk, sharp ride.