BOOK REVIEW: 'Gun Work' by David J. Schow

David J. Schow is one of those writers not enough people have heard of. But those readers who are in the know have read his “splatterpunk” stories.

One of his best novels, and he has a few, is called Gun Work. There’s this guy named Carl Ledbetter who did a tour in Iraq with a guy named Barney. It was one of those things where Carl saved Barney’s life in a tight situation. In war, things like that happen all the time.

It doesn’t make people friends but some people use a life-saving event as a “you owe me this buddy,” and when things get hinky in their lives, they reach out.

It appears that Carl’s wife Erica has been snatched by some low-lives in Mexico and they want one million dollars for her return. Carl knows that Barney is a master at Gun Work and Carl reaches out to him.

Now, Barney has been through some stuff and he’s kind of laying low and doesn’t want to get involved with gonzo stuff like this, but he asks Carl how much they want for a ransom. When Barney hears the amount, he doubts that Carl can come up with it, but Carl says he can, but don’t ask how.

Carl just wants someone reliable to make the drop with him in Mexico City in case things go sideways. In situations like this, they often do. Carl already has one of Erica’s fingers, which the kidnappers sent him to demonstrate that they’re not just playing. And they’re threatening to send more of them, plus other anatomical parts, if Carl doesn’t cough up the dinero.

Life comes cheap in certain parts of Mexico. Barney really wants no part in this fiasco but he feels that a debt is a debt and then he can be through with Mr. Ledbetter for the rest of his life. That is, if he has a life after this is over.

There’s more to tell and David J. Schow can tell it. David has a number of crazy thrillers and, in his stories, anything can happen. This writer has been around a while. In 1987, he wrote a short story called Red Light, which is included in one of his books of short stories called Lost Angels.

Red Light was the winner of the 1987 World Fantasy Convention’s award for best short story. Short stories are David J. Schow’s specialty and he’s published a number of collections. Zombie Jam, Eye and Lost Angels are just three of them. I can tell you this—they rock. Don’t read

Marc D. Goldfinger is a member of the board of directors of the Homeless Empowerment Project, which publishes Spare Change news. Formerly homeless, he serves as the paper's poetry editor.

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