Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Every once in a while you read a novel and are say, "What the fuck was that shit?"

I had this experience reading Jake Hinkson's Hell on Church Street.

It starts off innocently enough with a run-of-the-mill mugging in a Texas town. But nothing after that is what you'd expect.

The story ends up being about the victim of the robbery, Geoffrey Webb, a youth minister at a Baptist Church. Webb is keeping his head down doing a job he doesn't believe in when he suddenly and inexplicably falls in love with the pastor's fat, teenaged daughter. Webb finally has something he wants, and he goes after it (her) in a quietly manipulative fashion. Slowly, Webb and the daughter start seeing each other, until a corrupt sheriff sniffs out their relationship and puts the screws to Webb.

Let's just say things get fucked up from there.

I would put Geoffrey Webb up there with Jim Thompson's Lou Ford--this is a killer who you will not soon forget. He changes from a weak-willed blob of a human being to a vicious psycho so gradually that it's almost like he's sneaking up on you.

And at the end I wondered, was Geoffrey Webb actually a calloused murderer the whole time? Did he not change at all?

Jake Hinkson first came to my attention with the masterful "Maker's and Coke" from Beat to a Pulp: Round One. I knew at that point he'd be a writer I heard more from, but really nothing could prepare me for this disturbing, haunting, masterful book. 

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